Whilst normal people do fun stuff at the weekend, I decided to have a go at upgrading my laptop to Vista. The laptop is 10 months old and officially capable of running Vista in basic mode (i.e. no funky Aero interface).
Now, before those who are knowledgeable in the art of Vista start either laughing hysterically or groaning, there were specific reasons for attempting an upgrade rather than a clean install. I didn’t want to lose the software that came pre-installed with the laptop – a Sony Vaio TX
So, I proceeded with the upgrade. Four and a half hours later (yes, that’s 4+ hours), I had Windows Vista up and running. First impressions – apart from some annoyances, I like it. The UI is much much nicer than Windows XP, even without Aero. I played with an early prototype of the Sidebar when it was still an internal MS Research project, and its nice to see it finally publicly available. The annoyances? Some simple things feel harder to do on Vista than they did on Windows XP.
For example, I travel a lot and regularly dock/undock my laptop, including attaching an external monitor. On Windows XP, extending across a second monitor is done so often, I barely notice the mouse clicks. Right-click anywhere on screen, select Properties, click on the Settings tab and adjust the monitor. On Windows Vista, the process has changed. You can still right-click anywhere on the screen, but there is no Properties option. Instead, you have to select Personalise, then select Display from a new menu that appears, and adjust the monitor. The number of clicks are exactly the same, but the process felt much longer because it isn’t a habit yet… and it feels frustrating because I was quite happy with the old way and the new one offers no improvement…
Example no. 2 – My laptop gets subjected to a fair amount of software abuse. If I’m not running more applications than the memory wants to cope with, I’m running beta software that can give the laptop a bit of a headache. When it comes to shutting down, the most common selection is Hibernate mode – faster than booting from cold and better on battery life than using Standby. Standby is used when I’m just shutting the laptop lid to get up and move somewhere. Shutdown or Restart are used when the laptop has a headache or amnesia. In Windows XP, that involves clicking the Start button, selecting Turn Off Computer, and then selecting the desired shutdown option. On Windows Vista, the process has changed. You still click the button formally known as Start, but then you either click the icon resembling power, which puts the laptop in sleep mode (akin to Standby), or you have to click a tiny little arrow that opens a menu with the remaining options if you want to select Hibernate or others. Again, technically the same number of clicks as before, and feels equally frustrating for all the same reasons…
But on to the killer question. How many days does it take to get Windows Vista to produce the dreaded Blue Screen of Death….
21 hours! 🙂
I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw one. The little Vaio has certainly never had one… I vaguely recall my demo laptop going through a blue phase a couple of years back, but the clue is in the title – demos are supposed to push boundaries 🙂
To be fair, it was the installation of a third-party driver that caused the crash. And the driver is still in beta.
Unfortunately, whilst the upgrade succeeded in that Windows Vista successfully booted and ran all Microsoft applications that were previously installed, the same could not be said for any of the audio/visual hardware controls that are built into the laptop (guess what the driver was for…)
…out came the recovery disks that Sony advises you to create when you first receive your laptop. 52 minutes later and all was well again – one laptop running Windows XP with all its (the laptop’s) bells and whistles intact.
I’ll attempt an upgrade to Vista again in the future. But only if/when all the useful bits of the laptop have Vista updates available.
So back in the land of Windows XP, I surveyed my software options and decided on plan B – upgrade to Microsoft Office 2007 instead… and that will be the subject of a separate blog post 😉
[Update: 5th August 2007] So I finally revisited Vista and had another go at upgrading the Vaio. By this time, Sony had released updated drivers tho’ it took some fiddling with the install order to get the DVD drive eject button to finally work. I haven’t dared attempt the graphics card driver update yet as it also requires an update to the BIOS which feels a bit permanenet. So no Aero glass user interface but the laptop is working and hasn’t blue-screened yet… performance-wise, it feels similar to XP – occasionally a bit faster, but also quite often a bit slower. I have loved the sidebar since the days it was an internal research project at Microsoft and that is the main reason I wanted Vista (tried Google’s equivalent but it seemed to have a memory leak). I’m also using the tags and ratings properties within the OS to classify my knowledge base.