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  1. #1
    Senior Member filburt1's Avatar
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    I've been using Vista since Beta 2 on my tablet PC (Toshiba Portege M200 with a 1.5 GHz Pentium M and Geforce FX Go 5200, since sold on eBay); since then, I've tried RC1 on my new laptop (Dell XPS M1210 with a 1.66 GHz Core Duo and, more notably, a Geforce 7400 Go).

    I recently got Vista Business for free (legally because I watched some Microsoft webcasts) and installed it on my laptop and, a few days later, my desktop. Both were clean installs because I don't believe in upgrade installs (they always suck compared to just formatting and starting over).

    What do I like and dislike?

    Good:
    • The Search functions everywhere in the OS are a godsend compared to XP. It seems to maintain the index properly, and searches are very fast. When you search a location not indexed, it'll just transparently do a traditional file search (and informs you through an info bar that it's not searching an index). This is way, way better than Windows Desktop Search that was cobbled together for XP.
    • Aero Glass is cool, not just with the pretty animations (although even from a functional standpoint, seeing the whole window minimize instead of just the title bar is nice), but also the general benefits of each window being a DirectX texture. Example: minimize a video that's playing, and the thumbnail that shows up on mouseover on the taskbar button will show the video playing. Vista is significantly worse if you don't have a DirectX 9.0c-compatible video card. My desktop has a Geforce 6800 (unlocked pipelines and overclocked without notable issues) and my laptop has a Geforce 7400 Go; both render Aero Glass just fine. The laptop, when on a power saver plan, will reduce the GPU speed, though, and Aero Glass gets choppy but still quite usable.
    • The Start menu search is great. Example: if I want to find the control panel applet to remove programs, I just type "progr", and after literally one or two seconds, "Programs and Features" is selected in the Start menu, and I just press Enter to launch it.
    • IE7 on Vista is more secure and generally better-looking than IE7 on XP, although I use Opera anyway. It's obvious, though, that security is improved the way IE runs in a sandbox environment.
    • I didn't need any drivers at all for my laptop, which is notable given how laptops almost always need some custom drivers. However, it configured the two things XP never did automatically: my memory card reader and my Firewire port. It's worth noting I did upgrade the BIOS before I installed Vista.
    • The games are needlessly all 3D-driven and accelerated now. Never has Minesweeper been so thrillingly pointless. Note that Games aren't installed by default on Vista Business, but they're included.
    • All my programs that I used before work fine. These include, looking at my Quick Launch, Opera, Firefox, Office 2007, Trillian Basic, Steam (and Counter-Strike: Source), PuTTy, TightVNC, SmartFTP, Soulseek, Photoshop CS2, Eclipse 3.2 (with minor rendering issues when you restore it from being minimized), SQL Manager for PostgreSQL, <oXygen/>, Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 beta, and iTunes. I bought some music previously from the iTunes Store that plays fine on Vista; I don't get UAC popups like others.
    • UAC is annoying for most people, but I like it. It's reassuring to know it's protecting system components, and having used OS X many times before and Linux on a frequent basis with my server, I'm well familiar with the idea of sudo, which for all practical purposes is what UAC is.
    • The Sidebar is decent and I no longer have a need for Yahoo Widgets (previously Konfabulator).
    • Frequently being on a wireless network, I like how the network tray icon now shows at a glance whether or not you have Internet connectivity or just LAN connectivity. It still doesn't show signal strength at a glance like OS X has done for years, though/
    • My proud Sourceforge project still works, and still crashes just as occasionally as it does on XP for whatever reason: http://xpbattmon.sourceforge.net/ .
    • The new Windows Explorer kicks ***. It opens instantly, isn't (so far) as ridiculously buggy as it was on XP with random nodes appearing in the Folder browser, and the Favorites list is convenient. Seeing drive usage at a glance is also good.
    • Your home directory is now just c:\users\you rather than c:\documents and settings\you\my documents. Shorter path and I'm glad it goes to your actual home folder now instead of freaking My Documents (which still exists as Documents, but isn't the default location for a lot of programs anymore).
    • Office 2007 integrates beautifully with Vista; I was an official tester since Beta 1 and it's improved tremendously over time. The concept of a ribbon is so much nicer than a toolbar and menu although it takes getting used to.
    • Windows Update isn't a stupid web page anymore but a program like it should have been all along.
    • Automated backups and even a versioning file system are built in. I have a backup of my entire hard drive setup (excluding videos which take up too much space and are mostly redundant anyway) that occurs weekly to my basement server with 500 GB of storage, which itself is backed up anywhere from nightly to weekly to an external 500 GB USB hard drive. My house will have to spontaneously explode for me to lose all my data.
    • The new firewall lets you define very specific rules for both inbound and outbound traffic.
    • Graphics tablet support is improved over what was offered in XP Tablet Edition, including the ability to teach Vista how to interpret your handwriting (except it takes forever to train it).

    Bad:
    • It's significantly slower to boot up and shut down than XP, maybe 1.5x slower.
    • My laptop battery life seems to be worse. If I enable the power saver plan, then I get better battery life but Aero Glass slows down. My battery is rated for 5.5 hours I believe, and I used to get 4 under XP with Wifi on and the screen all the way up. Now it's more like 3. I'm quite certain it's the GPU power that's the culprit.
    • If you actually have to pay for a retail version of Vista, it's expensive. $300 is what Vista Business costs (and I don't really want any of the features of Ultimate, which is $100 more).
    • While the sidebar is nice, there isn't yet a huge selection of gadgets, and the gadget web site sucks in so many ways, especially in that the Ajax components don't work in Opera.
    • For some reason, iTunes and Photoshop seem slower than before. I suspect it's because GDI+ isn't hardware-accelerated anymore, and iTunes has such a complex UI and Photoshop deals with large amounts of graphical data that it's killing it. Photoshop CS3 will probably fix the problem, but I doubt iTunes will ever be fixed on Windows.
    • Vista eats memory like a recently-dumped teenage girl eats ice cream. Right now, I have iTunes, Opera and Outlook open, and I'm using 698 MB of RAM. If I open Eclipse, I'm down to about 100 MB free, which leaves very little room for Photoshop, and that combination of applications is what I usually use for web design.
    • My 2.6 GHz Pentium 4 is feeling really old now. My laptop's Core Duo at 1.66 GHz actually feels faster. Vista is probably better optimizing itself for true multiple processors rather than the hyperthreading my desktop has. My desktop also has DDR PC3200 memory (1 GB) while my laptop has DD2 PC5300 memory (also 1 GB), and the latter is faster. I compensated earlier under XP by using a RAID 0 array of two 10,000 RPM SATA drives which helps under Vista as well, and nothing short of a 15,000 RPM SCSI array is faster, and that's expensive.
    • Driver support is hit-and-miss. While my laptop is perfect, it was marketed as Vista ready anyway. My desktop had two significant issues: it wouldn't install off the DVD, even though it booted off my DVD-ROM drive just fine; it insisted I provide a driver for the DVD-ROM drive, which I didn't have and is pointless if you think about it. I bought a DVD burner which resolved that issue. It still doesn't properly support my sound "card" (a USB Creative Audigy 2 NX): all I get is 2.0 sound instead of the 5.1 upmix I'm used to. Creative is being slow in releasing drivers. Fortunately, Vista accepted the drivers for my onboard RAID controller just like XP did.
    • The new Start menu is nice except I don't like how it scrolls programs inside itself rather than showing menus like previous versions of Windows. While it's usually faster to just use the built-in search, there's no option to revert to cascading menus without converting the entire Start menu back to Windows 95-like appearance.

    Yes.
    filburt1, Web Design Forums.net founder
    Site of the Month contest: submit your site or vote for the winner!

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  3. #2
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    Yeah, I installed it. All the pros and cons you listed seem to match my experience, except most of the pros are `hey, they finally got this right after fifteen years!', except for Aero, which, while certainly not ugly, is... Just a look. :-P

    That said, I virtually never noticed slowdown and had plenty of RAM -- but that's because I've got 1.5 GB of RAM and I'm running an Athlon X2. Still, somewhat surprising since my graphics card is driving two monitors instead of just one.

    Regardless, having installed Vista, my opinion on it is that, while prettier, it's only a marginal improvement on XP.

  4. #3
    Senior Member filburt1's Avatar
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    I'm running dual monitors, too. My video card has 128 MB of RAM and I haven't had any problems as a result. UAC on dual monitors is annoying though because it takes about five seconds just for the dialog to appear.
    filburt1, Web Design Forums.net founder
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  5. #4
    WDF Staff Wired's Avatar
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    vista also has natural language search.
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  6. #5
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    Yeah, both my monitors actually blank out for a second when UAC tries to dim the screen. Really *reaaallly* annoying. I've been using Linux a very long time, so I'm used to putting in passwords to achieve some things, but the password dialogs come up immediately and neither prevent me from doing other things nor cause my screen to blank out once when they appear and once when they disappear. That's my one real gripe with Vista. Annoys me every time :-P

  7. #6
    Senior Member filburt1's Avatar
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    I'm quite used to gnomesu, but it's not system modal like UAC. You can change UAC to act like gnomesu/OS X by making it a normal dialog, but I'm not fully educated on all the security implications.

    Other than managing services--my company's Cisco-provided VPN is a piece of crap and maxes out the CPU unless you kill its service--I rarely encounter UAC.
    filburt1, Web Design Forums.net founder
    Site of the Month contest: submit your site or vote for the winner!

  8. #7
    Senior Member filburt1's Avatar
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    Bluetooth works, apparently. I got a USB Bluetooth adapter for my desktop and Dell's own internal bluetooth microscopic little card is on its way for my laptop. Unfortunately I needed to install the drivers from IOGear instead of just plugging in the device, but it works with my Wacom Bluetooth tablet just fine. The only problem is I don't think it's encrypting the communication (Vista says that the tablet didn't exchange keys properly). Not a big deal and probably the fault of the tablet, but I don't know for sure.
    filburt1, Web Design Forums.net founder
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  9. #8
    Senior Member Karloff's Avatar
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    haven't reied it yet and i think i'll leave it a while but thanks for the read :thumbsup:

  10. #9
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    Well, I don't quite recall why at this point, but I think there's one program that seems to require UAC every time it starts up... Like I said, though, not sure which one.

  11. #10
    Senior Member filburt1's Avatar
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    Photoshop needed it for a bit (although I always denied it) until it finally got it through its head to stop checking for program updates.
    filburt1, Web Design Forums.net founder
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