[xplorer˛] — Vista information management
home » blog » 18 February 2007

"You can't teach new tricks to an old dog"

Unless you've been trapped under a large stone or spent the last few months philosophising in a barrel you may have heard that microsoft have unleashed their new windows operating system upon the world, codename Longhorn sorry Vista. Touted as the next big thing since windows 95, the world+dog has been talking about it. I dare say that you hear more bad things about it than good things. So what's the story? Is it worth abandoning the old barrel?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but there's no doubt that vista desktop looks different. And certainly all these aero tricks and extensive use of .NET to do basic operations mean that vista will eat up much more CPU power just to do the standard things. Poor environment: what's the point of unplugging one's mobile phone charger overnight to save the planet from overheating if the energy savings are going to be offset by running vista for 1 second? Vista is the equivalent of a V8 truck in terms of environmental friendliness. But I digress.

I don't like Vista. To be fair I didn't like windows 95 either back then and pretty quickly came to change my mind. But now I'm 12 years older, and don't welcome being bullied to learn new tricks. Back in '95 windows was only used by a small percentage of the world, now even my mother knows how to send emails. Imagine the effort required to retrain all these people to the new whims of vista, and all for what?

"Better security" you may argue. The notorious User Access Control (UAC) makes sure even administrators don't have enough privileges to do damage. But, hey, that's how I was running my XP up to now anyway, using a normal user account with the occassional RunAs to install new programs. Now UAC with stupid tricks like file and registry redirection and annoying elevation requests won't even allow legitimate administrator access — e.g. the biggest support issue I have right now is people unable to use their registration key in vista (btw there is a FAQ about this).

So what about the desktop experience? The new file explorer has been catching up with xplorer˛ with "innovations" like breadcrumbs (done that), virtual folders (see scrap containers), reading pane (see quickviewer), even a form of primitive filtering by type. Heck I should be sueing for intellectual property theft! I grant you that the new desktop search integrated in vista explorer, accessing all areas including email, is something to look up to, and rest assured that I will be "borrowing" some ideas for next xplorer˛ version. The new search is good on paper but will it work? I can't tell you that since I'm a laggard and won't be upgrading to vista for the forseeable future.

From past experience you can bet on explorer merely emerging to standard and generally screwing things up. For a long time leading to the release of vista, I was afraid that it would be the end of xplorer˛. As it turned out, quite the opposite has happened. All of a sudden the most popular search keyword is "vista explorer replacement" driving early adopters to my website. I'm sure it has to do more with people being frustrated by the unfamiliarity of the new explorer rather than its quality. But I can't complaint :)

Where the hell is the menu bar in the new explorer? That must be the nadir of improvement ideas. Yes, I know you can press <Alt> to show it, but really, why would you do that kind of thing to one's mother? Like Diogenes the Cynic, I'll press on with my lantern in pursuit of a sane man in Redmond. Does anyone have a barrel handy?

Anyway fear not since xplorer˛ works like a charm in vista.

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