My Brief Love Affair With Windows Vista

My Brief Love Affair With Windows Vista

And by brief, I mean slightly less than one day. I signed up for Windows Vista Beta 2 quite awhile ago, but I never got around to installing it, due to the way my files were arranged on my pc. I’ve since gotten the OS stuff separate from the data and I can do OS installs at will.

Microsoft invited me to join the pre-RC1 program since I was part of the Beta 2 program, and I got in and downloaded the 2.4GB ISO before the 100,000 download limit mark was reached. However, just before I was going to do the install this weekend, I heard that Microsoft released a full RC1 to its TAP customers. Knowing that my Beta 2 key would work on my pre-RC1, I figured it would work on the full RC1 too. If it didn’t, I didn’t have anything to lose, since I could just install the pre-RC1 instead. I went ahead and grabbed the full RC1 (Build 5600) from USENET and did the install late the night before last, and continued to use it until late last night.

The Good

It installed extremely quickly. It asks you where you are and what language you speak, and then it asks for the key. That was it until it wanted me to tell it my name after the install. It was the most painless OS install I’ve ever done.

Vista recognized all the hardware in my computer, except my Visioneer scanner, and my USB headset. It didn’t even acknowledge my USB headset, so I have no idea what’s up with that, but at least for the scanner it put an unknown device in device manager. My printer was easy to install off my home Windows 2003 Enterprise Server (legal MSDNAA copy). I double clicked it and it installed the drivers and connected the printer automatically, presumably using 2000/XP drivers.

It is extremely pretty. I have a computer that gets a 4.0 on a 5.0 scale on the performance rating, so it has all of the pretty Aero Glass effects. I can’t even describe how pretty it looks and the awesome transparency effects done completely on the 3D card (NVidia 6600GT). You just have to see it. The built in wallpapers are extremely awesome, too. I made a copy of those. Win+Tab is an amazing Alt+Tab replacement. It’s utterly amazing, which is why it saddens me to bring you this next part.

The Bad

When I muted my sound card by using the mixer or the mute button on the keyboard, the icon in the tray and in the mixer reflected the muted status, but the sound would continue to play. Honestly, it was pretty humorous, especially since the volume control worked fine. I submitted a bug report for this.

When I went into the registry to modify my profile path (to store it on another partition so the OS is completely separate), I could not tell which key was open on the left. It was highly annoying and leaves you having to read through the hierarchy in the status bar to figure out where you are in the tree. That was highly annoying and would stifly any system admin.

I found a UX error in IE7 in Vista as well. When you bring up IE7 in a new profile, for the first time, it has no knowledge about your auto-complete preferences. Therefore, the first time you enter text into the search box or a web page, it asks you. Pressing Alt+Enter when typing a URL or a search term normally opens that item in a new tab, but if you do this before setting auto complete preferences, the preferences interdictor appears and after you tell it yes or no, the item opens in the current tab instead of a new tab. That’s not really a huge issue, since it will only happen once per profile. I submitted a bug report for this as well.

Then I got into the really annoying things. My mic didn’t work, no matter what. No audio input was recognized, no matter what I did with the mixer. It worked fine in XP. That wouldn’t be a huge issue either, but my USB headset wasn’t recognized either. For reference, my USB headset is the Logitech USB 350 headset. My sound card is the Sound Blaster PCI 512 which was detected as a SB Live! (WDM) device (and I even tried forcing it to use a PCI 512 driver).

The sound constantly skipped when doing anything on the computer. It was like it couldn’t handle processing anything and playing sound, so it sounded like I had a 486. Don’t even think about playing music while using your Vista computer! This was while the CPU utilization wasn’t even peaked, which brings me to my next point.

The CPU utilization just springs up and down, up and down, up and down, constantly! I don’t know what it is, but it claims that “System” is using it in the Task Manager. Not “System Idle Process”, but “System”. The memory utilization was also much higher, like 400-500MB just sitting idle at the desktop. I ordered more RAM in preparation for the full Vista because of this. I should have 2GB in this system, soon. That CPU utilization was nuts, though. I hope they optimize it more, but honestly, it scares me that this is a release candidate.

The Prodigal Son

I decided to go ahead and reinstall Windows XP last night. The sound issues were just too much to handle. XP will never look the same to me again, though. Vista is extremely pretty, and I can’t wait to use it if they ever get all the bugs worked out. Jim Allchin should really be ashamed.

I had forgotten, however, how utterly awesome the Microsoft Out of the Box Experience (OOBE) is for Windows XP. If you’ve never installed XP or at least done the OOBE after a manufacture pre-install, you’re really missing out. The music is awesome! It made me not want to hit “Next” until the music finished playing. It’s singlehandedly the most awesome computer software company generated music ever. What’s that you say, you’ve never heard it? Well, I converted it into streaming MP3 for you. Just click the play button:

Author: Chris Benard

Chris Benard is a software developer in the Dallas area specializing in payments processing, medical claims processing, and Windows/Web services.