Tired of Vista yet? I am, sort of.
Part of the problem is that we've been covering Windows Vista for the last forty years — or, at least, it feels like it.
A lot of this is reminiscent of the early days of Chicago, the operating system that eventually became Windows 95. While Windows Vista is radically replumbed under the hood, it's probably not quite the radical update that was Windows 95.
• Click here for FOXNews.com's Personal Technology Center.
But back then, we were so into the Chicago betas and release candidates, by the time it actually shipped, we were already tired of it.
It feels that way with Vista. Windows Vista is launching. Fab. Now when's that service pack release again?
• SPEAKOUT! Will Windows Vista live up to the hype?
It's worth stepping back for a moment and realizing what Vista will mean, however, to the millions of users who buy new PCs with the operating system pre-installed. They'll be getting Windows Vista, living with it, learning it and connecting to the Internet with it.
It's easy for us (the collective "us" who write about technology) to become jaded, and look for the next thing.
Back in August, I wrote "Windows Vista and the Future of Hardware", in which I discussed the impact that Vista will have. Since then, much of what I've written has started to see the light of day. Flash memory, for example, has gotten dirt cheap. Priced a fast 2GB memory stick lately?
On another note, much virtual ink has been spilled talking about AMD and Intel's focus on performance per watt.
Even as CPU performance has increased, overall CPU power usage has decreased with the newer processors. That's wonderful, but all those gains looks like they'll be offset by the power draw of modern DirectX 10 graphics cards. The high end GeForce 8800 GTX draws 175 watts at full throttle.
Of course, when the midrange DirectX 10 graphics cards ship, they'll draw much less power than the 680 million transistors that comprise the 8800 GTX.
Even so, systems running the new Aero Glass interface will be using the GPU more, due to the GUI's use of DirectX 9 graphics.
This means that the GPU won't be idling nearly as much, so the average power draw of the graphics card in your system will go up. It's probably only a minor increase, but multiply that by millions of PCs, and that can add up to a substantial amount of power.
(To be fair, all those data centers, with their racks of blade servers now using lower power CPUs, will likely make up for the increase in power draw from consumer desktop PCs.)
What I really believe, though, is that we haven't really begun to see what Vista will bring us. As technology writers, all we can really do is write about what we can see and touch and, if you'll pardon the word, experience.
There will be all manner of unintended side effects of the design decisions that went into Windows Vista, some good, some bad.
Take, for example, the fact that DirectX 9 is now the embedded graphics API, with DWM (the desktop window manager) being fully 3D.
I feel that no developer has yet scratched the surface of what that implies. I've seen betas of cool 3D add-ons to PowerPoint, but those are minor to what I feel is coming down the pike.
There will certainly be negative side effects no one is predicting today. [Microsoft executive] Jim Allchin acknowledged as much in a presentation to the press last year, when he noted that no one at Microsoft predicted the security nightmare that Windows XP and Internet Explorer would become when they first launched.
We've also seem some recent reports about how Vista will be bad for gaming.
If anyone could be considered the father of DirectX (or perhaps "Godfather" is more appropriate), it would be [former Microsoft engineer] Alex St. John. Alex recently penned an opinion piece on how Vista would be bad for the casual gaming business.
Curiously, Microsoft is talking up the casual gaming market in their recent Games for Windows press tour. But that was in the context of Windows Live Arcade, which is similar to Xbox Live Arcade.
Meanwhile, [3D graphics pioneer] John Carmack expressed some reservations about Windows Vista and DirectX 10.
Given that these are two very smart guys who have been around a long time, perhaps there's some beef there. Then again, maybe not.
One thing I've learned personally about having been around the block a few times is that your thinking tends to lean more and more heavily on what you know, which is how you become an expert.
But as you get increasingly invested in your own knowledge, you can get blindsided by someone much younger who doesn't know what they're not capable of doing, so they just do it. It's the eternal cycle of new paradigms versus old.
But then, Windows Vista really represents the last big push of the old paradigm of operating systems at Microsoft. Even Redmond acknowledges this.
The next operating system will probably be more iterative, and with updates more incremental and frequent. I
n fact, future products from Microsoft will occur without Jim Allchin, who has said he'll retire after the Vista launch, and maybe even without Bill Gates, who will be relinquishing day-to-day roles at the company he founded to do more work for his charitable foundation.
So Vista represents something more interesting than a new operating system. It's teetering on the edge of a shift between old ways and new ways, with some of the new and lots of the old incorporated into it. It's going to be interesting to if the boys in Redmond can maintain that delicate balance without crashing and burning.
Copyright © 2006 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Ziff Davis Media Inc. is prohibited.