Is Vista Worth It?

Windows Vista UltimateSo 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.

Windows Vista PRC1 (Desktop)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.

The good:

  • Windows 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.
  • Windows Vista - 3D 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.
  • Probando Windows Vista Beta 2 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.

The bad/whinges:

  • 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.
  • Probando Windows Vista Beta 2The 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.


20 comments so far

  1. Mitch Denny on

    Hi Martin,

    If you are looking for a new command shell, check out PowerShell, it is the new command shell for Windows. It should be out for Vista soon.

  2. Meg on

    Hi Martin

    Thanks for such an in depth post & the potential hazards to avoid. Bummer it doesn’t make coffee :(

  3. craigbbaker on

    Apparently Vista solves what I like to call the “Nuclear melt down in your laptop bag”. This most commonly occurs when your desperate to escape the hell they call economy class, with an episode of Lost.

    If I’ve completely lost you, when shutting down your laptop with Windows XP and you close the lid before the shutdown has completed the system goes into a semi-off state where the system keeps on chewing on the battery.

    So to cut a long story short, Vista is meant to resolve this.

  4. Shaymus on

    Looks Cool

  5. Martin Wells on

    Hey Mitch, why did you delete your blog.

  6. Blake P. on

    I can’t wait to give it a shot. Glad to see that you like it.

  7. Wily on

    That screen background of Cape Town at twilight has made me homesick – if that comes with Vista, then I’m installing it.

  8. Rira on

    I don’t get it…if you measure your time in money then this was an expensive exercise in prettying up a OS until, shucks, Microsoft go and replace it with yet another OS and then you have to do it all over again. “Why bother?” he wails, from the keyboard of his five year old Mac.

  9. Martin Wells on

    Why did you upgrade from a windows 3.1 box to your mac?

  10. Heather Flanagan on

    I am going to a “lunch and learn” next week on Microsoft Vista and will post a vodcast on their presentation the link of which I can forward to you if you would like. Just let me know. In the mean time I wanted to show you a video I made at the Microsoft Alumni Network’s “After the holidays party”. I think Microsoft makes an interesting anthropological subject:

  11. Abx21 on

    Just a quick note, QuickSilver will find emails, picures and in addition will allow you to act on those results, ie. launch a specific browser, send the file as an email. It doesn’t look like the windows search bar in the vista start menu does that.

  12. Martin Wells on

    Actually, Vista does this to. Type, use arrows to select, use menu button to show options. Quicksilver does it a bit better though.

  13. Steve Pruszynski on

    The never ending story. Does anyone ever fix what they design before they design something else? Seems like as the new comes out there are already items that need to be addressed. Oh that’s right, that’s the next generation to be released. Another upgrade, another reinstall, another starting over, the story of modern computing.

  14. dek on

    Cool! Always something new to play with!

  15. bob dylan on

    basically, everything that was wrong with xp was fixed and given a new 3d interface. there are various capatibility isuues with nero,avg and kodak software. these problems arent microsoft’s faul cuz everyone knew vista was coming out for over a year now and these software makers should have been ready. oh well

  16. Nilesh on


    Liked the post.
    What I would like to know is that, according to you, do you think these features are worth the price?
    After all arnd 250$ for an upgrade and 375$ for a complete version is not cheap!

    Thank you

  17. Martin Wells on

    For me? You bet. Love it.

  18. Don Campbell on
  19. Cameron Reilly on

    Marty – I just got a new PC (Lenovo Dual Core) with Vista Business installed. All working fine but for two things:

    1. HP Photosmart 7150 printer. No drivers.

    2. Box was shipped with only 1GB RAM and that’s NOT ENOUGH. Everyone be warned – 2GB RAM minimum!!!


  20. Minime on

    I think that you’ll find that you’ll only need 2gb RAM for the “ultimate” package. I’m only getting the home edition so I only need 1GB. I’m only 15 so I can’t really fork out £250. However because I’m with Dell I get mine free!!!

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