Is Vista just a picture window looking out on a brick wall?

With typical Microsoft aplomb, the long-suffering, overdue-to-the-point-it-became-an-Apple-joke, feature-creeping but filesystem-less operating system Longhorn has been renamed Microsoft Vista in an attempt to deflect growing consumer criticism of the oft-extended release date of the next big thing from the Redmond, WA-based software giant. Microsoft has promised a beta by August 3 of this year, and so, following their track record for release dates, it should be ready for testing next February.
In a strangely Apple-like presentation (minus rock gods U2), Brian Valentine, senior Microsoft VP of the Core Operating System division announced the switch to thousands of cheering corporate cube-dwellers.
The new tagline is to be “Bringing Clarity to your World,” a reflection of the increase in information workload to be managed. Greg Sullivan, a group product manager in the Windows client division stated that Vista is to be a tool used in organizing the flood of ‘stuff’ to help �bring clarity,� �so you can focus on what matters to you.” Sounds like the waters are muddy enough without adding corporate rhetoric to further cloud the issue. Does this mean Vista will suddenly make bizarre error messages and plugins and constant security updates go away? Or does it just mean that all that will be done in the background so that the average user won’t be allowed to see how full of holes and patches and bailing wire the system really is? It’s kinda like gift-wrapping a Rube Goldberg device.
But then again, computing for most of us isn’t so much about how it gets done as much as it is about whether or not it gets done. This often means keeping up on patches, plugins, updates, Service Packs and drivers, and that’s just the basic operating system�then you have the application-specific updates and drivers and patches, and then there’s the hardware add-ons and the drivers for them. I spend a lot of time railing about how Apple is so much easier to use due to the fact that everything is written for one particular hardware setup, and so is simple and optimized, whereas Microsoft has to contend with custom setups created by everyone from the neighbor’s kid with a new graphics card to the uber-geek down the cube aisle who built his computer from spare mousetrap parts and a coat hanger (and it’s still faster than yours…). All in all, the fact that it all runs as well as it (mostly) does is enough for a pat on the back. Hopefully, the new incarnation will be easier for the average user to utilize so their constant influx of stuff can be “clarified.” I suppose we could all use a little clarity in our lives, but I’ll still wait for the first Service Pack… [Britt Godwin]