Windows Vista

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Despite OJ's sage advice, I now am running Vista Ultimate on my home PC. I picked up an OEM edition when buying a new power supply for my machine (sneaky perhaps, but legal in the UK). The web has been full of articles on the new OS, most of which are based entirely on speculation and hearsay, so I thought I'd try for myself. If it all went tits up, I always had my XP install backed up so it would only cost me time. Bolstered by ExtremeTech's Upgrade vs Clean Installation article, I first decided to try an upgrade install over XP. This was a mistake. The article is flawed for a number of reasons, but the main one is that they upgraded on top of a clean XP install, which is very unlikely to happen in reality. My system last had XP installed about a year ago when the hard disk died and I had to buy a new one. The system therefore had a years worth of crap on it, plus many applications, background services, etc, etc. The upgrade install took about three hours, and the PC crashed several times during the process (though would pick up where it left off when rebooted). When it finally got to the desktop, the machine was so slow as to be nearly unusable and some software just wasn't running right. For instance, AVG couldn't start itself, but the AVG auto upgrade process was still working. I switched from the fancy Aero Glass interface to the classic desktop, uninstalled as much stuff as I could (though some programs refused to uninstall) and managed to get drivers for all my hardware installed, but the system was still a lot slower than it was under XP. After a couple of days like this I gave up, reformatted the disk and did a clean install. This was much better. In fact, the clean install went by so quickly (roughly 20 minutes), that I wasn't convinced it had actually worked until it dropped me onto a fully working desktop. So, after a couple of weeks use, what is my verdict? The good
  1. Clean install was very quick and easy.
  2. Wireless just works. I run my wireless router using WPA2-PSK encryption, which under XP needed additional software to connect as Windows Zero Wireless only supported WEP (which isn't very strong encryption). On Vista, I simply clicked the "Connect to the Internet" button and told it I was using a wireless connection. After a few seconds it found my router and asked for the password. After entering this, it connected first time, and asked me if I wanted it to be my default connection. I clicked "Yes" and that was the end of it.
  3. Aero Glass. It's not just pretty, it's fast. My system is an Athlon 1800+ with a Radeon 9800 Pro, so it's hardly state of the art, but the system feels really responsive.
  4. Windows Update. This is now built into the system, rather than being a web driven thing, and finally seems to do an decent job of installing drivers for most of my hardware.
  5. My software all works - at least everything I've tried so far has.  I've not tried my games yet, apart from a quick run around Half Life 2.
  6. I'm legal.  My PC for the first time in it's life has no pirated software on it.
The bad
  1. The system crashes when it shuts down. This is due to the ATI 7.2 drivers as this didn't happen before I installed them. It's not a showstopper though, it just means I have to physically turn the machine off after the shutdown procedure. I would imagine this will be fixed in short order.
  2. nForce drivers. Vista installed drivers for most of my motherboard components automatically, and Windows Update found some more, but a few pieces of hardware needed a bit of cunning on my part to install. I discovered from reading a few forums that I could install the Vista nForce 4 drivers onto my nForce 1 motherboard and that sorted out the SM Bus and LAN devices. However, I still have an "Unknown device" showing in the device manager and I haven't a clue what it is. It doesn't seem to stop anything working though.
The Not Sure
  1. UAC.  This is the User Account Control system.  It means that programs run by default at a standard user level (even if you're logged on as administrator - which you most probably will be because the account you create when installing the OS is an administrator account).  If the program requires administrative rights, it pops up a dialog box asking first.  In fact the whole desktop greys out and you can only click on this dialog until you have either approved or denied it administrative access.  I'm still in two minds about whether this is just annoying or a good thing.  It's reminiscent of the Unix "sudo" command, though doesn't require a password unless you are logged on as a non-administrator.  I have a feeling most users will simply click OK all the time and it's usefulness will be lessened.
  2. The gadget sidebar.  This is a feature that sits on the side of your desktop and has various gadgets running on it, such as clocks, calendars, news tickers, weather forecasts, etc.  I'm currently running it with a simple clock, though I might disable it entirely as I can't see a compelling reason for it.
I shall post updates on my experiences over the coming weeks, but I'm cautiously optimistic at the moment.

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from Keef’s Musings » Blog Archive » Vista Update on April 24, 2007 3:29 PM
Windows 7 Beta from Keef's Musings on January 14, 2009 4:31 PM

Long ago, I did a quick review of Windows Vista which was a mixture of positive and negative.  It performed a lot better on my current PC than the one I had at the time, but still had some annoyances which... Read More

4 Comments

Out of curiosity, how much did you pay for it? And why Ultimate, rather than the more affordable Home Premium?

I paid £116 from Scan. I got Ultimate because I didn't want a crippled version, though Home Premium isn't far behind Ultimate (just missing some networking stuff and "Ultimate Extras", which amounts to a few free games and desktop themes so far).

He's a geek, why would he go for anything less that the Ultimate?? :) Keith's e-Penis is now 3 inches longer.

You're a brave man mate. I've seen (and been forced to use) Vista on a few machines, and they all have issues. The funny thing is that they all have different issues, different crashes, and different levels of performance despite those machines being identically specced! Interesting eh?

Perhaps in another year or two when the bugs are ironed out I'll consider it. I think I'll end up skipping Vista altogether and possibly going with its successor (currently called 'Vienna'). It's apparently going to be what Vista should have been when it was released!

Aero is nothing new either. If you take a look at Beryl you'll see that this kind of desktop has been around for ages - and it's free!

As far as I remember, BeOS ran an OpenGL desktop too. In Vista's case, it's nice to see Windows finally use the perfectly capable graphics hardware it's running on rather than rendering everything in software and using the graphics card as a dumb blitter.

On my forthcoming programming section, I think it'd be a nice idea to write a simple application using the new APIs and write up how it was done.

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This page contains a single entry by KeefJudge published on March 22, 2007 3:41 PM.

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