That’s the question raised by Mano over at his blog. It’s a rhetorical question, because he lists 15 reasons as to why he thinks the next version of Microsoft Windows will be worth it.
Mmm, perhaps; but I’m afraid I’m much more cynical. I’ve got this sinking feeling that if I were to step up to Vista, then I won’t be just faced with the cost of upgrading my operating system, but also having to replace some core application software and related hardware.
For example, with the current Technology Preview of Vista that I have installed for test; the soundcard, the webcam, and the USB video capture devices all don’t work. While I realise that this is not totally unexpected in a beta, my point is that I really don’t have much faith in the companies behind these devices coming out with new versions of drivers or application patches for Vista.
Take the soundcard – it’s not a mass-market device, it’s the E-MU 1820M DSP, which is part of my home studio setup for musicmaking, in combination with Steinberg’s Cubase SX. Neither the E-MU driver, nor the E-MU application currently work in Vista. And then, Steinberg is notorious for releasing new versions of software and dropping support for older versions. I’m quite happy with my version 2 of Cubase SX – but Steinberg stopped support of this back in 2004. Based on their history, I doubt whether they’ll come out with a patch to make it work on Vista. And I doubt that I can afford to upgrade to a version of Cubase that is designed for Vista. I expect it will be a similar story for the video capture device (made by Adaptec, who have not updated the drivers or the application – despite the fact that it has bugs – since mid 2004).
The real question is not "do I need Windows Vista?", but "what is the cost of upgrading/replacing my complete system – applications, hardware, and operating system?. The cost of the upgrade of the operating system alone is not the point. I would like to be proved wrong – it would be great if all my applications and hardware continued to be supported under Vista. But somehow, I don’t think that’s going to happen, and I’ll resign myself to soldiering on with Windows XP for as long as I can.
Update: Out of curiosity, I tried installing Cubase SX2 and the Steinberg Midex 8 interface onto build 5270 of Vista. Neither would install properly. For Cubase, Vista announced: "Application blocked due to known Compatibility issues. This version of Windows Media Technologies is incompatible with or has been superseded by this version of Windows". Not entirely unexpected, I suppose, but without proactive support by Steinberg, then Cubase SX2 on Vista is dead in the water.