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Vista, the five year old’s OS

wv_home_nav_pearl.pngI got a Mac Pro yesterday and the first thing I wanted to do after it was setup was to install Windows in Parallels, so I could test out my sites in IE/Win. I started on windows over ten years ago and only started migrating to the mac in 2002. About six months ago I finally retired the PC on my desktop but I’ve missed having it around for the occasional site test in IE.

I decided to install Vista first to get IE7 and see what the state-of-the-art in Windows was like (I’ll also install XP and keep it at IE6 later on). After everything was installed, I needed to download a text editor to change a few files on the windows box and that’s when I started getting frustrated by all the “safety features” inherent in Vista.

The following is a paraphrasing of the OS system alerts I was bombarded with as I tried to accomplish my simple task (if it sounds anything like this, it’s because it felt the same way):

  • Whoa, there tiger! It looks like you typed a URL into the address bar. Do you want to turn on the phishing filter? Because the web is really dangerous! No? You really trust websites? Ok.
  • You went to a new site! Are you sure you don’t want the phishing filter turned on?! No? Really? Ok.
  • I’m sorry, but you can’t download things directly, please read the warning at the top of the browser.
  • You clicked on the warning at the top and said allow downloads, but as the OS I will do nothing at this point.
  • You clicked the download link again! Are you sure you want to download that file? It could contain viruses, you know.
  • Where do you want me to save it? Nope, sorry, desktop is no longer an option.
  • It’s done downloading, what do you want to do with it?
  • You actually said “Run“?!?! Are you nuts? Ok, I’ll run it if you’re so sure.

I downloaded a few other utilities and this continued, along with all sorts of taskbar balloons announcing all manner of vulnerabilities I was opening myself up to by merely using the computer. After fifteen minutes of this, I gave up and closed my Parallels session.

Is there an “expert mode” in Vista I can set so I’m not treated like this is my first computer the next time I use it?


  1. Control Panel › System and Maintenance › Administrative Tools › System Configuration
    Click Continue (if prompted) › Select the Tools tab in System Configuration
    You’ll want to disable the confounding UAP. Click Launch, and reboot the VM.
    The monster at the end of this book is yet another dialog box.

  2. Interesting the desktop is no longer and option to save your files too..
    Those little things are usually the things that put people off.. apart from all those big psind you mentioned above. Glad i use OSX and only XP as you in parallels on very very rear occasions.

  3. Never start an objective review of the flagship Windows product with “I got a Mac Pro yesterday…”
    It’s like… all these election ads. “Bill #27 severely hurts our children by decreasing the number of schools in our neighborhoods! (paidforbytheTeachersUnion,SchoolBuilder’sConstructionUnion,andtheCoalitionForMoreSchoolsAndTaxes)
    I’m not talking about Vista vs OSX here, I’m talking about writing technique. It’s like an instant blow to your credibility. :-)

  4. If you think its broken now; wait until all the spyware and viruses find a way on your Windows install.
    The whole reason there are all these nag screens is because malware can cripple a system. The strategy for solving that seems to be crippling the user so they don’t install the malware.

  5. Microsoft is shooting themselves in the foot here. I tried some early versions of Vista and the UAP popups drove me crazy. I figured they would clean that up a little bit but it sounds like it’s only gotten worse.
    That said, even Firefox’s minimal restrictions on this type of thing drive me nuts. I figure the worst users who download and run everything in sight are not going to be discouraged by this stuff and the more cautious users will just get annoyed by the popups they click through by rote.
    BTW, here’s Raymond Chen on why Windows doesn’t have an expert mode (well, he doesn’t go into much detail):

  6. I tend to think all these overprotective messages are MS’s way of covering its behind in case something goes wrong (because it will). On second thought, it also says a lot about how MS judges the IQ of the average Windows user. Not without some reason though.
    I have been using Vista (Ultimate) since some months ago for development reasons, and to make a long story short, I’ll just say I’m not rushing to trade OS X for this anytime soon.

  7. What’s with all these MS-apologists treating this weblog entry as if it’s an objective review of the OS, and with treating Matt in the exact same way that Vista is by telling him how much he’s going to mess up his system? He’s not an idiot.

  8. I have a MacBook Pro on order that seems like it will NEVER ship. (Scheduled ship date: Nov. 7 — does Apple ever ship early?) I’m dying. I check the order status five times a day. Minimum.
    I, too, am anxious to try Parallels, etc. You really can’t save to the desktop? That’s crazy? That’s one of my default locations.

  9. If microsoft made the system secure from within so that no matter what the user did nothing really bad would happen, like the linuxes/macs/bsds do, then they could remove all those annoyances, keep the system light to save resources, and have a much larger audience. (but i would still be on linux :D)

  10. I don’t know the exact scenario you were in, but I have the usual amount of crap saved on my Vista desktop from all sorts of situations (downloading things from IE, copying files from other folders, shortcuts, etc).

  11. I went into parallels yesterday to run a windows-only palm application. I couldn’t stand it for more than 15 minutes. It’s a little better when you dual boot into it, I suppose. I am tempted to remove both parallels and the windows partition and free up many gigs of HD space.

  12. Great, man you’re right! Windows is most hysteric OS, and I suppose people will ban it some day…
    Until then…
    Right on!

  13. It will soon be 10 years since I made my deal with the devil and determined I got more bang-for-the-buck in 1997 with a PC Clone with an overclocked Cyrix CPU. 1.5gb drive and 8mb of ram. Total cost was $800 with W95 installed and no disc of course. He forgot to charge me $80 for the extra 8mb of ram installed.
    A Mac would have been $300 to 400 more and that was probably a used unit.
    I just gave Mr. Phish the boot after reluctantly installing IE7, which was the same treatment that waggy tailed search mongrel got the day after I installed XP a few years ago.
    I don’t know what Vista has in store for me but one thing is for certain: if it isn’t installed in the retirement home library computer in 20 years I will never have the opportunity to find out.

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