I have a confession: I sort of like Vista

Apparently Microsoft has revived the marketing tactics of Folders Instant Coffee from back in the 80’s.  According to this article on cnet news, folks from the MS marketing team have been rounding up Vista skeptics under the guise that they will be shown a new OS code named Mojave.  All of the subjects seem to love the new OS and afterwards are told that they have been shown Vista.

This is sort of like dining in a fine restaurant only to find out that you have been drinking Folders Instant instead of the fine coffee normally sold there.

Until the last few months or so, I was one of those skeptics as well.  I had only used Vista a small amount and all of my primary machines were still XP Pro.  In fact, I had really only significantly used Vista in a Virtual PC image which gives a very poor impression.

My latest laptop runs Vista x64 SP1, shipped that way from HP, with a modest AMD 2.1 ghz dual core processor and 4gb ram which is becoming more common on laptops even at a general retailer like Best Buy.  The laptop was reasonable priced, I thought, ringing up at just under $1100 tax included.

I sort of like it.  Your mileage may vary but there are a few key areas that really make a difference for me.  The first is it just plain looks nicer and is more pleasant to use.  I know mac folks are saying that OSX looks better and has for many years.  I agree with that (I have a few macs myself) but my business is based on windows development so macs are not an option right now.

The other noticeable difference is how much better the networking performs under Vista.  I have to often copy a lot of files between desktops and laptops and XP is terrible at this.  I haven’t done any timings but Vista is dramatically faster.

It isn’t all roses, however.  Vista does require significant hardware over XP.  I purchased an even cheaper laptop (~$700 tax included) this last November to run XP Pro.  The machine actually came with Vista Home Basic but the combination of the underpowered machine and the crapware fiesta installed on it was unbearable.  That machine is a 1.8 ghz dual core machine with 2gb ram and seems to run XP SP2 at about the same speed as my new AMD 2.1 ghz with 4gb ram runs Vista SP1.  Also, the Vista machine does take a little longer to boot up but not significantly longer.

Of coarse, there is also that little problem of every setting being moved to a new dialog or a different path to get to the same dialog.  Honestly though, I haven’t been quite as annoyed by that as I thought I would be based on all of the complaining I have heard from other folks.  It takes a minute to find something and I then I know where it is and go on with my work.  I had the same problem when I tried OSX for the first time.

As far as the 64-bit goes, I haven’t had any significant problem yet.  Since the machine is a laptop, it obviously came with drivers for the hardware on it and my external device needs are modest.  The crash I have had was trying to see if I could run the memory analysis tool on Crucial.com, which didn’t say it would work on 64-bit machines.  That was ugly but, so far, has been the only hiccup.

FYI – On XP, I use TortoiseSVN with the VisualSVN package for Visual Studio integration.  This also works on Vista x64.  You will need to install the 64-bit version of TortoiseSVN (I installed version which was the latest) and then the normal and only install for VisualSVN (1.5.1).  I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to install the 32-bit or 64-bit TortoiseSVN client since Visual Studio itself is 32-bit but I finally found a discussion related to this on google groups.  My actual repo is still svn 1.4.x and I haven’t had any problems yet.