Why Microsoft must abandon Vista to save itself

With the release of "Extras," Microsoft has finally delivered something. Regardless, Vista is in trouble and Microsoft should abandon it before it's too late, says Don Reisinger.

Windows Vista
The Microsoft albatross Microsoft

While Vista was originally touted by Microsoft as the operating system savior we've all been waiting for, it has turned out to be one of the biggest blunders in technology. With a host of issues that are inexcusable and features that are taken from the Mac OS X and Linux playbook, Microsoft has once again lost sight of what we really want.

As we're more than aware, Vista Ultimate comes at a premium. For an additional $160 over the Premium SKU price, Ultimate gives you a complete backup and restore option, BitLocker Drive encryption, the ever so popular Windows Fax & Scan, and the "Ultimate Extras." But what started with a promise of "Extras" by summer, quickly turned into an apology from Microsoft and the eventual release of DreamScene and Windows Hold 'Em (among others) today. And while each of the "Extras" runs just fine, Microsoft's "Extras" blunder is just another reason why the company must abandon Vista before it's too late.

The first indication that Microsoft should abandon Vista is its poor sales figures. According to a recent report titled "Windows Vista Still Underperforming in U.S. Retail" from NPD, Vista sales are significantly behind XP sales during its early days. Even worse for Redmond, some are reverting to XP, citing issues with compatibility and overall design. And if that wasn't enough, Macs continue to surge and with the impending release of Leopard, Microsoft may be in for a rough holiday season.

With each passing day, it's becoming blatantly clear that Microsoft released Vista too early and the company's continual mistakes and promises that can't be kept are further annoying the Windows faithful.

Much talk has been given to Service Pack 1 and how this update should address many of the issues users have with Vista, but I simply don't agree. Will SP1 eliminate the ridiculous Microsoft licensing schemes? Will SP1 drop the price on the higher-end versions? Will SP1 eliminate the need for users to buy a new computer just to use the faulty OS?

SP1 will do nothing but fix the holes and issues we currently know about and create even more. As we all know from the days of Windows ME and even XP, Microsoft is not the best company at finding and addressing security issues, and chances are, Vista will be no different.

One significant problem that I have with Vista is its inclusion of new DRM, specifically the company's decision to install Protected Video Path. To prevent a person from copying (or in most cases, backing up) a movie, the operating system provides process isolation and if an unverified component is in use, the operating system shuts down DRM content. For the first time on any operating system, we're not even allowed to backup our favorite movies? Come on.

I also find it interesting that Microsoft decided to take the user access control concept from Mac OS X and make it much worse. Can someone please explain to me why I need to be asked if I wanted to do something entirely innocuous like open a third-party app from a well-known software company?

Never before have I seen such an abysmal start to an operating system release. For almost a year, people have been adopting Vista and becoming incensed by how poorly it operates. Not only does it cost too much, it requires more to run than XP, there is still poor driver support, and that draconian licensing scheme is a by-product of Microsoft picking on the wrong people.

The road ahead looks dangerous for Vista and Microsoft must realize that. With Mac OS X hot on its tail, Vista is simply not capable of competing at an OS level with some of the best software around. If Microsoft continues down this path, it will be Vista that will bring the software giant to its knees--not Bill Gates' departure.

Of course, categorically dumping an operating system is quite difficult and with millions already using the OS, chances are Microsoft won't find a good enough reason to do it. And while I can understand that argument, there's no reason the company can't continue to support Vista and go back to the drawing board for its next OS. Even better, go back to XP--it's not nearly as bad as Vista.

As a daily user of Mac OS X, Ubuntu and Vista, I'm keenly aware of what works and what doesn't. Mac and Linux work.

The time is up. Microsoft must abandon Vista and move on. It's the company's only chance at redemption.

 

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