Monday, May 14, 2007

A Vista Anti-Endorsement

Before Laura left for Virginia last month, we ran to Fry's to pick up a wi-fi card for her aging laptop. While we were there, we also looked at new laptops. Hers has a small hard drive, not much RAM (by modern standards), and a dead battery, and she travels with it a lot. And a new work laptop would be tax-deductible, which roughly equates to getting it for 25% off. We found two we liked that fit nicely in our meager price range, but the salesman talked us out of buying. We mentioned that she needed it up and running by the next day, and he said there was no chance we could completely configure a Vista machine to do what we needed in 24 hours. We'd need a new printer (there are no Vista drivers for Laura's old portable printer), and none of her expensive, specialized software will run on Vista either. Vectorworks doesn't have a Vista version yet, and neither does LightWright. When a Vista version appears, we'll have to pay for an upgrade license for the software. The salesman said he'd be happy to sell us a Vista laptop, but given the time constraints and our incompatibility issues, it'd be nothing but frustrating in the short term. We appreciated his honesty.

I think we just hit the point where it'd be easier to go Mac and buy a copy of Parallels to run our XP software than it would be to buy a Vista machine. I would've considered it, but Going Mac is going to be a big expense, and we need to do some decision-making before we dive into that. Macs are great, but they ain't cheap. By the time you add enough RAM to run Parallels, you're looking at almost $1500 for a MacBook.

And I really do think we're moving to a point where platform matters less than connectivity. I'm using Google Docs for word processing, Gmail for e-mail, and even Snipshot for photo editing. Unless companies that make platforms put specific roadblocks in the way, the software you're running and even the hardware you're running it on are going to be less important than your perpetual access to bandwidth. I suspect this is going to kick M$oft in the ass, for all the obvious reasons. And I suspect it'll also bite Apple; if platform doesn't matter, why buy a $3000 laptop? The real beneficiaries of the shift are going to be companies that offer mobile broadband and devices that make it easy to use. Now, if only I had some money to invest....

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