Sunday, November 20, 2005

Moving to Vista? Not on THAT computer!

Moving to Vista? Not on THAT computer!
– by David Matthews 2

After five years of talk and five years of teasing, Microsoft has announced that they are ALMOST ready with their new operating system: Windows Vista.

So… what the hell does that mean to you?

It’s a fair question to ask. After all, it’s been a while since people were concerned about a new operating system from Microsoft. So here’s a quick word of advice to anyone even considering getting the latest and greatest in Windows…

Save your money now!

I’m serious. You’ll need that money to buy brand new computers, because whatever computer that you’re using now will not be powerful enough to use Vista!

The key thing about any major upgrade in operating systems is that they demand a whole lot more from your computer than their predecessors ever did.

Today, you can get away with running Windows XP on a computer with an Intel Pentium III processor, 128MB RAM, 20GB hard drive, and 32MB video memory. It may run slowly, and you probably wouldn’t want to play any games on it outside of the simple ones pre-installed, but you can still use it for whatever simple applications you’re working on. Compose a letter? Absolutely. Surf the web? Sure.

But that kind of computer won’t even BEGIN to handle the requirements of Windows Vista. It wouldn’t even be able to get past the Vista startup screen. The installation disc would probably even spit out of its drive in disgust.

In fact, the ONLY computers that will be able to handle Microsoft Vista will be the high-end expensive ones you see on the shelf from now until its official release. Yes, we’re talking the computers that you see on the shelves today that run anywhere between $2000 and $5000, and the high-end computers that have YET to be created and put out to market.

Why, you ask, is there so high of a requirement hurdle? Well it pretty much has to do with what we EXPECT that operating system to do.

Back in the days when computers were only used by geeks (back when Bill Gates was just millionaire and not a billionaire), operating systems had a very limited function. They basically served as gateways to the programs you used.

But now we’re asking those same operating systems to do a lot more for us. We expect that operating system to manage our files and deal with multimedia applications like music, sound clips, and video. We expect our operating system to integrate and utilize multiple applications and deal with more than one program running at any given time. We expect our operating system to handle the Internet and all of the applications involved with it.

And on top of that, the computer is now being used by more people who AREN’T geeks. People who take great PRIDE in calling themselves “computer-illiterate”. People who don’t know how to defrag their own computer or run regular systems checks, or even know how to go out to Microsoft’s website and download the latest software patches and security upgrades. People who EXPECT their computer to be smart enough to deal with spyware and viruses. THEY don’t know how to do these things themselves, and they lack the mental discipline to remind themselves to do these things, so they expect their computer’s operating system to do it all for them.

That’s a lot of work. And the more that people expect of their computer’s operating system, the more resources that are needed to do all of those additional features.

And let’s not forget some of the other little things that just look nice for an operating system. Themes, icons, shortcuts, a customizable menu, taskbars, allowing any image file to be used as a desktop wallpaper… even the little button that says “Start” requires little bits of complex coding. Programmers call this stuff Graphical User Interface, or GUI. Well the earlier Windows programs had some relatively simple GUI. Windows XP made it a little more complex, but Vista will have even MORE complex GUI to deal with… such as transparent toolbars so you can see the desktop and the desktop wallpaper. The end result will look really neat, but in order to pull it off, Vista will require more resources than your average computer can provide.

Then again, there’s the OTHER big reason why the debut of a new operating system is considered a special occasion: because it encourages people to get brand new computers! All your computer stores and media outlets know that people will be curious about Vista, and they’ll want to see if it is as good as Microsoft expects it to be.

And believe me when I say that the store managers and salespeople are SALIVATING at the opportunity to tell their customers that THEY WILL have to get brand new computers to play with Vista, because by then they’ll have those new computers on the shelves. And let’s not forget the big companies that pride themselves in having the “latest and greatest”. They’ll want to make sure that they have Vista on their computers, if nothing than just for bragging rights. Corporate executives and salespeople LOVE being able to tell their friends and clientele that they’re up-to-date with technology.

So go ahead and start pricing those high-end computer now and start saving your money. The good news is that those high-end computers out today will not only be able to use Windows Vista when it comes out, but by the time Vista does get released, those same computers will be a whole lot cheaper. But if you’re still using the same computer for over a year, don’t even THINK of being able of using it for the next operating system.

David Matthews 2 is a freelance writer living in the greater Atlanta area. He is a longtime computer user and has been involved with computers since the 1980’s.

This article can be distributed freely provided that it is unaltered and all proper credit is given to the author.

2005 – Get Brutal Productions