Some recent product launches of note:
- Microsoft Vista Home
Overall, its a great improvement over XP - looks good, works well; I like it. But underwhelming after all this time (not sure there's a killer feature), and a mess from a consumer perspective, in two ways in particular (thus far that I've noticed):
a) It takes a loooooong time to get installed and started. I bought a brand spankin' new PC with Vista pre-installed, turned it on (expecting to be able to play with Vista), and it was probably, oh, 45 minutes to an hour, if not longer, before I actually made it to the desktop. Between the install, performance check, customization, etc. - oy. I mean, it was probably much less time if you sat there the entire time, but of course, like most real users, I kept getting up to do other stuff after any progress bar took more than a minute or two. Contrast that to the Mac mini I just bought, which was an out-of-the-box joy... that "what if Microsoft produced the iPod" spoof spot really rang true whilst I waited...
b) The "everybody's-a-limited-user" mentality in the pursuit of security is well intentioned, but just awful in practice. Everytime my kids put in a CD to play some game, they get two different dialogs - one to ask whether they want to run whatever autorun application the CD has, and another asking if its OK to run that file. The dialogs look completely different, and you click in different places on different actions to continue, and to add aesthetic insult to injury, the entire screen flashes black in-between the dialogs (the second dialog, for security, is a hardware interrupt, like ctrl-alt-del). All this is teaching my kids is to click "ok" or "allow" ALL THE TIME because these warnings pops up so often - but I guess it permits Microsoft the legal high ground, so that's good, right?
I can see the marketing slogan now: "Vista! Now with less Class Actions!"...
- Adobe Lightroom
Its shipped, and its a really nice execution of a productivity tool for photographers. But although its a good value at $199, I think unfortunately that the preponderance of good free image organization/editing software (most notably Picasa) will limit the impact and reach. Adobe should consider a version that's free, but limited in some way (for example, only support 8-bit channels so that they can preserve the pro-market, who are the only people who are going to pay anyway).
- GeForce 8800
Holy mother of god is that thing fast! I bought the GeForce 8800 GTS, the "lesser" of the two models, which has a mere 640MB (on my video card - hah! :)), and only a 24 BILLION pixel fillrate. That's with a "B".
Installing it was a mess, and its HUUUUGE, but its cool... though the gap between the low end and high end for consumer graphics continues to widen, which means in practice, no game looks as good as the demos ATI and nVidia produced 3 years ago (and yes, I've played Oblivion :P)