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Monday, June 11, 2007

Windows Vista

I have had the absolutely glorious fun of installing Vista this weekend. Long weekend, not having to work Monday, combined with PC having unexplained startup failures etc hardened my resolve to try Vista. I'm still unsure if it was a wise move or not, but at least I am (much) better acquainted with the beast.

Short summary
If you are a light to medium user of a PC using internet, email, office applications and the odd windows game - eg solitaire, then go for it. Get someone else to install Vista for you. You will love the rich easy to use interface, the classy graphics and the ease of use.

If you are a medium to heavy user, have specific applications you need to run, want to install scanners, printers, cameras, gaming devices etc then please read the following carefully "DO NOT INSTALL VISTA on a critically needed machine, on your only machine, if you do not have 2-3 days to waste fixing /researching problems drivers etc or do not have broadband"

Starting with the install, heres a list of some of the problems I have had so far.

Install
I have a mirrored raid drive for a system drive and 3 500Gb other drives. Vista was good enough to pick up the Raid drive and would have installed on it if I hadn't selected the option to change things. When I wanted to back out I couldn't and had to end up exiting the install. On restarting the install the array had broken, and I had to rebuild the raid array. Vista did however find the drive an after a short (presumably quick NTFS) format (there are no options) It installed.

Connecting to the domain
Most users wont have this problem unless they are running a server with a domain for user authentication and logon. I had made the first user on Vista Admin. When I connected to the domain it created a user account for me using my user name, Tim. After I installed Office I tried connecting Outlook. However my previous use of Outlook had been in a user folder called Tim.Jethro (user_name.domain_name) Outlook refused to start. renaming the folder didn't help. After several tries at removing and re adding users I ended up reinstalling Vista and setting the first user as Tim (on the local machine domain). When I connected to the server domain it successfully created a Tim.Jethro folder in the users folder (to distinguish from the local user Tim folder). Installed Office and Outlook worked! Along the way I discovered that when installed, the Administrator account (system admin account for the local machine) is created with no password and then disabled by default. I have gone back and enabled it and then set a password. Note the only way to do this is to log in with your first user account, go to the advanced users tab and edit the Administrator account and uncheck the Account is disabled box) Then you have to log in with the Administrator account (no password) then click CTRL-ALT-DELETE and change the password.

Installing Drivers
I spent a lot of time researching and downloading drivers for my hardware and peripherals. Lots of time!
My canon scanner installed fine but refuses to find a TWAIN source to scan from. I have yet to resolve this one.
Check my Delicious tags for Vista and Drivers

Installing Applications
Lots wouldn't work at all. Some had compatibility issues. Some were outright difficult. Installed ok, then buggy when running. Some refused to recognise the options set in my user account from the previous install on Windows XP.
I found this Vista Application Compatibility page helpful.
Virtual CD / DVD software refuses to work or even install in some cases. That means I have to get the original cds from bookcases, cd folders or system boxes etc, instead of from the ISO archive I have on a file server on my network. Frustrating.

Using Vista
I have two 22" widescreen monitors. I have different applications on different screens for productivity reasons. I liked XP's ability to remember where an application opened last and its size (maximised or not) I have yet to find this feature in Vista.
Generally using Vista is ok once you get used to the new interface of explorer. There are some nice features and the graphics are pretty sweet.

Recommendations
I am not going to be installing Vista on any other PCs in the near future. I will be waiting until I have at least 12 hours free time - a luxury for me! (Doug take note!)
I will always keep an XP box available with the applications I need on it available - even after I get around to converting all my users PC's over (one day).

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