A couple of years ago I was telling my good friend, Manzabar, about how I thought Windows Vista was going to be a very tough release for Microsoft and Windows users. My only proof for this was the incredible growing pains which I and many other Mac OS X users had to endure through the many OS X releases that Apple came out with. By far the biggest problem for OS X, other than the Finder, has been the actual speed of the operating system. Everything on OS X seemed to be painfully slower. Most early users put up with it, because of the benefits of using modern features in OS X, for me it was JAVA. There were a ton of new JAVA apps that only worked well under OS X. As Apple improved on OS X, it became more evident that OS X had serious bottlenecks. There was the multi-threading of the FreeBSD layer itself, the MACH kernel design itself not being as fast as Linux, the UI changes that made many users curse the new Finder, and so on. But the major issue is and still is the graphics layer in OS X. When Apple implemented a new graphics system and replaced the old two dimensional QuickDraw, they slowed down the UI immensely. Instead of a window taking a few kilobytes of memory to draw, it now literally took something like three megabytes per window. The math operations alone for all the windows slowed down the main PowerPC cpu and made the entire OS sluggish to use. Apple worked with NVidia and ATI to offload more and more of the UI drawing functions to the graphics card and now OS X is very much improved, but it is still a work in progress, and many would argue that the OS did not speed up as much as the hardware got faster. As of today the G5 PowerMacs and the new Intel based models are a vast improvement on UI responsiveness.
This brings me to Windows Vista, and Microsoft’s first attempt to bring a real 3-D interface to Windows. Of course, since Microsoft does all the code for DirectX, and they have waited for video cards to become DirectX 9 compliant, their UI should have less problems than Apple’s. But as you can tell by Apple’s lastest OS X release, the UI is still being perfected and even after five years of trying to speed it up, Apple still is not finished tweaking it. Vista will have problems running on older hardware and I’m sure Microsoft will end up tweaking just as much as Apple in order to get the 3-D UI to run at acceptable levels. The difference though is that Mac users will put up with quite a lot and for some reason don’t seem to mind all that much in the end, but Windows users are not exactly all that forgiving. If Vista turns out to be slow, they simply will hold off on upgrading and just wait to purchase new hardware, which is the last thing Intel and AMD want to hear.
Then again I could be wrong and Microsoft might pull it off and deliver an incredible release, with an amazingly fast 3-D graphics system.