December 19, 2008, 12:00 PM — Now that I've gotten the networking issue under control, if not exactly fixed (I still have to disable and enable the network connection a couple of times after every reboot), let me wrap up my initial experiences with Vista. Bottom line for me: little or no improvement over XP for my use. I said when Vista arrived there was nothing in there the average user couldn't get with Windows 2000 and a handful of extra utilities, and I still believe that's the case.
The appearance of the Aero Glass interface makes Vista Vista, and it's pretty, but nothing special. I've seen multiple Linux distributions from years back that did many of the things Vista has, and we won't go into the Vista versus Leopard discussions.
I have two big problems with the interface. First, and most important, it slows Vista down. I have a new Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 processor running at 3.00GHz with 3GB of RAM, and Vista's snap and presentation lags behind XP and Ubuntu Linux, both running on old Pentium 4 boxes with 512MB and 768MB of RAM. Sure, people suggest turning Aero Glass off for a speed increase, but do you have Vista then? In name only, but it looks like XP, albeit a slower, more ornery XP.
My second problem with the Vista interface is that it's still not as flexible for customization as Ubuntu and some other Linux distributions. I can change multiple font sizes on Ubuntu for things like application font, document font, desktop font, and window title font, compared to the single DPI (Dots Per Inch) scaling I have in Vista. Didn't we have the same display font limitations back in Windows 95? Isn't a dozen years long enough for Microsoft to figure out how to adjust more font controls?
I will say the display technology from Vista does make text sharper and clearer. If I remember right, Vista incorporates some of the tricks used to make laptop screens better, and it shows.
The well-reported driver issue hasn't bitten me, although I don't know whether to thank Microsoft or HP. That's if we ignore the Microsoft problem that kills networking with a huge number or routers out in the world today, that is. Read the previous post if you want to hear that rant again.
I have installed a bit of software, and had no problems. Sun's version of OpenOffice, StarOffice 9, went on easily and works well. Google's Chrome browser works fine, Two music notation applications both run. I was forced to use GoToMeeting for a call yesterday, and Vista got it working without a problem.
HP's extra â€œgoodiesâ€ haven't impressed me particularly. What would impress me is a switch to set and either see all their stuff if I want, and the clean Vista installation otherwise. Oh well.
My next step is to virtualize this desktop and run Vista and Ubuntu together. I expect Vista to slow down using less memory, and Ubuntu to run like blazes on this new hardware. I'll let you know when I get that working.
For the record, the Ubuntu 8.04 system that I use 90 percent of the time will remain my primary workstation and operating system. Vista will replace XP as the OS for the other 10 percent of the jobs I do. Nothing in Vista makes me change my recommendation that Linux and general and Ubuntu in particular makes a great platform for the vast majority of small business users.