Upgraded to Windows Vista and Here’s My Thoughts
Posted on 18th June, 2007
I managed to grab an OEM copy for RM680 after shopping around at Karamunsing Complex in Kota Kinabalu.
Getting Ready For Vista
I ran the Vista Upgrade Advisor, an application that helps Windows XP users identify which edition of Vista meets their needs and whether their PCs are ready for an upgrade and I passed with flying colours.
Vista Upgrade Advisor recommended Windows Vista Business edition but I thought I could benefit from the extra features offered by Vista Ultimate so I bought that edition instead.
If your PC is less than two years old, chances are good that you can run Windows Vista. I bought mine in October 2004, so it’s just over two years old but I still manage to run Vista without much hiccups.
Here’s my PC specs
Pentium 4 3.2 GHz
1 GB of RAM (upgraded to 3 GB)
250 GB Hard drive (added an external 300 GB recently)
128MB Radeon X800SE graphic card.
Dual 17 inch LCD screen
Now if you have a PC with less than 3.0 GHz processor, I would recommend purchasing a new system altogether. One that’s equipped with a dual core processor should fit the task nicely. In the memory department, I would recommend having at least 2GB of RAM to ensure the smooth running of Vista. Your graphic card is also important if you want to experience the Windows Aero and all the eye candy Vista has to offer. In addition, you’ll need to have a DVD ROM drive in order to install Vista.
If you find your system struggling and isn’t responsive after installing Vista, check your Windows Experience Index to see what holding you back. More often than not, the problem may be attributed to your hardware inability to keep up with Vista’s resource demand.
Mine is my processor which is the main limiting factor. But with a score of 4.1, all Windows Vista features run quite well nonetheless. The highest base score you can get is 5.9. Base scores of 6.0 and higher are not defined yet.
Installation and Compatibility Issues
Installing Vista was a breeze and it actually much quicker that of XP. I was up and running in less than 30 minutes top. I did a clean install instead of upgrading my existing XP installation which I recommend everyone upgrading to Vista should do.
I heard of horror stories where people were swamp with software and hardware incompatibility problems after installing Vista on top of their existing XP installation – or even fresh installation of Vista for that matter.
Contrary to what some people may expect, nearly everything works like a charm on the first try for me. My hardware works as if they were made for Vista, however to be on the safer side and current, I downloaded the latest drivers from their manufacturer’s website later..
The only problem I encountered was when I tried plugging in a rather old digital camera and it wasn’t auto detected. Quicken 2005 was having problem running but this was fixed after I installed the latest upgrade. My favourite game, Starcraft (old game I know), was not displayed correctly when setting up a game, but the problem went away during a game play.
To be fair though, it’still too early to conclude whether all my software and hardware will work seamlessly because I haven’t installed and test everything yet. But the initial prognosis looks good and I expect fewer problems down the road.
Running Vista & My First Impression
OK my first impression after login into Vista – it’s a modern looking interface with shiny gadgets everywhere. Everything looks good in Vista, even Internet Explorer looks prettier.
I enjoy the changes that remove a lot of the little annoyances that have been plaguing previous version of Windows. The combination of thousands of little improvements, better usability, better navigation, better dialogs, better speed and so on make using Vista a much better experience.
You can switch between open applications using the new "Windows-Tab" key combination .
You can start searching just about everywhere in Vista. The Start menu equipped with a search box. As you type in the box, Vista starts showing the data that matches your search term: application names, files and even emails.
The new Start Menu with a search textbox at the bottom.
The Siderbar, running along the edge of your desktop give quick access to all sorts of mini-applications. These are what I need to give up Google Desktop Search.
Image of the new Windows Sidebar
Windows Explorer is fully revamped to make it easier to navigate your hard drive. The favourite links on the left pane is especially useful because it doesn’t change no matter where you are within Windows Explorer.
Microsoft has also introduced a nifty feature which is a clickable trail of directories a user has followed to get to the current location. So a user can get anywhere within a trail with a single click instead of several clicks to go up or down the directory tree.
Picture showing the Favorite Links on the left pane and clickable Breadcrump (trail of directories)
Performance & Stability
I was surprise things actually work faster in Windows Vista compare to in XP.
Most applications launch a few seconds faster. This is probably due to the SuperFetch feature which is introduced in Vista. It prioritises the programs you’re currently using and adapts to the way you work by tracking the programs you use frequently, at what times of day that programs are used and intelligently preloading these into memory. Good thing that I upgraded my RAM to 3GB before installing vista.
I also noticed I can start launching programs right away while Vista is still loading all the start up programs such as Norton Internet Security and so on when starting Vista. In XP I usually have to wait a minute or longer to allow everything loaded up before I could even start using Outlook or Firefox.
At some points I noticed Internet Explorer retrieving pages from the Internet at a faster speed than when in XP but I doubt Vista actually improves my overall Internet speed. In addition, I noticed IE consumes low memory footprint.
Everything isn’t perfect though, random CPU outage occurs at random intervals which freezes Vista for a few seconds. I wonder if this incident will become more frequent as I install more applications in the coming days.
In term of stability, it looks like the I/O hangs is now a thing of the past. Terminating rough processes via Windows Task Manger really kills the processes right away. Unlike in XP where it sometimes needs a few minutes to kill a process, or does not terminate at all.
When one program crashes, it does not bring down the whole system, that’s really a reality in Vista.
As far as I can tell, this is the most stable version of the Windows operating systems.
Windows Vista Security
One of XP’s biggest security problems is that it promotes everybody who wants the ability to run a vast number of programs and conduct common activities as an Administrator. As a result anybody, including a malicious program that has the admin privileges is able to wreak havoc and exploit your system.
Vista ’s User Account Control solves this problem by creating a Standard account which is not as powerful as the Admin account but it still allows the widest possible range of activity, even an Administrator runs at Standard level. A warning is displayed when elevated privilege is required. This warning dialogs can be a nuisance but you can’t have both as far as convenience and security are concern. There has to be a compromise and obviously you haven’t used Linux before.
Microsoft has made great strides in improving its security features and this change should be welcomed.
Should you upgrade?
While there are goodies to be had in Vista, if you are happy with Windows XP and it gets the job done, there’s no need to upgrade.
If you are concern whether your PC can cope with Vista’s resource demand, don’t upgrade, just buy a new PC with Vista pre-installed instead.
As a software developer, I need to test my software compatibility with Vista so upgrading is a must. While most of the new features and eye candy are bonuses for me, I appreciate the improved security and specific features that can help me become more productive.
And if you are like me who feels some trepidation about installing a completely new OS on your main computer, fret not, you can always make Vista coexist with XP like what I am doing.
Vista is installed on a separate partition in my hard disk and I am slowly migrating my data from XP to Vista. If something goes wrong, I can always go back to XP.
I’ll write a tutorial in my next post on how to make Vista coexist with your current OS.