Friday, November 24, 2006

Vista

167 Vista

Oh, super! A new “operating system” is coming from Microsoft, inventor of the always-flat tire.

It’s called “Vista,” and it replaces the legendary Windows XP. XP is micro-speak for experience. Apparently we’ve all had enough experience and it’s time to broaden our Vistas.

Windows 3.2 remains the best non-Apple interface ever built. If it were around today, life would be a lot easier. Or at least life at the computer would be.

Windows 3.2 fell in favor of Windows 95. They originally considered calling it Windows 4.0. But they soon realized that no one bought anything called something – point –oh, anymore, because it invariably would be incomplete, only partly functional and not ready for prime time.

So Windows 95, then 98 then 2000, NT, Metro or Mixup or some forgettable name, and finally, XP. Decades after the first Windows system, XP finally got rid of some of the instability that has dogged the system since the beginning. Now, it crashes only periodically and not every two hours. They promptly issued a “security pack” that put XP right back in league with the rest of its ancestors. And with that came the return of the Blue Screen of Death and the incomprehensible “error messages” that often went with it.

“You have encountered an xp457.098 mz error. Please restart your computer.”

Naturally, the computer wouldn’t re-start on command, and you had to turn the power off. Sometimes the only way to do that was to pull the plug out of the wall (“Not recommended,” says Microbrain. Okay. So how else do you turn the power off if the power off button is disabled by an xp457.098 mz error. There isn’t an “else.” You pull the plug. Unless, of course, you’re using a notebook computer and pulling the plug only switches the machine to battery power. In that case, you have to either let the thing run down or remove the battery.)

Computer batteries have notoriously short lives. They go “low battery” after almost no time at all. Except when you want them to. Then, they last forever.

Okay, so Microbrew has overcome the increased stability of Windows XP with a security pack “fix” that makes that old familiar blue screen a regular vistor.

What, then, can we expect from ”Vista?” Oh, oodles of dandy new features. You’ll probably be able to flip the screen so you can operate the machine while standing on your head during yoga practice. You’ll be able to do more than you can at once, now. For example you can get a Power Point demonstration together at the same time you’re watching a DVD, playing solitaire and checking your e-mail. Wonder of wonders!

More than likely they’ll reverse the controls just as they did when they went from 3.2 to Windows 95. All of a sudden, years of habit had to change when the “x” to close a screen moved from the left to the right side of the frame.

Any special reason? Nah. They just did it because they could. It required four million lines of code changes. But those programmers out in Redmond have to have something to do or they’ll get bored and make trouble. Like the latest Security Pack. We have to keep those guys busy for our own safety.

If GM made cars like Microwave makes operating systems, no one would buy them. Come to think of it, maybe that’s what happened.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

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