NY Times’ Pogue reviews Microsoft’s Windows Vista: ‘Looks, Locks, Lacks’

“After five years of starts, stops, executive shuffling, feature rethinks and delays, Windows Vista is finally complete. It’s available to corporations already, and starting Jan. 30, it’s what you’ll get on any new PC,” David Pogue reports for The New York Times.

“So after five years, how is Windows Vista? Microsoft’s description, which you’ll soon be seeing in millions of dollars’ worth of advertising, is ‘Clear, Confident, Connected,'” Pogue reports. “But a more truthful motto would be ‘Looks, Locks, Lacks.'”

“Windows Vista is beautiful. Microsoft has never taken elegance so seriously before. Discreet eye candy is partly responsible. Windows and menus cast subtle shadows. A new typeface gives the whole affair a fresh, modern feeling. Subtle animations liven up the proceedings,” Pogue reports. “If the description so far makes Vista sound a lot like the Macintosh, well, you’re right. You get the feeling that Microsoft’s managers put Mac OS X on an easel and told the programmers, ‘Copy that.'”

“Now, before the hate-mail tsunami begins, it’s important to note that Apple has itself borrowed feature ideas on occasion, even from Windows. But never this broadly, boldly or blatantly. There must be enough steam coming out of Apple executives’ ears to power the Polar Express,” Pogue reports. “Even so, brazen as it was, the heist was largely successful. Vista is infinitely more pleasant to use than its predecessors. There’s more logic to its folder structure and naming scheme. Things are easier to find. Fewer steps are required to perform common tasks, especially when it comes to networking.”

“Various Microsoft divisions split up the duties of writing the 50 million lines of Vista code, and they didn’t always share the same vision. The most visible areas received the most attention, but many darker, less visited corners weren’t visited by the Microsoft Makeover fairy at all,” Pogue reports.

Pogue reports, “As a result, Vista has something of a multiple-personality disorder. Links for common tasks sometimes appear at the left side of a window, sometimes the right and sometimes across the top. In wizards (step-by-step “interview” screens), the Back button is sometimes at the lower-left corner of the dialog box, sometimes at the upper-left. Microsoft has hidden the traditional menu bar in some programs (you can summon it by tapping the Alt key), but not in others.”

“Here and there, you’ll find some jaw-dropping misfires, too. For example, Photo Gallery can play slide shows — but if you want music too, Microsoft cheerfully suggests that you first switch into another program and start some music playing there,” Pogue reports. “And then there’s that Sidebar, the floating layer of mini-programs. If you close one of the gadgets, you lose its contents forever: your notes in the Post-it Notes gadget, your stock portfolio in the Stocks gadget, and so on. You couldn’t save them if you wanted to. How could Microsoft have missed that one?”

“Vista requires a fairly modern PC,” Pogue reports. “According to a SoftChoice survey, in fact, only 6 percent of existing corporate PCs have enough muscle to run all of Vista’s goodies.”

In the end, Pogue writes, “it doesn’t matter what you (or tech reviewers) think of Windows Vista; sooner or later, it’s what most people will have on their PCs, [so] it’s fortunate that Vista is better looking, better designed and better insulated against the annoyances of the Internet.”

Much more in the full article plus a very funny video of Pogue reviewing Vista and how closely it copies Apple’s Mac OS X here.

MacDailyNews Take: We know why IT people will blindly upgrade to Vista (comfort, job security, etc.). But, if normal people have to buy a new PC to access Microsoft’s upside-down and backwards copies of some of Apple’s pre-Leopard Mac OS X features, why – besides ignorance – would anyone buy an OS-limited PC, when they can get an Apple Mac instead and run everything? Run basically all of the software in the world on a real Mac or run a subset of the world’s software (and often not the best-in-class) on a fake Mac? That’s not a difficult decision. For this reason alone, Apple Mac stands to gain users. Spread the word.

Related articles:
Forbes: Microsoft Windows Vista boss suffers from Mac envy – December 12, 2006
Unlike Microsoft’s Windows Vista, Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard will create no new jobs – December 12, 2006
Microsoft’s Windows Vista: obsolete on arrival? – December 04, 2006
InformationWeek: Now that Vista is the past, let’s look at the future: Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard – December 02, 2006
Microsoft’s Windows Vista and Office 2007 releases generate yawns – December 02, 2006
Dave Winer: ‘Microsoft isn’t an innovator, and never was – they are always playing catch-up’ – December 01, 2006
Microsoft’s Windows Vista vulnerable to malware from 2004 – November 30, 2006
Microsoft Windows Vista developers used Apple Macs for inspiration – November 27, 2006
Microsoft’s Windows Vista is basically Microsoft’s version of Mac OS 9.3 – October 11, 2006
Microsoft Windows Vista: If you can’t innovate… try to impersonate Apple’s Mac OS X – August 10, 2006
Ballmer: I’m Microsoft’s ‘primary champion of innovation’ – July 27, 2006
Microsoft botches another copy job: Windows Vista Flip3D vs. Apple Mac OS X Exposé – June 26, 2006
Windows Vista rips-off Mac OS X at great hardware cost (and Apple gains in the end) – June 13, 2006
Computerworld: Microsoft Windows Vista a distant second-best to Apple Mac OS X – June 02, 2006
Thurrott: Microsoft going to get eaten alive over Windows Vista’s resemblance to Apple’s Mac OS X – March 09, 2006
NY Times’ Pogue on Gates’ CES demo: Most of Vista features unadulterated ripoffs from Apple Mac OS X – January 05, 2006
Analyst: Windows Vista may still impress many consumers because they have not seen Apple’s Mac OS X – January 05, 2006
Apple’s talent and innovation vs. Microsoft’s hype – October 25, 2005
Microsoft’s Windows Vista strives to deliver what Apple’s Mac OS X already offers – October 10, 2005
Thurrott: many of Windows Vista’s upcoming features appeared first in Apple’s Mac OS X – September 26, 2005
Microsoft’s Ballmer: It’s true, some of Windows Vista’s features are ‘kissing cousins’ to Mac OS X – September 18, 2005
PC World: Microsoft innovation – an oxymoron – September 14, 2005
As usual, Apple leads, Microsoft tries to follow – June 02, 2005
eWEEK Editor Coursey: Longhorn so far ‘looks shockingly like a Macintosh’ – April 25, 2005
Due in late 2006, many of Windows Longhorn’s features have been in Mac OS X since 2001 – April 25, 2005
Microsoft’s new mantra: ‘It Just Works’ ripped straight from Apple’s ‘Switch’ campaign – April 22, 2005
Apple CEO Steve Jobs on Microsoft’s Longhorn: ‘They are shamelessly copying us’ – April 21, 2005
Microsoft’s Windows Longhorn will bear more than just a passing resemblance to Apple’s Mac OS X – April 15, 2005
Steve Jobs: Microsoft copied original Apple Mac with Windows 95, now they’re copying us again – February 08, 2005
Where Apple leads, Wintel follows years later – January 31, 2005
Novell CEO: ‘Microsoft sucked $60 billion out of IT industry that could have used for innovation’ – September 13, 2004
Apple CEO Steve Jobs: Mac OS X Tiger ‘is going to drive the copycats crazy – June 28, 2004
PC Magazine: Microsoft ‘Longhorn’ preview shows ‘an Apple look’ – May 06, 2004
Charles Arthur: Microsoft’s definition of ‘innovation’ different from everyone else’s – April 27, 2004
Windows ‘Longhorn’ to add translucent windows that ripple and shrink by 2005 – May 19, 2003


  1. Hmm… I honestly don’t think I would expect anything less than a poor review from Pogue. It’s cute when he gushes over the Mac OS that I enjoy using, but whenever he talks about anything Windows-related (even if it happens to be a decent product), then I am reminded that I can’t really take him too seriously.

  2. My question is: “How are PC manufacturers going to sell their low grade, bare bone PCs if Vista is so resource intensive? Isn’t the low price point a major sell for these guys?” There are a lot of people out there that just use their computers for word processing and the internet, they dont need a very robust machine which is why they don’t buy Macs. This will remove that demographic from the windows world.

  3. Ok, I have a question to ask. Pogue touched on it but did not go there.

    I understand that Vista is “locking up the core” of its software and will stop programs from just going in there and changing things the way they like.

    I have to wonder if this will make many programs stop working with Vista / lockup / have problems.?????

    Any ideas.???

  4. @Norm:

    My guess is yes!

    Also, regarding interface consistency, I spent a weekend fooling around with the Vista Beta. All over the place, you’ll find hold-outs from previous versions of Windows. Everything’s nice and Aeroglassy on the surface, but once you actually do stuff with the operating system, you’ll see that the innards are really just XP all over again. And, if you really try hard enough, there’s even some pieces of the UI that date back to Windows 3.1. Trust me!

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.