Over the past week or so, I have installed Vista (Ultimate Edition) on three computers, with mostly positive results.
Computer One: The Mothership; RAID 0
First, I did a clean install on my primary computer, which I built myself a couple of years ago. It has a RAID 0 set, as well as 3 other drives for music and video creation and storage. I was a little nervous about installing Vista on my existing RAID set. While I have an 80G partition solely for the OS, I did not want to lose all the music and video files on the two other partitions. I know from prior experience that you have to load the RAID drivers in order for Windows to see the RAID disk configuration, but since I was dealing with a RAID set that contains a lot of huge, not all the way backed up, music and video files, I was concerned that I might accidentally send my RAID set into the ether, with all of the songs I have written and recorded and all the videos I have made along for the ride. My worry was for naught, as Vista immediately prompted me to install the RAID drivers from a floppy or CD and as soon as I did, it notified me that it could see and install onto my C drive. Installation was pretty quick and it wasn’t long before I was running Vista on a clean C partition and able to access my music and video files on the D and E partition.
Vista even stores your XP user data in a backup file on the C drive. Once I knew that I was up and running, I deleted the old data to save space.
My Vista user experience has been mostly positive, after I disabled the unbelievably annoying User Account Control. I don’t find Vista to be a revolutionary change from XP, but the more I use it, the more intuitive it seems. The only problem that persists is that when I bring Windows back up after the screensaver has been active for a few hours, my Taskbar looks weird and mouse clicks, including the one to Restart, are non-responsive. I have to Control-Alt-Delete and then Restart from that screen, where the mouse once again works correctly. Annoying, but not the end of the world.
Computer Two: The Backup Server
Next, I did a clean install on a relatively new HP Media Center computer that I bought a few months ago after the power supplies on the Mothership exploded (literally) twice in a three day period. This computer now serves as a backup server for our home network (for which I use and recommend Fileback PC). The install worked like a charm and, perhaps because this computer is newer, I have had no problems whatsover, including no Taskbar issues like I described above.
A happy by-product of this upgrade was the extermination of all the bloatware and upsell pitches that HP puts on these otherwise very nice computers.
Computer Three: The X41 Tablet
Having had two pleasant upgrade experiences, I decided to push the envelope a little by doing a clean install on my trusty Thinkpad X41 Tablet. Since the X41 does not have an internal CD or DVD drive, I had to dig up an external DVD drive. This computer has a 1.5 GHz Pentium M chip and only 512 MB of RAM- paltry by today’s Vista standards. Installation took longer, but it worked and so far I see no sluggishness. Vista did not intall drivers for the thumbprint reader, but the first time I booted up, Vista prompted me to visit the manufacturer’s web site (via a supplied link) and download the new drivers. That’s a very handy feature that saves a lot of time.
Microsoft has clearly worked hard to make the installation process easier and faster. Only time will tell how much better Vista is than XP, but so far I’m pretty impressed.