Microsoft Vista . . . it’s finally here—after much ado. It seems like a long time ago that I was reviewing the information on the “Longhorn” project, as Vista was referred to during development. Now we have commercials on TV, full-page magazine ads, pop-up and banner ads all over the place. For me, the true litmus test to gauge the “ado level” of a Microsoft marketing campaign is my mom. When Windows 95 was being heavily marketed long ago, my mom—who has never owned a computer—asked me if it was something she needed to worry about? That was much ado.
THE NEW PHONE BOOKS ARE HERE!
Now that Vista is here, for some reason I find myself visualizing Steve Martin in the movie “The Jerk,” in the scene in which the new phone books arrived. Much ado . . . about nothing.
Now, don’t get me wrong, being a technical guy I like, even enjoy, standing on the bleeding edge as much as the next guy and can spend hours looking over the capabilities of the latest portable whatever. I will have to admit that I am not a typical representative of this industry as far as technology is concerned. With one foot planted firmly for the past 15-plus years in the window fashions industry and the other in various segments of the IT industry, I definitely am not the norm.
From the every-person perspective, and that includes my mom as well as most in our industry, Windows Vista is the next natural and progressive version of the Windows operating system. An operating system! This is defined as a program that allows you to run other programs. By itself, it does almost nothing for you. Microsoft has done a great job of making us all aware of their accomplishments and as a Microsoft Partner, I do commend them on their constant progress, but for most of the planet and those of us in this industry, at this point Vista has the potential to cause more harm than good in the short-term for our businesses.
WHERE IS THAT DARN BUTTON?
Of course, my team needed to test Vista and achieve a comfort level with the product, and we also had to do the testing with our own software (Solatech). I was as excited as anyone to start playing with it, and I am actually writing this article on our Vista machine using the new Microsoft Office 2007. I just wish the “Save” button was easier to find.
For the most part, the programs and the look are not too different, but there are small things all over the place that make you stop and think, “Now how do I do that in Vista?” For example, I just saved this document, but I don’t see a “File” menu in the new version of Word. I had to press the “Office” button in the top left of the screen to save my document. These small changes are throughout Vista and Office 2007 and will simply take some getting used to.
I like the look and the flashy features of the Aero interface, but again from the day-to-day aspect of running my business it will probably cause more distractions then anything else.
TO UPGRADE OR NOT TO UPGRADE?
To prepare for our Vista tests, first we tried to upgrade an old system and load Vista on it. This didn’t work. Microsoft has provided a Vista Advisor to check your system, and it will tell you if your system will handle Vista. When I ran this on a fairly fast computer at home, it locked up. I’ll have to take that as a failing grade for that system. The first thing I found out is that just to load Vista requires 15GB of free hard drive space.
The flashy new Aero interface is something else I wanted to experience. After all, this is the feature that most of the ads show off. We quickly realized that our old system would not support the graphics needs for Vista Aero and the upgrade would be expensive. There were also a multitude of drivers that were used by the old machine that weren’t supported by Vista. In the end, I decided I just needed to buy a new PC and load Vista.
Currently there is little if any software that requires Vista right now, so my conclusion is that if you have a working computer for your business, there really isn’t a reason to upgrade it to Vista.
QUICKBOOKS AND OTHER IMPORTANT STUFF
Now if you have to buy a new computer and it comes with Vista preloaded (for the time being many manufactures are offering a choice between Vista & XP), this is where the fun starts. Once I had the new system up and running with Vista, I wanted to try loading a few programs. For any business, your books are as important as any other aspect of it. So I decided to start with QuickBooks®.
I had already done enough research to realize that Vista and QuickBooks 2006 didn’t play nicely together. As a matter of fact, as soon as I put my QuickBooks 2006 CD into the system and started installing, I received a message that read, “This Program Has Known Compatibility Issues.” I understand that the real issue is not as much with QuickBooks itself, but with all the third-party applications that are a part of QuickBooks as well as the multitude of add-on applications that have the real problems.
Many of these problems stem from the advanced security features in Vista that helps minimize security threats (visualize the Mac commercial with the security guy that keeps asking the PC guy “Allow or Deny?”). Many developers simply have not adhered to the programming guidelines laid out by Microsoft more than six years ago that were leading up to this day and that is a part of the problem.
My third-party anti-virus and anti-spyware applications both installed fine (these always get installed early on any new system), so I am going to install other programs and applications on the new computer running Vista and I fully expect to have problems with several of them.
Now if I were doing this for real on my office computer, which I need on a daily basis to run my business, I would be losing a lot of productivity and I would be extremely frustrated. Fortunately, that is not the case. In my opinion, there is little to no business reason to upgrade to Vista yet. The day will come in which you need to or are forced to, but for most of us, our day-to-day objective is to run our businesses as efficiently and effectively as possible. I don’t see Vista having a positive impact on most businesses today.
Truth be told, the real reason I wanted to try Vista is for the highly touted Parental Security features that the enterprise version contains. My children are just getting to the age where I am going behind them and making sure that they didn’t end up somewhere on the Internet that I don’t want them to visit. I want to be proactive as a parent in this regard and my next project is to setup my Vista computer at home and see if all the fun stuff my family uses a computer for works on Vista and I will also see how easy it is to setup my parental controls. I’ll let you know how that goes.
Ray Soltis is founder and CEO of Solatech, Inc., developers and distributors of the Solatech suite of retail and fabrication software systems as well as the SalesPRO Shop@Home selling system designed exclusively for the window fashions industry. Questions and comments can be sent to rsoltis@Solatech.com, or call (336) 889-2455.