As most of you know, I’m a Linux/Unix System Administrator for a living. I’m not a Windows guy by any means, but I do run it at home, because mostly what I do is play games and use Word (and recently, Adobe InDesign). Yes, I realize there are free solutions (OpenOffice, others) but to be honest…they suck. When I need Word or InDesign, I don’t want to spend half my time fighting with buggy programs, etc.
For servers, I just don’t see any reason whatsoever to run Windows, an entirely GUI-based OS, on a system that almost by definition nobody will ever see (or access) the GUI on. Its a waste of resources and just makes bloat. Add to that that Windows services (IIS, Active Directory, MS-SQL) tend to be laughable compared to the industry standard open source versions (Apache, OpenLDAP/MIT Kerberos, and Postgresql/Mysql).
Desktops, however, are another matter entirely. I’ll be the first to admit that X Windows is a sad comparison to the OS X and Windows GUIs. Consumer grade OSes win here hands down.
Now, on to Vista: Ugh. I have to say, every time I’ve used it in the past I’ve hated it. Microsoft’s “User Account Control” (UAC) in Vista is just horrible. Its only a slight exaggeration that moving the mouse causes a dialogue asking if its ok that you did that. Now, its easy to turn off but why should I have to? (According to the great geek site Ars Technica, its designed to annoy you). The first Vista Service Pack fixes some of this, but its still not “good.”
So on to the scene comes Windows 7, referred to by some as “Vista Service Pack 7″…Gina Trapani, the creator of Lifehacker said at her new blog, “Its not as bad as you might think”
…And its not! I’ve been running the Release Candidate for a while now, which is available free to download and test (at least until tomorrow). Guess what? Its much better than Vista. Major upgrade, less memory usage, better tools, lots of GUI improvements (many “lifted” from OS X and linux desktops) like window previews (see what a program is doing via a nifty popup when you mouse over its icon in the dock).
Then, just as I was really pleased with Win7, I realized I’d accidentally installed the 32bit version instead of the 64bit version I wanted. I burned the 64bit (which Microsoft mistakenly calls “x64” instead of “x86_64” like everyone else does) and booted…and it doesn’t see my SATA controller. WTF? It looks like the issue is solved in the RTM (“Release to Manufacturing”) version, however, so once I can legally obtain a copy I’ll try it out.
(Why 64bit versus 32bit? 64bit bit allows more than 4gb of memory, which is becoming common. Its pretty much the only compelling reason to move to 64bit on Desktops, IMHO)