How’s the view from Vista?

February 8, 2007 at 10:42 pm Leave a comment

Windows Vista BusinessOr maybe that should be ‘How’s the view of Vista?’  Either way, you can read some reviews and first-looks gathered together for you here.

I decided to install Vista on my laptop, doing an upgrade to Windows Media Center 2005. The laptop in question is a Gateway MX3414 (AMD Turion x64 2, 1 GB RAM, 100 GB HDD) that I picked up last August for a project. It wasn’t intended to run Vista, but I thought I’d see how it did.

I normally do bare metal installs of operating systems but much has been written about Vista’s mad upgrade skillz so I thought I’d give it a try.

Just a note here, you’ve probably read a lot about Vista shipping on a DVD instead of a CD. Most people assume (or have been told) that’s because the code base for Vista is big and bloated and poorly made. Uh, not so.

The Vista DVD is a file-based image of Vista that gets copied and then extracted to your PC. How is that cool, you ask? A couple of ways. One, it means that you can install Vista on your PC without overwriting everything else on it since it’s part of the file system instead of a new one. Two, it’s hardware independent. Taken together, this means that – in a corporate environment, say – you can inject your company-specific apps and settings to the Vista image, run Sysprep and then deploy the image to whatever hardware you’ve got running; Dell, Compaq, homebrew, whatever. The HAL limitation for images is gone. Yay!

OK, back to me. I booted the laptop and backed up any important data to an external drive and put the Vista DVD in the drive. I chose upgrade and selected Vista Business because I need to join various domains in my travels and I don’t really need Media Center for the laptop (two of the differentiating features among the Vista versions.) I also felt Vista Ultimate was overkill for the laptop.

It turns out you can’t upgrade from XP Media Center to Vista Business. The upgrade recommendations were Vista Home (Media Center but no domains) or Vista Ultimate (Media Center plus domains, and BitLocker encryption) so I chose a new install of Vista Business. The install went Interneting for drivers and updates and whatnot and then installed itself. Pretty painless. After the final reboot, I check Device Mangler (my name for Device Manager) and found not one warning icon , which is a nice change from installing XP on new hardware.

How about all that pretty eye candy Vista comes with? Well, the Gateway uses an on-board NVIDIA™ GeForce™ Go 6100 video card with shared memory, so I wasn’t expecting too much Aero and sure enough I didn’t get any (it shows 64MB dedicated with up to 128MB shared RAM.)

But I think overall it still looks great.

Yes, that’s the Google Desktop instead of the Vista Sidebar, and yes that’s one of my own pictures as the background.

Oh, and remember when I tried to load Ubuntu on this same laptop? Generic video, no wireless card, no sound card? I guess you need older hardware (that has a chance of having Linux drivers) to get Linux working. Vista gets along just fine with this laptop.

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Entry filed under: Hardware, Software, Tech Adventures.

How many of what? A conspiracy of maroons

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