Okay, so I got myself an early Christmas present in an HP Pavilion m9400t desktop, which came with 4Gb of RAM (expandable to 8Gb), a 2.66GHz quadcore processor, a roomy (for me) hard drive, a TV tuner with an IR sensor built into the front of the case, a 15 in 1 digital media card reader, and yes, 64 bit Windows Vista. The computer I had been using was over five years old and, from a usage standpoint, my needs had grown beyond its capabilities. I needed something that could handle multimedia better (and be a TiVo replacement), and since the old computer ran XP Home, and not Media Center Edition, I had to make a change.
Unfortunately, historically, change hasn’t been easy for me. I tend to be very set in my ways, and I resisted the change to XP for years! I just didn’t like what I called the “Fisher Price” interface. Susan even had it on her computer, and I only used it when I had to. It wasn’t until I was forced to adopt it when I got a new desktop for my office two years ago that I finally decided to install it on my old Windows 2000 desktop (with a RAM upgrade, of course). I was soon asking myself, where has this been all my life, and regretting having waited so long to change.
For this reason, I decided that, with Vista, I would jump in with both feet. So far, I am pleased that I did. Although changes in the interface are one thing I have been most resistent to, I love the way Vista looks. The colors and effects are way cool, and the Taskbar looks much better than XP (so not Fisher Price). I also like the way that Vista organizes user files. One thing that annoyed me about XP was that it had an overall “My Documents” folder under which was “My Pictures,” “My Music,” and “My Videos.” These are not documents, and there was no separate folder for those (“Let it go, OCD Boy,” I hear you say, but it mattered to me). Vista has an overall master folder with your user name on it with subfolders for photos, music, documents, downloads, even saved games! Much better!
The way the Start Menu lists programs is better too, as you are not navigating through lots of submenus to find what you want. I do miss the “Filmstrip” view in Explorer for looking at my pictures, but a good photo viewer with that feature can take care of that. I suppose we can’t expect the OS to do everything. As to the UAC security feature, I just do not understand what all the fuss is about. You are required to click on a button to confirm an action that might harm your computer if you do not know what you are doing (or are malware up to nefarious activities). This is nothing compared to Ubuntu Linux, which requires you to type in a password. One thing that I do agree with Vista critics on is that there is not nearly as much innovation in Vista over XP to justify its development time. Vista is cool, but it took Microsoft six years to come up with this? You have got to be kidding!
As for the problems it has had, Vista has been out for almost two years now, and has resolved most of the driver issues. In fact, it told me for more than one device that I was trying to install an old driver and directed me to the proper subpage of the manufacturer’s web site to download an updated one (and one for a 64 bit OS, so I had to be even more particular). Another issue is that, although people acknowledge that Microsoft sells bloatware that requires more and more computer resources, some insist on trying to install it on hardware that can’t handle it. From what I have read (and from my personal experience so far) Vista works just fine if you have: at least 2 Gb of system RAM, a dedicated video board with at least 256Mb of RAM, and at least a dual core CPU. I would recommend getting the 64 bit version of the OS for three reasons: 1) it is forward looking in technology, so your system will last longer; 2) it allows you to address more than 3 Gb of RAM, so you can add more later and your system will last longer; and 3) there is no price differential. Just be careful what drivers you install. They must be for 64 bit Vista. As for the publicized lack of adoption of Vista, and the cries for Microsoft to keep supporting XP, people forget that XP went through the same thing when it came out in 2001. Businesses also have traditionally taken a long time to upgrade: it wasn’t that long ago that I was in my local bank and saw that they were still running Windows 98SE! I guess I’m not the only one resistent to change.
So far, Vista only has a small foothold in our household. My wife’s desktop and my laptop still run XP (as does my office machine) and my old laptop, and an old desktop, run Linux. However, I must say that I am glad I was not resistent to change this time around, and jumped in with both feet on Vista. The only problem is, Windows 7 will probably be out before I am ready to upgrade any of our other machines! Oh well!