Separating the Wheat from the Chaff
IT is a strange field in which many of its experts have surprisingly little formal training or academic experience. Most do not have a degree in the subject (unlike yours truly). However, with the right sort of mind, a specialism in IT is something that can be largely self-taught through tinkering, research, and above all, experience.
What this unfortunately means is that there are a lot of people who seem to know a lot about the subject, but may in fact have key gaps in their knowledge. The presence of these gaps is difficult for a layman to discern, which can prove fatal when soliciting advice or assistance from someone who professes to be able to solve all your IT problems.
For the last 2 years, however, I have had a foolproof method of determining whether someone really knows what they are talking about when it comes to IT support. I ask them what they think of Vista.
If they say they hate it, then it is entirely likely that they have barely used it (if at all), and are simply repeating the same trite whinges that much of the IT press has been trotting out since every idiot software reviewer at a two-bit IT magazine tried to install it on hardware they’d bought 2 years ago without enough RAM, and discovered, unsurprisingly, that a state-of-the-art operating system ran slowly on it. In short, such a person is talking out of their backside. Manufacturers were just as bad; with more than 5 years between the releases of XP and Vista, they’d become complacent, routinely specifying machines with the latest processors (as demanded by marketing hype), but insufficient RAM, knowing full well that XP wouldn’t struggle. Vista, however, expected a truly modern specification. The resulting poor performance should have been unsurprising to anyone with half a brain.
Even putting aside performance, I’m tired of hearing people say Vista is garbage. We ran it on more than half our computers at my last school. Specifically, the newer ones. Guess what? It not only ran fine, but had serious tangible benefits for both end-users and the support team. Sure, there were niggles (and still are), and some people do encounter serious problems, but generally, if your Vista experience has been nothing but bad, you are doing something wrong.
Very shortly, the successor to Vista will be released to the public: Windows 7. There is no doubt whatsoever that it is a great improvement. However, it is not a revolutionary product. Vista was the revolution; Windows 7 is an evolution. Which leads me to my final point. While the public has to wait until October 22nd, many businesses and schools were given access to Windows 7 in mid-August. Ever since, I’ve been hearing scores of Vista-haters either bleat about ‘new’ technical challenges that they never considered before, or heap praise on ‘new’ features in Windows 7 that they wished they had years ago.
I think you know where this is going. Most of the things they are suddenly jumping around about were in Vista; they just never bothered to use it long enough to discover them. My message to these people: get your heads out of the sand. I’ve been administering a wide-scale production deployment of Vista for nearly two years, which puts me nearly two years ahead of you on Windows 7 experience. Have fun catching up.