Tag Archives: Hardware

Switching from XP to Vista to XP to…?

I was getting ready to post a follow-up on my switch from Vista, but it turned into my next article for CPU Magazine (sorry, you’ll have to wait for it to hit newsstands in a few months). Suffice it to say, it seems I really struck chords and nerves the other day.

I’m uneasy, in the sense that Christopher Null’s proposal to re-release Windows XP sounds a helluva lot better to me than waiting two more years for another version of Windows (which is likely to be a radical departure from everything we’ve come to know and understand in Windows itself). So, my plans are:

  • Keep Vista running on my laptop. Since I don’t rely on that machine for workaday taks, using XP isn’t necessary. However, I’ve already had to reinstall Vista once on that machine (due to a faulty Windows Update execution) – and I’m looking at having to reinstall Windows Vista yet again because something in the system is causing it to run substantially slower than it should – and I think it’s related to the hard drive.
  • Start using XP on my primary workstation desktop, while keeping Vista 32 and 64 installed and ready on separate system partitions. I’ll have to do this relatively soon, I fear. Microsoft’s IntelliPoint software keeps crashing and the scroll wheel doesn’t work properly in Google Earth, Sound Forge, etc.
  • Wait another year before trying Windows Vista again – and until/unless XP starts to get in my way, I’m still going to approach Vista SP1 with extreme caution.
  • Wait another two years (2009) for Microsoft to show me what Vista should have been in the first palce.
  • After Leopard is released, think about finding a sponsor to do a 30-day “Switch” documentary, running Windows in Parallels / Boot Camp, etc. Crazy idea.

FWIW, I still freakin’ LOVE Microsoft – nothing could tear me away from the Xbox 360, I can’t live without my Wireless Laser Mouse 8000, I can’t wait for my Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 to arrive, I think they’re more transparent than most tech companies on the planet (especially the way they’ve embraced blogging), I love their Research Labs, I love many of the people who work there, I love wearing my Windows Vista ballcap, I love that WIndows generally does what I need it to do faster than I’ve seen it done on OS X, I love that Windows has the ability to handle a near-infinite variety of hardware, I love my Smartphone…

…but I still can’t say that I love Vista.

Where Windows Pundits Went Wrong

I’m really starting to get pissed off with the distributed lynch mob that’s forming around my recent decision to drop VIsta for XP. Now, the saddest part of this is – I’m not pissed off at the people telling me to switch to OS X, I’m really pissed off at the people who are blaming me for Vista’s shortcomings. Witness Ed Bott’s jabs:

It’s vintage agitprop from Chris…

Hey, Ed? How much money did you make from your book, “Windows Vista Inside Out?” No, seriously – let’s talk about full disclosure here. If you honestly believe that I’m the only Windows enthusiast who thinks the way I do, think again. Moreover, since going public with my decision and reasoning, I’ve received at least THREE separate emails from WIndows community leaders who have also decided to work regularly inside XP (in some capacity) rather than stick it out with Vista.

Despite the glitches (and yes, I’ve had a few), my productivity is up, way up, thanks to Vista and Office 2007. On balance, I prefer Vista over XP. I do, however, have an XP system running in one corner of my office because the drivers and supporting software for my Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner won’t be ready until April.

Good for you, Ed. I’m happy you’re content with running A SECOND SYSTEM IN ANOTHER AREA OF YOUR OFFICE TO DO WHAT YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO ON YOUR PRIMARY SYSTEM!!! You’ve proven my point, Ed – “agitprop” or not. Let’s turn our attention now to Dwight’s perspective:

If he were to take a moment and look back, chances are he’d find he was jumping through the same hoops 5 years ago, when he was working with the initial release of Windows XP.

Bullsh*t. If XP had acted this way in the beginning, I would have moved back to 2000 in a heartbeat. That didn’t happen, however – as I was able to get all of my hardware and software to work well inside of XP. I’ve already come out and said that I was “forced” to upgrade from Outlook 2000 to Outlook 2007 since Vista didn’t support the older version at all, but that hasn’t been without its own share of frustrations. You weren’t there with me when I made that move, and you’re not here with me when I have to make these decisions. What’s more, I’m still willing to stick with the Windows brand altogether – much to the dismay of my colleagues.

Chris says he’ll be back to Vista when Service Pack 1 releases, a familiar refrain for those who are holding off upgrading. But you’d think that, as long as he’s been involved in technology, he’d learn that it just goes with the territory.

Again, you’re missing my point – I’m telling you, I simply can’t deal with this right now. I need my operating system to do the things I need it to do TODAY – not six months from now. I’m fully willing to concede that my problems are partially tied to hardware choices, but that still doesn’t make your argument to “stick it out with Vista” any stronger (in fact, it further serves to support my decision). Don’t apologize for anybody but yourself. Adrian takes a similar stance, but redeems himself with a counterpoint:

If you ask me, all Chris is doing by avoiding Vista now is being a weasel to his future self. The problems he’s having now are likely to be there 12 months from now, and 24 months from now. There might be less driver and software hassles but different hassles will replace them. Fact.

Weasel? Tell ya what: I’d rather run Vista in a virtual machine on an XP desktop than vice versa. I realize there are always going to be hassles, but when those hassles cause me to pause my own workflow… they become more than hassles, they become obstacles. I have to start thinking around my operating sysetm instead of my operating system doing the thinking for me. If you want a REAL, TANGIBLE fact… I rely less and less on desktop-based software and more and more on Web-based apps. Hey! Watch replaced a thousand media problems in one fell swoop.

Ed, Dwight, Adrian… I respect each one of you, but you’re not giving me salient arguments for why I, or anybody else, should stick with Windows Vista if we’re running into problems with it on a regular basis. You act as if I’m totally alone here, an exception to the rule… and that’s wrong. I did my best not to make knee-jerk, blanket statements like Jason did this morning, although I understand and share his frustration.

Believe me, nobody feels worse about this decision than I do. I’ll still be running Vista on my laptop (despite recently having to reinstall the OS after something went awry with a Windows Update procedure), but my primary desktop will soon be XP again. Oh, and let’s just pound one more nail into your argument’s coffin: French researcher says Vista’s user interface suffers from more ‘friction’ than XP. Booya!

Windows Vista: I'm Breaking up with You

No, seriously. When I have the time, I’m “upgrading” from Windows Vista to Windows XP. My keyboard is completely ambiguous.

I stand by my original assertion that the shipping version of this OS is late beta, at best. I realize that other enthusiasts are leaving Windows altogether (and leaping instead to Apple’s OS X), but there’s not yet enough momentum behind my willingness to do that. I’ll leave the installs of Vista 32 and 64 on this PC, but I’ll spend most (if not all) of my time back in tried-and-true Windows XP.

I’ll give Vista a second chance when the first service pack is released later this year, but until then…

  1. My scanner doesn’t really work (Hewlett-Packard Laserjet 3052). HP hasn’t caught up with support yet, and software updates won’t be available until SP1 time-frame. The software works like a charm in XP – amazingly well, as a matter of fact.
  2. Windows Movie Maker crashes on a regular basis.
  3. My IPFax software doesn’t work (the driver will likely never be updated to be Vista-compliant). Never, EVER caused me a problem in XP. I need this software to work, and dual-booting to use this is not an option.
  4. I still can’t get my Lifecam to work, but wound up purchasing the vastly superior Logitech QuickCam Ultra Vision instead (which puts Microsoft’s new webcam software AND hardware series to shame).
  5. On the same machine (AMD Quad FX), XP trumps Vista in terms of performance. I don’t have specific benchmarks on hand, but I can tell you the difference is quite palpable. This is even with most of Vista’s eye candy tuned to a dull roar. We’ll see if it runs just as quickly when everything’s reinstalled there. I only discovered this after rebooting to try my scanner in XP – blazing differences, similar tasks.
  6. NVIDIA chipsets and video cards. Need I say more?
  7. I simply can’t get to my OS X machine from Vista (or mount a WebDAV server).
  8. Copernic Desktop Search, a far superior desktop search client to Microsoft’s, either doesn’t like Vista or Outlook 2007 – not sure which, yet. Either way, I can’t run it right now – and the Windows Desktop Search tool is still as lame as ever (sorry, Brandon). I’ll miss the new Start Menu, but I think there’s similar third-party software that’ll keep me happy in the meanwhile.
  9. Explorer keeps losing my view settings. THIS IS DRIVING ME UP THE FARKING WALL! Now, I realize that XP suffers from this problem as well, but it’s never been this bad. There are so many new options that it’s difficult to reset each window’s view every time – including column headers, which are now permanently stuck on “Tags” and “Date Taken” (even though I may not be in a folder with objects supportive of these fields). Yes, I realize this problem stretches back centuries – but it seems to have gotten worse, not better.
  10. My workaday software still seems to suffer from weird quirks now and again. I really don’t have the time or patience to wait for each developer to catch up just so I can go on living my life. All these little annoyances are starting to add up to one major headache. Instead of detailing each one separately (and extending this list exponentially), I’m just wrapping all of ’em together into one point.

If you think I’ve missed something somewhere, think again.

Sorry, I… I gave Vista a real chance. I just can’t use it as my primary OS anymore. It’s NOT horrible at its core (by any stretch of the imagination). If all of your hardware and software are fully baked, you’re good to go – but that’s not the world I live in. I will continue to recommend Windows Vista for some users, mind you. I wish I could take the best parts of Vista and bring them back with me to XP. I’m still more than willing to help Microsoft improve Windows and get the message out to users, but I simply can’t sacrifice my own time and productivity without benefits in clear sight. I’m begging Microsoft and all of my hardware and software vendors to make Windows better for me. Until then…

The Whoa starts now (and is continued here).

Windows Vista Drivers

Ya know, despite the operating system’s countless shortcomings, I have to say that Windows Vista’s driver support has exceeded my expectations. Let me give you two living examples.

Story #1: My Silicon Image 3531 (eSATA controller) was not recognized when I first installed Vista. I didn’t think much of it, as I don’t own any eSATA drives. Still, it’s annoying when a piece of hardware isn’t recogn… wait a second. Tonight, Windows Update tells me there’s a new driver available for my motherboard’s chipset. I install it, reboot, and am promptly prompted with the newly-familiar “I don’t know what the heck this is” hardware wizard. Did it not take? Well, it took the chipset update for Windows to recognize the Silicon Image controller. To my surprise, the wizard downloaded and installed the updated Silicon Image driver from the Windows Update repository. Smooth as silk.

Story #2: I just picked up a new laser printer all-in-one center (an HP LaserJet 3052). I popped in the CD to install the drivers and software, as that’s what it tells me to do – at least, for Windows XP and earlier. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get the installation program to complete. “Run as Administrator” didn’t work, nor did logging in as the Administrator and installing it from that account. I was just about ready to give up, when I decided to plug the cable int… wait a second. Vista recognized every single function of the device – from printer to scanner.

Color me impressed.

The Vista Bashing Bandwagon

It’s not often I find myself agreeing with The Inquirer. Microsoft Vista is still a mess:

Vista’s still a mess. It’s meant to be at release candidate stage, yet vendor’s are struggling to provide sufficient driver support, features are still missing or not yet complete, and its performance compared to XP is still poor. Nowadays hardware is cheap, and it would be sufficiently acceptable to upgrade in anticipation of a wonderfully revolutionary OS. Unfortunately Vista provides little to no benefit for end users compared to that of the previous version of Windows, released five years ago in 2001.

Agreed. Agreed. Agreed. I think we’re all hoping for dramatic (and I mean, DRAMATIC) improvements between RC1, RC2, and Gold.

Vista Forums

Hey, we’ve got Vista Forums online – including categories for Multimedia, Networking & Sharing, Performance Management, Scan, Security, General Discussions, Hardware Devices, Games, File Management, Account Administration, Mail, and Setup & Installation. Each one of these Vista forums has a separate RSS feed, too – so if you want to track what’s happening in the world of Vista support, you can do it with ease. The forum servers are much happier now, and we’re only going to add more categories over time. Vista Help, ho!

Phil Torrone

Confirmed Gnomedex Discussion Leader: Phil Torrone. Last year, “pt” was a smash hit. With his inter-presentation hacks, he quickly became the most popular geek at Gnomedex 5. More people went home talking about the hardware mods he demonstrated than we would have anticipated. With Gnomedex 6.0 being “a higher resolution,” we’re resolved to giving him a bit more time to explore his geekier side. If a physical product can be hacked, pt can hack it. If a physical product can’t be hacked, pt will find a way – and then share his knowledge with the rest of the world.

24-Hour Computer Supply Store

24 hours a day. I’ve always wanted one of these – in the PC space. This doesn’t do me any good, as I only own one Apple computer (though we have three iPods in this house). Plus, I don’t live anywhere near New York. If I knew anything about retail, and I weren’t that busy making a business out of the Internets, I would get a loan to open a 24-hour computer supply store. How many times have you needed a new hard drive at three in the morning and you just could NOT wait until 10am when the store opened? How many times has your video card blown right in the middle of looking at pictures of… well, how many times have you needed a piece of hardware and (a) nobody had it or (b) nobody was open when you needed it. The 24/7 technology store is coming – and I applaud Apple for being the first (at least, that I know of). I’d even pay a premium for products at a computer store that was open all the time. Like, at 10pm, the prices are marked up by 10% or something. I’d pay that when I needed something, easily.