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Switched On: The Mo' hardware Experiment


Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment.

What do people think of Windows Vista when they learn more about some of its features? To find out, we located three people who had been living in a cave around the time of the massive advertising campaign at Vista's launch and started out by asking them what they thought of Windows Vista.

Subject 1: "My niece was looking up something for her nutritional science class and went to this Web site called There were a lot of videos there that said Vista was bad."

Subject 2:
"I've heard that Windows Vista gives you scabies."

Subject 3:
"Four of my friends on the American Online forwarded me an email that said Bill Gates would give me $10 million if I would tell my friends to buy Windows Vista and he didn't. It must stink."

Then we told them about some of the great hardware that Windows Vista supports.

• • •

Interviewer 1: "...and so you see, with ReadyDrive you can significantly increase the performance of your PC without having to invest in expensive flash memory-based drives."

Subject 1: "Wow, that sounds great. So I'll just order a hybrid hard drive with my next PC, right?"

Interviewer 1: "Well, it's not quite that easy. You see, very few hard drive manufacturers have created hybrid hard drives and the performance gains really haven't been that dramatic. Suppliers have shied away because of added cost. On the other hand, the price of solid state drives is falling fast."

Subject 1: And these solid state drives that you mention have no moving parts and can work just fine with Windows XP, right?

Interviewer 1: "Well, yeah."

• • •

Interviewer 2:
"So you know how, sometimes, you just want to get at a little bit of information such as your day's schedule or what the weather will be like and you'd rather not wait for your PC to wake up from standby?"

Subject 2: "Oh yeah, I know what you mean. So Windows Vista can boot instantly?"

Interviewer 2: "Oh no, no. Instead we've come up with a way to put that information on a secondary display called SideShow so you can access it without having to boot the PC. You know, like on a cell phone."

Subject 2: " A whole other screen just to look up little bits of information?"

Interviewer 2: "If I were to ask you to write down the number of PCs you've seen with that feature on this piece of paper, what would you wri-- ah, I see you've written a zero."

• • •

Interviewer 3: "...and with Windows Media Center, you can use your PC as a digital video recorder and record hours of video entertainment. You won't find that in Mac OS X."

Subject 3: "Very cool. So I can use that with all my channels on my high-definition cable service, order Pay Per View movies and everything, right?

Interviewer 3: "Yeah... just about. For that, you'll need a PC with a Tru2Way receiver. Vista supports them and they're totally coming soon."

Subject 3: "Hmm, bummer. Hey, by the way, is Mr. Gates going to give me my $10 million now?"

Interviewer 3: "Right this way, Mr. Seinfeld."

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