As the controversy over Vista’s performance, reliability and stability rages on, a surprising consensus is emerging from the community of die-hard .NET enthusiasts and professional software speakers/writers evangelists that I know: the “sweet” laptop install for Windows Post-XP is actually Windows Server 2008. Several people I know and respect are shunning Vista in favor of running the ultimate Windows sever OS on their ultimate client machines.
What’s going on here? Well, first let’s filter out the noise: some of my esteemed colleagues just like running a server locally…it lets them run things like SharePoint, PerformancePoint, and now Hyper-V on their laptop and I think some of this is resultant of the days long ago when you needed to run Windows NT Server in order to run SQL Server. But even allowing for this “real men have servers in their carry-on” fetish, there’s a real story here.
People I know who are running WS 2008 on client machines find it to be fast, stable, and a joy to work with. The general theme presented by people in this exclusive club is that all the gremlins, shall we call them, that Vista seems to invoke just don’t stick around when WS 2008 is in charge.
Meanwhile, when we present this case to folks in Redmond (and by this I mean thoughtful folks, not knee-jerk Vista zealots) we have been told, repeatedly and consistently, that WS 2008 and Vista share an identical code base, and that, essentially, the only difference between the two is what services and features are turned on by default.
Which leads me to a certain conclusion which, I repeat, is a real story: either the two Longhorn code bases are not the same, and the Redmondites are telling us an untruth (doubtful), or a major set of issues with Vista can be solved (and are caused) by its default startup configuration. The last parenthetical in the previous sentence troubles me. A lot. But the larger thesis of that sentence means that Microsoft could correct course with Vista, especially with corporate IT departments and their deployment plans, by supporting scripts, custom builds, and providing general support, for a streamlined Vista startup configuration.
The fruit here hangs so low that it seems naive to believe this could provide a breakthrough. After all, if this could fix a large part of the Vista problem, wouldn’t have Microsoft pursued this approach already? I’m actually guessing not, and I’m going to skip past a discussion of why I believe this. Suffice it to say that the driver issues, file copy speed problems, Apple TV commercials and general bad PR around Vista have caused enough cognitive dissonance in and out of Microsoft to throw people off even the straightest of trails.
Let’s see whether default configuration tuning can get Vista back on track, or if WS 2008 indeed has supernatural powers.