Vista disappointments

Long ago on MacMischief, I wrote about some details of the upcoming Windows Vista that were revealed in some keynote. On the whole, a thoroughly geeky thing to do. But see, I like information, and Vista (then called by its codename “Longhorn”) was shaping up to have incredible metadata browsing support in Explorer. This would have truly made me jealous if Mac OS X hadn’t caught up by then. I wrote:

Files in Longhorn may be displayed grouped by metadata. Let’s use the example of keywords. When looking at a bunch of files, if chosen to split up by keyword then the folder view is split into groups, with each group only containing files that contain a specific keyword. If a file has more than one keyword, it exists in multiple groups. And the kicker? Files may be drag’n’dropped between groups in order to supplement their metadata. Very very impressive.

This is similar to the metadata support in Yojimbo and BibDesk, but the pervasive filesystem support would have made it incredible.

But it looks like my expectations (and Bill Gates, apparently) were raised a little high by what I saw. Paul Thurrot’s been reviewing Vista builds as they are released (note the difference with people reporting beta Mac OS X versions — a lot less is allowed from Apple!), and he’s got some unfortunate news:

Good luck finding [virtual folders] in the current builds. They’re in there, but like the Task Panes in XP, no normal user will ever discover them, let alone use them [Build 5308 review, Mar 3]

And more recently,

With the de-emphasis of virtual folders, you won’t be surprised to discover that Microsoft is also walking away from the underlying features that would have made virtual folders truly useful. This build’s casualty is keywords. [Build 5365 review, Apr 26]

This is truly tragic. For an OS to have so much potential and fall so hard (seemingly, I’ll not cast my judgements until I’ve used it) reeks of something not quite right. How could this possibly happen?

Luckily for me, I use Mac OS X and I’m happy here, so every excuse not to switch to Windows is something to be a little thankful for. But as said here (via the Daring Fireball Linked List), competition is really where you see innovation, so hopefully this won’t cause Apple to rest on its laurels.