I finally received a legit copy of Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate last weekend from a Microsoft employee whom I shall refer to by first name only (Mike). At first, I wasn’t sure if it would even install properly as my hardware is 5 years old and the Vista Upgrade Advisor constantly crashed on my XP machine (Athlon XP 2000+, 1.25GB, Radeon 9600).
As soon as I put in the disc, there was very little hassle and user input required. I proceeded to install the Belkin Wi-Fi USB adapter. That worked using the XP drivers CD that I had lying around. When I took a look at the Device Manager, there were several missing device drivers. My motherboard uses the older NVidia nForce2 technology which enables RAID support and Firewire, A quick look at the Nvidia support site, and there is no Vista support for their nForce2 drivers. That sucked, but I don’t use RAID and Firewire anyway, so it was no big loss. The big glaring issue was no Vista driver support for my Creative SoundBlaster Live card! I had to search for a hack-around that someone posted to a forum in order to fool the Creative XP drivers to install into Vista. Luckily, that worked and I was able to get sound coming out again. The other big issue was that my previous year Symantec Antivirus would no longer work. Symantec’s solution is to get customers to shell out for their 2007 edition. I found that to be a load of crap! So, I ditched Symantec and went with Grisoft’s AVG Free Edition. That worked with no problems. The next thing I wanted to get working was the ActiveSync for my Dell Axim. I had heard that Vista included a new application that replaces ActiveSync called Windows Mobile Device Center (WMDC). After plugging in my Dell Axim, I expected Vista to automatically launch this new app. However, the only thing it did was install the device drivers and that’s all. I searched for the app using the Vista Search, but no matches were found. I was getting frustrated now, but after searching online, I found out that you have to go to Windows Update to get the WDMC installed. I didn’t understand why it wasn’t just included in the install media.
After all that work, I finally have a decent Vista setup. There are still many apps that aren’t compatible with Vista, i.e. iTunes, PeerGuardian, etc, However, that’s to be expected. My overall impression is that Vista is much prettier than XP. It does take longer to bootup, and graphics playback seems to lag slightly behind. My experience index was a 3.0 out of 5.9. A more modern graphics card will probably help, but I am guessing that a CPU transplant would be more in order. The biggest con is the hefty price tag, and I would imagine the only reasonable way to get Vista is to get it preinstalled with a new PC. Verdict – I give Vista a 3 out of 5.9. Same as my experience index.