Ok, it’s time I admit it. I’m running Windows Vista at home right now. This admission comes with especially deserved shame, because I didn’t simply buy a new computer that happened to come with Vista pre-installed. No, I purchased Vista and upgraded my perfectly functioning Windows XP computer with it.

If you still don’t see why I’m a little embarrassed, let me explain. I’ve been a fairly harsh critic of Microsoft for some time now. Yes, I was a bona fide Microsoft fanboy back in high school. And in college, the efforts I was a part of to procure and distribute Windows XP shortly after it was released were less than appropriate. But once I was exposed to open source, free (as in beer) software, I was hooked. Eventually, comparing Microsoft’s Internet Explorer to Mozilla Firefox, or Windows XP to Ubuntu Linux…well, it was quite clear to me that Microsoft was building a solid reputation of delivering inferior software for a higher price. On top of all that, Microsoft’s continual delays and feature cuts leading up to the extremely tardy arrival of Windows Vista didn’t go unnoticed by me and my blogging “pen” as they occurred.

So here I am, having upgraded to (or dare I say, embraced) a software product that I (and a solid majority of the tech-savy world) have criticized and bemoaned for some time now. I’ll move on to my defense.

Firstly, I’m sick of Windows XP. Sure, it’s performed respectably for me. In combination with the various programs I run on it, XP lets me do what I need to. But it’s old, and its age certainly shows. Seven years is a long time in the software world, and it pained a cutting-edge tech-enthusiast like myself to be using such an old operating system (especially on my fairly new and decently powered hardware).

The modern operating system choices I had to update my computer with were slim. Apple’s Mac OS X won’t run on non-Apple hardware unless you “hack” it, which doesn’t ensure compatibility or performance and may even be illegal due to licensing restrictions (which I’d only care about if Apple started enforcing such restrictions). Also, I have no plans to purchase any of Apple’s overpriced computers, no matter how aesthetically pleasing they may be.

So that left Vista and Linux.

I’m no stranger to Linux. I’ve installed it on multiple computers and learned enough from hands-on experience to see its value and even recommend it to certain types of computer users. But I have some software needs that I simply haven’t found a decent Linux replacement for. First and foremost of these being an easy to use, all in one, video editing, encoding, and DVD authoring suite. There are attempts at these individual parts for Linux that are showing promise. But it’s still clear that it would require a lot more work, learning, and trial and error for me to do in Linux what I can currently do so easily and quickly in Windows using Adobe Premiere Elements. In the same vein, there is other Windows-only software that I enjoy using despite adequate Linux counterparts (and will certainly be more in the future), while most open-source Linux software is eventually released for Windows as well.

So with my needs, desires, and preferences, it came down to sticking with Windows XP, or trying Windows Vista. I came to this conclusion months ago, and decided that even if I wanted to buy in to another Microsoft tragedy, Vista wasn’t worth the price $140 and up.

But over Christmas I used my sister’s new Vista laptop, and found that it was actually a pleasure to use. Vista looks good, and her laptop didn’t exhibit any of the bugs and errors that I’d heard so much about. Additionally, my brother-in-law has been running Vista for months now, with no major complaints that he’s shared with me. So, on a whim, I decided to see if my account to buy discounted student software through my alma mater was still active. It was, and Vista was cheap. Really cheap. I decided to go for it.

I’ll detail my upgrade experience and current thoughts about Vista in another post. But I’ll say now that I actually like Vista overall. There are some flaws, and there aren’t enough improvements for me to have paid normal price for it and not feel guilty. But with a cheap price tag, I’m glad I upgraded. Vista isn’t half bad…even if Microsoft is.