My Windows Vista experiment.

Today I got a free copy of Windows Vista Business Edition, compliments of Microsoft themselves, for my participation in their Power Together promotion awhile back. I had to sit through three half-hour webcasts on different parts of Vista and how I can use it to do this, that, and another thing much better than I ever could before and for my patience they sent me a full free copy.

Seeing as I have it I figure I may as well try it out and get used to it. I already know there will be some issues because I’ve been keeping up on them at the various tech websites I read. In all I should expect about a 17% drop in the performance of my games, assuming they don’t crash out, and some immature drivers from nVidia among many others, but the simple truth of the matter is that I need to learn Vista one way or the other because like it or not it is the future of Windows PCs and if I’m to stay in the technical support field it helps if I am up on the latest version of the OS.

There’s also the fact that at least as few of you regulars actually seem to pay attention to my tech entries and a couple of you have written in asking for my opinion on Vista. I figure this is one way to come up with a few blog entries at least as I write about my experiences with the OS. If things are so bad that I switch back to XP before very long then that in itself will say a lot. You may recall that I played around with the beta version awhile back, but I had that set up as a secondary install and I didn’t really use it the way I would if it were my primary OS. You don’t really get to know an OS until you’ve fought to do your day to day stuff on it.

So once I’m done with this entry and getting caught up on my email, I’ll be backing up my data and doing a fresh install. My PC has been in need of a restage for awhile now anyway so I may as well experiment while I’m at it. Keep tuned to find out how things go.

26 thoughts on “My Windows Vista experiment.

  1. I have serious concerns about Vista, and most of them revolve around rights issues and drm. I’m no wide scale pirate or anything, but I download a lot of tv (from usenet mostly, but also via torrents) and burn those to dvds. Sometimes converted to DVD format with menus and such, sometimes just as data discs which I play in my standalone divx player.

    Would Vista still allow me to do this? Would it effect my ability to connect to torrents or newsgroups? Will my DVD authoring programs work under Vista?

    Those are my major concerns.

  2. From what I’ve seen and read, only ultimate edition has bit locker in it, which I assume would be a cause for worry.  DRM stuff is always a hassle, but I don’t believe MS is going to require all media to be converted to DRM in order to play it on Vista (though their Ipod clone, the Zune does just that).  I’ve used Vista a work a few times (I test software and our next releases are going to be Vista ready, so…). 

    Anyway, I think I’ll stick with XP at home until I have no other choice.  I’ll eventually get enough exposure to Vista at work to feel comfortable with it.

  3. Good Luck.  I’m in a similar predicament, being a consultant to small business, I installed vista ultimate on a machine that I put together specifically for that purpose, with everything on the “vista compatible” list.  My first attempt, after loading alcohol 120% resulted in an unrecoverable BOD reboot loop.  Couldn’t get to safe mode, nothing.  Reinstall, taking a zero on the alcohol, and things worked for about 10 days, before spurious issues with ms office, most pronounce in outlook, began, worsening until I rebuilt it again, back to winXP.  I’m not entirely (or even a little bit) convinced that the “next generation of windows” is actually going to gain widespread adoption until at the very least, the introduction of service pack 1, and possibly not even then. If you’re like me, you’re going to try it anyway, but I’d still like to suggest you save yourself the frustration.
    YMMV, JMO, etc. etc.

  4. I just finished installing Vista and I have to say it’s a damned smooth install process compared to the previous versions of Windows. Once it started copying files I was able to get up and walk away for 20 minutes to eat dinner and came back to answer just three questions and then I was in the system.

    KPG, I have a few TV shows I’ve downloaded and burned in the past (e.g. Doctor Who) so I’ll be finding out pretty quick whether or not Vista interferes as the new season is about to start.

    That said I don’t think it’ll be an issue. The DRM Vista has is specifically for stuff you’re legitimately purchasing, not for stuff that’s been ripped from a DVR. I’m already listening to the vast library of MP3s I’ve ripped from my CD collection and I’ve tested a couple of the DivX files I had on my HD with the Xvid codec so playback isn’t an issue. I don’t have any burner software installed at the moment to test burning, but I’ll get there soon enough. I also installed uTorrent and tried it out and it appears to be working just fine.

    The DRM everyone is worried about is specifically for stuff you’ve purchased and is primarily concerned with High Def content (HD-DVD/Blu Ray). If you’re getting your files from newsgroups or torrent sites then chances are the DRM encoding is long gone from the files.

    TAFKA Buzz, Bitlocker isn’t Vista’s DRM system. It’s the new full drive encryption.

    Routerguy, you’re right. I’ve gotta see for myself. I agree with you that a lot of people will wait for Service Pack 1, but then the was true for Windows XP which had its own share of problems at launch.

  5. Thanks, Les. I’ll be keeping a close eye on the thread to see how things go.

    By the way, I usually avoid talking about downloading and burning shows, but since I have, I’d like to clarify something. I only download TV that is not yet available in this country (like Doctor Who) and have a standard practice that as soon as it becomes available here, I purchase the official discs. I do it like this because I’m an impatient shit and can’t wait have a year or so to see a show that I want to see.

    As someone in a creative field I just felt it was important to point out that I don’t actually condone piracy and feel the need to support the companies that provide my entertainment wherever possible.

  6. Good luck playing WoW (or any game for that matter) on Vista – drivers aren’t optimized yet still, games aren’t optimized for Vista either, and thus everything is a tad slower than it used to be smile

    That’s what I heard at least, how’s your experience?

  7. I found some good info on this page…

    Vista – Arrogance & Stupidity

    Upgrading to Windows Vista has been banned by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), technology giant Texas Instruments and other corporations and government agencies. These organizations are evaluating their options, but overseas it’s turning into a stampede to get out of Microsoft software.

  8. The Vista networking stack is a nightmare. IPv6 enabled by default, when uh, less than 1% of the Net is IPv6 enabled. Some nerve. That right there causes issues with routers and switches that aren’t IPv6 aware (apparently only the latest “pre-N” and MIMO routers have IPv6 capabilities enabled by default in their firmware, for everything else, hope that the manufacturer releases a firmware upgrade).

    I tried Vista for one week. My wife used it for two days, and told me to get rid of it and never install it ever again. It broke several of her programs (like Citrix) she needs to use for work.

    As for the DRM issue: If you play a retail DVD while also editing something via Photoshop or Illustrator (or other such program), you’ll see content degradation and the system slows down a bit because of HDCP, etc. There are fixes for this apparently in the pipeline from Adobe and MS, so I am not TOO worried about it. It was to be expected for something so new, and frankly, 7 months was not enough time for 3rd party software suppliers or MS to work around this properly (Beta 2 until RTM).

    If you are in the medical field though, avoid Vista like the plague until that issue gets sorted out, as I think the implications are obvious when it comes to medical imaging.

    I had no issues with playing DRM’d music files, nor removing the copy protection from them. As for Alcohol 120, you have to use the latest retail edition, installed only after you install the latest hardware drivers, etc for your machine.

    Tips: If you want Vista to perform faster in games, disable Aero and UAC (UAC is a false sense of security anyhow, better than their previous attempts, but still a failure, as malware can exploit UAC itself to run in Ring 0, better to have it disabled until that gets fixed as well).

    Aero takes up an ungodly amount of system resources, and it’s one of the reasons games crash out. Not very many games are out that can utilize the API that detects and allows for automatic disabling of the Aero interface when the game executable runs. Not all of these games can “see” what memory Aero has mapped for its own use, and attempt to write to the same memory space, and wham, BSOD or game crash. This is due to games and video drivers not being aware or fully aware of the API and how to properly interact with it.

    The new Windows Graphics Foundation sublayer in the OS, where the graphics drivers, Aero, HDCP (protected video path/protected audio path) DRM, etc all are supposed to live in harmony is still rather unproven, and who knows what all bugs are lying in wait.

    Oh, and one last thing: If you are going to get Vista, get Business or Ultimate. If you get Home Basic or Home Premium, you are screwing yourself royally. Neither one of those versions are allowed to be run in a VM, and they have artificially programmed limits to the amount of physical and virtual RAM they will use. Home Basic is limited to 1.5 GB physical and 1 GB virtual, Home Premium is 2 GB physical and 2 GB virtual. Even if you change the virtual amounts manually, those versions are hard-coded to only use up to the set amounts, completely ignoring your manual entries. If you install more physical RAM than the hardcoded limits call for, it will ignore anything above the hardcoded limits, pretending not to see that it actually exists.

    These limits are artificially imposed for marketing purposes. It has nothing to do with the OS actually being capable of using the larger amounts, as Vista is fully capable of handling 64+ GB of physical RAM.

    So, just trying to save fellow readers some money in the long run, and as you can get Vista OEM Business 32-Bit for $139.99 (64-bit is $149.99) on Newegg, and Vista OEM Ultimate 32-bit is $189.99 (64-bit is $199.99) on Newegg. If you look on Pricewatch, you can find them a few dollars cheaper (like $10 at the most). Unfortunately, I have yet to find the Academic version of Vista Ultimate, which would be insanely cheap (Home Premium runs $75.99 for Academic Upgrade, and as some might know, you can exploit a bug in the installer to do a full Vista install from the Upgrade discs).

    Hope some of this helps.

  9. Oh, I also forgot to mention Home Basic and Home Premium also have artificial limits programmed into them concerning how many LAN/WAN connections they can utilize (as in, how many users can log into the machine remotely to share files, folders, VPN, etc).

    I believe Home Basic is limited to 5 and Home Premium to 10 users, no limits for the other versions. And yes, that annoying “10-Half Open TCP Connection Limit” is back, only this time it’s lowered even further to 5 across all versions of Vista.

    Gee thanks MS! >.<

  10. Guido, yes I’m aware the drivers haven’t been optimized yet. I noted that I’ve read there’s around a 17% impact to gaming performance under XP with the current drivers. Can’t test WoW at the moment as my game card has expired, but I’ll get around to it eventually.

    DOF, I’ve seen Web’s postings on it and I’ve written a few of my own, but I can’t get a feel for what Vista is truly like if I don’t use it. I’ve got a legitimate copy so I’m trying it out. So far it’s not bad, but I’ve only been using it for half a day.

    The Jynxed writes…

    Tips: If you want Vista to perform faster in games, disable Aero and UAC (UAC is a false sense of security anyhow, better than their previous attempts, but still a failure, as malware can exploit UAC itself to run in Ring 0, better to have it disabled until that gets fixed as well).

    A recent article I read, and I don’t recall where, said that disabling Aero and UAC had no real impact on improving gaming performance. It was still right around a 17% drop from XP. Every step up in the OS has had an impact on older machines so this isn’t that big a surprise.

    As you point out, though, disabling Aero may help with some game crashes. I’ve not had any game crashes yet, but I’ve only just started with a single game. Civ 4 runs just fine under Vista so far, but it’s not a terribly taxing game video-wise.

    The limits on the Home versions are damned annoying.

  11. Ack, that second sentence should read: I noted that I’ve read there’s around a 17% impact to gaming performance under Vista with the current drivers as compared to XP.

  12. Oh, there is a real impact alright: no annoying UAC popups when the executable runs (or in the middle of joining a LAN/WAN game), and without Aero, all of that extra CPU time and RAM can be used by the game instead of the useless cruft that is Aero 😀

  13. Les: “I can’t get a feel for what Vista is truly like if I don’t use it.  I’ve got a legitimate copy so I’m trying it out”

    Oh yeah, absolutely.  I did the same thing as long as I could stand it.  The university has a site-license but you can hear crickets along the path where the expected stampede was supposed to be.  So far it’s mostly just geeks trying it out.

  14. Jynxed, I haven’t had any problems with UAC popups when the executable runs or during a LAN/WAN game as of yet, but if it happens I’ll let you know. I’m also not sure I’d go so far as to call Aero useless cruft. It does add something beyond just a pretty face, particularly if you have an LCD display, but it’s certainly not mandatory. Still it’s there and I’ll be leaving it on for the time being as most people probably will.

  15. I have been using Vista for about 3 months now at work and have stomached it for much longer than DOF or anyone else.  But then again I aint old and decrepit tongue wink

    As soon as I turned off the annoying security pop-ups, things got better though.  I do a lot of administrative tasks on the computer, especially when I was creating a Ghost boot cd.  I got to the point where it really felt like the MAC commercial.

    Now for as much as you will hear me talk down to M$ and Vista, there are a lot of features and things M$ did right.  The icons look nice and the start menu also is a lot better, where you click and the software comes down, rather than creating a new menu to the right.

    Some other nice features is the loading bar when you click on a network folder and the green bar moves to show you how much longer it will take to bring up.  I also like the widgets, and yes I know they were a stolen idea, but I like the remote desktop connection one, I use it all the time and it’s implementation to me is flawless.

    To me the little things are very important and M$ got those right.  But…

    There are some major mistakes.  For one, what the fuck is M$ doing with the 6 or 7 different versions of their Vista OS.  I know Americans like choices but M$ took it to the extreme.  You think Grandma and Grandpa or Average Joe know the difference between them all?

    And what about those that want Aero Glass with the Pro features.  Are you really willing to shell out, what is it $460, or somewhere close to that.  Come on, what is up with that.

    Why did I have to turn off the security system to do my day to day administrative tasks?  Or better yet, M$ do you really think Average Joe user is going to read your administrative security message after it pops up for the 20th or 30th time?  Users are going to get tired of it and either shut it off or quit reading it.  This can be devastating when the one time you need to read it you miss it.  They should have stole more from Ubuntu on this one…

    To me I just fail to see how M$ can meet their long term projections with Vista or how they can continue to make a profit with their current paradigm.  A school district in Northern California has completely moved to Linux, and Dell has started offering Linux.  Both of these items are going to hurt M$ and the negative publicity will as well.

    My thing is, if you want a secure OS that has a lot of flash and can play nearly all the games, go with MAC.  If you want a secure OS that works and don’t care about the games go with Linux, it’s free!

  16. KPG, just as a follow up, last night was the debut of season three of the new Doctor Who in England. Naturally I grabbed the bittorrent as soon as it was available and I burned a copy to DVD this morning so I could watch it on my DVD player upstairs. It worked without issue.

    That said I will admit that I didn’t create a standard DVD, but just burned the Xvid file to a data disc as my DVD player will playback Divx and Xvid files without issue, but I’ll probably be burning a standard DVD before too long as a final test.

  17. Thus denying viewer figures to which ever US network will show Dr Who, thus reducing their advertising income figures, possibly reducing their sales from the BBC.

  18. Not necessarily true, LH.

    Most of the fans I know who download the show (myself included), make a point of watching again when it airs of Sci-Fi and also buying the official releases when they come out, just for the reason you mentioned.

  19. I can’t vouch for everyone, but what KPG says is certainly true for me. I also have both seasons on my Amazon Wish List and, once I am employed in a position where I can afford to purchase them I’ll be making a point of it.

    I love the show too much not to support it as best as I can.

  20. Actually not the response I was expecting!  Far more reasonable- probably due to the fact you will both take the legal route when available.

    I must admit I posted partly to ‘tweak’ Les.  He is vociferous in his rails against denying ‘fair use’.  While I understand his points on this- why should he be denied legal access to usage he has bought- I can understand why the copyright holders are so draconian sometimes- it must piss them off all the knock-offs that constantly appear.

    KPG- how would you feel if your latest publication appeared as a pdf on the internet the day of publication?  While some owners of that pdf may well have legal right- as they had bought an original- others would not, reducing your income.

    Usage rights seem to me to me to be an anomaly in personal ownership- not because of any legal status, but because the way people view them.  The woman I sit next to at work had trouble getting her head around the fact that you are only supposed to load a program on one machine at a time, which is why we sometimes don’t have enough accesses- the department can not afford that many.  She (in common with I would imagine most people) thought you bought the program.

    The same goes with a/v stuff.  Since the invention of the audio cassette music companies have moaned at the loss of sales- in the UK they tried to get a levy put on cassettes to be paid to them to compensate the sales loss due to recording at home.

    Little known fact.  In the UK you are only supposed to retain stuff recorded from TV 28 days.  This is deemed to be long enough for you to watch it instead of the live transmission.  This is more than the TV companies wanted- they were worried about VHS sales.

  21. KPG- how would you feel if your latest publication appeared as a pdf on the internet the day of publication?  While some owners of that pdf may well have legal right- as they had bought an original- others would not, reducing your income.

    Pretty happy about it, actually. I should probably explain that. I’ve spent a lot of time talking with the people involved in scanning and posting comic books online, as well as actuall comic writers and a couple of editors. The opinion, almost across the board, is that people use the scans to try out new material that they would not have bought anyway. Often, if they find they like it, they search it out and actually purchase it.

    I just don’t think that the average person spends a lot of time reading or watching stuff they download from the net. It’s too much of a pain in the ass to do, requires a bit of technical know-how, and it’s just not a convenient form to watch or read in. Most downloaders are actual fans, and that paticular group is most likely to actually go out and buy after they’ve decided they like it.

    With the exception of the music industry, I just don’t believe internet piracy is the problem that many people think it is.

  22. Thanks Webs.  You’ve heroically thrown yourself on the grenade by testing the administrative side of Vista for those of us with less patience.

    On the copyright tangent to this thread, it amuses me that record companies think every unpaid recording represents a lost sale.  In many cases, as KPG mentioned, it represents future sales after trial.  In other cases, it is someone who wouldn’t have bought the recording in any case (and is therefore not a lost sale) but still increases the footprint and sales potential of the song, story, movie, etc. by making it more famous.

    Now that copyright is practically forever (thanks to Disney) it stands to impoverish the marketplace of ideas.  That is, I believe, contrary to the original vision.

  23. The recording industry takes the same stance as LH does, that downloading music decreases sales of CDs and such.  But the exact opposite is true.  back in 02, 03 I believe the numbers were almost double of what they were for purchased music, prior to Napster.

    What happens is people listen to something by downloading it, and if the music is hot they go out and buy it.  And this system is good, as I can state I have bought a lot of crappy CDs in the 90s.

    As far as Vista goes, M$ better hope game companies start taking advantage of DX10…

  24. In car boot sales across the UK pirated DVD’s and CD’s are sold every Sunday.  It is hard to believe that this does not represent at least some loss to the legal owner.

    Even small one man bands outside the a/v world believe they suffer- this from the ‘Peter Pig’ wargame site of excuses they have been given to justify copying their rules.

    “PDFs are free to send therefore rules should be given out free”,
    “Rule sales create figure sales, therefore rule sets should be free”

    They are not impressed. I’m sure if you told them there was no poential sale anyway they wouldn’t be that sympathetic- it just means that some tight git is poncing off their hard work.

  25. Yes, there are fuckwits out there selling illeagal copies of things out of their cars and there are people who simply download and burn with no intention of ever buying anything.

    There are also lots of people who use downloads as a means to try new things and then purchase those things that they like.

    I happen to think the later increases sales more than the former decreases sales.

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