Andrew Connell

My Vista Experience So Far...

First off, before I installed Windows Vista Ultimate x86 (RTM) for the first time last week, I had zero hands-on experience with it. Sure, I downloaded and burned the ISO’s of the beta, interim, and beta bits, but I never installed it. I hadn’t even seen a single presentation on Vista, or anyone using Vista during a presentation of something else. Frankly, I had enough on my plate to really spend any time really watching it aside from a few keynotes at TechEd or PDC…

A few months back I got a Dell Latitude D820 and I love it (Intel Duo 2Ghz, 2GB, 80GB SATA HDD, 2nd 100GB modular HDD, DVD DL-R burner, widescreen, 512MB nVidia Quadro 120M, fingerprint reader). I’ll admit it, I’m terrified of losing my laptop… I just couldn’t see going to Vista without testing… so when I saw RTM on my MSDN Subscriber Downloads, I grabbed the ISO and burned it to a DVD. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I setup a second partition and installed Vista for a dual boot experience for two reasons: first, I wanted to test the hardware and Dell drivers and second, I wanted to install my critical apps to make sure everything would work before paving my machine all together. I wanted to report on my results for others… hopefully this will help someone.

Installation Experience (Vista Ultimate RTM OS) Holy crap… they aren’t kidding! After creating a new partition (using Norton PartitionMagic 8, carving out 25GB at the end of the 80GB primary disk that came with my laptop), I dropped the Vista DVD in and booted straight off it. No lie, twenty-four (24) minutes later (and a few reboots) I logged in for the first time… I was completely finished with the OS install! TWENTY-FOUR MINUTES! Now that’s an improvement! That’s everything… even the dual boot screen where I get to pick “Legacy Windows” (aka: WinXP Pro) or “Windows Vista”.

Initial Experience / Base Hardware testing Everything worked OOTB (one exception)… no extra drivers! Video worked, NIC worked, wireless worked… everything… even Aero (glass baby!)… except the fingerprint reader (no biggie for now). Wow the boot experience was nice too… never seen an OS boot that fast (maybe less than 30s?). Login, putting it to sleep and hibernation, coming out of both, and shutdown… everything is faster than Windows XP Pro. Thankfully my 1GB USB flash drive works with ReadyBoost… plugging it in (using 800MB of the drive) definitely made Vista faster.

Next step was to see my Windows Experience Index: 2.4. Ouch! Everything is above 4, except for the video (Graphics = 2.4; Gaming = 3.2). I suspect that’s because nVidia hasn’t released an updated driver for the Quadro NVS 120M… all good, I can wait (it’s currently using a MSFT driver v7.14.10.9686 from 8/21/2006) and it’s not going to keep me from getting anything done (I mean, I still have glass!). I would expect that card (512MB, 256MB onboard, 256MB shared) to be plenty for Vista. Everything else worked quite well. Seemed the UI was a bit sluggish when dragging a window across the screen when I was unplugged… I won’t complain though until I see an updated video driver.

I tried a new update for my laptop’s BIOS (A04) that claimed “Vista support” and an updated driver for the video card, but I didn’t see any difference after flashing the BIOS with the new version… oh well.

Apps Installed and Tested (w/o problems) Over the last few nights I’ve been installing all my critical apps I can’t do without… others are doing it, and it helped me, so here’s my list (note, all of these worked under Vista):

  • Adobe ImageReady 7
  • Adobe PhotoShop 7
  • Adobe Reader 7
  • CodeSmith
  • DAEMON Tools (CD/DVD emulation)
  • FeedDemon
  • FileZilla
  • FinePrint ( needed v5.55 )
  • FireFox
  • Invirtus VM Optimizer 2.5
  • Google GMAIL
  • JetBrains OmeaReader
  • McAfee Security Center (AntiVirus)
  • Microsoft Digital Image Suite 9
  • Microsoft MapPoint 2006
  • Microsoft Money 2006
  • Microsoft Virtual PC 2004
  • Microsoft Windows Live Messenger
  • Microsoft Windows Live Writer
  • NotePad++
  • Skype
  • SlickRun
  • TechSmith SnagIt 8 (others had issues, not me… odd)
  • TortoiseSVN v1.4 (was actually surprised to see this work with no problems!)
  • WinMerge
  • WinRAR
  • Wise Installer for Windows
  • XHEO Licensing (required installing .NET FX 1.1)
  • XHEO CodeVeil

No, I haven’t installed Visual Studio 2005 or SQL Server 2005 yet. Since there are SP’s in the works and now in beta that will make them supported on Vista, I’m holding off for now. No biggie, I live in virtual machines anyway so it’s not much of a loss ( check this post to see this guy’s success installing these on Vista ). I also haven’t installed the Office 2007 clients… waiting for the Professional Plus suite to show up on my MSDN Subscriber Downloads. Again, no biggie… I know others have installed with no problems.

Pending Issues I expected WAY more problems than I had. So far Dell has yet to post updates to any of the apps that came preinstalled that I’d like to have reinstalled such as QuickSet (still not sold that I want it reinstalled), ALPS touchpad drivers, and Wave security apps (for the fingerprint reader, personal info manager, etc)… who knows when those will come out. Also, the video driver issue I mentioned above. Here are the other “problem” installs:

  • TechSmith’s Camtasia 4 - They’ve already said they won’t have an update available to make it work on Vista until the general release in January 2007… sucks, but no biggie.
  • Epson Scanner & Printer drivers for my CX4200 - arg… absolutely nothing on Epson’s site about Vista… that sucks… wonder if it’s a deal breaker though? Maybe… for someone who works at home… no printer? Hmm…
  • Ilium Software eWallet - wouldn’t install because it didn’t find my phone… duh… I don’t have WDMC installed (it didn’t RTM yet)… but I still want my passwords and keys!
  • Diskkeeper 10 Professional Premier - wouldn’t even install…
  • ViewSonic video drivers for VA1912wb - they have Vista drivers, but they still won’t let me max the resolution to 1440x900 on my LCD.

Conclusion Once Office 2007 Professional Plus is on MSDN Subscriber Downloads, I don’t know why I won’t cut over (other than the paranoia of losing some that I haven’t thought to backup yet). I love the new UI and the lack of some updated drivers isn’t hurting me that much… least as much as I can tell. I’ll always keep a virtual machine with Windows 2003 Server, VS2005, SQL2005, and Office 2003 close by, but I doubt I’ll use it much.

Andrew Connell
Developer & Chief Course Artisan, Voitanos LLC. | Microsoft MVP
Written by Andrew Connell

Andrew Connell is a web developer with a focus on Microsoft Azure & Microsoft 365. He’s received Microsoft’s MVP award every year since 2005 and has helped thousands of developers through the various courses he’s authored & taught. Andrew’s the founder of Voitanos and is dedicated to delivering industry-leading on-demand video training to professional developers. He lives with his wife & two kids in Florida.