Still looking for the Wow

I gave Windows Vista a go on a secondary computer and I’m still looking for the Wow. It really doesn’t do anything better than XP. The applications that I use are all the same, but I’ve had several problems with hardware working correctly, drivers, UAC driving me up the wall and generally Vista being slower than XP. The learning curve from XP to Vista actually wasn’t high at all; Vista was pretty intuitive. The compatibility problems are the main thing.

I use my computer as a tool – a tool to play games, watch television and videos, listen to music, chat to people and to surf the internet. The two things which are important to allow me to do that are quality of hardware and quality of software. All my software, and all my hardware works with Windows XP. Now the chances are I could upgrade to Vista and benefit from transparent title bars, but it’ll require many hours of work to locate new versions of software, upgrade and resolve compatibility issues.

Costs vs Benefits

On the face of it, £60 for an upgrade to Windows which looks slightly nicer and allegedly has improved security is actually quite attractive. But the monetary costs only scrape the surface. There are many other costs:

  • Time required to create backups
  • Time required to solve hardware, driver issues. Possibly an additional monetary cost in purchasing new hardware or upgrading existing hardware.
  • Time required to find software, updates, subscribe to relevant mailing lists awaiting Vista patches. Temporary loss of productivity in the meantime.
  • Temporary loss in productivity from relearning location of features, etc. 

There is also an opportunity cost* in upgrading to Vista. That is, upgrading to Vista, will probably involve about two or three evenings of work to reinstall software and resolve issues. That time could possibly be better spent elsewhere, or spending that time upgrading could mean missing vital work deadlines.

Totalling up all the indirect costs of upgrading to Vista and including the monetary cost (very minor compared to the other costs) and comparing it to the benefits, I still believe Vista is far from a viable upgrade for me.

That is, my computer works perfectly. The software and hardware; they all just work. Yet every week, I get asked when I’m going to upgrade to Vista, with Aero 3D and "improved security" always being the reasons cited.  So Vista looks nice, but it doesn’t work. Wouldn’t it be a bit shallow to switch to Vista?

* Opportunity cost is an economics term which means the benefit which would have been gained from the best alternative and was foregone by making an economic decision. That is, if you have a choice of doing A or B and you choose A, the benefits which you could have gained from choosing B is the opportunity cost.

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