Friday, January 26, 2007

Vista compatibility issue

PC users only have to wait a few more days, until January 30th, to get their hands on Vista -- Microsoft's eagerly anticipated upgrade to its Windows XP operating system. But in the midst of all the bells and whistles surrounding the release, a handful of industry insiders who have been working with Vista have already reported a number of compatibility issues. And bloggers are taking note, as well.

Analysts confirm that there are indeed some issues with software compatibility and there are bound to be more. Whenever a new operating system comes into play, users should expect it won't be smooth sailing at first. Thus, it comes as no surprise that bloggers are busily posting problems and gripes.

Glitches Pepper Programs

On the IntelliAdmin blog, for example, blogger Steve Wiseman has a post titled "The 5 sins of Vista" detailing some of his primary concerns after using the new operating system for the past month and a half. Although Wiseman writes that he is a "big fan of Microsoft," he cites multiple issues with the version of Vista he has been using. In particular, he points to trouble he has had with the new file browsing interface, the search functionality, and copying files.

"Sure they have made the interface look cooler, a snazzy progress bar here and there," he writes. But Wiseman doesn't find the file copy function particularly robust, complaining that he hates it when he is trying to copy 5,000 files and the process "gets killed half way through because 1 single file can't be opened."

The IntelliAdmin blogger also reports that he has experienced problems when copying files to a remote file share location that is not responding. That, he says, causes all of Internet Explorer to lock up. Yes, Wiseman says, this still happens in Vista, indicating that this particular problem is not unique to the new version of Windows.

Where's the Beef?

Among the most popular applications having compatibility problems with Vista are QuickBooks and Lotus Notes. But bloggers have also cited compatibility issues with other popular programs as well, including iTunes, Adobe Acrobat version 7.0 and even Windows Media Player.

And while Vista has a slick, see-through display called 'Aero', some Vista users cite problems running Windows Live Messenger, complaining that it is incompatible with the Aero color scheme.

Yes, analysts say, glitches happen. "On Vista, there are driver issues and support issues," says David Smith, research analyst for Gartner. Because Vista has a new driver model, it may not be compatible with some software. On the support side, "a lot of things may run OK, but not perfectly."

Making Deadline

Smith says part of the problem is Microsoft pulling out all the stops to make the January 30th Vista release deadline. Many industry analysts as well as some of hardware vendors were skeptical that Microsoft would meet the January deadline. That seemed to be the feeling across the board, at least until this past September.

"They really stepped things up in the last four months," says Smith. "But by getting it done by their target date, something's gotta give. And it has," he says.

Meeting the release date was an amazing feat, he says, "but not everyone else did," referring to the fact that not all the compatibility issues with various software applications have been resolved.

For users eager for a bite of the Vista pie, Microsoft has a reference page on its Vista Web site to help answer the "is my software compatible?" question. Smith recommends folks take advantage of Microsoft's tools and patches to help ease the transition.

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