Thursday, December 21, 2006

MS Vista First Look

Earlier this week I installed Windows Vista Ultimate Edition on one of the Dell Latitude D600s in my lab. I need to test Vista for interoperability with our commercial gateways. I'm not anticipating any major surprises but don't want to be complacent.

The minimum requirements to run Vista are an 800 MHz CPU, 512 MB of RAM, and 15 GB hard disk space. The Dell has a 1.8 GHz Pentium M and a gig of RAM. Unfortunately, the shared video prevents it from running the much-touted Aero interface. Rather, I'm limited to the "basic" interface. I do like the look of the basic interface. It reminds me of recent versions of KDE. The basic UI is sufficiently similar to XP's that most users shouldn't have too much difficulty in adapting. I can't speak to Aero yet, however.

But, it's bloated. Seriously bloated. Aside from the fact that to install the OS you need 15 gigs of space, my first impression is that you don't want to run Vista on a machine with less than a 2 GHz CPU and you better have 2 GB of RAM if you want to get any work done. Just sitting there with no apps running, Vista sucks down anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of the gig of memory. Opening windows in Explorer is not as snappy as it was under XP Pro. IOW, there's a noticeable degradation of performance in the system's file manager.

Internet Explorer 7 seems to run a bit slower than it did under XP. Ditto for Firefox 1.5.

When opening things that access system files, you get prompted for your approval, but the way it's done is more intrusive and less elegant than the way OS X prompts you for your password when modifying system files. E.g., you get an "ARE YOU REALLY SURE" box when you try to run Defrag or Scandisk.

So far, my impression is that unless you're running a powerful machine capable of running Aero, there's no reason to upgrade to Vista. Aside from that, as a new MS operating system, it makes more sense for you to let other people be the guinea pigs and find the nasties lurking underneath the shiny new paint job.

Better yet, get a Mac or run something like Kubuntu Linux on a PC. Either is a far superior OS from the standpoint of security and the features are either comparable to or superior to Windows.

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