I've been wondering for a while on how I'm going to manage to convince my friends and family to not upgrade to Vista when I happened to stumble upon this interesting article on The Register. It's reached a point where you don't even have to prove the benefits and pros of the alternatives, Vista sucks ass all on its own! Just the EULA is enough to make me think twice about using it. So to outline what I'm talking about here's a bunch of cool features you get with Vista

  • Phone home utility that sends computer information to Microsoft every once in a while (aka: every time you update, about once a month)
  • DRM up the ass, Windows Media Player is the devil's spawn. Microsoft will only let you get see DRMed videos correctly if you have an approved monitor and video card (ie: copy-protection enabled)
  • Abusive EULA, lets Microsoft disable your computer if they think you're running a pirated copy.
  • It's bloody annoying, it takes about five clicks to delete a file, and I'm not talking about even clearing the recycling bin. No, it takes about five clicks to move a file to the recycling bin. Microsoft has decided that the user is not trustworthy and that nagging them 1000 times will shift the blame to them when things break. Ah! you can't blame us, you clicked Yes three times before we let you install a virus!

Ludicrous hardware requirements

I'd include this on the list above but this needs a bit of expanding.

Hard drive space

Vista uses 8GB on install, Windows XP takes up about 800MB, a typical Linux installation uses 2-5GB depending on the distribution. Consider that in the case of Linux this already includes many tools and applications, both Windows XP and Vista are bare after install.

RAM whore

500MB+ just idling away with nothing open. My copy of Ubuntu at work, with Firefox, Thunderbird (1000+ emails on inbox), Console, Gaim (Instant Messenger), Rythmbox and AIGLX funky effects uses about 400MB.

And what do you get? Not much if you buy the Home edition, it doesn't even come with the cool semi-transparent windows! You'll have to dish out 40 dollars plus another 100 for a new video card because chances are the one you have won't be able to handle Aero. And lets not even go into laptops whose video card you can't upgrade and which most of the times is a puny Intel Extreme Crap with shared memory.

But the best thing about all this is that Vista is the shadow of the operating system it was supposed to be. Here is a demo video of 2003 of what Vista was supposed to be (then codenamed Longhorn)

That is cool and that is not what Vista looks like by a far shot.

So far so good, there's a whole bunch of convincing arguments to get people not to switch, but just what and how good are the alternatives?

Basically you've got three options:

  1. Stick with Windows XP until Microsoft decides to pull the plug and stop supporting it.
  2. Switch to Linux
  3. Get a Mac
  4. (Or get a Mac AND switch to Linux :-)

Stick with Windows XP

This is the easy option, but sooner or later you're going to have to upgrade or switch. You might want to stick with this option if you think Linux hasn't evolved sufficiently and try again in a year or two.

Switch to Linux

A year ago I wouldn't have recommended this to any standard user, Linux used to be usable, but there still certain things that required certain advanced knowledge to get working. But Ubuntu has made big advances in creating a easy and user-friendly Linux OS. I recently made the switch on my work computer (from Windows XP, I use Gentoo at home) and I was surprised at how easy it is to get stuff working and how you don't really need the command line. There's a GUI for everything, even for enabling the alternative repositories.

Ubuntu is more than ready for most people, Firefox, OpenOffice, many IM clients, DVD player (although I haven't tested it and can't account for easiness of use), many music players, plug and play usb hardware detection, and a long etcetera of applications you can install from a simple interface. Ubuntu is way more than enough for 99% of casual users out there. The only place where I don't see Linux is in audio and video creation, and only because I haven't tested or know of any available tools.

This is where Mac OS X comes in

Need to do audio or video editing/creation? Is the Gimp not good enough? do you really need Photoshop? Getting a Mac is your choice then. Mac OS X's middle name is user-friendly so you don't have to worry about a thing. Yes, their hardware is a bit more expensive than standard PC stuff, they do have a history with DRM, but at least it's not as bad as Windows' because it's mainly limited to iTunes, and Mac gear looks sexy. But I digress. Essentially the Mac is the professional option, it's not free like Linux but you do get some high quality applications, specially for media use.


Windows Vista is not only not a step forward compared to XP but actually a step backwards. Ubuntu is and has been for quite a while now ready for general usage, and if for some reason it doesn't fit your needs Mac OS X is definitely a viable alternative.

Even though Windows Vista is not so much a bend-over as the Zune is, you can see who Microsoft cares more about, the entertainment industry and their personal interest or the user.

Are you going to give your money and support to a company that thinks you're scum, that you can't be trusted and is actively trying to screw you over?

Just say no to Windows Vista!


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