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Playing with Windows Vista

04 Sep

I got to play with a new Windows Vista 64-bit system.
Quick first impression:
-Why is it so hard to find out my IP address? In Vista, I have to open up the Network & Sharing center, and click on the small obscure “View status” text to get the same result as right clicking on the same icon and choose properties in XP.
-The “start menu” seems to take too much space. Sure, you can now type in the program’s name in the search box ala Mac OS’ spotlight, but the point of GUI is to point & click, not type. There is an option to use the classic start menu, but it’s less pretty. I guess it just takes time to get used to.
-I wanted to enable AHCI on the BIOS. Bam, Vista gave me BSOD. WTF? Apparently it’s a well-known issue. Follow what Microsoft says to fix it. (change the BIOS setting to IDE, do the registry edit, and re-enable AHCI). And yes, Vista still use the dreaded registry.
-Settings for simple things like changing screen resolution, uninstalling programs, etc seem to be scattered all over the place. Again, takes time to get used to from XP.
-UAC is super ANNOYING! Sure, OS X has the same system, but it never pop up as often as Vista’s UAC. On the bright side, with OS X, I have to re-enter my admin name & password, while with UAC, as long as I logged in as an admin, all I need is to click the continue button. Still, it pops up too often.
-Start-up can be fast/slow. There are times when I rebooted the system, after going through the BIOS screens, the system seems stalled. No hard-drive access. At first I thought it crashed. I reset the PC, and bam, Vista yelled at me that it wasn’t shut-down properly. Another time this happened, I waited, Vista loading screen later pops up. Dunno if this is the problem with Vista or the hardware.
-During the logging-in process, the desktop + icons almost instantly showed up after I entered my password! (Although I knew Vista is still loading by watching the hard-drive access and the tray icons loading one-by-one.) Still, it’s a nice change. With XP, even on a fairly good system, sometimes it takes quite a while for Windows to show the desktop and load the icons.
-Too much eye candy. I like the transparency, but the fading-in/out is too annoying, and seems to “slow” down the UI as the fading speed is too slow. Good thing they can be disabled. Where’s the TweakUI for Vista 64?
-Flip3D? Kinda useless. OS X’s expose is much more useful.
-Windows update has its own app, no need to load IE first anymore. Yay! And Vista keeps track of the updates itself, so no more long waits for the Windows update website to figure out what updates I need, like it was in XP.

So, no wonder people are not liking Vista. It’s quite a big change in the UI. Moving from 98 to 2k to XP is easy. Most of the settings are in the same place. Not with Vista. Whether it’s for the better or not, who knows, but Windows 7 will highly likely follow the same setup as Vista, so I guess users better adjust to it.

One thing I learned from this process is about Firefox. I have Firefox on my Mac to save my login passwords. I want the newly installed Firefox on Vista to have the same info, without having me remembering/retyping all the passwords. Apparently it’s just a simple file copy of 2 files. Read it here. Don’t bother with extensions, etc that may/may not work. Just copy & paste the 2 files (key3.db & signons3.txt) and it’s good.

So, why Vista? If you buy any new windows PC, you’ll get Vista. No point in crying to get XP. No, I still use my iMac + Leopard. But there are things that are still best done on a windows machine.
1. Bittorrent. No uTorrent for Mac OS.
2. DVD ripping. DVDFab HD decrypter is a freeware for windows, and it’s awesome. No solution exist yet for Mac OS.
3. Games. Yes, I do still have some PC games that I want to play.

Now, there are different flavors of Vista. I got the 64bit ultimate, and IMO everybody should at least get the business version. Why? Remote desktop and Volume shadow copy/previous versions. Neither of those are available with Home premium and Basic. Remote desktop is very useful in any setup that have more than 1 PC networked. Volume shadow copy/previous versions is a life saver! They’re enabled by default, and doesn’t require an additional drive (unlike Leopard’s Time Machine). Only a couple hours into playing with the system, I already had to use the feature since I accidentally deleted some folders (I’m used to press shift+delete in deletin stuff in windows). IMO, MS should just make 2 versions of Vista, Ultimate as the Home version, and Business.

We’ll see how it goes. So far, I think Vista is okay. The main barrier of entry is adjusting to the new UI and control panel stuff. After that, on a well equipped system (dual core, min 2GB of RAM, dedicated video card), I think Vista will run fine, and is the obvious next step of Windows before Windows 7.

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