Wednesday, February 28, 2007

My best advice: Don’t Touch Vista

Bad Vista from the eff is a glossary at the bottom)

“The Vista Content Protection specification could very well constitute the longest suicide note in history” Peter Gutmann (IT security expert)

Vista is the new Windows operating system. It is not worth getting, ever. It is like running a large video game rather than an operating system (without being fun). 95% of computers are incapable of running it because they don’t have enough RAM to fit it in (requires 1GB RAM just for itself). It uses 15GB of hard disk space (more than half my hard drive) ten times more than XP and more than 15 times more than (at least) one Linux distribution. It takes a whole minute just to get to the login screen – because of the speed at which data can be moved from the hard drive to the RAM. Have you ever had a large (new) video game running and then tried to browse the internet at the same time, while having several documents open and your emails? No? You don’t want to try, think of treacle (without the sweetness).

It will, like all windows systems before it, have many security holes that will be found over time, but since it is new and much of the code in it has been written from scratch there will be many more especially at the start. It has 9 different ways of being turned off! So you have to relearn how to turn off a computer. It produces security warnings much too often so you are likely to automatically approve them without thinking (according to a security company) it does not tell you how dangerous it thinks the alerts are. It is not built to be secure, it is built to let other computers do stuff that you don’t want them to do to your computer against your consent (such as stop everything except Internet explorer working), so that they can manage your digital restrictions (DRM). “DRM causes too much pain for legitimate buyers [...] There are huge problems with DRM” — Bill Gates. (Yet Microsoft still spent millions integrating it into Vista)

There are 6 different versions, costing from £180 – £370. All of which are about twice as expensive as their US versions, just because they like ripping off British people.

The Licence agreement (EULA) says that you are not allowed to fix the problems with Vista, because they might be deliberate.

Many even new expensive and top of the market sound and graphics cards do not support the DRM and so are disabled by vista causing them to not work. “No-one has been able to identify any Windows system that will actually play HD content in HD quality”(1) If Vista does not like your computer your graphics will be “slightly fuzzy” and your audio “fuzzy with less detail”.

No one will be able to write programs to run hardware (drivers) for free anymore, preventing it from working with anything other than Vista (unless you pay money separately), because all the details have to be secret to stop people avoiding the downgraded quality on Vista.

Vista will disable worldwide any devices anyone manages to make produce the ‘premium content’ without DRM. So if one hacker breaks in anywhere, it stops working for everyone everywhere. And fixing this problem could cause the anti-piracy measures to be implemented, killing your entire computer.

Oh and the hackers got round the whole thing on the day it was released Microsoft spent millions the hackers? Pennies (5).

3 Hollywood studios must approve every single bit of hardware. Why?

A small jolt or slight inconsistency could cause the entire graphics system to reboot (freezing or turning off the screen for a few seconds) and probably crashing programs such as computer games. (This does not happen on any other OS.

Companies are not allowed to include Debugging (problem finding) abilities in their drivers, because this might tell people about the system.

SSL type encryption (used to connect to online banks etc (https)) is used to connect to different pieces of software, this is weird, and slows the computer down e.g. out of 11 different bits of data 9 are just for the DRM and 2 are for the audio and video, 550% more work for no reason.

Every driver has to wake up every 30 microseconds and tell Vista that nothing is happening, just to make sure nothing is.

Vista will release PIN numbers, credit card details etc. but it carefully encrypts video, they care more about Hollywood than the user.
Vista: “an operating system that is insanely paranoid” - Leo Laporte

If your hardrive crashes, you have to re-buy all your CDs, DVDs and online music, if they have DRM.

“The sheer obnoxiousness of Vista's content protection may end up being the biggest incentive to piracy yet created.”(1)

Microsoft could have put all the effort it put into encrypting all video and sound into making Vista secure instead, encrypting content that the user wants encrypting and stopping malware programs from doing nasty things, so much effort wasted on making things worse for the user.

Any other OS will run faster than Vista. Stick with XP (if you use windows) until 2011 when support for it runs out (Vista support runs out in 2012) then move to Linux. Linux is better than windows, it is inherently more secure, it is sane, it does cool stuff, (almost) anything Windows can do Linux can do better, free updates forever, free upgrades forever, thousands of free programs. There is even a version designed specifically for education: Edubuntu. Oh and did I mention it’s free. I now have both Ubuntu and XP on my laptop, as soon as I get the schools (Linux based) proxy server to let me out I’m leaving Windows.


  1. (readable despite being sometimes technical, very informative)
  2. (provided picture)
  3. (this really is very good)
  4. Paraphrasing “AACS took years to develop, and it has been broken in weeks. The developers spent billions, the hackers spent pennies.” (this site is good, but not always in the best taste)


RAM = Random Access Memory, this is where the computer stores stuff it is working on.
Hard disk space = the amount of space to save files into.
DRM = Digital Restrictions management
Graphics card = the piece of electronics that turns electrical signals into pictures on your screen. HD = High definition, you will probably have seen lots of TVs saying they are HD Ready (not that there is any HD telly or will be for another 3 years)
Driver = a driver is a program that runs a bit of hardware, e.g. you have a graphics card that is run by a graphics driver.
Malware programs = evil programs e.g. spyware, adware, viruses, worms, Trojans…
OS = Operating System e.g. Linux, Mac OSX, oh and Windows.

See also:

Edit: fixed formatting problems... again.


Anonymous said...

What a complete load of crap, written by someone who has clearly not read anything concerning the operating system, nor evn its requirements as for that matter...

Max Randor said...

Oh yes I did read quite a lot about it. Including its requirements. On Hard disk space someone I know is finding it takes even more than the 15Gb specified.

Anonymous said...

Never seen anything so stupidly incorrect and biased... Maybe a virus has infected your subhuman script...

Max Randor said...

Um no not stupidly incorrect I did read a lot on it before writing that.
Biased... well by the end of reading all the suff I read and after trying to fix a three of Vista computers no actually I don't like it much.

Max Randor said...

Oh and you really are pushing the boundaries with how rude you are being.

Anonymous said...

I'm in the process of writing a similar article with similar conclusions. Of course, I probably don't know what I'm talking about either. Anon above would probably argue that my six months of research and 23 years of experience in the computer industry don't qualify me to comment either. Vista is not a good thing. Not at all.

Good article Max. Keep 'em coming.