The Windows of Change

During the 1990s, Microsoft Windows became the world's most popular operating system (in terms of the sheer number of its users). Windows went through a variety of incarnations, including Windows 3.1 and Windows NT (both introduced in 1992), Windows 95 (1995), Windows 98 (1998), Windows 2000 (2000), Windows ME (Millennium Edition, 2000), Windows XP (2001), and Windows Vista (2007). These operating systems were not without their faults, and critics of Microsoft were (and still are) vociferous. System crashes with the earlier operating systems were common, and they were all prone to malicious attacks by such diabolical electronic entities as worms, Trojans, and viruses. Mac users, meanwhile, experienced few of these problems.

Windows XP (Pro version) remains the most stable operating system that this author has used to date; the OS seized up only a handful of times over a 4-year time span, during which it was used on a daily basis, largely for writing, editing, and illustrating. However, an upgrade to a new machine running Windows Vista caused a great deal of frustration. A number of programs that had worked without a hitch in XP now refused to work on the new OS, even using Vista's backward-compatible mode. Other programs that initially appeared to work perfectly well went on to malfunction in certain areas. For example, Corel PhotoPaint 8 and PaintShopPro 8, both of which had performed sterling service in XP, showed a number of annoying glitches. Additionally, various pieces of computer hardware that had been installed in XP were required to be reinstalled in Vista. Unfortunately, Vista-compatible drivers are difficult to find for many peripherals produced before Vista came on the market. One example that caused great annoyance involved a perfectly good Philips ToUcam Pro PCVC740K, a webcam that had been used to capture hundreds of high-resolution lunar and planetary images. Sadly, no Vista-compatible drivers are available for this camera, a situation which rendered a perfectly functional device unusable.

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