Fast Isn’t Always Great: Why Desktop Users May Want to Avoid Presto

March 17th, 2009

Xandros Presto seems like a really neat idea: being able to get on your computer to do a few simple tasks without waiting for Windows to boot is a smart time saver for people on the go. But in reality, that’s all it accomplishes in its Open Beta. The 483 MB download and quick installation basically attaches itself to your motherboard, and works just like putting a second operating system onto your hard drive, allowing you whether to boot Presto or Windows when you start your computer. This is a similar approach enjoyed by Mac owners who prefer Windows operating systems, only a with much less space and a whole lot faster.

I was impressed by the fact that it booted relatively quickly. My computer (2.66 Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 Gigs DDR2 RAM) boots Vista from turning the computer on to letting me get to work in 53 seconds, which is not terrible considering…that it’s Vista. Presto was able to embarass the boot speed by booting in 27 seconds, almost half of what it takes to get Vista going. And with the bare bones approach: Firefox, Skype, the ability to chat using any other IM service, and being able to pull up existing files using Open Office, I was able to get started on whatever I wanted to right away. So for people on the go with laptops and netbooks, Presto gets my recommendation.

Desktop users may want to avoid it, however. A 26 second difference isn’t going to be huge for a lot of people, and Presto doesn’t pick up on most devices. So your camera, iPod, even your wireless connection, are compeltely out of the picture when using Presto. Putting drivers in conjunction with Presto seems to be a big hassle as well, since there won’t be much of a market for developers to have their products work with a small-scale developer like Xandros. It’s easy to tell that Presto is built from the ground-up using Linux, cutting as many corners as possible to achieve a fast bood speed. The convenience is no match for actually being able to do things on your desktop.

Another thing that bugged me was how ugly the interface looked. There wasn’t nothing but a stoic grey background, accompanied with a few buttons on the left side of the screen that was stretched out because of my widescreen monitor. Xandros 4.1 doesn’t look that bad, why can’t Presto look a little more like that? Widescreen support would be nice, but the target audience seems to be those with laptops and netbooks, the latter which doesn’t offer any widescreen format for the sake of its compactness.

I honestly don’t see any desktop users picking up the full product, but there should be plenty of gold to mine with the laptop and netbook crowd. The Open Beta will at least look at getting some of the bugs out of the way for the April 13 launch, hopefully Xandros will work on getting it to work with wireless connections and devices more efficiently. The product will retail for $19.99.

Entry Filed under: Device Drivers

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