April 25, 2007

My Experience with Vista

For last couple of days I am working on Windows Vista Business (T60 – Core2 Duo, T5500, 1GB RAM, and 64 MB Graphics Card) and I am very much disappointed with overall product as an Operating System.

As a normal computer user I prefer best performance over fancy graphics stuff. It’s OK to see fancy stuff for one or two times but then it’s irritating. Especially the animation when new window or pop-up box appears literally caused me headache - may be because of continuous iris and lens movement in my eyes.

Another annoying feature of Vista is User Account Control.

The main goal of User Account Control is to reduce the exposure and attack surface of the operating system by requiring that all users run in standard user mode. This limitation minimizes the ability for users to make changes that could destabilize their computers or inadvertently expose the network to viruses through undetected malware that has infected their computer.

The goal is fantastic but does that mean that I have to notify Vista each time to run the program? Does that mean improved security? Does Vista not able to handle this on its own without asking user each time permission to run the program? The best security is the security where user enters his credentials once (or none if it has ‘AI’ :)) and for the rest of session it takes care by all means. Funny thing is this was happening when I logged as an normal administrator and there are options in windows to disable these prompts…. Thank God (or thanks to Microsoft?) (Note there are two administrators in Vista - normal which usually we do and hidden super secrete administrator! The Super secrete administrator works fine w/o UAC problem and you can hack this account.)

The biggest disappointing thing about Vista is the performance! According to Vista Performance Information Tool my performance indicator for processor is 4.7 out 5, RAM-4.5/5, Hard Disk -4.9/5 and for Graphics 3.6 out of 5. I believe and experienced this as best configuration for Windows XP however on same configuration Vista runs like a nightmare. There are couples of articles available on Internet for the performance comparison between Vista and XP and all says XP is much better than Vista in almost all areas.

While experimenting with performance, one of the things which I observed was amount of paging was very high on my machine (may be because of 64MB graphics card and 1 GB of RAM). To improve performance I made couple of changes in my machine. As a normal practice with any new machine I disabled all unwanted services. I disabled couple of Vista features including side bar and fancy visual effects. With these changes my machine now looks as XP however still it is too far from XP in performance.

I also tried Windows ReadyBoost with 512 MB of USB flash but not seen any big improvement may be because of size and read/write speed. (Suggestions – Make sure you have minimum 512 MB of USB memory with enough Read/Write speed.)

Very frustrating thing about Vista is compatibility with other software products. I had this issue several times where software product runs fine on XP but causes issue on Vista. Good example is my Logitech Webcam – which works fine with XP but not on Vista. There are no drivers available from Logitech for my Webcam instead they are recommending to buy new Webcam for Vista! To solve this issue I installed Virtual Machine and then Windows XP but later I found that Virtual Machine doesn’t support USB port! I tried free VMware Player but it won’t work at all. However I have noticed that compare to host Vista, XP runs much better within Virtual Machine with only 400MB of RAM!! Another example about compatibility issue is my VPN connectivity client. I can’t use VPN client from Vista because of compatibility issue however good news is I have now XP on Virtual Machine and it works fine with VPN connection. I can’t use VPN connection from Vista until I get Vista compatible VPN client.

The most thundering thing about Vista compatibility is it won’t support Visual Studio 2003!

There are several rumors (since I don’t know exactly) on release of Vista's service pack but I am waiting desperately hoping some changes for performance and compatibility (I know it is daydream and will not happen in reality).

I have seen several people recommend preinstalled Visa if you have plans to buy a new machine. However I will recommend Vista unless and until you have plans to buy enough RAM (Min 2 GB) and better graphics card (256 MB or more). Most important make sure you will not have any compatibility issues with your existing software products. If you have XP installation CD then buy preinstalled Vista and then install XP in partition or install free Virtual Machine on Vista and then install XP to run Vista incompatible programs. However keep in mind Virtual Machine doesn’t support USB port.

Vista has introduced several new features and tools which are really useful but as a normal computer user (and not as a software professional) I am expecting high performance with better security instead of fancy graphics. You will enjoy fancy stuff for some time but then you will land on real problem!