It occurred to me that I didn't really give Vista a fair shot, after all it wasn't on my computer and I didn't spend time alone with it. So, my judgment is probably not to be entirely trusted. Still, first impressions do say a lot. I was struck by the fact that Vista is a different animal than XP. They have done things differently in Vista to where us XP users will have to "learn" MS Windows all over again.
How does Vista with Aero stack up against the latest Linux offerings?
I saw in one comparison between Vista and Linux with Beryl a complaint that Beryl was an add-on software and not built into the Linux desktop. Beryl is a very flashy, 3d, animated, desktop interface for Linux. This is really funny because in Linux "everything" is an add-on. But I must say that most people will buy a computer with Vista Home Premium installed, which has the Aero desktop, rather than the Vista Home Basic which does not. I wonder why Microsoft even bothered with Home Basic. Well its all a money thing. Anyway, some versions of Linux do include Beryl as an optional desktop and yes, I have the option to use it(but don't). OK, so there is NOT a comparison between Vista Home Basic and Linux minus the graphic enhancements. That perhaps would show what the real worth the basic operating systems have. Microsoft doesn't show off Vista without the "Wow" factor. That is its' biggest selling point. My point is that Vista can be had without Aero and Linux can be had without Beryl. Is Vista Home Basic really an improvement over XP is what we all want to know? Is "Wow" what we really want? Are you a secret geek at heart? These questions I will have to dig into in the future.
Now, what does all this desktop fuss do to the question, "can my grandma use my computer?" Sorry, grandma will have to "learn" to use it. Computers just are not simple intuitive devices. If and when computers can provide a speech driven interface, then we can perhaps approach that kind of interaction. Still, there are so many problems with speech input and we will have to "learn" that also. I think it is funny that the goal of the intuitive desktop interface equals "does not have to learn". There is no real intuitive interface between man and machines. I don't think we want to have millions of people with Borg like integration with computers. But we will keep trying to find the holy grail of interfaces until one day we are assimilated.
Some additions, it turns out that Vista Home Basic is a slight improvement over XP. Microsoft has done somethings better. What will happen is a cost comparison between Vista Home Premium (with Aero) and Vista Home Basic & pimping it out yourself. There are already a number of free and non-free software packages to pimp out Vista. This simply shows that lots of Microsoft users are already working past what Microsoft offers. But all said and done this compares to what you can get in Linux, probably for free.