Is XP a Better GUI than Vista?

by Preston Gralla

A new report from French-based Pfeiffer Consulting found that XP has a better, more effective interface than Vista. My question is this: Who spiked their Beaujolais?


2007-02-27 18:49:29
The GUI for XP is better than Vista
2007-02-27 18:54:13
> remember, their favorite American comedian is Jerry Lewis.

Hum.... most teenagers in France have no clue who Jerry Lewis is. The rest of the population remembers the guy who did all he could to raise money to fight genetic diseases.
I suspect that Jerry Lewis as the favorite American comedian of the French is a bit of a myth.....

2007-02-27 19:26:38
I appreciate the skepticism of the comments, given Microsoft's investment and user acceptance/usability research of their own, and the wording of the report as in "Vista is 16% worse than XP" in this or that. It's hard to make those kinds of precision percentage better or worse statements in something that subjective and be taken seriously.

However there are a couple of things that might be useful to keep in mind.

The linked article is only an article and doesn't include the full research report, which might shed more light on their metrics.

Besides that, there are several ways to lock down XP and make it more usable - for example Firefox, third-party anti-virus and firewall software, Google desktop search, third-party parental controls, etc. So if it turns out that the interface lacks in users' experience to correlate with their research, then that appears to me to be the majority of the upgrade sell-factor.

It is nice to have some of those things integrated well into the operating system, but some would find that as a liability and conflict of interest at some point with regard to security. It's also nice to have some competition in the desktop search space, though I truly hope that Microsoft doesn't continue their exclusionary tactics of, "That's a great idea netscape, novell, sun (java), linux, vmware, google, and apple we'll take it from here...illegally..." Despite the popular belief in Redmond, they don't have a monopoly on talent or innovation.

Besides that Freedom Fries actually came from Belgium and the French helped the US quite a bit in the Revolutionary War. I still don't think Jerry Lewis is very funny though.

2007-02-28 00:26:38
My way was a French song, and only later translated into English for Sinatra to sing.

Go figure

Andrew White
2007-02-28 13:18:54
After all, can you really accept the judgment of the French -- remember, their favorite American comedian is Jerry Lewis.

Oh, come now. We expect this childish Yank boosterism cheese-eating-surrender-monkey trash from Digg, not from O'Reilly. Grow up.

john walker
2007-02-28 15:44:31
I can't stand slow GUI interfaces.. especially for opening menus and submenus like this report indicates. A 20% slowdown (!) for dropdown menus is really, really awful - it would drive me crazy!

I recommend Google Desktop for searching your local PC, it works really well on XP. Vista has poor driver support, backward compatibility issues (doesn't even run iTunes) and major virtualization limitations. For most users, Vista is a bloated, slower, and unnecessary version of XP.

2007-02-28 18:40:08
Okay, we take a serious report, that tries to quanitify UI productivity, and then we attempt to discredit it with what? That it was written by the French? Or, "It's is also just plain fun to use."?

The issue of OS productivity is a very important consideration, that is rarely considered as part of the upgrade process. Microsoft has developed a very bad propensity to ignore all of the hard learned end user skills, and releases software that seriously impedes the users productivity. For example, where did the menu items for IE7 go? How can they take a tried and true OS / UI element, and just make it disappear?

In short, this is a serious issue, that requires serious attention. Your simplified observations on the short comings of the report don't add to the analysis.

Kurt Cagle
2007-02-28 21:14:34
I'm beginning to realize why I moved out of the US to Canada.

I think that for many people, the issue of user interface IS a valid expectation about the viability of a given operating system. It is hard to quantify such features as driver integration or the efficiency of one set of technologies (C++) compared to another (managed C# + no doubt lots of unmanaged C++) for the average user, but if, after a significant upgrade in terms of hardware, you discover that menus open up slower than they did under XP and familiar interface elements have disappeared in favor of "cool new ones", adding to the time necessary to become familiar with the OS, then yes, I think it's fair to say that the user experience is worse.

Ultimately, the purpose of the OS is to simplify the interaction that the user has with his or her data. The more that the user has to work to get at that data, the less effective that OS becomes. There are some interesting features that were stolen from Linux or Mac OSX created at Microsoft for Vista, but if the user experience is worse than for XP, then frankly they failed.

2007-02-28 23:18:38
More features does not mean better usability.
2007-03-01 00:24:10
Yes sirree, there's nothing like a bit nationalism to prop up a non-technical critique of a technical report.

Whining about hardware and vague references to features doesn't make this much more than the very first thing you allude to.

Own up: been on any Microsoft junkets lately?

2007-03-01 04:25:10
Wow!!! Terrific article: compare some numbers (the french Pfeiffer Consulting) with some personal idea without ...background.
Have you never worked in a productive environment? Do you think the twist and bells of Vista simplify my number crunch routines?
I think Microsoft should write TWO operating system: one to sell for fun and one to IT technicians...maybe Linux is the right choice.

2007-03-01 14:14:19
Sounds like typical comments from another Microsoft fan-boy!

Pfeiffer Article: Quantitative, technical, somewhat objective
Your Article: Non-technical and subjective.

Alex Ginnsz
2007-03-07 21:46:02
Vista looks to me like a desperate attempt from Microsoft to keep up with Apple. Does it succeed? I think the following data speaks for itself:

Vista Basic minimum system requirements:
1GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor!
512MB RAM!
32MB Video RAM
40GB of available HD space!

Home Premium/Business/Ultimate:
1GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor!
Support for DirectX 9 graphics with:
- WDDM Driver
- 128 MB of graphics memory (minimum)!
- Pixel Shader 2.0 in hardware
- 32 bits per pixel
40GB of available HD space!

Mac OS X Tiger 10.4
G3 Processor (works with 233MHz iMacs!)
256MB of RAM
3GB of available HD space

I'm not sure about XP. All I know is that XP Pro runs flawlessly on my Pentium 2 450MHz/320MB RAM/8MB VRAM/4GB HD

I have only had a quick peak at Vista's GUI. I was not impressed. Like XP, it looks like 98 with a slightly different skin! "Better security": Does anyone here use Windows' Firewall when you can get ZoneAlarm or Sygate for free? I imagine Vista has a couple flashy features, the kind you get tired of very quickly. Bottom line: if you want to be able to run at least one program on your brand new Celeron Notebook with standard 512MB RAM, 32MB Video RAM and 40GB HD, Vista may not be the best choice for you. Stick to XP, or better yet, switch to a new intel Mac and run XP and OS X simultaneously!
2007-03-14 13:05:11
VISTA is a FAILURE. Look at the comments about VISTA at Newegg. VISTA is the modern day equivalent of WINDOWS ME. Stick with XP or wait for the next version of windows or convert to LINUX.
Ted M
2007-03-15 06:33:24
Obviously you have not been told by Vista that you do not have rights to the temp folder in your own Users folder! Not to mention that the windows that open up when you want to "Save As" or "Explore" are totally worthless for human use! They threw out the baby with the bath water on this one. What we really have here is Vista ME (Miserable Edition). For once I agree with the French!
2007-03-24 16:05:05
why can't you just give it up to Microsoft!! they pulled it off And Vista is a better operating system than Xp you like it or go to hell !!!
2007-06-13 00:37:11
What a bolox report
2007-09-18 19:33:42
i think the pros and cons of vista and xp balance out . net result no compelling reason to upgrade. I have a vista for fun but still use XP for getting it done.
2007-11-04 04:06:03
I love how your last sentence is pure racism and nothing whatsoever to do with anything.
Gotta love how all these failed journalists make a home on the web talking absolute rubbish.
2007-11-09 00:00:02
"An operating system’s usefulness can’t be measured by how quickly a menu displays."

Well, yes, it can. The usefulness of an OS is measured by how well it performs the tasks I carry out every day, over and over again, not by how many additional bells and whistles it's got that I rarely, if ever, use. What value is a "new, lightning-fast, comprehensive search", when I've got my stuff organised well enough that I rarely need to search? "Better networking"? I've never had any problems with XP. And anyway, I don't want an OS that's "just plain fun to use". I want an OS that I can do real work with.

2007-12-26 07:47:32
"For most users, Vista is a bloated, slower, and unnecessary version of XP."

Well said from a previous poster. Myself not even the hardest of hardcore gamers cannot stand it. It's poor performance with drivers and gfx accelerators and resource sucking idling is enough to drive one insane. Just idling, no background aps (not even my anti-virus) and 32 processes it idles at 642. That is disgusting especially for laptop users such as myself, we are limited to the amount of ram we can use, I have 2 gigs and if nearly half of it is being absorbed by my OS and even more being taken up with larger caches for thier new easier search tools then that doesn't leave me with too much left to do gaming or my photo editing with.

2007-12-28 21:54:54
Sometime you should just follow the maxim "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" I guess all the fancy pants UI gurus in Microsoft had to prove why they were getting paid and design a new UI. There is no other justification for it.

If you compare this to OSX from Puma to Leopard there have been a great deal of changes and enhancements but Apple has gone from strength to strength, keeping what worked and throwing away what didn't, but they didn't throw their users such a curve.

Microsoft does nothing for years and then breaks every thing good they had with Vista. XP had many good things, including its UI. There was nothing terribly wrong with it and a little spit and polish, some 3rd glass and chrome would have been fine, but to completely redesign everything makes no sense.

Thierry Massihians
2008-02-28 20:16:33
I may not agree with Pfeiffer in terms of test criteria, but your generalizing comments make your own logic equally absurd in terms of everything minus the topic aforementioned. Do I hear prejudice in your neuron background noise?
2008-03-05 06:01:13
"Do I hear prejudice in your neuron background noise?"
Bob Holness
2008-04-15 16:51:19
'Lightning fast search'? It runs as a system hogging service in the background. So effectivley, you lose overall performance to gain a few seconds advantage in search speed.

'It needs to be measured by the features, and real-world use'. XP wins hands-down. Why? Well features are bloated and slow the whole machine down, reducing productivity and real-world use is absolutley laughable. Vista has the LOWEST compatibility with current hardware than any other Windows system ever did, even at this point in it's life-cycle. How can you get any type of real-world use from an OS that doesn't even work with half your hardware and software.

XP wins, these are not my opinions, or guesses, or estimations, THIS IS A FACT!

2008-05-06 15:44:10
@Kyle, I always hate how people complain about ram usage in Vista when they have so much. It's designed to suck it up so it's not, you know, just sitting there doing nothing.

With a good system I actually believe Vista provides a "smoother" experience simply because the whole gui can take advantage of graphics cards better. When I go back to using XP I cringe at all the tearing when moving windows around fast for example, it looks so ancient. The nice little frills like a program specific sound mixer, more useful and accessable calandar popup, and the great new "my computer" with space bars etc are also missed when I go back.

2008-05-06 15:46:59
Also, I thought the live searching would be a useless addition but now without it I really miss it. I just stare at a folder with hundreds of pictures thinking "I wish I was in Vista right now". The indexing was never an issue for me.