My Windows Vista Experience

I installed Windows Vista and Office 2007 last week. If you’re also eager to try out a next gen OS, my experience might be useful:

Office 2007 looks great. The new Ribbon UI is very intuitive. My favorite new features were the PDF export and Outlook’s ability to auto-magically configure your mail based on your email address and password.

My Vista experience wasn’t so smooth. When I installed Vista Ultimate x64, I ran into a major issue: it requires all the drivers to be signed. The only reason I want to use the 64 bit version is that 32 bit XP and Vista fail to recognize that I have 3GB of RAM, not 2. Unfortunately, I use lots of home-brew/open source applications that aren’t signed, such as SpeedFan and TrueCrypt, which are not even eligible for the $500/year commercial software certificate.

This effectively locks out a lot of non-commercial software that works with hardware. Vista does provide a very inconvenient workaround – you can press F8 at boot every time to disable signed driver checking. After I installed SpeedFan, I have to do this every time, since Vista will not even boot, and helpfully suggests that I reinstall Windows.
Now, I understand that there are legitimate reasons for requiring drivers to be signed, but I wish that Microsoft would have left that choice up to me. Much as I love Microsoft products, I have to wonder whether some executive is gleeful at having banned all those nasty open-source projects.

The other two issues I had were with my sound card and mouse. Neither of my 5.1 surround cards supports anything other than stereo, and only one of them has a signed 64-bit driver. The other issue is apparently a common bug with Microsoft Wireless mice – the default driver disables the power management. A driver update fixed it – though I don’t know how the average user is expected to figure that out. I also noticed that my hard drive is grinding away nearly 24/7. I have no idea what it’s doing – I suspect Windows is indexing some file or other, though Google Desktop never made so much noise.

Anyway, the OS looks great, and I especially like flip 3D view (Press Win+Tab). There’s much more to be said, but you can read about it from someone who’s more obsessed than me.

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