The Windows Vista Monster Review

Interoperability & Program Compatibilty on Windows Vista

Windows Vista has done well with program compatibilty, which has steadily improved since the first alpha & even beta builds. At any rate, it’s far better than when people started to use Windows XP straight from Windows 9x; that was a completely different kernel and gave everyone hell all over the place (remember Roxio anyone?).

Windows Vista offers several layers of program compatibility ranging in ease of use and likelihood of success.

  1. Basic backwards API compatibility

    Windows Vista’s API preserves most (almost all) previous functions. This means that if you coded an application (or are using an application that was coded) in a way that is 100% compliant (or close to that) with the Windows API, not breaking any rules or using any unpublished hacks, the program should work perfectly on Windows Vista by RTM. This requires no end-user action, and works automatically, and without issue all of the time.

  2. Windows XP Compatibilty Mode

    Enabling Windows XP Compatibility Mode on Windows Vista takes place on a per-application basis. Basically, you view the properties for an executable file, and tell it to enable Compatibility Mode – and Vista “takes care” of the rest. Basically it attempts to head-off incorrectly coded programs by “intercepting” calls to no longer present files or functions in the Windows Core. Success rate is a modest 70% – 85% for most “normal” applications that don’t do any low-level access or modification. This isn’t Computer Programming 101, so that’s it for now.

  3. Virtual Store

    This is one of Windows Vista’s big changes. With the enormous underlying changes to the NT kernel with Windows Vista, sometimes the first two just don’t cut it. Microsoft has a decent solution of sorts, where it runs programs in a “virtual” environment. It’s not like Apple’s on-the-fly virtualization for pre-OS X software, but it provides a folder with on-the-fly sym-linking for any of the major files. It has all the old XP directories and DLLs (though they’re not actually there) and is an excellent idea for running old code well without resorting to the bad-performing virtual machines. But there is one problem: it doesn’t always pick up when it should be used and when it shouldn’t; and severe loss of data may occur.

Overall, Windows Vista’s compatibility with Windows XP programs is good. Not spectactular, but nowhere as poor as originally forecast.

Drivers on Windows Vista is another story. Theoretically, it’s good. Indeed most XP drivers work great with Windows Vista, even video and audio – which are the areas with new driver models, though they do disable the newer features such as virtual sound and Aero/DWM. But if a driver contains a single line of 16–bit code (as many “unified driver kits” do), Vista will go on the fritz and never boot again. Examples include the latest versions of XP drivers for Creative’s audio devices which include Unified Driver Support for the older 16–bit audio cards.

On the whole, interoperability is good.. Not perfect, but quite good and fairly thorough. In all likelihood, a user running the newest versions of the most popular media/productivity/business/eduction programs won’t have to bat an eye. But be careful nevertheless!

59 thoughts on “The Windows Vista Monster Review

  1. Every other operating system, than Windows Vista is crap!

    I like it as clear and simple as Vista is!

    Oh and 99% of software is only Windows capable, so why should i use some linux/unix/apple/mac anyways???

  2. Linux is alot easier to use than you may think. I would let my grandma use the latest distros (and thats saying ALOT). Still not perfect (a command prompt is useful to get things done quickly and efficiently. This may be intimidating to some.) Vista, when you get down to it, is still windows. It uses alot of the same code as XP but with more “features” tacked on top. This new code is untested and, I am sure, full of back doors. The only reason MS is still in business is because of a few slip-ups by other companies (most notably Apple for losing that case way back when and IBM for not buying MS) OSX is very easy to use and I would say its the perfect blend of simplicity, power, security and stability. I have used all three products extensively (though currently use linux because i love programming). If MS produces a good product, I will shut up but until then, seriously, they need to get on the ball and innovate a little.

  3. Robig, you see the problem, don’t you?

    Since the world uses MS, you have to too. At least if you want to make a living.
    If you plan on working for a desktop software developer, 99 times out of a 100, you’re going to be required to work on Windows, because that’s what your audience is.

    The reason MS and Windows are still on the top is because they won the game quickly and from the very beginning. For every OS X application you can find, there are 2000 Windows programs.

    In computing, where it’s all about standards, the one that can take over fastest wins.

  4. I just installed Vista for an old lady across the street from me, got her computer set up, and installed a printer and some other hardware.  This was the first time I’ve touched Vista.  I have to say…it’s slow, bloated, doesn’t seem to add much new from XP, and the hardware support absolutely sucks.  That’s right, I spent way more time than I needed to over there struggling to get the damn printer installed.  It should have been easy.  It is on XP.  I won’t even go into the problems I had with installing the wireless card or the terrible network center interface.

    I hated it.

  5. I have to agree Jacob, those are the same weak points I experienced in Windows Vista myself.

    But I think the rest is good though, no?

  6. Wtf are you idiots bagging vista for? It uses less cpu power thanks to the new gui which can be turned off, but why the hell would you? Most *nix OS’s have around 30 accounts, why are people saying it has 1000? Vista has around 20 itself. People who are unwilling to test it but will bag it out by comparing it to something stupid that doesn’t exist anyway are moronic.

    Hilarious quote from comment #1: the colors should not make eyes to ake

    He evidently can’t spell “colour”; and he doesn’t realise the colours are easily changeable – something you notice when you test the OS.

  7. You seem not to know your language very well, otherwise you could tell some common differences between British English and American English, one of them says “color”, the other one “colour”…

    Anyway, do you also have something valuable to tell?

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