Bad Vista

Bad Vista

The Free Software Foundation has launched the Bad Vista campaign, to help spread awareness about the fact that Vista is really about taking things away from you… not helping you out. If you’re not familiar with the story behind Vista, please read this introduction. For a detailed litany of the problems, see Peter Gutmann’s recent analysis.

Because Vista annoys me so much, I have installed Ubuntu Linux on my desktop machine. Braid will be ported and released on Ubuntu, and another upcoming project of mine is being co-developed on Ubuntu. It is really a quite usable operating system in most respects and I recommend trying it out. (You can download and burn a bootable Live CD that will let you try out the Ubuntu desktop experience without installing anything on your hard drive. Why not give it a shot?)

Microsoft’s marketing department is working hard to position Vista as some kind of panacea that will bring you the future of gaming, a great thing for developers and players alike. Well, you can mark me down as a developer who does not believe that to be true at all. Alex St John (another developer) recently wrote an article criticizing Vista as well. His angle is more about game deployment and accessibility than user rights and freedoms; but it shows yet another way that Vista is about restriction, rather than benefit.

9 thoughts on “Bad Vista”

  1. It’s not quite as extreme as that… I have used Linux in one form or another for a long time ( is a dedicated Red Hat server, and my first Linux distribution was Slackware 0.91 back in 1992 or something). But, ever since Windows 95 I have used Windows as my primary platform to get things done, partially because, hey, that’s where the people playing games are.

    So now my determination is to use Ubuntu (or future Linux distributions) as the main platform I use to get things done… and to help out the platform, either via making applications for it or infrastructurally. I’d also like to turn my attention to other open platforms (I’d love to make an OLPC game as my next project).

  2. I’m not surprised Alex St. John opposes Vista. WildTangent software was, for a long time, regarded as a virus/worm of some sort because it had a habit of initiating an additional process and shipping out network data – without disclosing this fact to the end user. To this day, I refuse to install anything even tangentially related to WildTangent (and I wish they would stop sending me their newsletter, but I guess my affiliations in the game industry make that impossible).

    The article you link is a bunch of fluff. I quote:


    How’s about we just say in English what we think is wrong rather than all this “revolutionary” rhetoric? How’s about a simple, 5-step explanation of Why Vista Is Bad For You? How’s about the “What’s wrong with Microsoft Windows Vista?” page ( actually having some content?

    I would really like to see reasoned discourse, not FUD – the very tactics the FSF has always accused Microsoft of employing to discredit Free Software. Then again, I would really like a shiny new Ferrari in gunmetal grey…

  3. Quote missing from the post above:
    Microsoft Vista is an upsell masquerading as an upgrade. It is an overall downgrade and regression. It is a ruse to compel the further transfer of control over peoples’ computers to an external and mysterious certification authority with peculiar standards of “genuine”. It is a ploy to artificially motivate the purchase of expensive, unnecessary hardware.

  4. I think the Gutmann article (linked from here) does a much better job of spelling out the issue. I agree that the rhetoric on the fsf site is not all that hot, but I think that it has value as a rallying point, and that just communicating the idea “There is a formalized group of people who are opposed to Windows Vista” is a good thing.

    But yes, it could be a lot better.

  5. er, what about the speech recognition? That saves my RSI-injured wrists and tendonitis-riddled forearms a lot of effort. It’s better (yes, I’ve used both for over a year) than Dragon Naturally speaking. Is ubuntu usable primarily by speech recognition? That’s something vista and/or dragon naturally speaking give me.

  6. Alex St. John is an interesting duck. As mentioned before, WildTangent has a long history of bundling spy and ad ware in with their downloads.

    What’s really interesting though is that he was one of the original guys at Microsoft who developed DirectX, which has essentially supplanted OpenGL (and actually supplanted it in Vista) in the Windows space, and therefore in the video acceleration hardware space.

    He was also one of the early guys on the Xbox team. Like of a lot of the Xbox pioneers, he went on sabbatical and opted not to return after the project hand off to Allard.

    He’s certainly not a strong advocate of free software or anything of the sort. Quite the opposite in fact. It’d be interesting to know what kind of bad blood is there.

  7. I have to wonder how that comparison would fare if it was Vista vs Linux? We bought a new HP Vista machine and converted an old WIn 2K based desktop to SUSE Linux – . After 2 months the hassles with Linux are far fewer! There are hassles with both, but the Linux hassles are well documented and Novell ($60 SUSE Linux support) actually DOES provide solutions in real English! We are preparing to convert the new machine to Linux as well.

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