The Coming OS Storm

Cheaper than therapy

Uncle Fester is a ThinkPad fan. Uncle Fester knows his ThinkPads cold. Now he posts a sad commentary, not about the hardware, but what it runs:

“The bigger problem is the laptop. I’m not sure I can leave Thinkpads. Nothing matches a Thinkpad. But eventually Vista will be the only supported game in town and I may not be given the choice. That’s a grim prospect but Vista is really that bad. Apple will probably never permit official virtualization of the Mac OS on other hardware and unless Microsoft makes some dramatic fixes, I really can’t face the prospect of using Vista full-time.”A decade hence, Vista will be viewed as the biggest dud out of Seattle since Bob. And the reason I finally switched back to Mac full time.”

Update: Jim Forbes comments on this post and Lipman’s and says Operating Systems don’t matter to him anymore. I respect Jim — he served time on the mastheads of both PCWeek and MacWeek — and crosses the two architectures as easily as anyone.
I’ll reserve comment on the OS issue but will make one admission. I have used Vista for 30 minutes since it shipped and that was on a desktop my mother bought at retail in Florida and uses for grandchildren-email. Think about that for a second. You know where I work, you know what I do; my exposure to the future of Wintel standard computing has been a grand total of half-an-hour.

I can make no judgment about Vista (I can lay some claim to being an ex-OS junkie due to my coverage of DOS and Windows while a tech reporter in the 80s and early 90s), but I do know this: if fans like Fester are looking at their hardware platform and voting with their feet based on the underlying OS …..

I need to go re-read Ferguson and Morris’ Computer Wars

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

0 thoughts on “The Coming OS Storm”

  1. Among the many surprises I got with my Vista install, a couple stand out:

    1. It really needs no less than 2 gigs of memory if you want to do any processing or anything more than email on it.
    2. Some programs don’t run on it and have to run in “compatibility” mode, which appears to be an internal dual boot clustertard which is akin to stepping into another universe. When you run in compatibility mode, your running essentially another session and the two sessions know nothing about each other.
    3. The most heinous problem is the one that gets little press – file management on the system, particularly anything that involves move/copy is painfully slow. File operations that took 30-40 seconds in XP now take 30-40 minutes in Vista. I am not kidding. I now have to worry about when and how I move files on my computer. I often download again, rather than moving internally. This is supposedly fixed in SP1 due in Dec, and there is a hack available but I am loath to do major registry fixes on my own to my computer that earns the paycheck.

    I see very little in Vista to suggest it as anything more than a window dressing upgrade. An much to persuade users not to change. Maybe they’ll get it fixed, but for now, I dream of “downgrading”

  2. Apple’s one big differentiating factor in its current success is the OS X family. it’s incredibly good, very stable and I believe at the moment a much better operating system in terms of its stability, efficiencies and capabilities than Vista, which I think will go down in flames like OS2.
    I have to wonder what Microsoft was thinking about with Vista.
    And that’s my two pennies worth.


  3. To elaborate a little bit on Jim’s comment. If you take a look at the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” campaign, most of the alleged advantages of the mac are OS / Software related, not Hardware (and if hardware is more on the looks side).

    I have never liked Macs, but I have never used any OS X version enough to make a judgment (I did use the 9.x quite a bit, though). What I dislike the most if that is more closed than Wintel, not only it forces you to stick to an OS, but also to a single hardware vendor. Thanks, but no thanks.

    I won’t bash against Vista, but let me say that I think Redmond has released their OS just when Linux is getting “there” in terms of being user friendly. That being said, this has just started, we’ll have to sit tight and see how MS reacts to such huge amounts of negative feedback.

    All in all what I would like is being able to choose whatever OS / Hardware combination suits my needs and being able to collaborate seamlessly with anyone that has a different OS / hardware choice. Yes, I’m an Utopian.

  4. The big issue everyone is missing is this: when does the notion of a killer OS fade into the cloud and become irrelevant? Architectures and standards can define an industry and call the tune for users and ISVs, but are we moving to a computing paradigm that makes the OS moot?

    For now, of course not. But does any phone owner really give a fig about whether it is Symbian or not? I recall hearing that Vista may be the last privately developed monolithic OS. Is collaborative kernel development like Linux the move? Not for me to say. I just think the hardward OEMs have a real challenge ahead of them during this transition, which for all intents and purposes is now a year old.

  5. Obviously it fades into the past when you don’t really need an os for anymore than mundane tasks. I think that point hits when you can do everything you want to do online. Basically if you’re just browsing, or using google docs or posting to your blog, then you don’t really need a killer os. You then need a simple os and a killer browser.

    I’ll bet that 95% of us are pretty much on the cusp already. Personally, I do image editing and web development on software that’s never going to be delivered online. But most of us, if we just need that excel, word, powerpoint, type stuff, don’t need applications stored local anymore.

  6. The big issue everyone is missing is this: when does the notion of a killer OS fade into the cloud and become irrelevant?

    in response, an anecdote, and a point. when Jeff Raikes (then group VP w/ MSFT’s Information Worker division) described why he joined MSFT from Apple in ’81. contrasting the two, he said:

    “I wasn’t sure who was going to win in the hardware business,” Raikes told the students, “but it sure looked like Microsoft was doing the software for all of them.” link

    now look around at Google et al. i’m not sure who’s going to win in the OS business, but i’m pretty sure Google is doing the software for all of them.

    But does any phone owner really give a fig about whether it is Symbian or not?

    yes, but not how you think i might. my Nokia N75 is a Symbian platform, and after giving it a decent shot i can officially say that i hate it and will not buy another Symbian based phone. negative reputations, particularly extreme ones, will still accrue and become increasingly relevant as competitive offerings approach feature parity. and that’s true whether it’s Symbian or Vista.

  7. The coming virtualization storm is the key.

    The home crowd on the Mac side is learning the advantages of virtualization but the Wintel home crowd is still behind the curve. VMWare is a monster.

    Will Apple ever *officially* allow Mac virtualization?

    Check out and the OSx86 project

    I’ve only had cursory experience but the advantages of virtualization have dribbled down beyond the big server sys admins.

    Running OSX on my Thinkpad? Oh yeah! Dream a little dream…

    Apple’s gone EFI ( but seems much of the Wintel hardware is lagging.

  8. So I place my order with Chris?

    I want officially supported, damn it!

    On a 13″ LED Thinkpad with a DVD burner, under 4 pounds, less than 1″ thick. Throw in a built-in webcam, give me some Intel Dual Core goodness. Thanks to MacOS, I can use 4GB of RAM without going down the stupid Vista 64 bit route for which no applications or drivers seem to work. HDMI out please.

    Or do I ask too much???

  9. There is a forum for installing OSX on Thinkpads:

    I’ve been running Vista Ultimate since mid-January without many problems. On the other hand, I don’t see many advantages over running XP (with the updated IE7).

    I think I had a better battery life (and it also reported this way on the Vista forum in under XP than under Vista and this concerns me.

    One good reason to stay with MS over Apple OSX is that people write their websites for Internet Explorer and not the Apple Safari browser and there are bound to be some incompatabilities with something not running correctly. Same is true of Office Apps.

    I was recently told by someone with a new Mac laptop with the highest speed processor available that his machine would lock up from the heat and he would have to put his laptop in the freezer for five minutes to cool it down (I wouldn’t try this)!

  10. Uncle Fester, asking Steve Jobs to license the Mac OS is too much to ask for. He won’t do it. At least he’ll keep saying that right up until announce day where he suddenly says yes.

    I think that day is a long time away though.

  11. Matt, you’re running Vista on the corporate infrastructure, yes? Is there tablet support? If so, I need to make the move.

  12. David,

    Vista has tablet support built into every edition except Starter and Home Basic. Handwriting recognition has improved as well, especially if you go through the training exercise to teach Vista how you draw your letters.

    Our standard software installer ISSI will not allow you to download and install our corporate apps as it sees Vista as an unsupported option. Instead, you or your executive support rep will need to worry about three main applications

    1. A new version of the AT&T Dialer — I have a link if you need this
    2. Lotus Notes — Again, I have this on a CD if you need it.
    3. Microsoft Office — This isn’t a big deal to get the CD, but you’ll need to scrounge up a license key

    I’ve not had a problem running Vista on our corporate infrastructure until the last two weeks or so. On the back end, they did some sort of system update to the expense tool which prevents machines running Vista from accessing it. When I file my expenses, I’ve resorted to firing up a Lenovo 3000 with XP just for that purpose.

    Overall it is worth trying, but don’t expect a big productivity improvement on your end. In fact, expect a productivity drop for a while.

  13. Big question Matt — is hardware up to Vista yet? I mean, if properly configured on a fresh machine, is there any reason a sane user would not miss XP?

  14. If you pick a Santa Rosa based system, then yes. This would be anything from us with a 61 in its name. Make sure you have at least 2GB of RAM, and do everything you possibly can to get a 7200 rpm HDD.

    You’ll still have issues, but they will be annoyances rather than productivity stoppers. I can’t say the same for older hardware.

  15. Vista also runs fine on an X60 which is the machine I’m running on. This is the machine that Lenovo was shipping when free Vista upgrades were announced. I second the reccomendation for the 7200 drive and at least 2GB RAM.

  16. Didn’t they say the same thing when XP came out? Bloated, slow, buggy, no real upgrade value? OK so in all reality, XP offered more to 98 (and esp ME) than Vista offers to XP, but I think the comparison still applies.

    Wait until Vista SP2 and it will be just as smooth as XP SP2 is today.

    For the record my wife’s out of box X61 Tablet with Vista Business runs fine, except for what seems like our own heroic TVT’s and possibly a known firmware problem. I was actually surprised how fast it ran with only a 1GB stick in it – another 2GB was promptly added though 😉

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