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Digging in to Vista


I'm a sysadmin. My proper title is Systems Specialist. This means that I need to know about all systems, and to a degree, all major applications that we use in the School of Computing. I consider myself a Linux-guy first, a Mac-guy second, and a Windows-guy a distant third. However, it's inevitable that I shall have to support Windows and Office at work as well as at home.

This means that I need to brush up on what's new and exciting with both Windows Vista and Office 2007. I'll admit a distinct bias here: I don't want to play with these systems. I have a distinct dislike for all things Microsoft. In my opinion, in most cases their products are overly complex, designed to fence you in to an all MS-solution, and I can't stand their past and present behavior as a business. They are ruthless, predatory and in many cases liars, cheats and thieves. But here we are. I'm typing this in Word in Vista on a Saturday morning. Really, it's just for professional development.

I'm glad I got that off my chest.

The machine that I'm doing this testing on is a Lenovo ThinkPad T60. It is a 1.8GHz Core Duo machine with 1.5GB of RAM, an ATI Radeon X1300 video card and an Intel wireless and Bluetooth adaptor. It is the same machine I review here. The system typically run Linux. While it had some initial teething pains, it's a great system now.

Running Vista is another matter.

To start, drivers were quite tricky to locate, The ATI X1300 drivers must be downloaded through Lenovo, as ATI/AMD doesn't provide Radeon Mobile Windows drivers directly. Even installing the Intel NIC was something I had to do extra. Then there's the performance.

Vista runs slow on this hardware. Especially the video tricks. Especially if you don't disable the power management.

Again, I blame the ATI card/drivers here. My co-worker has a similar system with an Intel GMA950 and it seems to work well for him.

Disabling all video effects helps a bit but then you're left with a strange, almost Windows 2000-looking system that still chugs more than you'd expect.

I'm still not too far in to Vista but I don't like what I see. They've made many cosmetic changes that move to further obfuscate things. Explorer doesn't really show you paths by default, joining a wireless network actually takes more steps, one of which involves selecting if the network is a Home, Work or Public network, whatever that's supposed to mean.

Oh, and UAC. Awesome. Only Microsoft could so efficiently take a twenty+ year old good idea, break it and call it something new before filing for another bogus patent. Yes sir, after re-inventing the symlink, Microsoft re-invents the sudo command.

Finally (for the moment) there's the new DRM layer. Awesome stuff. As has been asked before: "They took five years for this?"

Okay, I feel better. Back to Linux now.