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Moving to Vista as my primary operating system


When I originally built my computer, I chose to put 2 operating systems on it, on seperate hard drives: Windows XP Professional, and Windows Vista x64 Ultimate.  The idea behind this was to stick with what I knew best in XP, but at the same time to learn Vista. Also, for my gaming needs I kept with XP, due to fears about the audio system in Vista and Creative Lab’s drivers fiasco. I booted into Vista now and then, played around a bit, then went back to XP.

After SP1 for Vista came out, I applied it, and began to spend more time in the system. When Unreal Tournament 3 kept crashing under XP, I tried it under Vista, and to my suprise it ran better. I later learnt that it was more of an issue with UT3, but I was left impressed. While I didn’t pound the system with daily use, whenever I did go in, Vista booted faster than XP, and always felt more responsive, especially after the indexing of the hard drive was done. I hardly noticed that part I have to admit.

When I needed to use virtual machines for some software studies, I initially used XP, but got fed up pretty quick. XP can’t use all of my 4GB of ram, which could have been at least 1 extra virtual machine. Added to the fact that I couldn’t install 64 bit OS with the tools I was using, and my mind was made up. I moved into Vista and did my tests there. Despite being put under enormous strain with that, it always remained stable and responsive. It was at that time that I began to have ideas of maybe moving over to Vista as my primary OS.

Time prevented me from doing so, but in the last 2 weeks I finally made the plunge. Almost every piece of software I need and use has worked right out the box, with only one major exception. I moved my mail in Outlook over, along with all my documents and music etc. All my hardware is supported bar my Canon EOS350D camera, but I can live with that by using some other method to retreive my photos off the memory card.

One interesting thing I’ve found is that software written for Vista runs very well. Older 32bit software also works well, and if they were properly coded, they don’t raise the “dreaded” UAC prompt. I am a network administrator, so by definition a power user, but I left UAC on, where most people have turned it off. Initially it was a pain, but now it rarely pops up. When it does, it gets my attention and makes me think on what it’s asking for. That alone goes a long way to stop stupid software installing silently in the background, or malware from sneaking in. While it’s not a perfect security blanket, I think it actually makes a lot of sense.

In the past, every Windows account was basically an administrator, which unfortunatley left the door wide open to all sorts of problems. UAC in Vista tightens this down, so that even if you are an admin user, you must still approve certain things. One Microsoft employee stated in an interview that UAC was meant to bug people by design, and it was actually a way to get big software companies to finally pull their code in order. For many years, Microsoft has been begging coders to write code that fit into its best practice security model, but most of them didn’t bother. This again helped grow that cycle of needing admin rights, and left the door open for malware and other bugs. Now, if code isn’t well designed, it triggers UAC, which in turn forces coders to finally step into line.

Getting back on topic, I’ve been running Vista now almost fully for 2 weeks, and I’m happy. I’ll keep my XP drive around still due to some games installed on there that use EAX for sound effects, as well as the whole Steam platform which was a huge mission to get going. People have spoken of Windows 7 as the be all and end all, but I’m happy with Vista. I haven’t really bothered to test Windows 7 out, and I’m probably one of the few that won’t jump ship to it when it comes out. Vista got a bad knock from bloggers and others when it came out, which really caused a ripple effect. People who never used Vista hated it, and were going on about XP as if it was the best ever. It was an almost carbon copy reaction to that of when XP overtook Windows 98, but this time it was far bigger. It really was unfair, as Vista is actually quite a superb system. While I think it was way too confusing with the number of editions, the product itself is solid.

If anyone out there reads this and has feelings over the subject for or against Vista, please feel free to leave it in the comments to this post. I like to hear what others have to say.

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  1. Jason
    April 6, 2009 at 06:49

    I like Vista too. I’m running Vista 64-bit and it works fine for me, but only because my laptop is sufficiently powerful to run it. For this reason I wouldn’t necessarily recommended it on a system I didn’t believe could use it satisfactorily. My mum’s laptop is a cheap Acer which came with 512 MB and Vista Basic pre-installed. Her needs are very simple, just web browsing and email, but due to the specs it delivered crap performance, so I blew Vista away and replaced it with XP, and it was much nicer.

    Unfortunately I think Vista got a bad rap, and it’s hard sometimes to separate the genuine complaints from the irrational bashing we see so often.

    Ultimately, Vista isn’t really that exciting. It’s good but not great, and not worth a reason for upgrading really. To be honest I was kinda hoping Linux would break out somewhat due to people’s dislike for Vista, but evidently that hasn’t happened yet.

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