Vista Operating System: The Verdict

Microsoft launches Windows Vista, its newest operating system, Tuesday. While the software giant is trying to pump up the product's "wow" factor, an editor at PC Magazine reviews its potential.

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Mr. LANCE ULANOFF (Columnist and Editor, PC Magazine): Do you need Windows Vista? Actually, you don't. But Microsoft desperately wants you to want it.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

Lance Ulanoff, he is the editor of reviews at PC Magazine.

Mr. ULANOFF: So do PC manufacturers who've been sitting nervously twiddling their thumbs while they wait for you to get off your keisters, and start buying PCs again. Maybe the better question is, is Windows Vista still relevant?

Microsoft took five long years to create this update to the world's most popular operating system. Much has changed since then. The Internet has risen from the ashes of the dot-com bubble to become a truly dominant force in our lives.

Console gaming is one of America's favorite past times. Digital cameras have pushed aside film for good, and everyone has a mobile phone. Many of these changes mean that, unlike 2001 and the years before that, we do not have to be at our desk to experience technology, computing or the Internet.

So Windows Vista arrives in a very different environment than its predecessors, but it's not irrelevant. We still need our PCs to manage the photos and videos we grabbed with all of our pocket-sized devices. We still write e-mails at home and work, and chat with our friends. We needed to build our MySpace pages and to upload our YouTube videos.

on a daily diet of Gizmodo, Wonket(ph) and Gadget, Gearlog, ShinyShiny, Abscout, Defamer, and Gawker. Plus all of our Websites now deliver information directly to us by a really simple syndication or RSS feeds, and Podcasts that we download to our iPods. We still need the PC and Vista for that too. Vista does other things for us. It offers a prettier interface. We've had more than five years to learn that, in computing, simple and attractive is good. Where did we learn this? On the Apple Macintosh of course. Interestingly, it's also in the last year or so that Apple's PC's have become more Wintel like; at least on the inside. Now both platforms feature Intel CPUs so we also learned that, deep down, we're all the same. Vista, with its elegant aero interface, will remind many people of the MAC OS and that's not necessarily a bad thing. The last five years have seen an increased focus on security, both nationally and at the desktop level. It has also seen some of the most intense computer virus attacks as well as the rise of spyware, phishes, and identity theft. Vista's designed to stand up to all of these threats. It's true. With the right updates, security software, media applications, hard drive space, and RAM, you're current OS, Windows XP, will do you just fine. Yet, to stick with XP indefinitely is to live with the constant fear, when will Microsoft pull the plug. In the end, Vista's better looking, smarter, and safer than any windows operating system that's come before it. Is that enough to make it relevant? We'll just have to wait and see.

CHADWICK: Hey Lance, stick around for a minute. I've got a question for you. Are people going to think Vista is cool? In the way that they think MAC's are cool? I mean, can, can Microsoft get an edge up there?

Mr. ULANOFF: They'll never think Windows is as cool as the MAC. Look at those commercials? It's just-that's just is the way it is. But Vista is going to be quite a bit familiar to MAC users, and current Windows users may be a little shocked. It's so pretty; it's so good to look at. But underneath all that it's still Windows.

CHADWICK: Are there gadgets there that you don't want? Things this program does you think, yuk.

Mr. ULANOFF: One of the things people might not like so much is this user access control thing. It all - this is security related and every time you do something that might be dangerous to you it kind of pops up. Jars the whole screen. That's something I think people are going to start to adjust and maybe damp down a little bit.

CHADWICK: Do you think differently about Bill Gates and Microsoft because of Vista?

Mr. ULANOFF: No. You know I think that they've operated in pretty much the way they have prior to this and with other operating systems. It gets more sophisticated with every release. I know that they actually sat down with real life families, human beings, not coders. And had them try this thing out and tell them what was wrong with it. Which was a, a really great idea. But, it's hard to tell whether or not that shows up in the end product. By and large I'm impressed with what they accomplished here. And I will say that it really doesn't matter if I'm impressed, because in the end, Vista's going to be the most popular operating system in the world. Guaranteed.

CHADWICK: Lance Ulanoff an Editor at PC Magazine. Vista debuts today.

BRAND: Okay Alex, that was a really long segment on Vista and I'm just wondering if that interview with Bill Gates had anything to do with the three million dollars, three million dollars NPR has received from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation over the years?

CHADWICK: You know with what I've spent on software I think Microsoft and I are just about equal over the years. NPR's DAY TO DAY continues.

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