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Operating Systems

What is this Vista I see before me?

What is it about Vista that bores a geek who went bonkers for Windows 95 and 2000?

commentary Vista was launched this week and I've been fighting a sense of indifference and boredom ever since. It wasn't always thus; when I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I gleefully signed up to be a beta tester for Windows 95 and 2000. So what was it about 95 and 2000 that sent my inner geek into a fit of apoplexy, while Vista has raised a barely muffled yawn?

Let's put things in context here: Windows 95 and 2000 were revolutionary products. Not because they introduced new lines of thought to the computing world -- they didn't, that was already done years ago in Xerox PARC -- but because they, respectively, made computing a lot easier for the masses and wiped away most of the vestiges of MS-DOS, the operating system which ran the first IBM PC in 1981.

Before Windows 95, uber-geeks and non-uber-geeks alike had to battle the demons of memory allocation, fight the vagaries of command-line syntax, struggle to descriptively name their files within eight characters, and master text-based word processors and spreadsheets in all their keystroke glory. Windows 95 brought us a graphical desktop resembling that which Macintosh users had enjoyed for years, long filenames -- HOMBGT93.XLS could finally be Home Budget 1993.xls -- and banished the command-line to some place deep and dark. Sure, beneath it all it was still MS-DOS with a pretty windowing interface on top but computing for the masses became a hell of a lot easier.

Unfortunately, dressing up a fifteen year old operating system designed to run 1981's original IBM PC meant a lot of crashes and lost files, not to mention the infamous blue screen of death.

Around this time Microsoft had a non-MS-DOS based Windows running around but many computer peripherals weren't supported and it wasn't much cop at playing games, so it was banished to the cold, frosty recesses of server rooms. It wasn't until Windows 2000 that Microsoft fixed most of these bugbears and home users, many unknowingly, began a life without MS-DOS.

A few years ago rumours, and screenshots, began circulating about the next version of Windows, promising a revolution and quickly raising my geeky spirits to new heights. Unfortunately as time progressed, deadlines were missed and features got dumped, it became apparent that the next Windows would be more like an upgrade with fixes aplenty, some new, nifty features and a sprinkling of eye-candy.

The eye-candy's the only thing that's attracting me to Vista at the moment, and begrudgingly at that. But I'm not Homer Simpson, so I won't be blowing away my work machine nor my home desktop for a little just bit of candy. In the interim I'll satisfy myself with WindowFX 3.0 & WindowBlinds 5.1 which spruce up my desktop, while I try to get Vista running on a VMWare virtual machine.

Do you share my apathy for Windows Vista or are you a little bit more upbeat about it all? Have you been able to get Vista running on VMWare? Just leave your comments below!