Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Mojave Experiment

I'm pissed. And not just kinda. Like, really really pissed. Microsoft has recently put forth a series of advertisements in promotion of Windows Vista, their latest stodgy, crippled, overpriced operating system, in which they trick innocent people (possibly actors) into thinking that the operating system they're using on a demo computer is the "brand new Windows operating system, Windows Mojave." They've set up a website as well (MojaveExperiment.com) to spread the word. Then comes the big reveal where they tell their victims that it's not really this "Mojave" thing, but Windows Vista. It's all very carefully planned and misleading. Some evidence of that follows. For the record, I had to view several videos to gather all of the information that is here. I actually had to work to find out all the relevant information. All the data is not present at any one single point, and I imagine this is all part of their need to trick folks into trying the operating system. One video on the site says that the laptops they're using for the Mojave tests are "brand new, straight out of the box and into the hands of the users." Another video says that the laptops are actually these two Microsoft employees' work computers, and are at least a year old. A third agrees that they're a year old, but claims that the laptops are really the employees' personal computers. It seems the only consistency here is inconsistency. And don't tell me that two computer geeks who have owned a computer running Vista for over a year and use it for work haven't modified the software in all that time. Assuming it came preinstalled with Vista (and it did), I should hope that they've at least installed Service Pack 1 since then. That's miles better than it used to be. Also, I see a strange lack of desktop icons that should be there on a brand new, bloated as hell, crammed to the brim with advertisements, new HP computer. Also the desktop background's different. And I'm sure they've installed MS Office and a few other programs since Vista comes with absolutely no software that anybody could use to do any kind of job, especially one within Microsoft. So there's no way you're going to get me to believe that these computers have not had any customization over the past full year. Hell, you can barely convince me that they've been running for a full year without needing an OS reinstall. They also say that they're not "special" laptops, just HP dv2000 series models running Intel Core 2 Duos at 2.2 GHz with 2 GB of RAM and an NVidia GForce 8400 video processor. This laptop (when new, and there aren't any more new since they are, in fact, over a year old) cost about $1700. That's a pretty special laptop, especially considering that most affordable laptops still don't even have dual-core or 64-bit processors in them, and usually 1 GB of RAM or less. I would go as far as to say that the laptop they use in these videos is at least twice as powerful than your average affordable laptop. The video card in that puppy is one model number lower than what I have in my desktop to play some pretty high-end video games. It's not the best thing on the market for desktops, but it's pretty close to the best thing on the market for laptops. There's nothing that this laptop shouldn't be able to do. I have run web and file servers on less. Another video talks about security. If we are to believe the video, Windows Defender makes Vista "60% less likely to be infected by a virus," which, in my personal experience, is untrue. In my personal experience, Windows Defender does nothing at all. The official Microsoft statistics for it show that 22 million pieces of spyware were detected by Defender during its trial run under Windows XP, and that 14 million of those were removed. That's where the 60% statistic comes from (it's actually 63%). However, we are not told from these statistics (as it is impossible to tell us) how many pieces of spyware it did not detect at all. Also, we're told that you're 60% less likely to get infected, which is not the truth. What this shows is that you are 100% as likely to get infected, but 63% of it will be removed. A 63% removal ratio is not a good ratio. Not good at all. If I have one piece of spyware on my computer, I want it gone. I don't want to rely on a nearly fifty/fifty chance of it actually being removed. Another demo shows us that programs can be run in a Compatibility Mode. This is a counter to users' complaints that Vista is not compatible with a great deal of software and drivers. However, we all remember XP's Compatibility Mode and how it never worked. In my personal experience, the one in Vista is no better. I am at a loss to find anything other than how-to articles related to the subject, so I have no third-party opinion to share with you on the subject of Vista's Compatibility Mode. The demo in the video shows the experimenter running what appears to be a Bluetooth application in Compatibility Mode, though we are never shown that it didn't run in Normal Mode first. We have no proof from Microsoft that this is a valid test. The "organization" video comes with a notice from the gentleman on the right-hand side that these computers are "definitely, definitely not top-of-the-line." Then the guy on the left lists the amazing specs of the computer. Then the guy on the right reiterates that it's "definitely not top-of-the-line." They tell you that this computer can be purchased for $650 to $700. This, of course, is not a lie. You can buy that computer at that price because that computer is now a year old and has no warranty left on it. A new one, as I have said, will run you well over $1000. This video emphasizes the Start menu search function, which I'll admit is a pretty cool feature. Too bad they stole it straight off Mac, but that's not the point. The point is they've actually implemented a cool feature. Not to belittle it or anything, but their method of demonstrating it here is somewhat flawed. It works like this --
LEFT: How would you start the calculator under Windows XP? RIGHT: (fumbling for words) I'd go to Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> Calculator -- It takes too long. LEFT: Well, check this out.
Left clicks on the Start menu, types "calc" and up comes the calculator at the top of the Start Menu.
LEFT: See? You don't even have to type the whole thing!
The trouble with this exchange is that the filename for the calculator application is, in fact, calc.exe. So when you type "calc" into the start bar, it's finding calc.exe, not necessarily the term "Calculator." The same affect can be achieved by clicking Start -> Run and typing "calc" in Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT, XP, and even Vista. Though this demonstration is flawed, I still will admit to the usefulness of the Start menu search function. It really does work pretty well, but only if you have the Windows File Indexing service on all the time, which can be taxing on the proc and memory of your computer. It's something I ordinarily turn off because, well, I know where I keep my files. I have organization and don't rely on my computer for such. There are other new features involved, and you can watch all these demos at the website. There are some really cool things that Vista can do, but the long and short of it is that it's way too heavy on your hardware to be considered a useful operating system. For instance, when Vista creates thumbnail images for pictures on your hard drive or thumb drive or whatever storage medium you've chosen, it keeps the full-size image in memory, then performs a shrink command on it, then displays the shrunken image in the explorer window, keeping the larger image in memory. This created a problem for me when I was looking through photos taken with a professional camera. Each image occupied 15-20 MB depending on the color range in the picture. Instead of taking the images one at a time, shrinking them, then keeping the shrunken version in memory, it tried to load several hundred 15-20 MB images in memory at once. 1GB of memory couldn't hold it all. It fell back on Page File. I had to force reboot the PC to get out of the function due to the interconnected design of the OS and double my computer's memory just to be able to browse. My point is that you should go ahead and try Vista if you want, but for God's sake don't pay for it first. Microsoft is running an extremely dishonest advertisement to overcome a lot of their software's completely valid detractions. They're not fixing much because to do so would involve writing an entirely new OS, and they'll be damned if they'll do that and not ask for another $200. It's bad enough that they're asking for that right now for an OS that is inferior in many ways to a great deal of free-of-charge operating systems. Just see my link list at the top-right for more information on this type of stuff.