Jeff Atwood explains why Windows registry is a bad idea and recommends Vista’s scheme of storing application specific data. The biggest hurdle for application developers to implement this will be backward compatibility with pre-Vista versions. They might have to have two configuration scheme implementations to do so, which I think will be avoided. We might expect this to start happening in one or two versions post Vista.
Concept of the registry was not bad. In my opinion, the biggest problem was there was no separation between system settings, critical configuration and application specific data. It is just too easy to play with the registry and cause problems. I think there is another reason for this – not many developers understood the structure of the registry and its purpose. All kinds of data got saved, and users were encouraged by the community to edit the registry by using the dreaded
regedit32. This coupled with low tolerance of the registry towards mistakes by the users usually ends up in a corrupted database.
I personally like text files for configuration, since they can be easily backed up or distributed. You can restore an older version easily if the file gets corrupted. Of course, they can have their own problems, but creating a database that gets edited by the end users directly is worse. It is better to be transparent than translucent. I have landed myself at the command prompt many times after messing with my xorg.conf file. But the only thing I had to do was move to my older xorg.conf backup and I am back in business. Ubuntu is getting a GUI for it now, but the files will still be accessible to you.