So, Vista’s been out for a while now – some people think it’s great (usually they are selling it), some think that it’s pants.
Now, I’m not far from the front of the queue when it comes to raving about Linux. Ubuntu was the second Linux distro that I have tried, and I’ve stuck with it quite happily. In fact, things have remained pretty good from my initial post about my first experiences with Ubuntu.
On the other hand, Windows has it’s own place in the world. If you’re a person who can afford Microsoft’s astronomical licensing costs – then Microsoft can offer you some great things too.
Unfortunately, I don’t feel that Windows Vista is one of those great things.
Slug on Mogadon
The thing that strikes me whenever I use Vista is that it is so slow. Not just slow, but slooooooow. I have to use a variety of systems, and when I need to fix somebody’s laptop that is running Vista I should be putting an afternoon aside.
This isn’t entirely Microsoft’s fault. Consumer greed, business greed and the general desire to get more for less has also led to this rocky road to Hell. Computers and notebooks are generally sold cheap. Cheap means under-spec. Even up to the end of Windows XP’s golden lifespan (I’m not saying it’s past it, by the way), computer manufacturers were selling new systems with 256MB RAM. I’m sorry, but I’ve used Windows XP enough to know that as soon as you put on Service Pack 2, some anti-virus software, maybe some anti-malware package and then decide to run a few applications – time begins to speed up around you. Either that or the computer is running slowly. You decide.
Now Vista has mammoth requirements for what is essentially a core program. The minimum amount of RAM to run Vista is 512MB. That’s what I say is minimum for XP nowadays. I recommend having more than 1GB RAM installed for a pleasant Vista experience.
The problem is, noteboook manufacturers might even stump up the extra £5 to put 1GB of RAM in – but when 256MB of RAM is then being stolen by the onboard graphics so that you can see the Aero effects, things are clearly still not right.
Vista will run well on a decent, modern computer system. The problem is that Joe Public will be sold some tat from PC World by a part-time A-level student who will bestow Vista’s Flip-3D as a major selling point. Oh, it can burn DVDs as well.
When real-life steps in, this is unsuitable for a lot of computers. Microsoft wants business to be using its latest baby, but on any existing hardware – Vista just doesn’t make the crunch.
My computer is almost 4 years old and runs Ubuntu beautifully. I have 1GB which more than meets any application requirements. In fact, this only becomes a problem when I run Windows XP in a virtual machine. Ironically, XP demands more memory running a few apps than the operating system that it is running on! And Ubuntu has a barrel more services, a 3D desktop, and (when I’m using it), about 10-15 application windows open!
So I’m dual-booting into Vista at the moment. I do this when I fancy a game of Command and Conquer Generals with my brother over the internet. I often say, “I’ll just boot into Windows – give me 15 minutes.” Usually by the end of that time Windows may have finished messing around with updates, defragging, loading unneccesary services and generally being slow (on a 2.4GHz P4 with 1GB RAM), before I feel that I can get the thing to behave and run reasonably well.
I’ve been stung enough times when Vista decides that the ideal time to start defragging my hard disk drive and running an anti-spyware scan is during the middle of a game.
When I was using the Beta versions of Vista, it was slow – but I figured that it was due to being a Beta. There was a clear effort from Redmond to meet Vista’s release date and there was a buzz. Vista naysayers were told to wait for the RTM (release to manufacturing) version. But overall, the performance wasn’t a great deal better in the RTM version.
More False Hope
Service Pack 1 was a glimmer of hope. Some performance increases and a rollup of some updates that fix what I can only describe as stupid problems that should never have been in the RTM version (such as having to Activate Windows after it has already been activated).
I thought I’d give this a try on my system. Guess what? It didn’t install. I wasn’t surprised. The update need prerequisites installed, and othr bits and bobs. I’d already had difficulty getting these installed on other computers, so I have a grave thought that it would mess up my system.
It didn’t install – but at least it didn’t wreck my system. Microsoft’s answer is to just keep trying until it works. Umm, I don’t have hours to piss away waiting for my work computer to continuously fail to install an update that takes around an hour to work out if it wants to install or now.
So, I gave up after attempt 3 or 4. I tried installing manually from the downloads. It’s not right. Vista feels inherently broken.
Time to Upgrade
So it’s time to upgrade to XP. It’s a joke I’ve seen floating around the internet for a while now, but it’s exactly how I’m feeling. I’m going to dual-boot into XP for playing games. It can run fast, and doesn’t have some of the hardware quirks that I’m still experiencing with Vista.
Over time, my disappointment with Vista has settled. It’s OK – but it’s extremely lacking in key areas. And these key areas tip the boat for me.
I’m just thankful that I run a Linux O/S as my main home operating system. I know it’s stable. I know it will behave itself most of the time. It’s still frustrating to use occasionally, but these times of frustration occur much less than when I use Vista.