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Open Letter to Microsoft on Technology

VISTA: Cure worse than the Disease?

Copyright 2007 Dorian Scott Cole
About this series.

Abstract

When is the cure worse than the disease? There has been a firm step forward.

This is an update. Most of the original content in this article has been removed in fairness to the manufacturers mentioned because it was "old news" and the problems are no longer relevant.

The problems mentioned in the earlier article regarding Windows VISTA appear to have largely been resolved by Microsoft through updates (as of early September 2008). The VISTA platform appears to be much more stable. Crashes have quit. File copy problems have ceased. Problems with other manufacturer's software have mostly ceased. This is my experience - I can't speak for other business users.

Some problems remain. Currently my OneCare auto-backup won't work - probably some file security setting got changed during some update - maddening. I tried one security related fix, but don't have time to search for the problem, so I just back up manually, which I always do anyway since backup programs have never had adequate reliability. On XP, which also runs some newer products, I was not able to get OneCare to work on one XP computer after weeks of effort and support help (probably security related - maddening - I finally decided the program wasn't worth the time and effort and installed a different program. It works on my other XP computer and I still like OneCare despite some problems.

Security, as noted in the previous article, is a nightmare. Homeland Security would be proud of the excessive and expensive effort, inconvenience to users, and minimal accomplishment. It's a security person's wildest dream. Microsoft is making the computer so complex that people with decades of use and development experience can't operate it. They should be making it easier, not harder. I believe that Microsoft has gone in the exact wrong direction with their security model and for the next version of Windows needs to take a completely opposite approach to Internet and network security that is less like a prison for the client computer while safeguarding from Internet malware finding a way to take over. (Actually the Internet is constantly under assault from virus and trojan manufacturers, sometimes massively, and security is much better for the average computer user, but I continue to ask if the cure is worse than the disease.)

People should be able to choose the security model they want and not be forced to have their files and file access subject to restrictions intended for companies with complex security issues. Also I personally want to know every process that runs on my computer, its source, an explanation if it is legitimate, and have the ability to stop it and delete it at its roots (except for those programs that self-propagate and hijack existing files which require other measures). I want the ability to assign all processes as background tasks, even if they don't want to be. I want control of my computer. Currently even the stop button on Internet Explorer is useless. Once you request a site, if it turns out to be malicious, whatever the site sends you continues to download and run and you can't get it stopped or close the page - it's horrible. Stop (the red X) should include Java, JavaScript, VB/ASP, and anything else running in that window. Stop should mean stop.

And why in the world did they take out of Word 2007 the ability to scan something into a document?!!! I hate this - it's like cutting off the index finger of a communicator. But otherwise the 2007 graphics capability, and additional formatting with graphical elements is very nice - if you can find anything in the interface without help - I've been using Word 2007 off and on since the Beta, mostly on, and the quasi-graphically based menus still make little sense to me. Microsoft needs to hire someone with experience in semiotics.

I have experienced fewer problems with Adobe products, and I salute Adobe and Microsoft for whatever effort it took to "get it together," and make their products work on VISTA. I have also replaced most Adobe products in the last few years because I don't consider them to be a good value when comparing features versus expense and are too problematic. Most recently: If you need a very good PDF maker, I have had very good experience with a Nuance product, PDF Convertor Professional 5, on Windows VISTA and Microsoft Word 2007 (2003 compatible .doc documents). I haven't used it on XP, the Word 2003 program, or Word 2007 .docx files. It has proven robust enough for business use, is fast, reliable, handles documents with hundreds of pages, automatically converts internal links, and has other versatile functions such as forms. I have no experience with it as an enterprise level application. The cost is a very good value at ~$100.00 - just exactly what I mentioned months ago as an appropriate price for a business class PDF maker. (I am not in any way associated with Nuance, and I tried many other PDF makers before choosing this one.) If you are a communicator, my experience is that this program works.

Anyway, if you are looking at Windows VISTA, I have to change my rating from "run" to "try." Try it first. (I am not in any way associated with Microsoft.)

- Scott

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