Is Vista Worth It?
So I installed Vista (the full release build) over the weekend and it’s been an experience, both good and bad. Since a lot of people are going to be doing this soon I thought I’d share some thoughts and recommendations.
I installed on my fully-sick beefy primary notebook: a 3 month old HP nc8430 (2.16 ghz core 2 duo, 2GB ram, 100GB 7200 rpm hdd, ATI x1600 with 256mb vram).
I started by trying to do an upgrade of my existing XP installation — crazy I know. But the install process kept blowing up (missing file errors), so I had to go with a brand new install option. After clearing about 20GB, I created a new partition dedicated for Vista.
I then installed Vista Ultimate (which includes media centre — no idea why I think I need media centre on the notebook, but happy to install everything once) and after about 60 minutes was up and running. Install process was great. I then installed Office 2007, FireFox, Omea and Skype and after transferring mail, docs and music I was basically operational.
Then came the first mistake. I wanted a bit more space on the Vista partition, so I used Acronis to expand it. I then rebooted into Vista and whilst doing a big file transfer, BOOM! Corrupt files. Total plot loss, reboot, partition corrupt, 2 hours on repair tools, no progress, fuck it, start again.
This time I made the partition 30GB to start and reinstalled everything (did I mention doing backups is a good idea before you try any of this). After that problem though, which you could really blame on Acronis/me rather than Vista, everything is actually working incredibly well, so let’s move on to the good and bad of using vista.
- Quicksilver! – I drool over the Mac heads and there little type launcher app called Quicksilver. Vista has this as well now and the implementation is great. Hit the Windows key and just type and it will insta-find applications, folders, files, docs and email (actually that’s better than Quicksilver).
- Oooh, pretty – Aero really is just lovely. The 3D effects are a site to behold. I just move windows around so I can look at the pretty effects. Pop outs, ins, shadows, 3D cursors, animations everywhere.
- Win-Tab – In addition to alt-tab, you can now use Win-tab to do a 3D application scroll. Looks stunning. Anybody who walks up and says, “ooh, is that Vista. What’s it like?” All you have to do is hit Win-tab and they’ll be blown away. Pretty useless, but damn pretty.
- Compatible – Every app I have (including all the games and printer drivers) works perfectly. Nice one.
- Responsiveness – Vista is extremely hard to slow down. No matter how much is going on in the background, applications seem to still operate quite well. It’s much better than XP.
- Enforced user rights – something I’ve long appreciated on Linux; you now have to basically sudo everything that is privileged. This is sure to annoy some users, but the vista implementation of this is actually pretty neat. It looks annoying, but like Unix, the underlying principle of operating in a restricted environment with selective rights is significantly safer.
- A million little fixes. The wireless connectivity is better, config options, folders, explorer, search, key customisation, I keep finding cool stuff. None of it mind bogglingly amazing, just nice.
- I know why the Mac runs so hot now; it’s the interface chewing the ATI graphics. My notebook runs 20%-40% hotter than before, and mostly due to Aero. Though surprisingly the battery life is better. If you don’t want more heat you’ll need to tone down the prettiness.
- The command prompt is still the same. Was really hoping we’d see a better terminal app and shell. Sigh.
- The sidebar is just as useless as all the other sidebars (Konfab is probably better actually). I still don’t use it. Maybe I’ll play with it some more another time. Right now it just chews space.
- It doesn’t make coffee.
- I can’t think of anything else, which I guess is a good sign.
So is Vista worth the upgrade? Yes, I think so. It can be a little painful to get up and running, but in the end even after only a day there’s no way I could go back. Everything is just better. Vista may not be life changing, but there’s no doubt that it’s as good as the leap from 98 to xp. If you thought that upgrade was worth it, then make the jump.