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My two weeks with Vista…

Well, a great many things have happened since I last posted and I’ve been very busy keeping the world safe for game software – so the postings have been few and far between.

This post I will detail my two-week adventure with Windows “Vista”…

Since the ‘release’ (I still call it ‘extended beta’) of Vista a few clients that we have at work have required some testing to make sure their application indeed does not work under Vista. Due to this I’ve had more than a passing encounter with the OS, but we still required someone at work to become intimately familiar with it so we could actually test with it… That person was me.

So I took home the install DVD and one of the 10 keys we have at work for Vista “Ultimate” and set about installing it. The reason for using the most expensive “Ultimate” version was to gain a familiarity with all of the available functions in Vista – and as I was volunteering to be the lab-rat, I wanted to have a reason to be the lab-rat.

I backed up everything on my home PC – a rather uber gaming system which consists of a dual-core AMD 6000+ cpu on an Nvidia nForce 590 SLI motherboard, SLI’d 8800 GTX video cards, 2 gigs of fast DDR2 ram, raided sata-II HDs, etc, etc… – and started the Vista install.

Installation of Vista was fairly straight forward and didn’t present any real issues. It had basic drivers for all of the motherboard components which made getting to the internet to get the latest drivers easier than I figured it would be.

After getting all of the drivers to the latest ‘release’ version – I don’t run beta drivers – and patching up the OS to the latest versions supplied by Microsoft, I got a chance to play around with the OS a bit…

“Aero”, the new ‘shiny’ Windows interface, is interesting but I’m undecided if the ability to see the window and desktop under the window you are working on in a hazy, frosted glass kind of way is really worth the performance hit.

Before I go any further I should qualify my opinion of a good OS – minimalist. The OS exists to run your applications, nothing more. The more the OS tries to do with fancy-pants graphics tricks, backgrounds, frames, mouse pointers, and widgets, the less CPU time is available for what you are there for, which is running some program you want to run.

So, having gotten everything running and after figuring out how to turn the handful of extraneous Aero “enhancements” off, I set about loading some games onto the machine to see how the new OS performed…

So far my experience with the OS had been ok; sure, Microsoft went and moved, renamed, or hid everything just to create reasons for people to attend classes and added a slew of new “wizards” which really turn me off (see the minimalist OS comment above). But overall it was a fairly good attempt at copying Apple’s OSX.

And this is where things took a turn down a dark alley.

I sat down and started re-loading ‘World of Warcraft’, a popular MMO that I play when time permits, and the OS started popping up all sorts dialogs asking for permission to do just about anything. This annoying tendency to interrupt anything you’re doing with a dialog got real old, real fast, but I soldiered on and got the game installed…

Too bad Vista wouldn’t allow the game to update or actually run.

So I stopped there and attempted to install a few other games with various levels of success before going back to WoW and fighting enough to make it run.

Ultimately I did get WoW to run under Vista, but it was about 10fps slower on average than XP sp2. In addition, with Vista consuming almost twice the memory at idle than XP sp2 there was less ram for my applications, which slowed them down even more.

So, I got my gaming addiction running but none of my gaming tools would work under Vista… My Razor Deathadder mouse, my Belkin Nostromo, even my Logitech G15 keyboard had issues with Vista and either didn’t work outright or were buggy enough that not working would have been preferable.

Software that didn’t work right included Nero which I used to burn cds and dvds, WinRAR which is how I open all of my backed up or archived files, VLC which I use for watching movies, and even iTunes had issues under Vista… This left me with Windows Media Player 11 for music and movies but even it was buggy under Vista and either the sound for music was bad or the computer would reboot when I tried to play a divx video.

So I put up with this for about two weeks before loosing my cool one night and simply just formatting the machine and re-loading XP… Two hours later and all was well with the world once again, sunlight streamed through the clouds and the birds began to sing.

And that was my two weeks with Vista…