What is Vista worth to you?

There will be six versions of Microsoft Vista, each coming in 32 and 64 bit editions, except for Starter. That makes an actual total of eleven versions. But wait, there will be “N” versions of several of these; due to antitrust litigation in the EU, Microsoft will have to release separate versions. It is due to ship in the 2nd half of the year; currently cost estimates have not been given.

The cost, however, can be estimated. Current costs of XP are about $90 and $190 to upgrade (home and pro, respectively); around $200 and $250 for the full versions.

The starter edition of Vista will probably run between $50-$150 range. Lower end for upgrading, higher for full version. The Basic Home will likely run $100-120 to upgrade, and $200 for the full version; Premium Home will be more like $170 upgrade, $250 full. The Basic Business edition will probably cost $220 upgrade, $320 full. The Enterprise edition, $270/$390. And the Ultimate edition will look something like $330/$460.

Those are just guesses based on the current XP pricing and the number of editions. Some of the prices may be staggered closer to one another with the intention of getting the consumer to pay just a little more money for a “better” version.

I haven’t seen Vista first-hand yet, but let’s talk about its features.

The biggest feature it seems to tout is the new Frankensteinian GUI. The name is “aero” I believe, and it is a new “theme” for the user. It takes advantage of 3D widgets, transparency, and many other look and feel enhancements. It will require a high-end PC to run efficiently. This is a major point: most PCs today will not run the high-end GUI of Vista. They can’t handle it. They will, however, be able to run the operating system on a less-fancy GUI.

Okay, stop right here. The biggest selling point of the damn Operating System is the eye candy? Is it a game, or an OS?! Do I want a bloated User Interface to coddle me into believing that it’s helping me do something? No. Although I like GUIs and I like graphics and eye candy, I don’t feel the need. I run XP Pro with the classic widgets. I like some minimal skinning as seen in my last post on userChrome.css, but I don’t want the main attraction to be the damn window itself. The content is what takes center stage.

I hate to do it, but I felt forced to go dig in the Tao Te Ching:

Thirty spokes converge on a single hub,
but it is the space where there is nothing
that the usefulness of the cart lies.
Clay is molded to make a pot,
but it is the space where there is nothing
that the usefulness of the pot lies.
Cut out doors and windows to make a room,
but it is the space where there is nothing
that the usefulness of the room lies.
Benefit may be derived from something,
but it is in nothing that we find usefulness.

Point being, the GUI is there to hold the content. Sure, a pot, a room, a cart, all must meet some minimal level of structure to provide the space, and hence utility; that does not mean that a fancy-pants cart, pot, or room necessarily serves the purpose better than a less attractive one. I don’t need my room, pot, or cart to make me feel sexy in order for them to be useful.

Anyway, that’s most of what I have to say for now on the subject. I may continue this post at a later date as more details come to light. That is more likely as details regarding the DRM parts of Vista, as well as other revelations such as final price details, etc. come out.