Vista testing

What is Vista?

Vista is the much-anticipated update to WindowsXP. Initially, many different features was promised, but had to be removed in order to get the product out on the shelves.

The beta process

I was able to get in on the beta process again with Vista, just like I did with XP. However, my experiences with the Vista betas were not good; I kept thinking “hey, they’re released WindowsME version 2!” Even given that I was running beta versions, I thought there were more problems that should be expected (especially considering the strengths of the WinXP betas). Some of the programs would crash, others would appear to work but errors would appear in the finished product (the DVD creator would appear to create the dvd correctly, but it would have major problems on playback). The biggest problem was a repeat of my experiences with Windows98; my computer would not shut down at all – it would lock up at some point during the shutdown process.

The final release (RTM)

I purchased the Ultimate version through our campus Microsoft agreement ($30!) and installed it on an ununused partition on my machine (a single-processor 2.4G machine with 1 GB of memory with an Nvidia 7600GS video card).

Initally, I was not happy with its performance; It was still buggy in places and it appeared to run about 50% slower than XP. Part of the slowness can be attributed to my using Outlook 2007 as my email client; that program runs incredibly slow on my machine for some reason (I eventually went back to Thunderbird).

Other programs didn’t work correctly due to the requirements new security system.

  • Desktop Sidebar has to be run as Administrator for some plugins to run
  • MediaMonkey (the best media library program ever!) would often crash between songs while playing (a new 3.0 release fixed this issue)
  • Rhapsody has to be run as Administrator (why??)
  • Many of my games initially wouldn’t run correctly (but are now working much better after several months of patches)

I’ve recently had to start using Vista full time, as my XP installation has somehow gotten broken (it keeps losing the network connection). So far, it looks promising, if still a bit slower than XP.

We bought a laptop for my wife in December 2007 and of course it came with Vista Premium. It’s a dual-proc 2.0 GHz with 2 GB of memory and it runs pretty well. But she is not the power user that I am (she was happily running Linux for several years before getting her laptop), so her needs are a lot smaller than mine.

The verdict

At this point, the jury is still out. Right now, I don’t suggest upgrading to Vista on existing machines; you need a pretty powerful machine to run it well with all of the bells and whistles. If you’re purchasing a new computer, it will probably have Vista pre-installed, but I don’t recommend doing an upgrade from an XP machine at this time.

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