A New Vista

As I write this blog post, I am in the midst of Microsoft’s newest operating system endeavor know to some as “Longhorn” and to considerably more as “Vista.” I’m sure there are mixed feelings among my readers out there. Some are probably like, “OMG, dued! L13k t3h pwnsauce!” Others will probably be like, “You traitor ;)” and yet others (probably a considerable mainstream of those interested in the topic) will be like, “What’s it like? Is it better than XP?” The latter of the questions will be what I focus on in this post.

So. First of all, I’ll have to say that although I’ve had it for roughly two weeks now, I really haven’t been able to sit down with it yet, and get into the “nitty-gritty” of the OS. I usually like to do that when I get something new, whether it be Windows or Linux-based. So although I have had the time to mess around with it, I haven’t yet had the time to “look under the hood” so to speak.

Now, the first thing that I noticed when I installed it was that it didn’t take as long (or seem to take as long) as a comparable XP install.

So, when I finally got into Vista itself, I was mildly surprised that nearly all my drivers were installed. When I installed XP, I had to install at least six or seven drivers to get my computer fully operational. Not to say that there weren’t problems with the drivers. First of all, my video card on my laptop sucks. Balls. It’s an ATI 9000 IGP, which means it’s an ATI 9000 card (already quited ag├Ęd) that shares the main system memory for the video memory as well. So, although I upgraded my laptop memory to 1.25GB, 128 of it is still dedicated to video. Anyway, for the IGP series, ATI doesn’t release a driver themselves. You have to depend on the system manufacturer to release a video driver tailored to their integrated chipset. Suffice it to say, Toshiba has yet to release a driver for my video card for Vista. I’m not saying that Toshiba is a bad company (in fact, I love my laptop), and I doubt Vista was recommended to be run on this model, but it would be nice if there was a driver for Vista. But I digress. After much fussing and manual driver installation, I finally got the XP driver to work under Vista.

So then, after I got the video to work, I tried to install Alcohol 120%. It was quite an old version, and I didn’t even think about checking to see if the version I had was compatible with Vista. It wasn’t. So, as soon as it tried to install the virtual CD drive drivers, Vista would instantly bluescreen. Not a pretty site after you just spent about two hours installing Vista and fussing with the graphics driver to try and get it installed. I tired to restart, it still tried to install the driver. I tried safe mode, it still continued to want to install the driver. Luckily, the Vista boot DVD includes some really good recovery tool, and System Recovery is quite the lifesaver.

After all the crap with the drivers, I haven’t had too much trouble. All the applications I use on a regular basis (Firefox, Windows Live Messenger, Xchat, Google Talk, and Office to name those that come to the top of my head) all work perfectly. The only application problem I’ve had (besides Alcohol) is that Komodo (a programming IDE) doesn’t seem to want to find the respective programming interpreters (PERL, PHP, and Python) and didn’t want to debug. So, it was pretty much rendered useless. ActiveState does have a new version out, and I haven’t been able to try it yet to see if it works better with Vista or not, though. I’ll get around to trying that out, and give you an update sometime (probably attached to some other post in the future).

Other than a few mishaps along the way, my transition to Vista was pretty smooth. Now, for some of the UI/way of thinking changes that have been made that I don’t quite like. For one, the User Account Protection. I can’t express in mere text how much I loathe this piece of shit. When you perform an action that requires administrative permissions (read: just about every fucking thing you do while running Windows), you have to wait for an annoying popup to come up, hit “Continue” to give the program/action the permission to perform this act, and possibly rinse and repeat. Sure, it might save grandma from fucking something up majorly, but if you get bugged by a little prompt asking the equivalent of “Are you sure you want to do this?” every time you have move a file or install a program, it gets rather annoying rather quick. Suffice it to say that I turned it off the first day of using Vista. Also, the networking system is a bit weird. Wireless and LAN networking isn’t too bad, I suppose (unless you want to make some “advanced changes” like assigning static IP addresses), but if (God have pity on your soul) you have to set up a dial-up connection and need to change a setting, have fun. I think you have to go through about 3 (very well hidden) dialog boxes just to get to the dialup configuration box you could get to in XP by right clicking the connection and clicking properties.

Another caveat (that I was extremely pissed at) was that because my graphics card sucks so much, I can’t use Aero (the fancy-effect Windows theme). And I can’t figure out how to change this color scheme from this gay almost-baby-blue.

Overall, I’d say Vista is a pretty good operating system. Good enough to upgrade from XP right now? Not likely, but if you’re getting a new computer, and it comes with Vista, then by all means, it’s a good OS to have. Wait for about the first Service Pack (apparently, it’s due for a release later this year already) to upgrade from XP if you’re not getting a new computer would be my advice. If you get it with a new computer, for free (like I did), or you just have some money burning a hole in your wallet (though if that’s the case, you can certainly send some of that moolah to me… just arrange it through the contact form on my user page :P), then go ahead and get Vista. It’s pretty good.

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