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Vista passes the 'Mom' test

In the first of a series of blogs looking at Vista's first year of consumer availability, CNET's Ina Fried calls on a top-secret source--her mother--to evaluate the operating system's performance.

Note: This is one of a series of blogs being published Wednesday, the first anniversary of Windows Vista's consumer launch.

Perhaps the best indicator I have on Windows Vista is what I scientifically call "the Mom test."

Last spring, my mom got a new computer. She really, really wanted an XP machine because that's what she knew and loved. Well, that's what she knew anyway.

Vista's first year

But my mom also decided she wanted to buy it at retail on the weekend I was home visiting. I think it had something to do with having her own personal "geek squad" to set it up. I tried to assure her that only a few XP models were around, meaning, to get the other things she wanted, she really needed to go with Vista.

She was initially skeptical. She was worried it wouldn't work with her Palm handheld and also that it wouldn't work with a specific program she needed for her job as a geriatric case manager. After doing some research and assuring her that both would work with Vista, she grudgingly agreed to get a Vista machine.

After I set the machine up, she got to working on her new Toshiba laptop. Most of the things she liked had nothing to do with Vista and everything to do with the fairly standard keyboard I got her. I programmed a few function keys to open each of the handful of programs she actually uses--a big hit.

As for Vista, she was a bit taken aback by its new interface, but seemed reasonably able to navigate through things.

The real test, I knew, would come in the ensuing days and months. I waited for the phone to ring with news of a problem. It didn't. In fact, I've had zero support calls so far.

To make sure I had the right impression, I gave my top-secret source a call on Tuesday.


"Hi Mom."

"I was calling because I'm writing a blog on the one year anniversary of Windows Vista."

"Of what?"

"The operating system on your computer."


"So I wanted to see how it's going."

"I'm actually doing well," she said.

There were a couple things she explained. Sometimes she gets a message from Windows Live OneCare. "I don't get what they want me to do."

And there's this other message, she explained, that keeps asking her if she is at home or work. (That's actually Vista trying to automatically apply security policy based on the type of network). "I don't see why they need to know, so I just close the window."

But, overall, she said, she's been pleasantly surprised. "The things I've wanted to do on the computer, I really haven't had a problem with," she said. "I don't think I've had any true glitches or problems that I didn't have on the old computer."

So that's the "mom" test. I'll be posting a few other looks Wednesday at how Vista is shaping up, a year after its consumer launch. Feel free to drop me an e-mail with your experiences at ina dot fried at, or sound off below.