Charles Engelke's Blog

November 2, 2007

Vista, again

Filed under: Vista — Charles Engelke @ 6:48 pm

Earlier this year, I gave Vista a try. After less than two weeks, I gave up in frustration and went back to Windows XP. So why, when I bought my own new ThinkPad six weeks ago, did I order it with Vista Ultimate? Well, I wanted to give it another chance. And I wanted some of the features it has. And it’s certainly worked out much better this time. It’s taken me six weeks instead of only two to give up on it and go back to XP!

Actually, I haven’t yet totally given up on Vista. I’ve bought a new hard drive to put Windows XP on, and I may move back to the Vista disk after Microsoft finally releases a service pack for it. But I’m not very hopeful. Vista doesn’t really offer much in the way of useful new functionality, and it takes too much away in performance and stability. I’ve probably had to reboot my PC at least once a day, and each reboot takes forever. In fact, pretty much everything I do in Vista takes forever.

In a nutshell, here are the pluses and minuses of this trial of Vista:

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March 4, 2007

Dumping Vista

Filed under: Vista — Charles Engelke @ 9:21 pm

After less than two weeks, I’m dumping Vista. I’ll migrate back to XP next week, when I’m next in the office and can borrow a second laptop for a few days to make the switch.

Why am I doing this? Well, I spent an average of four hours per day trying to get my PC to do what I needed to do with it, sometimes without success. The last straw was Thursday, when I was supposed to give an internal demo, and Vista problems made it impossible. I can’t afford to spend so much time dealing with Vista, and I can’t afford to have my PC fail at so many essential tasks.

I’d made the change so that I could learn more about Vista. I expected some glitches, but nothing I couldn’t handle. And moving to Vista seemed inevitable. Sooner or later, our customers will move, and we’ll need to stay consistent with them.

I now wonder if moving to Vista really is inevitable. It is so seriously and fundamentally broken that it may actually fail in the marketplace. The core of the operating system is probably fine, but there is so much complexity layered on top of it for a variety of reasons that it is a constant battle to use it. And those extra layers, mostly put on to add security to a foundation that lacks it, are responsible for making lots of existing software that should work fine in Vista fail.

I’ll put up a few more posts about my experiences with Vista, which may help me if I ever again try to use it (which won’t be until Microsoft has issued a major service pack, at the earliest). And I’ll talk about the things I’ll miss when I leave Vista for XP.

February 28, 2007

Using Vista – The Early Days

Filed under: Vista — Charles Engelke @ 7:15 pm

It’s been a week since I first posted about moving to Vista, and I said I’d put up a detailed post about the experience. One reason I haven’t done that yet is due to the experience. I’ve been battling a lot of issues with Vista. They’re not all Vista’s fault (some of them are due to other software issues that are being manifested because of Vista, and some of them are just changes from XP, not errors), but they’ve been real time-eaters.

I think I’m just about fed up with Vista. There are a lot of nice new things in Vista, and I’m going to have to use Vista sooner or later, anyway, so I had come into this with a positive attitude. But Vista is wearing me down.

So, in this post, mundane issues I encountered on day one. Further days to follow, if I have any time to post in between overcoming problems created by Vista.

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February 22, 2007

First impressions of Vista

Filed under: Vista — Charles Engelke @ 12:38 pm

I’m settled in to the new PC now, and will bit by bit post my notes on how it went. In a nutshell, instead of taking an evening to migrate, it took two evenings and a full day in between. But it’s not all Vista’s fault. I also changed e-mail programs and upgraded to a major new version of the Apache web server. It’s only about 90% Vista’s fault.

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February 21, 2007

ThinkPad/Vista “bug”

Filed under: Vista — Charles Engelke @ 12:32 pm

I am migrating to a new PC (a ThinkPad T60p) and a new operating system (Windows Vista). I completely wipe and reinstall everything on my PC about twice a year, anyway, and I’ve got it going pretty smoothly. But this time, it’s taken days for me to get the new PC working well enough for me to switch to it.

I’ll be writing about the issues I’ve faced in the next several days, but I had to post about the one I just had. On my new PC, Microsoft Outlook 2003 couldn’t save the calendar as a web page. I tried saving it to my network drive for others to see, and Outlook crashed.

It turned out that I had turned network discovery off. Once I turned that back on, though, it still wasn’t saving the calendar, though it wasn’t crashing any more. Instead, when I clicked to save the calendar, nothing happened. The dialog box just closed.

I tried lots of fixes. Saving to a local file. Saving only one month (maybe the DST date switch was causing problems). I’d started searching Google for answers, with little luck.

And then I noticed something. The new calendar was showing in the web page, where I’d saved it. Yes, once the network discovery was turned back on, Outlook started saving it properly immediately. I’d been trying to fix something that wasn’t broken.

Why? Well, I was primed to see a bug after the first crash. And then, when the Save dialog box finished immediately, I knew it wasn’t working. I’ve been saving my calendar from Outlook 2003 for years, and I know what should happen. When I click Save, a progress dialog box pops up and shows me how quickly it’s saving the web page. This takes about a full minute. When the Save finished instantaneously this time, I knew it was broken.

Or I thought it was broken. It just turns out this new PC saved the calendar blazingly faster than my older PC (which was a pretty decent ThinkPad T43). I don’t know whether it’s all the PC, or all Vista, or some combination, but there is certainly an enormous speed up in some areas.

Saving a minute here and a minute there will eventually make up for the extra 20 hours or so it took me to get all my software working on this new platform. Sure it will.

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