Reviewing New Windows Operating System
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
On Mondays, the business report focuses on technology.
Microsoft is working on the newest version of its Windows operating system. It's called Windows Vista, and although it will not be out for another year and a half, New York Times technology columnist David Pogue has gotten a sneak preview and he joins us once again.
Mr. DAVID POGUE (Technology Columnist, The New York Times): Hi, Steve.
INSKEEP: So what? Are they beta testing this thing on you?
Mr. POGUE: That's exactly right. The very first beta version of Windows Vista has hit the streets. It's available only to programmers and software companies and appreciative...
INSKEEP: People like you who might mention their name.
Mr. POGUE: Exactly.
INSKEEP: Well, what's it like?
Mr. POGUE: It looks very different. It's gorgeous. It has translucence and drop shadows and little animations much like Mac OSX, for example. So it's quite elegant looking.
INSKEEP: Any easier to use?
Mr. POGUE: Easier to use, no. More features, yes. One of the big things I think most people will be expecting of Microsoft is a reaction against the viruses and the spyware and they have done a lot of excellent work on that front. This might get a little technical--if your toes start to curl, my apologies--but one thing they've done is to make you work in a sort of limited mode. You can't make certain system settings that only an administrator can make, and this is the loophole that let a lot of these viruses operate. So now they've closed a lot of doors that the hackers used to use.
INSKEEP: I was in an Apple Computer store not too long ago. How does this system compare to the Apple system?
Mr. POGUE: I am hopeful that it will finally be as secure and problem free as Mac OSX is. Many of the features are very, very similar actually. Microsoft has borrowed a lot of features. One of them is a universal search feature. So anywhere you are, you can hit a keystroke and do a search of everything on your computer. I mean, the words inside your files and e-mails you can pull up in a heartbeat.
INSKEEP: This is not being released till December 2006. Why are they showing it to people like you now? Why aren't they just selling it now?
Mr. POGUE: They want to make sure that all the software companies have time to update their programs so that they will run on this thing. I don't envy Microsoft's job here. I mean, they have to make something solid and secure that was never designed to be solid and secure. I mean, Windows 15 years ago, the code underneath this came out before the Internet and before viruses. So what they're having to do now is to patch things, but they can't change things too much because then it'll, as they say, break too many programs that people use.
INSKEEP: So what if you're a consumer deciding whether to spend money upgrading here?
Mr. POGUE: Well, it's way too soon to know overall how this thing stacks up, but I will say that from the early looks of it, they've really done some good thinking about making things easier to understand. For example, the start menu where you list all your programs. In Windows XP, you know, the list of programs sort of overlaps the start menu and it has all these confusing triangles pointing out to the right with submenus. In the new start menu of Windows Vista, all your programs are in a tidy column with a little search box at the bottom. So you don't have to go hunting through the folders finding a certain program. You just type a couple of letters of its name and off you go.
INSKEEP: And do you have to buy a new computer in order to run this?
Mr. POGUE: A lot of people will want to upgrade their computers, yes. It's exactly the same as happened with Windows XP. You can run it but you won't enjoy all the features and speed if you don't have the very latest computer.
INSKEEP: David, thanks.
Mr. POGUE: My pleasure.
INSKEEP: David Pogue double clicks on technology for The New York Times and for MORNING EDITION.
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