Wait, that’s a PC?

Windows Vista We’ve been waiting for it. We knew we would get it eventually. It’s been a record six years since the last release. The new Windows Vista is now available for download direct from the Microsoft website nearest you. It’s the latest sleek new Microsoft Windows product.

Windows Vista

We’ve been waiting for it. We knew we would get it eventually. It’s been a record six years since the last release. The new Windows Vista is now available for download direct from the Microsoft website nearest you. It’s the latest sleek new Microsoft Windows product.

Last Wednesday, Bill Gates celebrated the launch of the new product, and the recorded event is available for viewing online at the Microsoft website. While the product is exciting, it’s safe to say the launch is not. You may want to bring a pillow.

While Windows Vista promises to be the latest must-have product with improvements for communications, digital effects, gaming, music, productivity, mobility, etc., one has to wonder…when will it end?

How many versions does this make?

First introduced in 1985, Windows 1.0 was an add-on to MS DOS. In this pre-dawn era of electronic file management (very close to when dinosaurs roamed the earth), Windows was started from MS DOS and was used to manage files graphically rather than by typing in code. Windows’ advantage over MS DOS was that it allowed the user to execute multiple applications simultaneously. From these meager beginnings Windows progressively became more advanced and sophisticated, serving both home and office environments.

Windows: past and present

Five versions of the Windows Vista product are currently available: Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Enterprise and Ultimate.

As if we didn’t know this was coming, “some product features may require more advanced or additional hardware.” Judging from the posted customer comments, Basic is dull and Ultimate is awesome. Gee, who could have guessed?

Now don’t get me wrong. I know it’s been a while since we got the last upgrade-six long years, a record. I hate to whine when something as cool as the new Windows Vista is about to be mine. I like new stuff as much as the next person. I like bells, whistles, choices and graphic eye candy. But at this average annual rate of upgrades, I can expect to shell out an average annual hundred-plus bucks to stay current, and that’s for the low-end product. Granted, I can use my student ID and get the student discount, but one of these days, if all goes right, I will have to pay non-educational prices. Over the next 10 years, that could amount to more than a thousand dollars. Since Windows Vista is described to be “Mac-like,” I can only ask, why not pump that grand into Mac?

Pro Vista

Microsoft’s arguments for the Windows Vista are compelling: “The Wow is now.” Microsoft promises with Vista everything will be “easier, safer, more entertaining and better connected.” I have to give it to the Microsoft advertising team. They have nailed it. Don’t we all seek ease, safety, entertainment and connectedness? Out of modesty, I can only assume, they left out the fact that Vista simply looks better. Its in-your-face diagonal moving graphics almost allow you to enter the screen. When do we get holograms?

Other compelling pro-Vista arguments include the magnificent media center capabilities. Now we can watch TV on our computers. We can record, pause and rewind live TV. My boss isn’t going to like that.

Seeing everything through the lens of the new Windows Aero, the graphical user interface GUI (not available with Home Basic) is also quite enticing. The Aero interface, a backronym for Authentic, Energetic, Reflective and Open, takes 3D screen shots of all your open applications, flips them around like so many cards thrown up in the air and lines them up on your desktop, allowing you to visualize everything you’ve got open. If you suffer from motion sickness, this may not be the feature for you. The sleek Aero User Interface also has improved security offerings that, again, are rather “Mac-like.”

Snarkiness aside, the demo of Microsoft Vista is exciting. Icons float around in circles as if in three dimensions. As they appear to come closer to you, their resolution increases, and as they recede into the background, they become blurred. What would it be like to have such a feeling of depth all day long? Hmmm.

Con Vista

Cost is a con. Once one views the Windows Vista demos on Microsoft’s website, it’s hard to settle for Basic. Settling for Basic is like getting basic cable. Why get Basic when you really want Ultimate? I want Ultimate. I want all the little flippy things to work and I must, must have TV. Ultimate’s not cheap and although the organization and graphics are dazzling, I have to wonder, by holding out another year or two, what could be next? Something even cooler?

Admittedly, I feel conflicted about this seemingly endless parade of Microsoft Windows products. The never-ending cost, all the garbage produced, and all the packaging and near-annual tossing out of old CDs baffles me. (Though I must give credit to Microsoft because their new Windows Vista can be purchased and downloaded directly from their website with no generation of trash.)

On the bright side, there is a tingle of excitement every time a new Windows product comes out. It’s like spring. A renewal. A fresh beginning. It’s as though new ideas will surely flow in this new, welcoming, graphically creative environment. Yet, I don’t know if I’m ready to download. My current Windows product works fine. Maybe I’ll wait a while, until all potential Vista bugs have been caught or until Windows Hologram comes out. Windows Hologram…now that would really be cool.

Windows through the years

1985-Windows 1.01987-Windows 2.01990-Windows 3.01992-Windows 3.11993-Windows NT 3.11994-Windows NT 3.51995-Windows NT 3.511995-Windows 95 (allowed long file names)1996-Re-release of Windows 95 with bugs fixed1996-Windows NT 4.01997-Re-release of Windows 95 with more bugs fixed1998-Windows 981999-Windows 98 Second Edition2000-Windows ME (Millennium Edition)2000-Windows 20002001-Windows XP2007-Windows Vista (five versions)