Vista, the return.You know, I used to joke that when you installed a new operating system, it was a good reason to take a week off work. The joke is, it should be a fortnight. At any rate, with the idea of easing myself back into the swing of things after an extended Summer break, I have set aside three days to do no more than "f*ck around" in Windows Vista. I aim to master this beast. I aim to tame it.
As you may remember, the last time I played with Bill's latest version of Windows, I concluded that it was crap, and best left well alone, for now. Also, I needed time to save up for a legal copy.
Time passed …
Recently, more than one brave soul has suggested to me that the new SP11 actually makes Vista "not crap". Good, because the Vista bug reports have started to come in for my apps! Time to install. I'll likely be working around various bugs and issues, getting unsupported hardware to work, discovering useful features and tips, and more, so I'll keep some notes, here, and might even get them sensible before I hit "Publish". In an effort to retain my sanity, I'll be blogging this from a Linux rig.
First off, let me state that I like the look of Vista. All that alpha blending and shadows and stuff, love it! It seems Windows is finally catching up, visually, to where I left the Mac platform, years ago. Many say it's just eye candy, but I say to them, "Up yer arse!". How you feel about your working environment doesn't stop being important the instant you cross the LCD barrier. In your office, you don't sit on a rock, right? This is how desktop windows are supposed to look. Bringing a window to the front really should do that; the thing should jump at you. Now they do. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I want that back. it's definitely time to install Vista..
Installing Vista..The last (first) time I installed Vista, it made a real mess of things. Despite the fact that I chose one of my SATA drives for the install, for some obscure reason it decided that my archive drive (an old, but huge IDE device) should be the boot drive, and left its bootmgr files there. I could have lived with that, I guess, if it wasn't for the fact that the only way to actually boot into Vista, was to NOT boot off an optical disk! Or rather, to insert a bootable CD/DVD, and then not boot off it. Very strange, and definitely explainable if you know everything there is to know about how boot loaders work, which I don't. At any rate, it was all too crap, and in no time my spare drive quickly reverted to being my backup XP system.
This time I'm taking no chances. My fiendish plan is to leave XP on SATA1, put Vista on SATA2, and use the motherboard's built-in on-the-fly boot drive selection to dual-boot into either XP or Vista on a whim. No messing with funky dual-boot loaders or any of that nonsense, I'll let the motherboard take charge, and as far as each system is concerned, it is the ONLY system, and the other is just another dive.
I unplug all drives but SATA2 (and the DVD drive, of course), and begin the install. Somebody somewhere probably has an excellent reason why you should NEVER EVER simply unplug the SATA/IDE cables and leave the power cables in, but that's exactly what I did; I haven't met that person yet.
Of course, I realize at drive selection time that I have no Vista drivers for my Promise (FastTrak 376) RAID controller. Unlike XP, the Vista install has a proper button for loading storage drivers; none of that hitting F6 Five Hundred times, "just to be sure", and so I click that and point the installer at my floppy with XP drivers (A CD would work too, I guess). Fortunately, the XP RAID drivers work just fine, and the Vista install is quick and fairly uneventful.
Unlike XP, it doesn't expect you to just sit there, waiting to answer questions. Instead, it asks the bare minimum of information, and then gets on with the job. Very refreshing. You can actually walk away. But not for too long; the install is very quick! Without a doubt, the fastest Windows install I've ever done. In just over half hour, I am "In Vista".
The first thing Vista does is call home and and update itself. I let it do this, and take the time to have a quick look around my new system. Some of the things which made the first Vista so crap, are still there; so after the initial "essential tweaks", namely, single-click to activate things, disable preview pane, disable UAC, disable sidebar, enable menus and status bar, that sort of thing, I begin to explore2.
I see, or rather, hear, that I have no sound. And my Infra-red dongle (a Kingsun SF-620 cheapo-irda-device) hasn't installed (no surprise, there). There's also another, unknown device that, for the life of me, I can't identify, so it's probably something I don't use anyway, some not-plugged-in thing; probably some part of my soundcard (Audigy 2ZS Platinum Pro). Aside from this, all my hardware is working just fine in Vista. Great news!
I was particularly concerned about my video card; an old GeForce FX5600 (I'm not a gamer), but it certainly seems to be up to handling Vistas graphic requirements no problem. It did get the lowest score in my Vista Experience ranking thingie. But hey! I've got alpha layer transparencies and Flip 3D and all those visual goodies that make Vista so darned cute. So, no upgrade required. CoOl! More money for RAM!
Back later, for sure..
- Service Pack One - A huge bundle of fixes and improvement that generally appears a few months after the original Windows release. it's generally not wise to install anything from Microsoft until you have this.
- Oh! that's why they called it "Explorer" !