Consider this before upgrading to Vista

I hate upgrades.

Sure, I used to look forward to the latest and greatest, but there are so many downsides: new equipment requirements, hassles getting all the old apps to work correctly, and getting up to speed on all the new features. (Don’t laugh, but I still have a copy of Wordstar and FoxPro on my PC for, well, I don’t know what for. Maybe it’s just in case someone needs a copy.)

Nonetheless, Vista has launched and Microsoft made a big splash with it in New York. Read ” Vista Lands in the U.S. ” — and don’t miss the reader comments at the bottom of the article.

If you’re bound and determined to make the upgrade, I have a couple things for you to consider.

First, take a look at the cost : The new version will set you back anywhere from US$100 to a mind-boggling $400. That’s for an operating system, folks.

Like me, you may be struggling with some of the new terms Microsoft has pulled out of the Vista hat. (What, you don’t know what a BitLocker is?) Don’t worry, Microsoft has it all mapped out for you, as Senior Editor Denny Arar explains in ” Get Ready for VistaSpeak .”

Second, the chances are good you’ll also need new hardware, and likely more RAM. Start by downloading the Windows Vista Readiness Hands-on Lab to see if your PC is ripe for Vista, then get a second opinion from PC Pitstop’s Vista Readiness Test .

I know that you’re still curious and want more hands-on Vista details, so here are a couple more resources: ” Windows Vista FAQ ” and ” Vista: The Upgrade .”

Quick aside: I bumped into a story about hacking Vista that I thought you might want to read. Pirates Hack Vista’s Registration Features ,” talks about a way for corporate users to bypass the activation process.

How bout a new Vista PC?

Some of you are contemplating buying a new system before too long and wondering if it’ll come with Vista or if you’ll need to upgrade. Most new PCs will include a Vista coupon, but PC World’s Rex Farrance isn’t convinced it’s such a deal. It’s worth your while to read his ” Hidden Costs of Vista Upgrade Coupon ” blog.

If you’re looking for a new system and willing to stick with “Vista capable” (which means it can only run the Home version that lacks many bells and whistles), check out our ” The Best PC Deals Under $1,000 .” The story includes charts, reviews, and specs for 14 budget machines.

What’s up after you upgrade to Vista? Harry McCracken has a couple of thoughts in his ” Techlog: What Next After Windows Vista ?”

The Windows Shutdown Kvetch

The upcoming Vista upgrade may be a big deal for lots of people. For Moishe Lettvin, it works out to about 200 lines of code.

According to his blog , he worked for the Redmond behemoth for roughly seven years, with the last bout from 2002 to 2006. In his blog, he writes about the hassle of developing one feature in Vista: the shutdown button. Here’s a taste of what he says:
I spent a full year working on a feature which should’ve been designed, implemented and tested in a week.

But here’s how the design process worked: approximately every 4 weeks, at our weekly meeting, our PM would say, “the shell team disagrees with how this looks/feels/works” and/or “the kernel team has decided to include/not include some functionality, which lets us/prevents us from doing this particular thing.”

And then in our weekly meeting we’d spend approximately 90 minutes discussing how our feature — er, menu — should look based on this ‘new’ information. Then at our next weekly meeting we’d spend another 90 minutes arguing about the design, then at the next weekly meeting we’d do the same, and at the next weekly meeting we’d agree on something… just in time to get some other missing piece of information from the shell or kernel team, and start the whole process again.

That sounds a little like what happens when I write a column.

It’s worth the read, just to get some insight into the compartmentalization craziness of developing an application as big as Vista — and have a better sense why chances are good that Vista will have bugs.