Wait a year on Vista
16 December 2006
A while back, I stated in a comment to one my posts that I thought it would be a good idea to wait a year or so after its release before installing a new operating system. This applies to Windows Vista, which, according to Wired News will be available 30 January 2007.
It’s fun to get the most advanced operating system when it first becomes available, but it can be a hassle, too. At least one Wired News reporter thinks similarly:
I would not recommend going out and buying Vista off the shelf or pre-installed on a PC when it becomes available. Users will likely suffer many headaches with missing peripheral drivers and a lack of backward compatibility with legacy software, and those headaches will not make Vista worth its hefty price tag.
If possible, wait a year or more after Vista’s launch to invest in the operating system. At least by then, numerous updates, hardware drivers and service packs will likely have been released.
Security, too, could be a patchy issue (pun fully intended) during the initial weeks and months of Vista’s launch. Better to stand on the sidelines and wait until the time is right to buy the unproven operating system.
Read more about recommended software
Comment by Bat Man — 20 December 2006 @ 6:36 am
So does this apply to all new software? If there’s a new version every year or two of most major releases, then I’ll never have the latest version and more importantly, I’ll never have the supported version.
Comment by Ian Saxon — 21 December 2006 @ 5:42 am
I don’t think it’s necessary to wait a year before buying all types of software. I singled out operating systems as being particularly worthy of caution for 3 reasons:
1. Operating systems provide broader and more dangerous opportunities for security breaches than most other software.
2. Operating systems, in their early iterations, have a long history of being inadequate and in desperate need of a large number of patches soon after release. This is inevitable for such large, complex software packages. There is no reason to think Vista will change this trend, and you needn’t be one of the early testers who suffers from the biggest mistakes.
3. The purchase of a new operating system is a big expense, both monetarily and in time spent learning to use it. Uninstalling an unacceptably premature operating system is far costlier and difficult than uninstalling most other types of software (like an mp3 player or word processor).
As for your concern that you’ll never have the latest and supported version of an operating system, I think it’s misplaced. After the first year of patches for a new operating system, it’s probably not necessary to treat each subsequent update as cautiously as you would the first release (unless the update is so drastic that it is essentially a completely new, untested operating system).
Also, don’t fear that if you fall a year behind on the operating system treadmill you will be left with software the vendor doesn’t support. After all, Windows 98 was officially supported until July 2006, long after Windows 2000 was released in February 2000 and Windows XP was released in October 2001.
Hope that helps,
Comment by Andy Herm — 9 January 2007 @ 8:48 am
I wanna play devil’s advocate here and press you a bit more on each of your reasons.
“1. Operating systems provide broader and more dangerous opportunities for security breaches than most other software.”
I’d venture to say that web browsers and e-mail clients have introduced a similar number of security breaches to OSes. I don’t know the exact stats, but it’s only when a computer is opened to internet access that it is really vulnerable. The OS, on its own, is almost completely secure unless you have physical access to the machine. If Vista is meant to be more secure than XP (and we all know XP’s track record isn’t good), why would you imagine that continuing with something we know isn’t very good is more secure than something we know little about? Surely “possibly good” is better than “definitely not good”
“2. Operating systems, in their early iterations, have a long history of being inadequate and in desperate need of a large number of patches soon after release. This is inevitable for such large, complex software packages. There is no reason to think Vista will change this trend, and you neednâ€™t be one of the early testers who suffers from the biggest mistakes.”
Remember the days of upgrading from 98 or (god-forbid you got suckered in and bought it) ME to XP? Even XP RC1 was miles above 98 in just about every category. Yes, XP crashed, but less than 98 did. It did need lots of tweaks, 2 service packs, and a bazillion patches, but even without all the fixes, it was still better than the alternative. Who’s to say Vista won’t be the same jump ahead?
“3. The purchase of a new operating system is a big expense, both monetarily and in time spent learning to use it. Uninstalling an unacceptably premature operating system is far costlier and difficult than uninstalling most other types of software (like an mp3 player or word processor).”
So? You’re suggesting waiting a year, not not buying it all together. If you’re going to have to invest the time and money into it eventually, why’s my future time worth less than my present time (especially if I’m unemployed at the moment).
“As for your concern that youâ€™ll never have the latest and supported version of an operating system, I think itâ€™s misplaced. After the first year of patches for a new operating system, itâ€™s probably not necessary to treat each subsequent update as cautiously as you would the first release (unless the update is so drastic that it is essentially a completely new, untested operating system).”
Okay, so I’ll grant that XP will continue to be patched and supported well into the future. Why do you assume that each update will be less untrustworthy than the previous? With M$ releasing a new OS or new service pack every year or two, they’re bound to create new problems, but one would hope that they’re also making genuine progress. I think it comes down to if you think Vista now is better than XP now, go for it. If you don’t think Vista is better now, you’re not likely to change your mind after a dozen patches are released and while they’ve closed a few gaps, the OS itself is probably only minimally more secure than it was a year prior. In that year, you may have lost out on some of the advantages that Vista provides for fear of using the buggy system.
p.s. Just because you’re in India doesn’t mean you’re allowed to outsource your blogging.
Comment by Ian Saxon — 11 January 2007 @ 6:23 am
1. Discussing security outside the context of internet access is of limited use, as nearly all computers are connected somehow. Yes, other programs can provide access to a weak OS, but if you take away some of the flaws in the OS, the offending programs become less dangerous. In other words, an extremely secure OS can mitigate a lot of the damage from poor software.
2. Perhaps a fresh install of XP was miles ahead of a fresh install of Windows 98, but I would venture that a Windows 98 install that had been tweaked by a user for several years (security settings carefully chosen and extra programs installed to plug the OS’s holes) would have been safer than either.
3. I’m suggesting that the probability that you would need to uninstall Vista in one year is lower than it is if you install it now, when it is likely to be at its weakest. Therefore, your expected loss (loss*probability of loss) is minimized if you wait one year.
4. It’s certainly up to the individual. My personal opinion is that I would prefer to use a system who’s bugs I understand and know how to mitigate rather than replace it and hope that the new version is better than the previous version. Because Vista is new, it could be worse or it could be better. Why would you bet that it’s better without any evidence?