Another predictable round of Vista-bashing

Things that you can always count on:

Sun rises in East.

Fish swim.

Walt Mossberg reviews new Sony PC and concludes that Windows Vista sucks.

Latest horrendous example here. Sample snippets:

The Vaio P is mainly undone because it comes with Vista Home Premium, the edition of Windows that is sluggish and a memory hog.


I also tested [an] experimental configuration … of the Vaio P, which … had been tweaked by Sony to turn off many of Vista’s performance-sapping and power-hungry features. This box ran better, though still not great.

I have no idea what these horrible Vista features are. I have never found a MakeRocketShipGoFast registry setting for Vista, but maybe Sony’s engineers have. I suspect instead that this is an evolution of Sony’s program for decrapifying computers. I tested one of the first computers in this Fresh Start program a posted the results at ZDNet last summer: Sony’s amazing crapware-free PC. But the big performance increase there hadf nothing to do with turning off Vista features and everything to do with removing unwanted software.

Anyway, good news! Apparently installing Windows 7 fixes everything!

Much better was a Vaio P with the forthcoming version of Windows, called Windows 7, installed. This version of Windows, likely to ship by this fall, made the Vaio P perform acceptably, despite its wimpy processor. Everything was much snappier, and reboot times were cut in half.

May have to ask Sony to send me a VAIO P so I can fact-check Walt again.

By the way, I am mystified by the opening paragraph:

Of the most famous computer makers, only two, Apple and Sony, primarily aim their products at consumers, instead of the generally conservative IT departments of big companies. So, it’s no surprise that these two tech giants often turn out especially stylish and daring hardware designs.

That would, I’m sure, be big news to Dell and HP, which both have sizable consumer divisions that have been doing wonderful work lately with “stylish and daring” hardware designs. The HP models in HP’s TouchSmart series (Flash demo – simpler version is here), are every bit as beautiful and innovative as anything Apple produces, and Dell’s Studio Hybrid is a better desktop than just about anything Sony makes, at about half the price.

But in Walt’s World, Apple=awesome and Sony=Vista=suck.


35 thoughts on “Another predictable round of Vista-bashing

  1. Hehehe … Mossberg’s reviews are always good for a laugh …

    What strikes me is the absence of any real substantive data in the review. He throws around vague fluffy terms that are packed with emotion but lacking any solid data. “Sluggish,” “memory hog,” “especially slow version.”

    About the only real bit of data he supplies comes when he talks about reboot time, and a four minute reboot for a new PC just doesn’t sound right to me, neither does Windows 7 cutting the boot time in half unless what’s slowing down the boot is bad software or bad drivers. I have Win 7 running on a Samsung NC10 netbook and the average boot time is under a minute.

  2. Mossberg is scary – he seems to command respect, but the more i hear and read of him, it’s all so bias, factually incorrect or vague.

  3. Does he even review anything other than Sony laptops? Seems to me that if he had at some point reviewed a decrapified PC, it might click with him that perhaps Vista is not the problem!

    I have used Vista for two years now on a number of computers and can’t replicate all these issues that everyone of these people, who are “coincidentally” Mac users for the most part, seem to have!

  4. Turn on the platitude generator, crank out some truisms, then filter out all comparative fact-analysis. Poof, you’re a tech columnist!

    Be sure to list stock symbols for every company you mention. In case the reader wants to call his broker and take a position.

  5. You know, I’m so surprised when I hear all talk about windows 7 being so much faster than Vista.

    I moved from Vista Ultimate to Windows 7 Beta 1 on my Dell XT, with a 1.2 GHz Core2Duo, 3GB RAM, 5200 RPM HDD, and integrated ATI graphics.

    I’ve never had a problem with Vista being slow on this machine, with all Aero effects turned on. When I installed SP1, I also didn’t notice anything speed up appreciably, while everyone else on the internet was saying SP1 fixes vista.

    After installing Windows 7 I also didn’t notice an appreciable speedup, except on boot time. But everyone else is saying this is what Vista should have been.

    And yet, I don’t find it all that different from vista. Not that that’s a bad thing, because I love vista, but I have to wonder what some of these other people are seeing,

  6. I have a home built AMD X2 2.5G with 2g ram and Vista would freeze solid almost daily, so far for a month Windows 7 hasn’t froze once. The only change to the setup was Windows 7. Thats why I call Vista a dog.

  7. Yeah, but Mossberg’s whole appeal is based on his “Joe the Average Tech User” persona. And David Pogue’s appeal is based on his “geeky guy in the Apple store” persona. They kind of have to keep doing what they’ve been doing for the last ten years if they don’t want to lose readership.

  8. Read a Mossberg article once, didn’t really understand what the big deal about that guy was… Everyone is talking about him every now and then. Why? What is so special about him?

    I agree with you Ed: Sony and Apple aren’t the only ones to make cute hardware. HP’s MediaSmart home server is pretty cool. The TouchSmart is pretty nice too, but less so IMHO. The Dell “Studio” thing is downright ugly, it reminds me of those “ladies” that put on a pound of make up and think they look nice… 🙂

    Oh well, tastes and colors…

  9. Well, while Ed likes to bash anyone who doesn’t worship Vista, every fact in that review was true, and double-checked with Sony. Indeed, senior officials — not p.r. people — at both Sony and Microsoft wrote me to say that the column was fair and accurate.

    Anyone who thinks Vista PCs, as they are delivered to consumers out of the box, are fast enough or work well enough is just living in a techie dream world. That’s why they are doing 7 the way they are and with the speed they are.

    As for the point about Sony and Apple being the only two famous PC makers to PRIMARILY aim their products at consumers, that is also obviously true, Ed, and you know it. The primary focus of the computer arms at Dell and HP is selling products and services to IT. Yes, both make consumer PCs, and HP of course has a large group devoted to that. But most of its computer and related business has been on the corporate side. Only Sony and Apple are purely consumer focused.

    As someone else here said, I do write for “Joe the Average Tech User” and I do review things through that lens. Other may prefer to write for techies and enthusiasts. A $900 PC which takes nearly 4 minutes to reboot and has a 2 Windows Experience Rating is not what I believe Joe needs. But the hardware is gorgeous.

  10. Pretty hard to defend any reviewer’s objectivity with a lede like his. My company’s IT department is all over the Touchsmart…

  11. If someone were to ask you which Windows PC maker has hardware designs closest to the style of Apple, who would you choose? I’d have to go with Walt and say Sony.

    The Vaio P seems like an overpriced netbook; it even has the typical Intel Atom netbook processor. If that’s the case, Vista probably is a bad match for it. Even Microsoft concedes this by still selling XP for netbooks.

    I haven’t used the Vaio P, but I’ve used several Sony notebooks and think that Walt is right on when he says, “Sony, unlike Apple, isn’t especially skilled at software”. Like a lot of OEMs, Sony tends to add a dozen or so useless startups and tray apps that make the system seem clunky.

    Walt didn’t go into detail about the “experimental configuration of Vista” that he tested, but if features like Aero Glass were turned on by default that could certainly cause issues on an underpowered system as this one seems to be. Most OEMs seem to ship their systems with no thought about performance tweaks; I’ve even unboxed systems that have incredibly high disk fragmentation because they didn’t bother to defrag after setting up their master disk image.

  12. Walt, I have no idea what is wrong with the computers you’re using (maybe try something other than a Sony), but in my experience as well as just about everyone I know, Vista can run fine on modern and slightly older hardware. Two years ago I bought a Toshiba right after Vista came out. It’s 1.87ghz Core Duo (not even Core 2) with 2GB of ram (it was about $850). From day one it has booted in 22 seconds and continues to 2 years late with no hardware changesr. There was the occasional app crash before SP1 but nothing major. With SP1 it has been the most reliable OS I’ve ever used and plenty fast enough with an old processor.

    I guess you could say I’m living in a “tech dream world”…. This is the norm among users I’ve spoken with.

  13. Vista Home Premium runs fine on my 4-year old Dell XPS Gen 5. I don’t live in in a tech dream world, yet the thing runs fine. It boots in much less than 4 minutes, and has a WEI of 4.3.

  14. I think the point that is being missed in the review is that it’s Sony’s implementation of Vista or better said Sony’s Vista. Put the poor performance blame where it belongs. I am sure by the time Windows 7 does come out, if you were to buy a Sony Vaio with it preloaded you would find it just as buggy as the Vista one. If Mr. Mossberg really wants to do an unbiased review he should compare several similar laptops from the different OEM’s and compare their implementations of Vista. Then, if he really wants to do some groundbreaking reporting after doing those comparisons, he should take every one of them and load Vista from scratch as a clean install without the crapware. Then do a before/after of the performance. Of course that would be too much work I am sure. Of course, Ed could always do it.

  15. Well, I’m certainly no techie, I’m just someone who wants to be able to use my computer in relative peace. I can’t comment on Mac, because I have never used one. (The last time I worked on an Apple product it was a IIGS – whew, those were the days!) Anyway, I work with Vista at home and at work and have several good friends who own Vista and we all have these little technical problems that are always cropping up that we never had with XP. You must admit that Vista is not Windows shining moment. I don’t know Mossberg and can’t comment on his commentary, but I felt a little offended by the title of this blog – “Vista bashing” is apparently anyone who expresses an opinion against Vista? Well, then I’m a proud Vista basher.

  16. Any Sony computer I’ve worked on has been over priced and loaded with bloat-ware. looking at the specs shows this one to be cursed also. That said, I agree with Vista’s critics that it is rough on memory. But…

    With a little bit of horsepower, Vista machines are stable and easy to use. Yes, Vista has problems but it does not deserve the abuse it has gotten.

    (Written on a MacBook Pro running Vista and OSX. A great piece of hardware but overpriced. )

    PS: why is it that no one mentions Toshiba when they talk about consumer laptops?

  17. I agree a webslice for the latest story would be cool. The feed on the links bar is good, but if I could quick glance and see the first paragraph in a slice that would be even better. You could probably fit an ad at the bottom if you needed to monitize it, just don’t put one in the way of the content.

  18. As for the point about Sony and Apple being the only two famous PC makers to PRIMARILY aim their products at consumers, that is also obviously true, Ed, and you know it. The primary focus of the computer arms at Dell and HP is selling products and services to IT. Yes, both make consumer PCs, and HP of course has a large group devoted to that. But most of its computer and related business has been on the corporate side. Only Sony and Apple are purely consumer focused.

    That is an incredibly odd way to divide the market. I could use similar reasoning to exclude say everyone except say Dell and Acer. Apple is PRIMARILY focused on selling consumer electronics like phones and music players, while at Sony computers are a fraction of its business compared to motion pictures. HP focuses mainly on servers and digital imaging. Therefore the only consumer computer makers are Dell and Acer. You need to focus on those two companies, Mr. Mossberg.

    Silly logic, I played with above, but pretty much the same logic you gave Mr. Bott.

    Hewlett Packard, despite your protestations, is the number one retail seller of computers in 2008. Consumers don’t seem to care that HP sells to IT. For Q4 of 2008, Dell was the number one seller of machines. In all of the quarters I monitored IDC and Gartner numbers, Sony NEVER broke the top five. That makes your focus on using Sony as the quintessential Windows OEM seem insane! Like the above poster said, it would make more sense to use Toshiba as your yardstick (as they are consumer focused, and they sell more machines than Sony)!

  19. I run Vista on several machines that shipped with XP but are “Vista Capable” a R60 Thinkpad with a 1.87 core duo and Latitude XT with a 1.33 core 2 duo ULP processor. Both run Vista fine, I’ve never seen any machine I have take 4 minutes to boot (except my 1GHZ Powerbook running Leopard).That little Sony he tried is running an Atom I think, and it’s a better performer than the 1.2 Via processor in the HP 2133 I tried and it didn’t take any 4 minutes to get the the desktop and start running apps.
    Mossberg may be popular in non-tech circles but I don’t think too many techies don’t see through him.

  20. Walter should be ashamed of himself for continuing to write such garbage. It doesn’t take a genius to get a Vista PC to run good, but in Walter’s case, he’d rather generate hits than actually have any dignity and say what the real problems are.

    To those who think 7 is the magical “fix” for Vista, get real. 7 has run just as good as Vista on the same pc’s I’ve put them on. My brothers Vista machine that I built with parts from NewEgg for $300 loads in less than 30 seconds. It’s obvious to figure out who actually knows their stuff and who doesn’t. Walter, in this case, doesn’t.

    What a shame that millions of “Average Joe’s” read his articles daily. I would expect more out of someone like Walter.

  21. I’m not big on Windows. Not a fanboy of any OS. It’s just an OS. Remember the old days before OS was equivelent to theology? When it was described as a database for applications.
    I’m a repair shop owner who does both PC and Apple repairs. I do plenty of installs of Ubuntu for those who are tired of having to prove they are not a criminal using a OS.
    I think its safe to say i’m unbias. Gimme your money and I’ll make your computer work how ever you want it to.
    So my opinion of XP vs Vista vs Windows 7. Well if your a non-chowderhead you can bring up a command prompt and see the version on Windows 7 is really 6.1. Visually there is just subtlities between Windows 7 versus Windows Vista as the REAL version number would make you assume. I doubt Mr. Walter’s fact find of Windows 7 making any PC snappier where Vista was making it drag. In fact all the benchmark tests that have benched the two report very subtle speed changes and not always in Windows 7 court. The best thing I can say about Windows 7 versus Windows Vista for my own PC needs is that they got rid of the worthless sidebar as a mandatory thing. YES, I know you can remove it and I did on my Vista install. It was not the equiv of the Apple dashboard which I can access quickly and easily by hitting F12. Sidebar was stuck on the desktop and would makes you have to rearrange your windows to see a widget. WORTHLESS. Windows 7 you got desktop widgets that you can optionally put on or get rid of. THANK YOU!
    Now Vista versus XP. XP is the biggest pain in the but for the repair shop that isn’t a manufacture or big corp dealing with uniform systems. XP there was Home Retail, Home OEM, Home Upgrade, Pro Retail, Pro OEM, Pro Upgrade, Pro Corporate. Each one having a different series of keys that would only work with each disc. In the OS there was no clear indicator of which is which. God forbid if you get a PC that isn’t booting to the desktop as you have to foresinc the PC to find out which of the many lovely versions of XP it is so you don’t use the wrong disc in a repair rendering the customers CD Key worthless. With Vista… life is good for the tech. One disc to rule them all. I never have to worry about it. So in my world the customers that request downgrades to XP on Vista designed machines make me cringe.
    I can strip all the crap out of Vista, if thats the problem. But since myth jocks like Mr. Walters has convinced the public of the crapiness of Vista they won’t even consider keeping it.
    Hopefully MS can over turn their political black eye of Vista with Windows 7 and I can finally take a shotgun to these damn XP discs. XP has always made my life (as a tech) hell. I won’t miss it when it finally dies.

  22. BadOPCode: Well said, I can’t wait for XP to be out of the marketplace. The average customer has no idea how much of a pain it has become to maintain XP. I always let my customers know that Vista is the best Microsoft option currently available.

  23. I alway take Walt with a grain of Salt, just like I do most of the Mac faithful, Apple makes some nice hardware,, but yes it is overpriced.

  24. Walt: Care to post the responses from senior people at Sony? I would ask them why their machines have these issues when those from other OEM’s do not.

    Does anyone remember Peter Guttman and all his scary stories about Vista? I’ve yet to encounter the issues he raised.

    I agree with BadOPCode, when did the OS become the equivalent of theology?

    At the end of the day its all about using your computer to get things done–this can be for work or for entertainment.

    Windows Vista + Xbox360+media center is great for home use and at work Windows Power Shell gives me the command line tools that were once reserved for Unix/Linux boxes. They’re not perfect, but they’re not as bad as some make them out to be.

  25. >>As someone else here said, I do write for “Joe the Average Tech User” and I do review things through that lens. Other may prefer to write for techies and enthusiasts. A $900 PC which takes nearly 4 minutes to reboot and has a 2 Windows Experience Rating is not what I believe Joe needs. But the hardware is gorgeous.<<<

    No it’s not, but that has NOTHING to do with Vista. My 2 year old machine boots in roughly 1 minute (not counting the post, which has nothing to do with the OS).

    Did you consider that maybe that “beautiful hardware” was crap? Sheesh Walt. WTH does the looks of PC have to do with it’s hardware? Hardware is the CPU, the ram, the graphic card.

    A nice looking case doesn’t make a PC good, nor does it mean it’s got $900 worth of hardware.

    If you want to do the average joe some good, you’ll become technical enough to understand WHY a pc isn’t running well.

    Your readers don’t need to know how to do that, but YOU DO, or else you do your readers a disservice, buy telling them Vista is bad, when the likely culprit is a substandard video card (or perhaps incomplete drivers, which is also Sony’s fault).

    I’m not sure how you can take 4 minutes to boot from a solid state drive, when my 2 year old non SSD pc can boot in a minute (or less), and my old Athlon 64 3000+ (now 4 years old) gets 4.x.

    The problem isn’t Vista, Walt, it’s the PC that looks good.

  26. Thank you BadOPCode and Kevin. Everything you’ve said go toward the reason this post has “Vista-bashing” in the title. Ah Vista, I remember when Beta 2 and RC1 came out, I actually have a couple of them in a drawer next to me. At the time I had a few desktops and had just purchased a Lenovo tablet with XP Tablet Ed installed on it. Actually myself and a college both received the same model. I think it had something like a gig of ram, integrated Intel graphics, etc; nothing special. When using the tablet with graphic software such as Photoshop, the brush would trail a ways behind my pen. When I installed Vista Beta 2 on the tablet it began performing wonderfully. I recall testing a few programs with my college such as the Photoshop example as well as a few other things (with Aero on I might add). He immediately put it on his tablet and the both of us installed Vista Beta 2 on our production work machines.

    Vista Beta 2 was so stable and fast, the responsiveness felt unlike XP in anyway. I remember thinking, okay, this one is a winner for Microsoft. Ever sense its release I’ve been completely puzzled by all the negativity towards the OS. The first year had a number of issues almost completely due to the hardware manufacturers. These companies had over a year to get ready for Vista but didn’t. It wouldn’t have been so bad except that every blogger, such as this Walt character, took it all out on Vista.

    Most of them should have known better as complaints ranged from web cams to graphic cards. I remember installing iTunes on the beta and thinking how awful it was (not that it ran any good on XP). Out of all my beta use, QuickTime was the only application that would cause the computer to lock up… which actually didn’t matter to much because I was using Vista; I could actually free myself from a locked computer without the need to restart. Does anyone remember how long it was before iTunes was ‘Officially’ supported by Apple? It was almost a year. They constantly made statements that they just couldn’t support Vista. Couldn’t or wouldn’t… How convenient for them, not to mention once it was finally supported their funny commercials, which became insulting after the 10th one or so, aired.

    If you put aside all the negative blogger reviews, hyped up ‘security issues’ (anyone remember the HUGE voice command security flaw in Vista) and slanderous Apple ads; the lack of iTunes support would really be a hell of a thing to go up against. Imagine trying to release an operating system when a huge majority of your customers have recently become big MP3 fans and MP3 player sales are skyrocketing. Now, out of all those MP3 players, nearly 100% of them are made from a company who happens to sell operating systems and also sees themselves as your direct competitor. So here it is 3 months or so after you have released your operating system and you are reading that the MP3 manufacture, hell I’ll call them Apple because they actually did this crap, Apple is telling your customers not to upgrade just yet. They say that they should hold off on purchasing a new computer or upgrading from XP until they can work a few things out. So six months have now gone by and Apple is still making those statements but now have added on that they are sorry for Vista’s compatibility issues.

    These statements are upsetting as they remind you of the iPod virus situation which occurred as you were prepping the new operating system for release to the market. This is where a few iPod’s came right out of their manufacturing process intact with a virus that infects Windows computers. You understand that these things, probably, could happen however when you read their explanation it immediately strikes a nerve. “As you might imagine, we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses…” and then finish the sentence briefly scolding themselves for not catching it (they still have their Windows Virus site up, look how friendly the Url is:, if you are bored count how many times the two words “Windows Virus” come up next to one another… it’s 7 if you don’t count the bread crumb at the bottom of the page, 8 times if you do; oh and the name of the actual virus only appears twice).

    Okay guys I’m bored with this role playing, long story short, it took them almost a year to get iTunes to officially support Vista. When you put that together with all the other crap I read it is very frustrating. It’s not that I’m so committed to Windows or Microsoft products in general, it’s that for some reason I’ve come to appreciate a company when they act with respect and class. I feel the opposite when I find a company acting inappropriately or knowingly misleading consumers. With all the lies and ignorance stacked up against Microsoft regarding Vista, it is no surprise to hear they say they don’t want to make the same mistakes with Windows 7. The availability of XP on new computers is a direct result of all the fear sold to consumers.

    If this guy Walt and the rest of the so called Tech Friendly bloggers out there want to continue misleading their readers I don’t know much to do about it. If a family or friend purchases a PC, usually I have to scrub it with the Windows installation disk to get it running properly. Imagine that, Windows actually fixing a computer, who would have thought…

    An Ex-Apple User

  27. To the Ex-Apple User:

    If you want to hear from “Joe the Average Tech User” check out the reviews for any Apple product on Amazon – MacBook, MacBook Pro, etc. Most of them are written by former XP or Vista users (many IT guys) who would never go back to Windows – XP, Vista, or 7. They are far more compelling reviewers than Mr. Mossberg. More than 50% of the folks buying Macs are former Windows users. Check out:
    Read it and weep.

  28. @”Walt Mossberg” (commenter number ten):

    Indeed, senior officials — not p.r. people — at both Sony and Microsoft wrote me to say that the column was fair and accurate.
    HA! HAHAHA! Okay, while I doubt this commenter is really Walt Mossberg (because I don’t think he thinks we are this stupid), let me make this clear:

    No senior official (i.e. vice presidents and presidents) of Microsoft will ever say Vista, or a certain edition of Vista, is a memory hog. Partly because it isn’t completely true, and partly because it is a PR disaster. Maybe when Windows 7 comes out they might say Windows 7 is leaner or something, but never that Vista is a straight out memory hog.

    If it really is Walt Mossberg, you have my condolences, any respect I could have of you just died, unless you can get a Microsoft exec to say to my face, with a straight face, that they backed up a borderline-libelous claim against Microsoft, while keeping their job and not getting reprimanded by the CEO or Chairman. Which I doubt. A lot.

  29. I will try to provide an example of the role OEMs play in the Vista experience for average Joe. In January 2008 I bought a low-cost no-bundled-OS notebook from Compaq. Currently it features a 1.86 GHz Celeron processor, 2 GB RAM and 80 GB SATA HDD. After numerous reinstalls of Vista due to varying reasons – here is what is established beyond a trace of doubt: Vista(without SP1) + OS enhancement pack(QFE) from HP + SP1 performs way way better than Vista(with SP1) + QFE. And both these configurations perform better than a system without QFE. If you are not aware of what QFE means then here is a link to it:

    The difference in performance is not subtle, it is amazing to say the least. No longer does it depend on what AV I use. But it sure makes it hard for an average Joe.

  30. To Gaston N. Mermaid

    I could care less that users are switching. Believe it or not I invite fair competition with open arms. I do not however, enjoy tolerating lies and distortion. The competition with Apple, directly resulted in the Zune which has fantastic subscription features. This could drive Apple to provide similar functionality to their users. I see this as a win-win. People like you should go reflect your actual worth though. My brother is 100% Apple user yet doesn’t act for one minute as the likes of the verbal extremists.

Comments are closed.