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Looking Back on Five Years of Windows XP 620

Posted by Zonk
from the so-many-memories dept.
david.emery writes "In an article in the Washington Post entitled If Only We Knew Then What We Know Now About Windows XP, post technology columnist Rob Pegoraro points out the 5 year legacy of Windows XP. The article starts 'Windows XP is turning five years old, but will anybody want to celebrate the occasion?' This is (IMHO) a very well-reasoned critique of WinXP, although it does fail to credit XP as being markedly better than its predecessors." More from the article: "Consider stability, the single biggest selling point of XP. The operating system was meant to stop individual programs from crashing the system, and it succeeded. It takes an especially malignant program to send my copy of XP to a 'blue screen of death.' But that's not the only way XP can crash. Drivers, the software that lets XP communicate with hardware components, can still lock up the system. If you've seen an XP laptop fail to wake up from standby, you can probably blame it on buggy drivers."
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Looking Back on Five Years of Windows XP

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  • Laptop Drivers (Score:3, Informative)

    by JeepFanatic (993244) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @07:46PM (#16179097)
    But that's not the only way XP can crash. Drivers, the software that lets XP communicate with hardware components, can still lock up the system. If you've seen an XP laptop fail to wake up from standby, you can probably blame it on buggy drivers.
    My Thinkpad R52 at work still has this problem when I'm booted in Windows. I dual boot Ubuntu on the computer had have zero problems when I'm running it instead of Windows. I find that I'm now doing most of my work in Linux instead.
    • Re:Laptop Drivers (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Pxtl (151020) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @08:05PM (#16179257) Homepage
      The other feature Redmond needs to work on: "not listening to a single damn thing Adobe Reader says".

      Nothing like strolling into the office in the morning and finding your computer still at the shutdown screen... and what is it holding it open, pray tell? Not the IDE. Not the source control client. Not the database browser. Nope. Adobe Reader is sitting there smugly asking "are you sure you want me to shut down?" holding up the whole system from logging off. FFS, it's VIEWING TEXT - it can shutdown when I damn well ask it to.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Geekbot (641878)
        But what if you lost your place? What then, smarty pants? The end of the freaking world, that's what!

        You should hear me cursing as I *attempt* to shut down an entire lab only to have all the computers hang waiting for me to confirm that they can close whatever program is too stupid to close at shutdown. There are a few of them that have hung me, Adobe is the most frustrating.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bigbigbison (104532)
        If it is just reader, ditch Adobe and go with Foxit Reader [foxitsoftware.com] which is a lot better than Adobe's version (and also free as in beer).
    • Re:Laptop Drivers (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Psykosys (667390) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @08:31PM (#16179431)
      I'm sure I'm not the only one who's found that drivers can crash Linux perfectly well, too.
      • by walnutmon (988223) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @08:55PM (#16179565)
        Here I am, Jerking off to Microsoft hate/Linux love, and then you bust out with your Linux can crash too bullshit. It is like I was just staring down Jenna Jamisons tits, as they delightfully flop back and forth, when, just at the moment of climax, the camera focus shifts to sweaty balls slapping her ass hole. Except this was worse.
  • It just amazes me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Travoltus (110240) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @07:47PM (#16179101) Journal
    how people are willing to put up with all the bugs that Windows has, and all the restrictions it is now tacking on.

    MS will require all PC software & games be XP compatible whether the consumers want it or not, and people will just obey.

    Whatever happened to consumers dictating how the market changes?
    • by GFree (853379) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @07:56PM (#16179185)
      Whatever happened to consumers dictating how the market changes?
      I'm not so sure this happens with software as much as some other business models. I use Windows XP because that's where the software is, at least for me. I'm sure that's the case for most other people who continue to use Windows even when they know of the alternatives.

      We obey because it's the path of least resistance. I sure as hell ain't gonna start using Linux exclusively and abandon the stuff I like using just to stick it to Microsoft. Doesn't do a damn thing in the long run.
    • by Colin Smith (2679)

      Whatever happened to consumers dictating how the market changes?


      A monopoly happened and subsequent network effect. At least on the Windows side.

       
    • What is it that Windows does that Linux (or any brand X) doesn't.

      I am no Windows "fan-boi", as is the perjoritive here, but I find that 4 out of 5 of the computers in my house do run Windows 2000 or Windows XP.

      Clearly, "all computers suck" (feel free to quote me), yet somehow, people find them useful.

      For whatever reason, they find Windows(tm) computers most useful.

      Beleive me, I'd love some other OS to work for me, but somehow nothing is compelling...

      Oddly enough I earn about 80% of my living from

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by penix1 (722987)

        For whatever reason, they find Windows(tm) computers most useful.

        It isn't so much that users find Windows(tm) more useful but that they are resistant to change. Here are my top reasons why most users put up with Windows(tm).

        • It comes pre-installed on their machine so why change?
        • It is what their employer forces them to use at work so why change?
        • The programs people have become used to are not available for the new OS so why change?
        • My hardware manufacturer only supports Microsoft so why change?
        • Local suppor
    • by saridder (103936)
      A simple concept a lot of Slashdotter's forget is that people "hire" the right tool for the right job. The overwhelming majority of consumers "hire" an OS for jobs such as - browsing web, writing email, downloading music on iTunes and playing video games, etc., and in those cases windows does just fine, or performs better that other OS'. In Wall St, they demand low-latency, real time OS' and need to create supercomputers out of grids. In that case they "hire" Linux or some other OS to do that job. If th
    • by Bonker (243350) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @08:27PM (#16179403)
      XP is not a bad OS when you tally up the features vs. problems. Saying that 'I can't believe people are willing to put up with the bugs' is about like saying 'I can't beleive people are willing to put up with compatibility issues' when discussing the Linux distro of your choice. They're not the same problem, but they're about the same order of magnitude.

      Please don't mistake me for a Microsoft apologist, though. XP does have some serious flaws.

      My take on the worst flaws of XP:

      Kernelspace Hardware Drivers - A driver that locks up the system is BAD! I'd be willing to bet that every Windows XP user has at least one such driver on their system.

      Cryptic Registry Settings - I've never quite gotten why it was determined that putting all your settings and configuration in one basket was deemed to be a good idea. I can't think of any positive justification whatsoever for this.

      OS-level DRM - Bad for so many reasons.

      Enabling executeable content by default in Outlook Express - The source of the vast majority of Windows Specific internet worms. This is not really an OS specific issue, but Microsoft is pretty keen on insisting the OE is an uninstallable part of the OS.

      No real super-user - You can get 'SYSTEM' user access in Windows via illegitimate means. There is no mechanism for a machine administrator to get this without some sort of hack or workaround.

      Crippled IP stack - There are a lot of features between the desktop and server distributions that are crippled to try to keep people from running servers with the desktop distros. Completely fucking pointless since the real money in server distros is not licensing fees, but the support contracts companies.

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @09:09PM (#16179667)
        Just a few things:

        1) About the kernel mode drivers. Isn't this the case on, well, pretty much every desktop OS? Unless I greatly misunderstand the may the monolithic Linux kernel works drivers on Linux are in kernel space too, even complied as a part of the kernel. It seems that it is just how things are done to provide the speed people want on a modern OS. One can argue that it's fine, drivers ought to be well written. After all what would you rather have: A well written kernel mode video driver that is fast and essentially never locks up your system, though it could, or a poorly written user mode video driver that is slower and crashes all the time (causing your display to restart) because the developers can be sloppy?

        2) The registry is one of those kind of good idea/bad idea things. The little appreciated good part is that being centralized it provides a place for everything to find the information it needs. Things like file associations, locations of installed software (and associated required files) and so on. I think there's probably a better way to do it, for example have the registry contain only minimal information like where an app is and a pointer to its config file, but don't discount the advantage of having a central store for information on the system. It means that I can install an app that interacts with another app and they can both get the information they need on each other easily, even if there's been verison changes.

        3) What is the OS level DRM you refer to? I've yet to encounter it. The only MS DRM I'm aware of is the Windows Media DRM and the Office DRM. Both are specific to their programs. I suppose you can argue, to an extent, that the WM DRM is OS since media playback is a part of the OS, but it's not automatic or anything. If you try to play a DRM'd file it whines at you and asks if you want to get the licenses for it. However either way it functions on media files only. You can't DRM up an executable or something. It is functionally no different than DRM built in to other media players.

        It's also purely optional. It's not like a WMV file needs to have DRM. Most don't and in fact you have to install more software to protect them. You are perfectly free to make unencumbered files if you want to. Same deal with Office. If you want, as a company, you can install the DRM features and control distribution of documents you make, but by default there's no restrictions on anything.

        I realise that DRM is unpopular around here but the answer is to simply not purchase DRM'd media. Nobody is forcing you to buy anything. If you don't like it, refuse to play ball. However I don't think it's appropriate to get mad at the people who provide the technology to use it. That's along the same lines of "We shouldn't have done atomic research because it can be used to kill people." Most technology can be used for good or bad, you can't really get pissed at those that make it if people use it for bad.

        As an example of good DRM usage, suppose I decide to use streaming media to do technology briefs within my company. I keep employees up to date on progress on new projects via a media stream, rather than staff meeting. However this is all confidential stuff, it's works in development and for it to get out would be harmful. Well, DRM allows me to control that and make sure someone doesn't just save the file on their laptop and walk it over to a competitor.

        The people to be pissed at are the content producers that feel you shouldn't own your own content, not the technology producers that make the DRM technology. You don't have to use it if you don't like it, it's just an option.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by tomhudson (43916)

          I think its not so much "kernel-level drivers" but that Windows, unlike the *nixes, absolutely requires graphics mode.

          If your X server craps out, you can just restart it, w/o having to reboot. Or try a different module. Or you can work from a console. The only option under Windows is to reboot (if it doesn't just halt by itself).

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ctr2sprt (574731)

        Kernelspace Hardware Drivers

        I don't think that means what you think it means. If it's a hardware driver, it's got some piece in the kernel. That doesn't just go for Windows, it applies to Linux and everything else too.

        Enabling executeable content by default in Outlook Express

        Just because it ships with Windows, that doesn't make it part of the operating system. I guess we're arguing over semantics here, so I'll leave it at that.

        No real super-user

        Windows isn't supposed to have a superuser, not th

    • by dave420 (699308) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @08:38PM (#16179473)
      I don't have any problems with my install of XP, so clearly not all users have issues, hence XP still being as common as it is. Saying anything else is just ignorant bullshit, something we don't like microsoft spreading around.

      I use XP because it has all the software I want to use (as does OSX), and it has a good UI that is very keyboard-friendly (as are most Linux flavours I've encountered), while still allowing me to play all the games I want to (currently just XP here), and watch any media I might want to watch, regardless of codec or DRM-infection (again, only XP does that for me). I use my computer to actually use it, not to make a statement :) As soon as any other OS is better-suited to my needs, I'll switch in a heart-beat.

      Acting all surprised that people still use it, then insult them as if they're brain-dead drones following what Big Bill tells them is a bit rude. There are plenty of competent non-fanboys out there using Windows, as it does what they want. Just as there are plenty of non-fanboys out there using the many flavours of Linux and OSX to do exactly the same. Again, I use my computer as a tool, not a statement.

  • Markedly better? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RedWizzard (192002) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @07:49PM (#16179115)
    although it does fail to credit XP as being markedly better than its predecessors.
    I don't think it is markedly better than Win2000. Marginally better, sure. Perhaps the article's authors feels the same way.
    • I give my 2 cents with every comment I leave on this site (username ;)

      XP had just come out and I "lost" my old account. I figured if it was anything like win98 that I would end up hating it for years to come.....

      Thanks for not proving me wrong Microsoft! (Ive used mac's at home since 1999 but by day I trouble shoot windows boxen).

    • Re:Markedly better? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy (595695) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @07:58PM (#16179197) Homepage
      To be fair, Windows 2000 never released a home version, so for most consumers it was never really an option. Sure you could run windows 2000 Pro at home, and many people I know do, but it's priced a big higher than what most people are willing to pay for an operating system. Also the fact that windows 2000 never came in a "home" version means that it wasn't offered on very many home computers. Non only that, windows 2000 only came out about 20 months younger than windows XP. That leaves a pretty small window for buying windows 2k, and deciding to wait for XP to come out. So, for most people, windows 2000 never really existed, and the predicessors are windows ME/98/95, which were all pretty terrible operating systems. However, I found that windows 98 was pretty stable provided you didn't install tons of crap you downloaded off the internet.
      • by RedWizzard (192002) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @08:32PM (#16179437)
        To be fair, Windows 2000 never released a home version, so for most consumers it was never really an option.
        You're right, but my point is that WinXP was an upgrade for Win2000 too, not just 95/98/ME. To only consider the home use angle is a bit unreasonable, IMHO. How many of those 480 million installs are business installs? I'm sure it's a significant percentage.

        Sure you could run windows 2000 Pro at home, and many people I know do, but it's priced a big higher than what most people are willing to pay for an operating system. Also the fact that windows 2000 never came in a "home" version means that it wasn't offered on very many home computers. Non only that, windows 2000 only came out about 20 months younger than windows XP. That leaves a pretty small window for buying windows 2k, and deciding to wait for XP to come out.
        A lot of people were exposed to 2000 at work and a lot of people ran it at home. 2000 was a vast improvement over 95/98/ME and people who experienced it did not want to go back. And people who were on 2000 have tended to stay on it rather than jumping to upgrade. Personally I only upgraded about a year ago. Also, keep in mind that at the time no one knew when XP was actually going to be released (just like no one knows now when Vista will be), so I'm not sure just how many people would have held off upgraded to wait for XP.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by brucmack (572780)
          2000 was a vast improvement over 95/98/ME and people who experienced it did not want to go back

          You're still comparing home OSes to business OSes. 2000 was a vast improvement over NT 4, while it may or may not have been a vast improvement over 95/98/ME. For me, I couldn't run half of the games I wanted to play under 2000, so I dual-booted until XP came out, at which point I could run everything I wanted under one OS. So if I were an average home user, I would never have considered 2000.
      • Price of Windows (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadin@[ ]y.net ['xox' in gap]> on Sunday September 24, 2006 @09:04PM (#16179629) Homepage Journal
        The "price" of Win2k, to most home users, was the same price as virtually every version of Windows since (but not including) Windows 95: $0.

        I say zero dollars, because in my experience, people either acquire Windows "free" with a computer, or they pirate it. Seriously, those two modes of acquisition have to be the largest two. Very few folks actually buy a retail box of Windows. They either use what comes on the computer, or they get somebody to 'upgrade' it for them, more than likely with a downloaded ISO.

        The only version of Windows that I ever saw 'Joe User' run out and purchase was Win95, and I think that was more due to the media attention than anything else; that level of attention/media-circus has basically never happened again.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 24, 2006 @07:50PM (#16179137)
    The early 21st century saw an unprecedented array of attempts to dislodge Microsoft from its dominant position in PC operating system market share. From Linuces of may sorts to Apple's new OSX, word was, the time for Microsoft's fall was at hand.

    Then came Windows XP.

    Right away, Microsoft's revolutionary new revision of the Windows operating system was a hit with home and business users. It is no exaggeration to say that the modern computing world as we know it, the innovations of bittorrent, the deep and involving fun of World of Warcraft, the wide ranging social networks of Myspace and Facebook, none of these would have been possible without Windows XP.

    From the stylish new interface, to the easy-to-use features, to the vast improvements in security and reliability, Windows XP has proved to be worthy of the title Greatest Operating System of All Time.
    • Re:Windows Wins (Score:5, Informative)

      by Epsillon (608775) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @08:06PM (#16179263) Homepage Journal
      Right away, Microsoft's revolutionary new revision of the Windows operating system was a hit with home and business users.

      Aye, that it was. Why? Because MS had deals with OEMs to keep their OS outlay to a minimum as long as said OEMs didn't use any other operating system. In other words, every fscking new computer sold had, and still has, a copy of this rot on it and people found they had to use it. After all, Joe Sixpack can hardly install any operating system from scratch without help.

      Windows is the de-facto standard because MS's marketing department is the best there is. There's nothing technical about it, nor is it the vote of the end users. It's the fact that MS has the manufacturers right where it wants them: With their bollocks in its twenty tonne press and the salesmen, watching they don't break the agreements, ready to pump the handle by making them pay the "going rate" for the OS if they sell so much as one PC with another OS on it.

      Dell was bloody lucky the n series with FreeDOS didn't bring the wrath of Redmond upon it. Of course, FreeDOS isn't much use to anyone these days unless you're flashing the odd firmware or two, so they probably weren't worried about Joe Sixpack discovering that Linux et al are just as simple as Windows XP when someone else installs it for him.

    • The early 22 century saw the fall of the Washington principality and its vassal state of Neo-Patriota. When the outsourced nations of new Canada and Greenland launched their massive offensive, the Redmondites placed all their hope in their new integrated Office 2109 communications software, running on Server 2104 with Microsoft SQL Server Warfare edition as a backend. This mighty system would integrate and focus the now awesome firepower of the mighty MS battle fleets into one precise and deadly, continent
  • I miss Windows 98 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @07:53PM (#16179155) Journal
    Windows 98 fixed problems with Win95, and was the last version to support DOS. Seeing as I built a massive DOS library in C/C++, I'm ticked I can't keep coding in my DOS mode. If I switch to coding under WINXP, will they obfuscate that too, so my code library will be lost again. I'm just at a loss because I have problems running DOS emulators too.
    • by canuck57 (662392)

      Windows 98 fixed problems with Win95, and was the last version to support DOS. Seeing as I built a massive DOS library in C/C++, I'm ticked I can't keep coding in my DOS mode. If I switch to coding under WINXP, will they obfuscate that too, so my code library will be lost again. I'm just at a loss because I have problems running DOS emulators too.

      You just realized one of the hidden costs of run Microsoft products. They are non-standards based and evolutionary unstable even between service packs forget ab

  • by CatoNine (638960) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @07:54PM (#16179163)
    "(1) This is (IMHO) a very well-reasoned critique of WinXP,
    although it does fail to (2) credit XP as being markedly better than its predecessors"

    IMnotsoHO, these two statements contradict each other. Not making myself popular around there, I'd say that WinXP, about the third greatest thing to happen to PC users (after MS DOS and Windows 3.1). Finally a real operating system for PC's without serious limitations, with enough backwards compatibility for the enormous installed base of Windows software. I can race through Need for Speed Most Wanted while downloading the latest, errr, content plus webserving my site. Without ever crashing. Sure, I have to reboot every week or so with some patches, but that's the price of any main-stream OS. Lunix-ers will have to pay later too... So: Hooray for the Borg! Cheers, Richard
  • by Dracos (107777) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @07:56PM (#16179175)
    You can think of Windows XP as a house with a second floor built of spackle, wood filler and duct tape.

    This is correct, but misleading. The main floor of Windows is built of balsa wood with a nice hardwood veneer. It looks solid to the casual observer, but isn't. As for the foundation, styrofoam sure can look like concrete blocks with a nice coat of gray paint.

    And as someone else pointed out elsewhere, you're renting this house, and the landlord insists that all you need for a back door is strings of beads, which they add more of every time someone just walks into the house.

    The main difference between all versions of Windows is that the house just keeps getting bigger, but not much stonger.

    • by obeythefist (719316) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @10:01PM (#16180067) Journal
      And Linux is like a house, but you used to have to build it yourself, but not so anymore! Because every two weeks some company or other makes a new house that is always so much better than the other companies houses, and the other houses made by that company, but it's usually designed so that only scientists or people with 500 children or people who keep angora rabbits can use it because it's the angora rabbit house distribution.

      Anyway, the house is free and you don't even have to build it yourself anymore, the company comes around and arranges everything perfectly depending on the size of the land you have and the available power and water. It looks really great! Then you try to get in the house, but the doorway is bricked up. You look for an easy way to open the door but it just isn't going to happen. Turns out the only way to get that door happening is for you to wander up and down the street looking for other people in Linux houses to find someone who knows enough about masonry to teach you how to rebrick the area around the door so you have a doorway that works right. One all-nighter with a bunch of bricks and cement you've gotten yourself into your new house!

      So you go out and you buy a sink for your new kitchen, it's a really popular sink and everyone in the Windows rental houses has one. You try to install your new sink and the pipes are all wrong! But your neighbour has a linux house and he had a similar sink, it's easy, all you have to do is get a metal pipe and an oxy-acetaline torch...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by njh (24312)
      As for the foundation, styrofoam sure can look like concrete blocks with a nice coat of gray paint.

      Most houses around here have styrofoam+concrete foundation slabs.
  • print view (Score:5, Informative)

    by oscartheduck (866357) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @07:59PM (#16179205)
    For those not wanting all the crud that surrounds the article on the linked view http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/artic le/2006/09/23/AR2006092300510_pf.html [washingtonpost.com]here is the print view.
  • Um, Win2k? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by foo fighter (151863) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @07:59PM (#16179211) Homepage
    This is (IMHO) a very well-reasoned critique of WinXP, although it does fail to credit XP as being markedly better than its predecessors."

    WinXP is little more than a skin or theme for Win2k plus the downgrade of mandatory product registration. Please note that 2k is Windows version 5.0 and XP is 5.1. I acknowledge some enhancements to the OS, but most could have made an appearance in 2k SP5.

    Whenever I bring this up I always have someone come back with "But XP is better for games." I've never seen this. To this day I play all my PC games on 2k with absolutely no problems or notable performance degradation.

    2k is all the Windows OS you'll ever need on your desktop.
    • by dbIII (701233)
      My MS windows machine I play games on is 800MHz with 256MB (and fanless and smaller than a CDROM drive). Windows 2000 works surprisingly well - but I doubt XP will be able to cope with the low memory at all considering how dual core machines of twice the speed with four times the memory behave.
    • Re:Um, Win2k? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Wilson_6500 (896824) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @08:44PM (#16179511)
      2k is all the Windows OS you'll ever need on your desktop.

      Not if you want to play any new PC games that use DX10.
  • WinXP vs Win2K (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JeepFanatic (993244) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @08:00PM (#16179217)
    IMHO the best "improvements" that XP has over 2K was the built in CD Burning, .zip support, and the ability to fool old programs into thinking they're running on an older OS. Most of this is a non-issue though because there is good software out there that can remedy these missing features of 2K. When I last dual booted XP and 2K on my system at home I found that with a clean install of each OS that XP would boot faster but once booted 2K actually was less of a hog on the system. Not that 3DMark is the best tool for comparison but I would always score higher in 2K vs XP (no extra services or processes running on either OS). XP basically boiled down to eye candy and the addition of features to remove the necessity for some 3rd party utilities.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Pxtl (151020)
      The whole "compatibility mode" is a service available under Windows 2k, it's just disabled by default. So scratch that one. WinXp was 90% just adding UI boosts to 2k to help combat the incredisexiness of OSX that had just come out.
  • I must say that I haven't had much of a problem w/ XP. The hardware detection works fairly well through all 3 motherboards I've used on this computer and when a program crashes, it doesn't seem to take the ship with it. I'm by no means a MS fan, but if I have to chose a Windows version to do any work, XP seems to be it as of now.
  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Sunday September 24, 2006 @08:04PM (#16179247) Homepage

    First, remember that the "markedly better" comment references what HOME users were using before, Windows ME. For businesses, XP isn't much better (or is much worse).

    But let's look at what OS X has done in the past 5 years (I only converted early last year). OS X has hardware accelerated it's GUI. It has gained Spotlight and Exposé, probably the two best inventions in improving computer use in the last 5 years. It has had little touches like spring-loaded folders. It manages to get basic window use right.

    The fact that Apple did the first 3 things (OpenGL GUI, Spotlight, Expose) which MS sat around (really: spent all their time on patches) is just sad. MS has improved things (the wireless handling was abysmal compared to today's XP), but not others. I took a job last month that has me using a Windows box for the first time in a year and the result of having to use it for long periods is jarring.

    Let's ignore the lack of Spotlight (which I love). Let's focus on something simple. Something that was in Windows 95. Something that was in Windows 3.1. Something that was there before that (don't know which version exactly, probably 1.0). Let's talk about the Z-ordering of windows.

    At least once a day I seem to run into this. Let us consider 3 windows among about 10. We'll use FireFox, Outlook, and Calculator. Let's say those windows are all maximized (as are all others) except for Calculator. Calculator has been buried to the very bottom of the windows (or near). Firefox is on top, with Outlook below. Now click on the taskbar button for Calculator. What happens?

    What SHOULD happen is you see Firefox with Calculator on top. That is what happens most of the time. But some times, for some random reason I can't find, doing this will bring Outlook to the front window behind Calculator, so you see those two on your desktop (Calculator on top). You can often repeat this 3 or 4 times before Windows "gets it" and things are put correct. By this I mean you can switch back to Firefox (which works), then click for Calculator and have it happen again.

    I have NO IDEA how this happens or why, but how hard is it to keep a Z ranking of the windows I have?

    I won't even touch on how hard it is to manage 10 windows with your only tools being the taskbar and Alt-Tab. Exposé is so intuitive and simple. From the screenshots I've seen (I haven't looked hard) Vista only seems to have a graphical version of the current Alt-Tab.

    There are no spring-loaded folders (terribly handy for moving stuff around).

    Windows DOES have a Cut command in Explorer, something that still boggles my mind about the Mac (how can Finder not have a Cut?)

    Windows hasn't really improved at all (other than in security) since 1999 (when Windows 2k was released). Look at the changes OS X has made from 10.0 to 10.4. I'm not even including the cool stuff that's coming in Tiger. OS X even gets faster.

    I'm glad to be off Windows for my personal use. And since my job is all Java and HTML, I'm going to ask for a Mac when my current Dell is no longer powerful enough. I think Exposé alone will vastly improve my productivity.

    • by Jimithing DMB (29796) <dfe@NOspAM.tgwbd.org> on Sunday September 24, 2006 @09:42PM (#16179907) Homepage

      Windows DOES have a Cut command in Explorer, something that still boggles my mind about the Mac (how can Finder not have a Cut?)

      I believe it's actually a design decision on the part of Apple. The traditional way to move or copy files on a Mac has always been to use the mouse to drag them. This isn't hard at all when you have a decent sized screen and you can simply stagger the source and destination windows then drag from one to the other.

      It is interesting though because dragging files is really something someone needs to be shown. My experience has been that people don't just pick it up without at least some minor prompting. Once you show someone on a Mac they seem to understand it quickly. However, I've had a hell of a time showing how to do it on Windows PCs. It just seems that people can't get their mind out of the one maximized window mindset and it's rather hard to drag from one maximized thing to another. Of course, you can drag through the task bar but that's another learned behavior, one that doesn't make that much sense compared with a normal drag.

      This, I think, is one of the major shortcomings of Windows. Microsoft has basically crippled the UI to the point where it's nearly impossible to run more than a few apps with more than a few windows open. Unfortunately, it seems that Vista doesn't really fix this shortcoming. They have a cool looking alt-tab replacement but it's just that, cool looking.

      It would be very hard for Microsoft to move to the Mac model here. Part of the Mac model is that the menubar switches with the app you're using and that all the toolbars and pallets disappear when the app is not active and switch when you switch which document you're working on within an app. Contrast this with the Microsoft style of putting giant sidebars on all four sides of the document area within the window. It makes the windows too big to be sized anything other than maximized on many screens.

      Of course, some people have a preference for the Windows way. They say it "looks cleaner" because they only see what they're working on. Maybe some people really get distracted by having portions of other windows behind their active one still visible. Funny enough, that aspect of OS X never bothered me. I found it relatively easy to get used to the idea that windows generally exist on the screen and don't try to own the entire screen. To me it seems similar to the way one stack of paper sometimes obscures another on my real desk. I never stack everything neatly in piles and grid them out like tiles. I've got one pile of papers that's half covering another so I can see at least part of what's under it to know it's there. This way I can put a lot more crap on my desk and still know where it is. Now I know I'm not the only person whose desk looks this way

      Still, can I really blame Microsoft for these things though? Not really. They made these decisions years ago trying to get people to move from DOS to Windows and then later from Windows to newer versions of Windows. The latest trend I'm seeing is for some people to get dual monitors on Windows. This way they can have two apps maximized, one maximized on each screen. I ran dual monitors on OS X for a while but lack of real maximization (and no desire to have it either) means you wind up with a good sized worksurface with a huge line in the middle of it. I've since decided that Apple is defiitely on the right track with the bigger displays. Particularly if you have the 23" you can begin to see how it completely changes how you want to interact with the computer. You're not going to maximize things; even at the smaller 20" size a window would be ridiculously big. What I find myself doing is just staggering more and more windows all over the place. It looks just as messy as my real desk. This, I think, is exactly the point. Apple has taken the desktop metaphor one step further with these huge displays.

      And what has Microsoft offered us? More of the same. Compu

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tom (822)
        Windows PCs. It just seems that people can't get their mind out of the one maximized window mindset

        Bingo. One thing that I've always wondered about. Why is this unique to the windos world? Every Mac and Unix user I know has their windows scattered around the screen in whatever way makes sense to them, while windos users work with maximized windows all the time. What's a windowing system for if you don't use it? And why is it that only windos people work this way?
  • My 2 cents (Score:4, Interesting)

    by B3ryllium (571199) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @08:05PM (#16179261) Homepage
    Having used FreeBSD, Linux, Windows XP Pro, and Windows 2K3 Standard, my opinion is this:
    FreeBSD for servers, Windows XP Pro for the desktop.

    It works very well for me - in fact, well enough that I'm considering trying out Vista when they release that. Part of the reason it works so well for me, is that instead of being locked in to IE, OE, and Office, I have opted instead to use Firefox, Thunderbird+Lightning, OpenOffice, and other OSS tools (like Eclipse). Theoretically, I could swap out Windows XP Pro and barely even notice the difference.

    Why don't I? Because I don't feel like it just yet. It's comfortable.
  • Reverse FUD? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wbren (682133) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @08:11PM (#16179287) Homepage
    This article is complaining about a lot of things Microsoft has no control over. Drivers causing the OS to crash? You're telling me Linux/MacOS cannot be locked/crashed by a bad driver? I don't have much experience with MacOS, but I know it can happen in Linux.

    "Microsoft doesn't write most of that software, so it asked the companies that do to submit their work for its own testing... many developers have ignored Microsoft's testing requirements."
    Damn you, Microsoft, why did you force all those developers to ignore your test requirements!?

    Basically the same thing happened to Microsoft's attempts to clean up the look of Windows. Recall how simple a fresh installation of XP can appear, with only the recycle-bin icon on the desktop and a single column of programs in the Start Menu... The initial simplicity almost never survives contact with software installers. Most of them ignore Microsoft's programming guidelines by dumping shortcuts and icons across the Start Menu, the desktop and the "tray," that parking lot of tiny icons at the bottom-right corner.
    Again, I don't know why Microsoft forced all those developers to ignore their guidelines! It's all Microsoft's fault!

    The operating system has done little to ensure that programs move in and move out in an orderly manner; they can throw supporting files and data all over the hard drive, then leave the junk behind when software is uninstalled.
    InstallShield used to do that by default, until they realized developers were often sloppy and didn't put their files in the right places. That led to missing DLL files, missing OCX files, etc. Again, is this really Microsoft's fault? I don't think so.

    I can't say much good about the registry, since it clearly should have been scrapped a long time ago. Same goes for Windows Genuine Advantage, it is intrusive and prevents a lot of legitimate users from getting security updates. Service Pack 2 did a lot to improve security. I agree more could have been done, but SP2 was a positive step. Vista sounds like it will have some fairly good security tools built-in (depending on the version) for home users.

    I have a tough time believing these articles, mainly because most people I know don't have problems with XP in general. When I go to customers' homes/businesses to fix problems, it's usually a result of them downloading porn or free screensavers. I don't really blame MS for that, mainly because a stupid user will find a way to screw up their computer. I don't think that will change with Vista, and I don't think MacOS/Linux are any different.

    This article did make some good points about things XP did wrong, but it threw in enough complaints about minor or non-existent problems that I lost confidence in the article's content.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Brandybuck (704397)
      You're telling me Linux/MacOS cannot be locked/crashed by a bad driver? I don't have much experience with MacOS, but I know it can happen in Linux.

      That's too bad. Because it doesn't happen in FreeBSD.

      p.s. Unless you use the *proprietary* NVidia driver, but that's another topic...
    • Re:Reverse FUD? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Inoshiro (71693) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @11:58PM (#16180909) Homepage
      "InstallShield used to do that by default, until they realized developers were often sloppy and didn't put their files in the right places. That led to missing DLL files, missing OCX files, etc. Again, is this really Microsoft's fault? I don't think so."

      It sure is Microsoft's fault. Apple was smart enough to say, "Look, let's adopt some of these sane ideas that have been coming out of the OS research people. Like these .app files -- they're not really files, but a bundle of everything the program needs to run it its own sandbox. We'll let the memory manager layer and the program loader figure out when to use a shared or private copy. In the meantime, the applications just need to be dragged in."

      And they do. If I want Camino in my Mac, I download the .dmg file and mount it (by double clicking it), then I drag the Camino icon to my Applications folder. With that taken care of, I can drag the .dmg to the trash (unmounting it and deleting it in one action). If I'm done with Camino, I can drag it to the trash, too. No registry settings, no OCX files, no DLL files, and no bullshit installers. If a stupid Wizard is the best answer Microsoft has to the task of installing and removing programs, they've already lost.

      Some people have been pushing for this kind of ease-of-use in Linux, but it's hard to get the momentum that Steve Jobs can get. Autopackage was kinda easy to use, but most people (who are like myself) seem to be using Synaptic for new applications. It's still hiding the same garbage that Windows has, in terms of the swarm-of-files approach to application distribution (instead of .app blobs), but it's a lot easier to manage and handle since it's through a reasonable interface. That's two solutions that solve the problem you mention, and both were easily achievable 10 years ago as much as today. So why is it that you have to even mention Installshield? Because Microsoft is unwilling to take a serious stance on anything that's not about supporting other Microsoft products -- that's why they're a monopoly!
  • by nurb432 (527695)
    Ya, 5 years ago no one outside a few tight circles ever heard of it.

    XP brought it to the common man. Way to go microsoft!
  • Vista (Score:5, Informative)

    by JustNiz (692889) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @08:19PM (#16179347)
    I tried the RC1 (release) candidate of Vista.
    Very buggy, very bloated, very slow compared to XP, the GUI has been redesigned to hide (even more) the system from you so now you can't do anything even slightly technical without really digging deep.
    Also it kept crashing and wouldn't play a lot of my own media.

    I used to think XP had lots of room for improvement. I went back to it after 20 minutes with Vista.
  • by Twillerror (536681) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @08:25PM (#16179385) Homepage Journal
    Slashdot posted to a story the other day that has a lot to do with MS woes. That was the story about MS not forcing their own employees to run as non-admins.

    The home version actually seems to do this a little better then the Professional edition. My parents and my siblings login to their computer with their own accounts and all as non-admins. Of course they don't lock down admin, so they all install all kinds of stuff.

    Vista seems to go a long way in stopping unwanted stuff from installing, but with such a mainstream system does is it really going to help? If a user has to switch to admin to install that screensaver that also is spyware does that really help? Does Ms have to be held accountable for Spyware that is purposely installed on a machine. If it comes in through IE 6...sure it is MSs fault.

    Linux installers are applauded by most, but I wonder what will happen to them in the mainstream. Commercial software will probably still install with stand-alone installers if Linux where to take off. Linux ( and others ) has standards that adhered to via open source packages, but would another company really put up with it. So a user in Linux goes to run an executable off a web page...they get an error from it saying please be in root mode. If they login as root would Linux do anything to stop them from overwriting system config files? Would we blame the problem on Linux or the author?

    The author seems to be misplacing the blame. MS has to be the app cops? I guess in this day and age yes...5 years ago...not so much.

    In the long run I think all OS's need to force application to install in virtual file systems. When I go to install a major app I wish that it would just copy a big file and "mount" it to the machine. You wouldn't even need to be in root to do it if done via an API call. The app would be registered with the OS and given a small amount of hardrive space to write it's config files to that only it would have access to. When it goes to save data files for the user the OS would ask the user if it was alright for it to. We can run entire OSs in a VMWare like system, why not applications themselves.

    Of course lots of apps, especially in OS use pipes and heavily rely on other systems and libraries. Back in the day when sharing a DLL was needed to save HD space it was a good idea...is it now. Should we require all the apps to include their libraries? This would make code injects a lot harder as well....sorry botters.

    The fundamental idea of an App installing needs to be re-engineered. Some OSs do a better job then others, but they all fundamentally invovled the installer coping files around, which will always lead to the types of problems we are seeing.

     
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by doshell (757915)

      Back in the day when sharing a DLL was needed to save HD space it was a good idea...is it now. Should we require all the apps to include their libraries?

      It's not simply a matter of HD space. One very important advantage of shared libraries is that you can upgrade them (for example, if a critical security bug is found) by overwriting a single file. Imagine having to reinstall 50 programs on your system just to get all the copies of the library updated. And that's assuming the developers were kind enough to

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kaenneth (82978)
      Running each application in it's own VM sounds like a good idea... until you need to move data between applications.

      The Clipboard.

      Such a basic thing that users take for granted nowdays, but really quite complicated; are you cutting from an RTF document, and pasting into a spreadsheet? Copying a bitmap and pasting it into a vector-graphic program? can that AJAX application in your 'secure' web browser blocked from reading the clipboard, what if you want it to?

      Crash-proof drivers.

      Good idea, in principle, you
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @10:27PM (#16180259)
    People like to say "I've never seen my XP box lock up". Thing is, unless you're right there when it happens... you won't. XP automatically reboots after most crashes.

    Ever come back to your box the next day, or after a weekend, and think to yourself "Huh - I didn't think I'd logged out"? Well, you probably didn't.

    Yeah, yeah, I know this'll get modded as flamebait.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by oz_paulb (617486)
      >> People like to say "I've never seen my XP box lock up". Thing is, unless you're right there when it happens... you won't. XP automatically reboots after most crashes.

      As you state in your next sentence, you *will* notice it when it happens (by the fact that you're back at the login prompt when you don't expect it).

      So, anyone who states "I've never seen my XP box lock up" is either correct (it didn't lock-up/reboot/etc), or they are lying (of course, there's no way to know if someone is lying).
  • by oz_paulb (617486) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @10:51PM (#16180481)
    Is Linux somehow 'magic' in its ability to defend against bad drivers, or would it suffer the same problems as WinXP does?

    A bad driver is a bad driver: it can bring down the OS (no matter what the OS is).

    Why is this 'issue' considered to be XP-specific?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dbIII (701233)

      Is Linux somehow 'magic' in its ability to defend against bad drivers

      The drivers are linux - it is an operating system and not a distribution. The bad drivers don't get merged in - people like the reiserfs people and many other groups will tell you that some of the good drivers don't get merged in because of a conservative approach. Development versions of linux do of course crash all the time before the debugged code gets merged in for others to use. It's not magic it is management of a project.

      It is an

  • We DID know it then. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by argent (18001) <peter@slas[ ]t.2 ... m ['hdo' in gap]> on Monday September 25, 2006 @11:56AM (#16186289) Homepage Journal
    A lot of the stuff that's wrong with Windows XP was already known to be wrong as early as 1997, back when Windows XP's precursor was Windows NT 3.51 and the integration of Windows 95's shell was the big obvious change in Windows NT 4.0.

    As a result, something that should have been fixed in Win 95 -- the way Windows slowly chokes on the leftovers of old programs -- remains a problem.

    Something that should have been fixed in Windows 3.1, you mean. By 1997 this was a huge and obvious problem in Windows, and one that we'd already been fighting for five years.

    Microsoft also did nothing to make the system registry -- the collection of settings that constitutes a single, system-wide point of failure -- less of a nightmare.

    Relacing INI files with a binary encoded version of the same INI files (look at a registry dump some time) was obviously a huge step backwards... in 1994 or so.

    Note, also, what Microsoft never thought to include in XP: anti-virus software ...

    Anti-virus software isn't necessary in a competantly written system. The OS and applications should be held responsible for keeping viruses out in the first place, rather than trying to catch them after the fact. In 1997 Microsoft completely blew it, introduced the greatest virus distribution system the world has ever known in the criminally incompetant "Active Desktop" and everything that it's spawned. The only "antivirus" I use now, and from 1997 to 2002 the most important standard "antivirus" for the systems I supported, was "no Internet Explorer or Outlook", and then later (as they started using the HTML control) "no Windows Media Player or Realplayer".

    This stuff was obvious years before XP came out. A headline like "If Only We Knew Then What We Know Now About Windows XP" only means "it's not just the political reporters who can't remember what happened a few years ago".

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