26 February, 2007

Why Microsoft annoys me (updated)

As I originally states in my previous post (before updating it), I intended to talk about Windows Speech Recognition and other alternatives today. That entry will be coming shortly, but I needed to take some time right now to discuss something that really bothers me. I mentioned in the original draft of my last post on User Account Protection, that Windows Backup can create a "previous version" of a file or files that you could immediately return to if something goes wrong. This is different from the full system backup. How you ask? It's different because in a full system backup, every file is replaced. That's great if you have a system crash, but what about if you accidentally save two files with the same name? What if you accidentally delete a file the system needs? That's when a system restore or a full backup are not necessarily the appropriate options. In that case you just want to be able to retrieve the missing file or folder without impacting your entire system. That's what the previous version function or Shadow Copy is for. So as I was looking at Microsoft's feature comparison chart for all of the flavors of Vista in an effort to help advise my father on upgrading, I realized that the shadow copy function is only available in Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Ultimate Edition, or Windows Vista Enterprise Edition.

The reason for my confusion was that originally this was going to be a feature in almost all flavors of Vista. It really annoys me when Microsoft does this. They make so many different flavors of a product; pack a bunch of features into every version. Many of these, most people will never use but the one feature you always need; that would be useful to have is always, and I mean Always, in the more expensive version. Why do they do this to us? Why do software companies feel it necessary to make so many differing iterations of a product. Oh, I know what they say. They say it's to meet the different needs of the market. That's fine. That even make sense to me. If you want to do that, do what they did for Windows XP in the beginning. I know there are other editions now, but in the beginning, there was just Windows XP Home Edition and Windows XP Professional Edition. That made it simple. At home I had the Home Edition and at work, I had the professional, right? Well, not exactly. You see after using Windows XP Home Edition, I discover that there was one single feature I needed that this version didn't have. Of course, this was no problem because as luck would have it, the feature I needed was was in XP Professional Edition. So of course I had to pay the extra money to obtain a version of Windows that was only slightly different from the Home Edition I'd already been using and had already spent money on to begin with. And Microsoft has done it again with Vista. Although I suppose if you think about it, the Vista situation is much simpler. Home Basic is in my opinion, a waste of money. He does the name of a backup that you can schedule. That leaves you with only two choices. Unless you're in business, you're not going to buy Vista Business. So your two choices are Windows Vista Home Premium or, Windows Vista Ultimate Edition. Now there will always be some features that you don't use but my advice is to get the highest level of Windows you can afford.

There is always the anytime upgrade option. This means that if, for example, you have Windows Vista Home Premium and you want to upgrade to Windows Ultimate, you can click an icon, pay for the appropriate key, and immediately upgrade to the next version. This works because Windows Vista comes on a DVD with all the various iterations on it. The version that you get depends on what key you type in during the installation process. Anytime upgrade does have limitations, however. You can only use it once and you can only go to the next highest version. In other words, if you have Home Basic and you want to upgrade to Home Premium, that's fine but if you do that, you cannot then use anytime upgrade to go to Ultimate Edition. You would actually need to buy the Ultimate Edition upgrade at the point. That's why I say get the most advanced Windows you can you can afford. It's a given that you'll not use all of the features in there, but there will be more of the ones you really want and more of an opportunity for anytime upgrade later on.

To clarify any misunderstandings, all versions of Windows Vista have speech recognition. Most versions of Windows Vista have a backup utility that's easy to configure and that will run automatically without prompting or interference thereafter. All versions of Vista have antispyware software built in. Most versions of Vista support the new user interface (Arrow), but not Home Basic. All versions of Windows Vista include User Account Protection / Control and Windows Backup will make a regular backups but only Vista Business, Vista Ultimate Edition and Vista Enterprise includes shadow copying.

Sorry for any confusion. Because I'd been testing this thing for so long, I assumed that they would go with their original plan. Hope this clears up any confusion caused by the misinformation. It wasn't intentional. I'll be back soon with my original plan to discuss speech recognition in Windows and other alternatives.

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