Why is 2008 ‘workstation’ better than Vista

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Why Vista is such a concern and why Windows Server 2008 is a better workstation option when it uses the same core technologies as Vista.

Some readers have been asking why Vista is such a concern and why Windows Server 2008 is a better workstation option when it uses the same core technologies as Vista.

It’s a subject that’s engaging a lot of virtual ink at the moment. Almost anyone with an opinion and a keyboard feels entitled to give their view, with a lack of knowledge or experience being no barrier to dogmatic certainty.

Office Watch is always focused on Microsoft Office and we’re reluctant to dive into the well covered areas of Vista vs XP. We’ ve written about the unofficial workstation variant of Windows Server 2008 because it’s a good solution for high-demand users of Microsoft Office who’ve been frustrated by both the manifest inadequacies of Vista and Microsoft failure to take meaningful and timely action. But we’ve been asked and so, for what it’s worth …

While you can argue about the percentages, there’s no doubt that Windows Server 2008 in the unofficial workstation mode is faster and more stable than Windows Vista with Service Pack 1. Anyone who doubts that hasn’t tried it or noted the comments from Microsoft’s own staff.

Clearly Vista has levels of technology that slow down the overall system – exactly what’s to blame is still the subject of speculation. Digital Rights Management (DRM) is the most discussed candidate but that’s only supposition and fairly academic for us mere mortals.

Windows Server 2008 has the virtue of starting with a small installed base and letting users choose only the features and services that are needed. Doing that on a consumer based operating system would be a support nightmare.

Much of the commentary on Vista seems to ignore an important but usually overlooked fact about Microsoft:

“Microsoft is not a software company, it is a marketing company “

Decisions at Microsoft are driven by marketing needs for that product, not technological excellence.

With Vista the marketing is on ‘sizzle not sausage’, in other words Microsoft knows that people will choose Vista (when they have a choice at all) on the basis of new features and good looks. Performance and stability are not big selling points for people buying software in their local BestBuy, Dixons or Harvey Norman. Microsoft’s Vista development is targeted at stuff that looks good in demos and brochures like the Aero interface or Sidebar. Other marketing driven areas are integrating basic functionality that was previously supplied by third party products in order to add perceived value to the new product. That’s why there’s a basic fax and scan application, photo editor / manager, calendar and contacts in Vista.

But for server products, performance and stability are top of the list. Microsoft has to demonstrate hard evidence of technical excellence in both areas before they can sell their server technologies to companies. In other words the focus is on ‘sausage not as much sizzle’. Windows Server 2008 (like earlier server products) has lots of Microsoft resources directed into making it work better and faster.

The result, for Windows Server 2008, is a good unofficial workstation and an embarrassment for efforts to boost the ‘street-cred’ of Vista.


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