Because I'm supposed to be some kind of tech geek super hero at Microsoft they set me up with some nice equipment when I started working back in September. I got a tablet pc (Toshiba M400) and my choice of one additional laptop that was my choice. I settled on Sony VAIO (SZ390P) because it was super light and super powerful for the form factor. (Although if Apple put out a MacBook Pro with similar specs in a 13' I'd look at that too as I could run OSX, Vista and Ubuntu and that is some serious tech geek Nirvana.)
Anyhoo, it meant my recently purchased Dell Dimension E510 wasn't getting much use. I finally go around to upgrading it yesterday to Vista and the process actually worked perfectly, without a hitch. Vista downloaded and updated all the drivers I needed and the only thing I needed to select was which virus software I wanted to use. I then installed office and the process was just the same. It reminded me of other experiences with other operating systems that I won't mention--but suffice to say, it proved to me that Vista and Windows is perfectly capable of 'just working.'
Even I was slightly surprised and I think I know why. Much of our software that gets put in with Windows disrupts the experience of an install or an upgrade, especially if drivers aren't supported or if driver updates are sandwiched in with a lot of other software that isn't very useful or just plain awful. This applications are aptly called craplets.
While the infinite hardware possibilities of Windows will make it impossible to better the experience that one can get on an integrated software and hardware set we should be able to be much better than we are now or even match it.
The fact that I can take a clean copy of Vista and Office and put it on machine shows this is possible, today, right now. It's disappointing to me that other computer manufacturers don't look at the experience that is possible with other operating systems that don't load up the craplets.
My Sony is a beautiful machine, I love the way it looks and the way it travels, but there is so much junk software that came with it that it disrupts what should be a much better computing experience. Sadly, this is probably true of a lot of computer manufacturers. If I were Dell, HP or others I'd be paying attention to this. I'd even be a pragmatist and say that I understand the economics of why craplets exist and I'd give consumers the option to pay a premium to not get them or at least give them an easy way to deinstall them and get a 'core' system. Doing this would show that they realize people aren't buying a box but that they are engaging in an experience with their products that will allow them to create emotional connections with their customers. This is what makes the world go around these days.
Vista is a massive improvement in the 'delight' and 'wow' I can get from using Windows compared with previous versions. Matched with beautiful hardware it can make for a superlative computer experience. But in this world craplets have got to go.