Windows Vista Revisit

As you may have already read, I’m in need of a new computer and have had some difficulty with Windows Vista. Unfortunately, it’s pretty hard to buy a computer pre-loaded with XP anymore, and my lagging computer issues still have not changed. This post is fueled by the purchase of a new computer, pre-loaded with Windows Vista and is going to be an informal analysis of the problems (and solutions) that have come up.

4/22/07 A quick update for anyone who’s interested. I returned this machine to Best Buy after working with it all weekend. I just couldn’t justify spending $800 on a machine that runs slower than the one I’m on now, and makes more than half of my peripherals obsolete. Instead, I opted to upgrade the graphics card in my existing computer to one with 512mb of ram rather than 64. This basically solved all of my problems, and I’m pleased as punch!

The hardware

The new computer is an HP.

HP Pavilion PC Model a6030n
Prod ID#RX88/7AA-ABA
Windows Vista Home Premium OEM

Purchased for $799.99 plus $60.80 in tax from Best Buy on 04/19/07

From the Computer: Properties Menu
Rating: 3.0 (Windows Experience Index)
Processor: AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 4800+ 2.5Ghz
Memory (RAM): 1918 MB
System Type: 32-bit Operating System

This system comes with a 320 gigabyte hard drive.

Email issues

I’m going to break out software issues in a category below, but email is so vital a communication tool for me that I wanted to address it separately.

If you don’t know already, Microsoft has replaced Outlook Express with a new email client name Microsoft Mail. The ease of use and simplicity that separated Microsoft Express from Microsoft Outlook are now gone. Microsoft has taken it’s most popular email program and merged it with its most unpopular one, creating one that is awkward, sluggish, and pushy. I screwed around with it for about four hours before I started looking for an alternative email program.

The result of my search has left me thrilled and giddy. I’ve now officially switched my main email client to Mozilla Thunderbird and I couldn’t be happier. It provides all of the ease of use that Outlook Express had to offer with additional options and features for the core components. Things like fine-tunable spam filtering, account separation, message flagging, easy to use find features and more.

I’m extremely disappointed with Microsoft’s attempt to rule the email world by programming an application that refuses to play nicely with others. I’m reminded of Princess Leia’s quote from Star Wars “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”

Software Issues

Some of my legacy Windows XP Software applications that are giving me problems (as of the time of this post) are:

  • World of Warcraft – Running, but not up to standard.
  • Adobe Distiller Version 5.0 – Agreed, it’s pretty outdated but was working fine before the “upgrade.” I’ve heard rumor that Vista will not support any kind of .pdf printing and I’m anxious to verify this.
  • Power Chute Personal Edition v1.3.1 from APC – This is the reporting software produced by APC for my uninterruptible power suppy. The hardware still works, but no nifty reporting gadget. I have not checked with APC for a Vista version.
  • ScanSnap Manager v3.1, ScanSnap Organizer v1.0, and Cardminder v2.0 – These all came bundled with my Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner (a high speed document scanner used in my paperless office). Although the drivers installed properly, the software isn’t functioning and without it the scanner is $400 worth of useless.

    According to Fujitsu, there’s an update scheduled for June 2007, but none available now. For those interested, my Fujitsu ScanSnap model number is fi-5110E0X2.

  • SpamBully, an inexpensive and highly effective add-on to Outlook Express (I wrote a very positive review about this product earlier this year).

    Although SpamBully has released a Vista version of their product for Microsoft Mail, I couldn’t get it to work.

Stuff that worked

It hasn’t been all bad, so here are some of the things I’ve got working and working well:

  • Adobe Photoshop CS2
  • My Dymo LabelWrtiter Turbo 330 with original software
  • Adobe Reader 8.0
  • My copy of Microsoft Office XP
  • Mozilla Thunderbird
  • Trillian, my IM client
  • FeedReader, my RSS feed program
  • HTML-kit, my HTML editor
  • Ventrilo, a VOIP client I use for World of Warcraft
  • Putty, my SSH client
  • Google toolbar

My impressions

Windows Vista still isn’t ready for the mainstream. Avoid an upgrade until they’ve released at least the first major service pack.

As an operating system it’s got a lot of nice features, but these are far overshadowed by the Microsoft mentality that “there can be only one.” I bought a new system because my programs were running slowly and I have not resolved this issue as thoroughly as I would have liked.

I’m looking forward to the first real consumer ready operating system from Google or Mozilla. They’ve done such fantastic work with Firefox and Thunderbird that I’d like to see them succeed there as well. I don’t think we’re that far away.

How I’ll approach this in the future

One thing I noticed from this whole ordeal is that the programs that suffered the least were my web applications. I’m currently using Google Calendar for my scheduling as well as an online address book I built myself. I’m not a fan of being over-reliant on web services, but I don’t mind them if I own them myself.

I’ll be looking for more operating system features I can convert to web based utilities in the future.

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