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What's Different About Vista's GUI? 444

jcatcw writes "Paul McFedries, author of Windows Vista Unveiled, thinks that an operating system should be thought of as more than just its user interface, but then again that interface should work well for the user. He thinks the Vista interface rates 'pretty darned good.' The Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) results in positive changes for both developers and users. Developers can do 2-D, 3-D, animation, imaging, video, audio, special effects and text rendering using a single API. The use of vector graphics and offloading work to the GPU result in better animations, improved scaling, transparency, and smooth motion."
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What's Different About Vista's GUI?

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  • Cough, cough... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by patrick0brien (615224) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:06PM (#16522467)
    Cough... yeah, right. I've lost so much faith in MS's ability to develop anything really new and interesting, I'm actually wondering if I had faith in the first place. Well, ok, maybe once in 1985.
    Though I'm not looking forward to buying a Quadro FX just to minimize a window. Tad sarcastic.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:06PM (#16522479)
    Then why are the CPU requirements for Aero so high?
  • by Jerf (17166) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:14PM (#16522589) Journal
    Somebody wake me up when these [KDE and Gnome] stop playing perpetual 2nd place, and start trying out new GUI ideas.
    Funny, I was just pondering how completely Microsoft is missing the point of the features in KDE and Gnome. Until Windows has a decent workspace switching mechanism, I'm not going to find the interface tolerable no matter how many whizbang animations Microsoft adds.

    I've also found pervasive KNotify support to be surprisingly useful in little ways, not least of which is helping support that multi-workspace work area. It's the little things, like telling Konsole to KNotify me when the console is active or quiet, or Kopete's ability to use KNotify to put up the first bit of the message, which is often the entire message, preventing me from needing to switch windows to read it (or switch desktops)...

    In my opinion, the KDE interface at least has long surpassed Windows and I am yet to read about Vista actually picking up on the reasons why. It doesn't surprise me that a multi-billion dollar company can create a nicer-looking interface, but I'm "surprised"* at how resistant they are to the actual features that make the experience different.

    (*: Actually, no I'm not; I'm pretty sure Windows still doesn't really support multi-workspace use, at least from what I've seen of the hacks that offer it, and I'd guess that "fundamental Windows limitations and the inability to offer reverse compatibility" is behind some of the other missing features, too. XWindows may suck but it seems to me it sucks less...)
  • by jalvear (610723) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:14PM (#16522593) Homepage
    Why bother buying and using an over-rated, over-priced, years-late operating system update? Linux works fine. Windows XP works fine. (Well, except for a few security issues.) But the world does not need another huge Windows release. To paraphrase what someone once said in a commercial: "The Internet is the Computer"
  • The Holy Grail... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:18PM (#16522641) vector-based uber-scaling. I want a desktop that looks basically the same when I switch resolutions, with icons and fonts scaled appropriately. Vista has the necessary scaling and vector capabilities in place, but I'm guessing it doesn't support this. Or does it?
  • A while back... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bunions (970377) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:26PM (#16522745)
    just after they'd changed the name from the awful "Avalon" to the much more memorable "Windows Presentation Foundation," I saw a demo of this stuff from a MS evangelist. The demo application was awful. Gratuitous use of 3D, buttons that were unrecognizable as such and which would flip up into the 'air' playing a movie when you pressed them.

    I understand that it was just a demo and these things weren't really 'gratuitous' because they existed simply to show off the capabilities. But the bottom line is that it's so super-easy to make these awful UI abortions that we're gonna see metric asstons of it coming down the pipe from programmers and their bosses who are unable to resist cramming every last widget behavior into their software. Feh.
  • Maybe I'm just cantankerous today, but the idea of having a GUI do more happy bouncy shit to pander to the least educated user really bugs me. Perhaps it's just me, but I hate little "helpful" pop-up tips and goofy animations asking if they can assist me in writing a letter. No user interface, other than the nipple if you're a mammal, is intuative and no amount of pop-uppery will fix that. Simplification and consistancy is probably the best way to make sure that all the rules of the interface can fit inside people's head, which is maybe what they're groping toward by copying OSX. (Which is by no means the Best Interface Ever, as some people content. Me? I like the command line.)

    Blegh. Why has this pissed me off so much? I've not used a Microsoft product in years, and I'm far more likely to do this [][*] before touching Vista. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but does this piss anyone else off?

    [*] DO NOT CLICK THIS LINK (unless you're familiar with modblog, aren't squemish and aren't at work).
  • by KiwiRed (598427) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:36PM (#16522871)
    I'm kind of lost about exactly what this 'vector based' part of the Vista UI is, as referred to in the article:
    Improved scaling. With vector-based graphics, you can scale any image bigger or smaller without any loss in the image quality. This is simply not possibly with raster-based graphics. For example, if you have ever tried using larger icons in Windows or a program toolbar, you know that the resulting icons look blurry and jagged.
    Yet MS themselves have said that Aero isn't vector-based ( ), and just used good ol' bitmaps. Is the author referring to some feature of the UI that MS has available in Vista but just forgot to use for Aero?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:42PM (#16522963)
    You can do it from the keyboard, its just a lot more work. Try alt-space to get the window menu for the current window then the arrow keys for the rest, though theres no way to send the current window to the bottom of the stack, you just have to keep alt-tabbing until you get the one you want on top.

    But I do think you're right. The various window managers have managed to surpass Windows in advanced and power-user features.
  • by digitalhermit (113459) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:55PM (#16523143) Homepage
    I think you hit it on the nose. I'm not particularly fond of KDE/Gnome, but they seem years ahead of the Explorer desktop. For various reasons I've had to use an XP desktop and laptop recently. Some of the more annoying things:

    1) Right clicking the desktop brings up a menu with some useless entries such as "Arrange Icons By" and "Refresh". Sure, those can be useful, but not for me. Problem is that I can't modify it to be more useful. E.g., have it launch a command prompt, an editor, browser, etc.. This is particularly onerous on an extended desktop with large displays. You can't use the mouse effectively to get to the Start menu since you may need to cross (at worst) two whole desktops. Someone suggested moving the menu to the rightmost display to halve the distance, but this is a kludge. Sure, you can also use the Windows key... But wait, this keyboard doesn't have one...

    2) One desktop... You can't easily segregate tasks with a single desktop. The Powertools can add this, but it's broken for lots of apps, including Microsoft's own Excel which has problems when you move from window to window when Excel is maximized or minimized.

    3) File explorer doesn't have tabs. I've gotten so used to tabs in Konqueror and Firefox that this is painful on Windows. They caught on with IE7 and did a decent job of it, but when oh when will this be available elsewhere?

    4) CMD.EXE is very limited in resize capability. You can put in arbitrary row/columns, but this requires menu entries rather than a drag resize.

    5) Every once in a while (say once a month), the window gets shifted *above* the active desktop. You can't alt-drag the window though and have to resort to some control key madness to bring it back. If it happened more often I would remember the key sequence... but it doesn't.

    6) What rhyme or reason is there in where new windows pop up? For example, double click on My Computer and it may or may not appear on your primart display. Sometimes it's on the second head, sometimes on the first. If I move the window to the primary and then launch another one it appears -- heh, sometimes on the second, sometimes on the first.

    And I could go on... But the XP desktop seems to 1996'ish.
  • by phatvw (996438) on Friday October 20, 2006 @06:02PM (#16523197)
    In an age where we should be looking for energy savings, what's the benefit of making a system more complicated than XP, and requires more horsepower than a rather darn good OS Microsoft released in 2000

    The answer is simple: Games. Just wait till the new DirectX10 titles start coming out - that is going to be the driving sales force for Vista!

    Also, Vista is quite aggressive in its power management so even though the CPU and GPU peak energy consumption might be a lot higher than a typical Windows XP machine, the OS is quite intelligent about turning off bits that aren't being used - especially on laptops. I reckon the energy requirements will be about the same overall.
  • by oddfox (685475) on Friday October 20, 2006 @06:02PM (#16523199) Homepage

    And many users with sensitive mouse wheels, such as myself, say fuck that. A key combination is much more effective for switching to a different workspace.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <> on Friday October 20, 2006 @06:29PM (#16523549) Homepage Journal
    Right clicking the desktop brings up a menu with some useless entries such as "Arrange Icons By" and "Refresh". Sure, those can be useful, but not for me. Problem is that I can't modify it to be more useful.

    Actually, it's extensible. The problem is that you have to register a handler in the registry, and then register a change to the menu in there someplace, and who knows how to do that? But AFAIK you don't need to write any special programs, you can even use scripts and such.

    One desktop... You can't easily segregate tasks with a single desktop. The Powertools can add this, but it's broken for lots of apps, including Microsoft's own Excel which has problems when you move from window to window when Excel is maximized or minimized.

    What problems are those? The only problem I've ever had with any office app when doing anything weird was when I had dual monitors and ran Office 97. The pull-down menus in office 97 apps open on the first display, at the same offset as they would if they were on the second display, regardless of whether the app is on the first or second display.

    File explorer doesn't have tabs. I've gotten so used to tabs in Konqueror and Firefox that this is painful on Windows. They caught on with IE7 and did a decent job of it, but when oh when will this be available elsewhere?

    Actually I thought they did a crap job with tabs in IE7 :)

    CMD.EXE is very limited in resize capability. You can put in arbitrary row/columns, but this requires menu entries rather than a drag resize.

    You can resize as tall as you want, but you need to use a command to change the width. (mode con: cols=n) this is stupid but is done for reverse compatibility reasons - they don't make it any less stupid but they do explain it. There's a program that gives you better console windows, but I forget the name. If I want better ones I usually get them by running cmd.exe in an xterm with a font that supports IBM graphics characters. X server and xterm come from Cygwin.

    Every once in a while (say once a month), the window gets shifted *above* the active desktop. You can't alt-drag the window though and have to resort to some control key madness to bring it back. If it happened more often I would remember the key sequence... but it doesn't.

    Alt-space, m for move, hit an arrow key, then move the mouse around and the window will "pop" onto the screen.

    I've mostly had this problem because I changed resolution. Which is still sad. Then again, applications should be smart enough to come back from being offscreen, too.

    What rhyme or reason is there in where new windows pop up? For example, double click on My Computer and it may or may not appear on your primart display. Sometimes it's on the second head, sometimes on the first. If I move the window to the primary and then launch another one it appears -- heh, sometimes on the second, sometimes on the first.

    What really cheeses me off is that windows constantly steal focus even if you tell them not to. However, this happens to me on Ubuntu as well, just less often - and what happens more often is that I start typing before a gnome-terminal comes up, which makes the window manager think I'm talking to it, or to the last foreground application, so it doesn't steal focus when I want it to! There's no pleasing some people :)

    And I could go on... But the XP desktop seems to 1996'ish.

    What seems 1996ish to ME is the OSX desktop. At least, that's about when I got addicted to and then got over my addiction to eye candy in Linux.

  • by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <sherwin@amira n . us> on Friday October 20, 2006 @06:29PM (#16523551) Homepage Journal

    That's why OS X runs on vastly inferior hardware, while XGL/AIGLX outperform Vista (by a large margin), with more "bling" and on vastly slower GPUs to boot.

    Vista is a dog; both in terms of resources, and the UI "bling". OS X is far more polished, and Compiz/Beryl do five times as much with 1/5 the hardware.
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <> on Friday October 20, 2006 @06:41PM (#16523691) Homepage Journal
    To paraphrase what someone once said in a commercial: "The Internet is the Computer"

    The person who said that was Scott McNealy. IIRC he said it at some Sun conference before the commercial came out. The commercial was for Sun Microsystems. Sun is now in bed with Microsoft.

    I think that pretty much says it all.

  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Friday October 20, 2006 @06:46PM (#16523759)
    Yeah well, every Linux geek always has a huge flock of Windoze sheep to take care of. That is why we honestly wish that MS would really improve Windoze, so that we don't have to deal with so much crap.
  • Re:A while back... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ElephanTS (624421) on Friday October 20, 2006 @06:56PM (#16523837)
    In other words every Win app is going to look like an over-tweaked Flash site.
  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Friday October 20, 2006 @07:02PM (#16523897)
    I think Linux and the free UNIXes have become the major "spanner in the works" for Microsoft.

    Commercial UNIXes were unable to compete with Windows on a price perspective and Microsoft capitalised, very well I might add, on that price difference and on a sales pitch that basically said any tool needing to be configured, run and managed from the command line would always be more complex than one administered from within a GUI environment. (Playing "devil's advocate here, I don't personally believe that, I'm looking at it from their perspective).

    However, a tactical mistake they made was not to keep the GUI separate from the core OS from the outset - I guess greed played a big part in that because making the GUI much heavier and inseperable from the core kernel forced MS customers into hardware upgrades, which in turn meant more Windows sales.

    Had Linux and the BSDs not come on the scene, Microsoft would be in the same situation with security and bugs that they are today but with less dissatisfaction from their customer base because there would be nothing to compare Windows to.

    However, I'm sure that any intelligent Windows user now would have to agree that when it comes to tailoring a server for very specific uses, nothing beats the modularity and configurability of a UNIX-like OS.

    The problem Microsoft are now faced with is that to change Windows such that the GUI became a modular, selectable part of the OS would be so vast a change that it would render a huge proportion of existing applications incompatible and take away one of the major reasons stopping a lot of their customer base putting in Linux or BSD servers in certain parts of the corporate enterprise. Add to that the fact that migration plans in enterprises are phased over lengthy periods of time, and MS have to maintain compatibility layers to give time for older applications to catch up - this adds to the bloat and the requirement for more raw processing power.

    I wouldn't say that Linux or BSD have the power (or intention) of fully displacing Windows, but I do believe they have unintentionally forced Microsoft down a single track of having to make their OSes bigger and bloatier with each release, and this will get to the point where their OSes become unmanageable from a security and patching perspective.

    I think it's inevitable that at some point in the near future, if MS stay in the OS game, then they will need to modularize Windows a lot more to make it manageable - that will have to lead to a lot of applications breaking, customers getting more angry and, perhaps, Linux and BSD becoming real viable alternatives in core enterprises where the likes of Exchange and MSSQL currently dominate.

  • It must just be anti-MS groupthink, because anybody who has done even a bit of research on Vista knows far better.

    • UAC: Vista can raise (and presumably lower) program permissions while running. This is seriously a good thing; aside from running sans-admin priveleges for the most part (and the abiliy to gain admin privs in things like Defender without needing to re-start the program from the menu via RunAs) the IE7 Protected Mode sandbox is, quite literally, the way all browsers should run. Super-low permissions, until it need to do something like load an outside pogram or save a file to disc. Then it asks for permission. Explorer works fairly similarly, elevating permsissions only when doing things that require admin privs (modifying Windows files or other users' directories, for example). Neither OS X nor XP (nor Linux) are this good at permissions control.
    • Address Space Layout Randomization []: together with the no-execute (NX) protection provided by essentially all modern OSes, this provides excellent protection against buffer overflow exploits. (NX is completely ineffective against overwriting the return address to some linked library, for example, the classic return-to-libc exploit.)Neither XP nor OS X support ASLR natively. I think it's part of SELinux, which is included with a few distros.
    • DirectX 10. I don't think this is going to be backported, and if MS is even 25% correct in their claims of increased performance (up to 70% improvement), it will make a big splash in the gaming world. OpenGL is awesome, but it doesn't have this level of performance. Oh, and anybody who says OpenGL is unsupported in Vista is ignorant/full of it; I've run OpenGL apps without any problem at all.
    • Volume Shadow Copies: SO useful! I've used it for everything from reverting files I'd thought overwritten and gone to restoring damaged system files (via System Restore, which in Vista makes XP's version look like a joke). It's in Server 2003, but not (really) in XP (only for system folders, and not well impemented). Leopard's "Time Machine" may be the same capability (with excessive eye candy) but I'm dubious of their implementation too... daily screenshots? Not based on major modifications? I hope they at least don't store the VSCs in some easily located portion of the filesystem; I realize there's very little malware for Macs, but most XP malware goes after the system restore copies as soon as it can. In any case, Leopard isn't out yet and won't be for a while yet.
    • BitLocker Drive Encryption: NTFS encrypting filesystem is nice, and there are of course 3rd-party software solutions, but using a dedicated hardware chip to do the encryption on your entire drive just makes all kinds of sense. I wish my system had one... I'd move GRUB out of the MBR and chainload it instead; then even dual-booting with BitLocker would work (yes, it does).
    • Resizing hard disk partitions, including the system volume, while they are mounted. I didn't even know this was possible! As somebody who does a lot of messing with partitions, doesn't want to shell out for Partition Magic (I get MS software for free via my school) and doesn't entirely trust QtParted and NTFSresize (I have about a 75% success rate, which isn't high enough for those kinds of operations. No major data loss... yet... but still not good enough).
    There's so much more... but I'm tired of repeating this post for the quadrillionth time. Oh, and as for power savings, I get much better battery life in Vista (due to various things including dynamic processor scaling that allow me to set my clock rate as low as 5% of its normal speed while the CPU is idle) than I do in XP. Linux is similarly good, but ACPI support in Linux is still lagging. I don't have OS X installed on my laptop.
  • by HermMunster (972336) on Friday October 20, 2006 @07:04PM (#16523911)
    The current GUI in XP is more than valid and works well doing everything you would expect it to do. The GUI in Vista is all that is has to offer. Well, some exceptione, are the DRM infection, the restrictive EULA, and the built-in spyware.

    What troubles me is that somehow so many industry pundits are pushing this thing as something special and worthy of the billions spent to develop it. Most of these must be looking at a picture of increased sales of hardware, more magazine articles (thus advertisers), etc. I personally think alot of these guys have been paid off by Microsoft.

    Just looking at the OS for a few days can clearly demonstrate that alot of what is being said just isn't true. One guy I read that got alot of press professed massive hardware support while my experience with it has been very common and found little hardware support overall. One would not expect neglect of IDE drivers, modems, etc., but would would expect that great effort to make wireless as trouble free as possible is much a minimum.

    Microsoft touts their sleep mode features, but in reality their implementations of these features have been severely lacking and extremely problemmatic over the years with little to instill any sense of confidence in me toward that feature and thus Microsoft. I think if the average person was going to save $50-$75 a year we should all jump up in the air and wave our hands in joy. Frankly we'd save more money if we'd just turn the buggers off at night.

    Guess what? We all thrashed Microsoft in the area of Genuine Advantage Notification and yet they have implemented this feature in spades under Vista. Anyone buying it will have to accept that up front. That means they are going to be spying on you and your use of Windows. Not only that they seem to think they are entitled to this. They seem to think they can interfere with the use of our computers.

    I have 15+ legit copies of XP and I have good solid hardware that runs it. My small business does just fine. What exactly is Vista going to give me? Anyone using XP currently has to ask that one question and be serious about it. I know many will find reasons to upgrade but from a productivity stand point, from a usage stand point, from a feature stand point, there's really nothing that complells anyone to upgrade. You like the latest greatest then fine do it for that but not because Vista is giving you anything special because it isn't. One must also ask themselves if it is worth giving up your privacy to the spying the Microsoft will be implementing. Not only that are you willing to give that up to a monopoly that has been convicted of crimes? Are you going to give that up to the company that stole the technology to do on-line activation of Windows and Office? Are you willing to give that up to a company that then used gorilla tactics in court to bury the court and the plaintiff in paper work in an effort to hide the evidence proving the plantinff's case?

    Microsoft has alot of power to influence and they get more free marketing than any other company on the planet, now and throughout history. But to be honest with you it only takes a concerted effort by people such as you and I to tell others how what has been happening and what they are doing with Vista to bring things back to reality.

    Why does Microsoft think they are the only ones that can produce a spying program that can disable even legitimate licenses? Who is Microsoft to tell us that after we pay upwards of $400.00 that we are not entitled to install this on any given machine we so choose? Do they not think that the average person who purchased Windows Vista is going to put up with "sorry, you have to buy a new Vista because your motherboard went out and you need it replaced"? What do you think will happen to system upgrades?

    That sort of license restriction caters to the likes of the big companies selling computers such as HP, Dell, etc. It doesn't help the average guy who is trying to make computers cheaper and better than HP or Dell.
  • by meburke (736645) on Friday October 20, 2006 @07:05PM (#16523915)
    Project Looking Glass was 'way ahead of the Vista 3D presentation, and still offers some cool effects that aren't available on Vista yet. I predict that soon after Vista comes out the OS community revives Looking Glass, couples it with Croquet and humiliates Micrososft by doing it on half the power at a fraction of the development cost. [] []
  • by bob65 (590395) on Friday October 20, 2006 @07:18PM (#16524029)
    That's for improperly implemented animations. Properly implemented, animations can not only improve usability of a system, but also increase the aesthetic attractiveness of the GUI. And it's well known - even in usability groups who are typically focussed on quantitatively measurable aspects of UIs - that "attractive things work better". A pleasing interface can make the user overlook minor usability flaws, and who's to say that attractiveness has no value?
  • by x2A (858210) on Friday October 20, 2006 @07:36PM (#16524197)
    I do too... I'm a fast user, and things like that just slow me down. I don't want menus to fade/slide in, same with dropdown boxes, tooltips etc.

    However; MS have done rather well with Vista. The fades/etc are done with transparencies, using the graphics card -not- the main system, and so makes it look/feel nicer, without slowing me down at all. I'm not a big fan of MS's stuff in the slightest; I develop server software and refuse to touch windows for that (i develop on linux), but credit where credit's due, preconceptions aside, I was quite impressed, it is a really nice gui.

  • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Friday October 20, 2006 @07:43PM (#16524251)
    Don't believe these articles--Vista's interface sucks. Weirdly, it gives you a headache after a while and you begin to long for the simplicity of XP, and switching to the Windows Classic theme doesn't completely alleviate it.

    By default, windows actually "fly in" to view. EVERY SINGLE WINDOW. You will be annoyed after 30 seconds.

    Every window border has a gigantic window border with an ugly blurring effect, giving everything a weird camouflage look. Microsoft didn't know how else to deal with overlaying text on top of this, so they just put a white haze behind letters which look utterly bizarre and actually makes it difficult to read.

    Vista still takes a ton of mouse clicks to accomplish tasks that take only one in competitors like Mac OS X. In the properties dialog of my wireless network connection, there are actually TWO properties buttons--one labeled "Wireless Properties" and one below that named "Properties." Nice!

    Vista also stole several Apple-isms, like the monochrome motif of the system tray icons that has been a staple of Mac OS for quite a long time. The speaker is actually the very same sideways speaker with three sound waves coming out the right, increasing and decreasing with volume. What a strange thing to clone directly from OS X.

    You'll also laugh at the ridiculous replacement for the busy cursor. Microsoft has attempted to copy Apple's radial progress bar in the past (using eight segments instead of the doubled amount Apple uses...bizarre), but they couldn't pull it off. So they came up with something else that attempts to rip off both the radial progress bar and the spinning beach ball, which is a goofy blue ring. Seriously, a blue ring with a little sparkle spinning around and around.

    And you'd better get used to the color blue. If you thought Luna was hilariously bad (I still don't get how Windows fans defend that theme), wait until you come across the puke-worthy blue and seagreen EVERYWHERE in the Vista interface, complete with a 1980s-style animated ribbon swoosh in the corners of the windows. Does Microsoft even hire graphic designers anymore? This company has enough money to buy the best designers in the world, so why do their interfaces consistently suck so much?

    The sidebar is just stupid, and you'll turn it off immediately because it actually slows startup time. Dashboard, on the other hand, doesn't load itself until you actually initiate Dashboard for the first time.

    And UAC...ah, UAC. I'll just let you get to know UAC for yourself. You'll see.

    On the contrary, Apple is several iterations ahead of where Microsoft finally is (by six years, to be precise), and they've been moving steadily away from the translucencies and highlights toward a very clean, minimalist appearance. When OS X Leopard comes out, it will look very professional when placed side-by-side with Vista, which looks like a toy. I'm looking forward to the comparison reviews in the major mainstream publications.
  • Mod Parent Up (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OmnipotentEntity (702752) on Friday October 20, 2006 @07:46PM (#16524263) Homepage
    Guh~, I only saw this post after I replied in this thread. Stupid stupid stupid, mod parent up!! Beryl owns OSX and Vista so hard it's not even funny. And it's still is very beta.
  • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Friday October 20, 2006 @07:55PM (#16524329)
    • Translucent window borders, first seen in the Mac OS X Public Beta six years ago.
    • Hardware-accelerated desktop composition, which was out in 2002 in OS X Jaguar.
    • Vector-based, resolution-independent graphics interface, which was out in Quartz in 2000. XP had GDI+, but it was less powerful and nobody used it, particularly XP itself.
    • Flip3D is a lame, useless copy of Expose.
    • The security prompt for system changes, though UAC appears much more frequently and doesn't even ask for a password (how secure!).
    • Volume icon is direct rip-off of OS X volume icon, even down to the sound wave animation.
    • Busy cursor is rip-off of beach ball and radial progress bar.
    • Search field in upper-right is a standard Apple-ism.
    • The sidebar now hosts HTML "gadgets" ala Dashboard's widgets, even though Longhorn was originally supposed to include a much different sidebar based on .NET "tiles" utilizing XML services.
    • The gadgets that ship with Vista, with the exception of the CPU monitor and picture viewer, are direct rip-offs of the default widgets that ship with Mac OS X.
    • Windows Calendar's interface is strikingly similar to iCal's interface, including the colors and visual styles of events.
    • Windows Picture Gallery is a third-rate copy of iPhoto.
    • Windows Movie Maker is a third-rate copy of iMovie.
    • Windows DVD Maker is a third-rate copy of iDVD.
    • Windows Media Player now utilizes iTune's signature left-side source list.
    • The Vista filesystem layout is a DIRECT COPY of OS X's filesystem layout.
    • Internet Explorer's save dialog is a direct rip-off of the OS X save dialog. It starts out in a reduced state in which only recent save places are listed in a drop-down list, and a disclosure button on the side expands it to reveal the usual filebrowser, just like in OS X.

    I could write more, but you get the picture. Just use OS X, which has been around for almost six years now. Then use Vista. The similarities are immediately obvious, and they will be written about in the side-by-side comparison reviews next year.
  • by digitalhermit (113459) on Friday October 20, 2006 @08:00PM (#16524369) Homepage
    What seems 1996ish to ME is the OSX desktop. At least, that's about when I got addicted to and then got over my addiction to eye candy in Linux. :D

    Exactly -- which was why my first comment that I was not particularly fond of KDE or Gnome. My primary desktop is actually Fluxbox which loads, no exaggeration, in about a second after pressing Enter from the login screen. I.e., a second after login, I can start doing work. Sure, I don't log out too often but when you do...
  • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Friday October 20, 2006 @08:02PM (#16524385)
    Isn't it interesting that the #1 software developer in the world gets away with being six years behind and playing catch-up by trying to adopt the competition's look-and-feel?

    My lasting impression of Vista is that it looks like what XP's Luna looked like when I first saw it. Hideous, garish, and an obvious response to what Apple was doing. Vista essentially is Microsoft's plastic version of Aqua. Except that there are five different menu styles (no, seriously), multiple styles of dialog boxes (Install Font is still using the Windows 3.1 dialog), multiple styles of toolbars, multiple styles of windows, and more.

    It's a huge fucking mess. A true disaster of an interface from who is supposed to be, as I said, the #1 software developer in the world. I'm really going to be interested in Vista's sales figures. Microsoft will likely do what they did with XP, which was to withhold sales figures and instead cite OEM license numbers, which are meaningless for determining actual sales. XP was, in fact, disappointing sales-wise, and I suspect Vista will be too because there is very little buzz for this thing. At least XP had the NT kernel as a selling point.
  • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Friday October 20, 2006 @08:06PM (#16524421)
    Actually, many of the Xerox employees went to work at Apple and helped create the Macintosh, and it's been written by one of the former employees that Apple's interface was in development before the visit to Xerox, and that Apple created the idea of pulldown menus, the overlapping windows, icons, the trash can, and so forth.

    It's a look-and-feel that originated at Apple. When you use Windows, that essential paradigm is coming directly from the 1984 MacOS.
  • by mabinogi (74033) on Friday October 20, 2006 @08:40PM (#16524625) Homepage
    Microsoft's virtual desktop manager seems to exist for the sole purpose of convincing people that virtual desktop managers don't work.
    If you're used to X11 virtual desktops it's no substitute at all.
  • by ElephanTS (624421) on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:33PM (#16524981)
    On the contrary, Apple is several iterations ahead of where Microsoft finally is (by six years, to be precise), and they've been moving steadily away from the translucencies and highlights toward a very clean, minimalist appearance.

    This is a very good point and one that I often think of. I remember when the OSX beta came out (yup, I bought a copy) and I thought that the translucency was over done in the drop down menus but I didn't worry because it was a beta and they had a new model to play with. Of course over time they realised the translucency wasn't helping and successively toned it down so that now it's pretty near exactly right. Everything I've seen of Vista reminds me of the OSX beta which puts them 6 years behind. And with no graphic design skillz. I just don't think the punters are that stupid anymore - they are not going to be impressed by Vista.
  • by Tibor the Hun (143056) on Friday October 20, 2006 @10:18PM (#16525291)
    You state all of those things as if they've already been proven with rock-solid stability.

    Remember that to this day, MS does not have a consumer-level OS that can defrag itself in the background, or index its filesystem for quick searches. Priviledge escalation, proper stand-by management, and security are but a distant dream on billions of user desktops.

    If there's one thing I've learned about MS is that they overpromise and underdeliver. So I'd hold the judgement on drive encryption, and HD repartitioning until we see how reliable they are a few years from now.
  • Re:A while back... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Procyon101 (61366) on Friday October 20, 2006 @10:30PM (#16525345) Journal
    Actually, since I don't do alot of windows GUI specific programming, I'm more excited about the idea that all the ideas behind XAML will undoubtedly be stolen by other frameworks. I'd love to see a XAML-like SWL binding for instance. The databinding properties of XAML are particularly interesting... you can write entire db frontent apps in XAML with no code at all.. and they run natively.
  • by aaronl (43811) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @01:59AM (#16526347) Homepage
    UAC: This doesn't work that well. I found it to be the second most annoying thing in Vista, beaten only by the terrible Aero theme. It's a very nice idea, it's been available on any UNIX based system for many years, and MS still didn't make it work right. The video mode switching alone is just silly to no end.

    Address space rand: Increasing security is always good.

    DX10: If it isn't getting backported then it isn't very useful. Besides, of course it's going to seem fast, you have to upgrade your CPU and video card to use Vista properly. I personally so absolutely no speed improvement in graphics out of Vista/DX10. I did see my system run slower, though.

    Shadow copies: This is LVM. I've had this for a decade. If you want a better version than VSC in Vista, go buy a Net.App.

    Bitlocker: I do not want any partition/file system/disc encrypted at home, and I certainly don't want it at work. People forget passwords, systems need repairing, etc, etc. It has a niche use, though.

    Resizing: I don't resize my system partitions, and very few other people do. Most people don't even know what a partition is. It's nifty, and ties right in with LVM.

    Power management: Just as everyone else said, you can't get the gains that you claim. You can't slow the CPU down under its base clock. That means 600-800MHz on most Intel chips. Throw battery gains out the window if you're using the GPU hungry Aero theme... I only get slightly better battery from my Pentium-M system under Ubuntu than I do under WinXP, and that's mostly because there are fewer things trying to run in the background.

    You might repeat your post over and over, but that doesn't make anything you mention earth shattering. Nearly all of these "huge improvements" in Vista are either incremental over XP or have been available on other platforms for years, and then there is the pile of mis-features that nobody actually wants.

    Anyone that does some research on Vista would know that this is the first NT based OS that Microsoft shipped that offered no real user improvements. It doesn't even put into place that last piece of Cairo, which would have been WinFS. All of the features that people were excited about, MS has ripped out. However, as the GP pointed out, MS sure had enough devs and time to throw in all of the total bullshit DRM that none of their customers actually wants to pay for.

    Hell, the MS DRM, especially mandatory driver signing, means that I *can't* even use Vista. I have too many pieces of software and too many devices that I would have to purchase a new product, retest, redeploy, and retrain to get away from what already works with XP. For all these wonderful "features" that Vista offers, it gives us three that range from simply useless to outright malicious to the end user.
  • by badfish99 (826052) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @04:36AM (#16526843)
    Most professional Windows programmers that I've seen use the "Run" command all the time. Very often they use it to start up Explorer. I think it's because the other items in the start menu are often hidden in strange places, and it's quicker to type in a command then hunt through a muddled-up menu.

    Customizing the menu is not really useful advice: people want to be able to walk up to a machine and start to use it straight away, without wasting time turning off idiotic GUI features first. Although, to be fair, the first thing that most professional Windows users do on a new XP machine seems to be to restore the "classic" look-and-feel.
  • by Grendel Drago (41496) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @06:54AM (#16527353) Homepage
    Hey, it it means I'll finally get my vector desktop, so I can just turn the DPI up or down for big happy controls or tiny intricate controls, I'll be happy. Nearly everything's still bitmap-based; it's so 1990s. And whatever happened to dynamic themes for GTK []?
  • by Fred_A (10934) <fred@freds[ ] ['hom' in gap]> on Saturday October 21, 2006 @08:37AM (#16527777) Homepage
    The sidebar was stupid and slow but voice recognition in RC1 was worse by an order of magnitude. Vista would sort of finish booting, allowing you to open a firefox window or something and then, out of nowhere, VR would start, leaving firefox stuck on the start page, apps refused to load, etc. 20 seconds later, you'd be started up, but man was that annoying.
    I never understood this... Can't you renice processes in Vista ? (yes I know you can, even though I have no idea how you do it, nor do I really care)

    I never got why they couldn't load background stuff in (wait for it...) the background. As if the system was actually, like, multitasking ? It's not as if it was loading the actual interface and the user actually *had* to wait for it. When Gnome or KDE loads the little gadgets (which can actually be fairly large services) that get dumped into the system tray, it's done in the background and you don't feel it. In Windows it sometimes feels like you're computing weather for the next millenium.

    What's wrong with those Microsoft people ? I know most Windows users never actually multitask but the OS itself still does (or should, rather, given the amount of crap it loads). Why are such things commonplace ?

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