Random Vista Thoughts: Part 1

I’ve been using Vista for the past month, my first attempt
to move away from Windows XP.  I’ve noted
a lot of things about Vista in this time, some that I like and some that I don’t.  Just some random thoughts…

  • MCML applications make it worth the upgrade to Vista.  Period.
  • For all Microsoft’s time spent on UI design, why the hell is
    the volume and network icon in the System Tray 2d crap?
  • Same topic, why is there a gap in between the volume/network/etc
    icon and the first program running on the System Tray?
  • Flip3D is neat, I don’t see any point of using it though.
  • Same applies to the live window previews, my mouse is
    already down there and I end up clicking it anywhere.
  • Aero is interesting, looks more professional than Luna did
    on Windows XP.  Classic sucks now though,
    especially the Start Menu.  I’m a fan of
    Classic so that sucks.
  • I think I’ve used the new and improved search features
    twice.  Nice, but I generally know where
    my stuff is or browse to find it.  Need
    to learn to search first.
  • I noticed when you delete from removable media the files go
    into the Recycle Bin.  Finally, I’ve been
    so many people lose documents because of that.
  • Yet to open Windows Contacts, Windows Calendar, Windows DVD
    Maker, Windows Meeting Spaces, etc.  Nice
    additions, they should have been there since Windows 2000 though.
  • Turned off Windows Defender, but I’m badass that way.  I don’t run virus or spyware junk of any of
    my PCs, now the families and girlfriends are a different story.
  • I hate that I can’t double click on the clock in the System
    Tray and get the calendar.  Single clicks
    drive me nuts.
  • Time synchronization still seems to not work.  Hardly ever worked in Windows XP too.
  • I wouldn’t run a Media Center machine off of anything less
    than a Pentium D with 1GB of RAM.  P4 and
    below are just horrible.
  • Sidebar is nice, but I need to upgrade my monitor to a
    widescreen for it to seem more useful.
  • I like that Windows Update is more integrated to the
    OS. 
  • The Control Panel sucks. 
    It (Classic View) loads slow and I click too fast for that, so I end up
    selecting the wrong icons because they seem to load from the middle out (huh?)
  • Shadow Copies is a nice feature, love it in Server but I don’t
    know when the last time was I needed to use it.
  • Not sure there are any video/audio drivers that don’t suck
    on Vista.
  • There is no easy link to the “Network and Sharing Center”
    from the “Network” located in the Start Menu. 
    Have to right click that and go to Properties or go through the Control
    Panel.  Why?
  • Office 2007 is great, expect when I’m going to have to teach
    the parents everything over again because it has been redesigned to put things
    were you think they should be. Tech support nightmare.
  • I’ve just added a Skype phone, and now it says I need to
    redo my Experience Index.   So many
    things wrong with that.
  • Games folder and integration is nice, but I’m not a gamer.
  • Home Premium should be what Ultimate is.  Too many editions.  Lets restrict good backup from home users.  Sounds like a plan to me.
  • My Thinkpad keeps dropping the wireless connection while
    connected via RDP.  Then it locks me out
    saying something about a network connection that does not exist.  Worse part, it does the same when I try and
    log in locally!
  • Sports Lounge is sweet!
  • Too bad Internet Explorer didn’t get any better with the
    upgrade.
  • That’s all for now.

17 thoughts on “Random Vista Thoughts: Part 1

  1. Thanks for the review. I have been thinking of upgrading, but wasn’t sure what kind of hardware I should be looking at. I’ve heard that Vista can be a drag on the memory, do you think it’s better to go with more than 1GB of ram, if I want to use it as a PVR or is there not a lot of difference by including the TV tuner? I don’t mind if 1GB is good while it’s recording, but I want to be able to use the computer, even if it’s recording.

  2. Good post.

    “MCML applications make it worth the upgrade to Vista. Period.”
    I don’t run Media Center that much anymore so I haven’t played around with MCML apps at all. I suppose that will change once Brian gets a Vista MyMovies going.

    “Same topic, why is there a gap in between the volume/network/etc icon and the first program running on the System Tray?”
    I never noticed that until you said something. :p

    “Flip3D is neat, I don’t see any point of using it though.”
    I don’t ever use it. Pretty much Alt+Tab for me.

    “I noticed when you delete from removable media the files go into the Recycle Bin. Finally, I’ve been so many people lose documents because of that.”
    This doesn’t happen for me. I don’t see anything under properties for the drive or recylce bin, nor anything in Computer Management that will allow me to enable this. How did you get that working? I would love this ability, especially when it comes to photos.

    “I like that Windows Update is more integrated to the OS.”
    Agreed. Like not having to open Internet Explorer each time.

    “Not sure there are any video/audio drivers that don’t suck on Vista.”
    Especially the 64bit versions.

    “There is no easy link to the “Network and Sharing Center” from the “Network” located in the Start Menu. Have to right click that and go to Properties or go through the Control Panel. Why?”
    Too many button clicks to get where you need to go with the new Network interface.

    “Office 2007 is great, expect when I’m going to have to teach the parents everything over again because it has been redesigned to put things were you think they should be. Tech support nightmare.”
    I can never find what I need with that new ribbon bar.

    “Games folder and integration is nice, but I’m not a gamer.”
    I am a gamer and don’t even use that folder at all. Pretty icons though. 🙂

    “Sports Lounge is sweet!”
    I’ve no idea what this is, so obviously I am missing something. :p

    “Too bad Internet Explorer didn’t get any better with the upgrade.”
    I like the RSS feed integration with IE7.

    My own random thought:
    When is Microsoft going to start putting out some stuff for the Ultimate version. Dreamscene is been beta for I don’t know how long.

  3. “Same topic, why is there a gap in between the volume/network/etc icon and the first program running on the System Tray?”

    Because Vista has a concept of “system” icons and “application icons, and it uses a slight visual demarcation to differentiate them. That demarcation is a little bit of space. 🙂

  4. Davis: I’d say that about 2GB is the sweet spot, especially if you are throwing HD in the mix. If your PC uses DDR2 RAM, I wouldn’t think twice about the cheap upgrade. I had to upgrade a few machines that just used DDR, which is much more costly at this point then DDR2.

    Bill: Now you are going to make me find out if the recycle bin stuff was just a fluke. 🙂 The Sports Lounge is the Sports strip in Media Center. Has live updates to MLB, NFL, NCAAF, etc. Very cool. Also will find all games in your guide and give you more info for them.

    kapone: I’d like my space back. 🙂

  5. “There is no easy link to the “Network and Sharing Center” from the “Network” located in the Start Menu. Have to right click that and go to Properties or go through the Control Panel. Why?”

    “Too many button clicks to get where you need to go with the new Network interface.”

    Click once on the Network system tray icon and then click “Network and Sharing Center” which is just two clicks.

    “Home Premium should be what Ultimate is. Too many editions. Lets restrict good backup from home users. Sounds like a plan to me.”

    Then you’d be able to buy a copy of Vista that can join a domain for less than Vista Business, and that’s not going to happen. What they should have done is dropped Home Basic and just had Home, Business, and Ultimate. But they didn’t because it makes them more money having two versions of “Home” like they did with XP (Home and MCE). XP MCE began outselling XP Home on new computers once the price was lowered with the release of MCE 2005 (which removed the ability to join a domain unless it is during a clean install). It was still more the XP Home, though. MS didn’t want to get rid of this price bump, although I’m sure they knew Vista Home Basic would go the way of the dodo relatively quickly after Vista’s release (on new machines). However, if they had only released one copy of Vista Home and charged the same as XP MCE, they would have been skewered in the media for raising the price of Home. You could argue that some of the features of Business and Ultimate should be in Home, such as the better backup program.

  6. I remove the Network icon in the System Tray, so I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the fact that clicking on Network in the Start Menu has no good path to “Network and Sharing Center”. Why we need both is beyond me.

    I don’t really care how they consolidate the versions, just don’t leave simple tools like backup out of the Home edition (whatever you want to call it). The fact that you need the $400 “Ultimate” edition to backup your PC in an image is crazy. It is suppose to be easy for users, not difficult to the point that you have the wrong edition to Windows to perform a nice backup out of the box.

  7. The backup thing is a nod to the anti-trust thing. They can sell more feature rich versions as “premium content”, but they have to make a more basic version standard fro consumer sales. MS is hogtied in serious ways by it, and can’t even say anything about it most of the time.

    I will say first off that many of your issues stem from trying to run Vista like it was XP, and turning off the new UI features. If you leave it as-is, the new UI is actually pretty efficient once you get used to where things are.

    “Flip3D is neat, I don’t see any point of using it though.”

    It’s pretty, ans a good way to get back to the desktop quickly, but yeah – it’s just eye candy. Just like a lot of the features of MacOS that Apple brags about. But hey, at least they figured out a way to make Apple’s Widgets useful with the sidebar.

    “Turned off Windows Defender, but I’m badass that way. I don’t run virus or spyware junk of any of my PCs, now the families and girlfriends are a different story.”

    I used to be this bold, until the first time a major site got hacked. If you can’t browse well-known web sites without being sure that you won’t be infected by something, you need AV. Of course, as long as you don’t disable UAC in Vista you’re mostly safe, but relying on yourself isn’t good enough anymore.

    “I wouldn’t run a Media Center machine off of anything less than a Pentium D with 1GB of RAM. P4 and below are just horrible.”

    Three words for you: XBox 360 Core. I have a Vista MCE box running on a single core 1.8GHz Athlon 64 with integrated video, and while it runs like crap locally, it pushes to an extender perfectly. A 360 Core costs a LOT less than a new mobo, CPU, RAM and graphics card.

    “The Control Panel sucks. It (Classic View) loads slow and I click too fast for that, so I end up selecting the wrong icons because they seem to load from the middle out (huh?)”

    I agree, so I got used to the standard view. It’s a lot faster, once you know where to find things. It also solves your “can’t get to the newtwork controls” issue. There’s a link to Network and Sharing Center right on the top menu.

    “Not sure there are any video/audio drivers that don’t suck on Vista.”
    Video? Nope. Audio, the Realtek drivers for onboard HD Audio solutions are actually pretty good. Otherwise, especially Creative? Forget it.

    “Home Premium should be what Ultimate is. Too many editions.”
    Contrary to popular belief, there are no more versions than there were of XP. They did the Home Premium/Ultimate split as a matter of necessity to keep piracy down. It didn’t work, but that was the reasoning.

    “Too bad Internet Explorer didn’t get any better with the upgrade.”

    It did, Protected Mode is an incredible improvement, much like UAC. So long as you don’t turn it off.

  8. Illrigger: I haven’t turn off any of the UI features. I have Aero on, Flip3D and all that junk. My point was while it is nice, I see little to no reason to use any of it. I’m not trying to run it like XP, but the UI features are no benefit over what XP has to offer.

    Speaking of Widgets, I much perfer OS X to Vista here. I would love to grab a widescreen monitor and keep the Sidebar always loaded, but on a 4×3 monitor it just isn’t useful. I would rather be able to do what you can with OS X and have all the widgets come up on top of the active windows and then be able to dismiss them after.

    I also disable UAC, they need to take a few more tips from Linux there. I have not run anti-virus or spyware protection in at least five years. Leaving IE behind was the best thing that I ever did.

    An Extender is great, and is personally my preferred way to view content but using Media Center locally on a slow machine is pointless. Because of this, I say a Pentium D is the lowest I’d go. Also, I enjoy being able to cover two zones with just a single PC and an Extender. Can’t do that with a P4 and below (IMHO).

    And yeah, video drivers suck too. NVIDIA has horrible drivers, and looking at it from the Media Center side they don’t have overscan control or any other more advanced features. They are trash.

    I’m not sure you are counting the editions right. Speaking for consumer retail editions, XP had Home and Professional. If you want to add in OEM only, then yeah that would be true (Tablet, Media Center, XPe, WinFLP, etc). However you can’t compare retail Vista to retail+OEM XP. At the store consumers had the choice of XP Home or Professional. Today they have the choice of Home Basic, Home Premium, Ulitmate, and the two business editions. Way more.

    Protected Mode in IE might be great, but using Firefox I avoid most of the need for it. For me, it is no improvement over IE on XP or any other platform.

    Jack: Very true, always forget to bring that up.

  9. I agree with the time sync. It doesn’t work for me either. Also, I agress with the loading of icons in the control panel…….

  10. “I haven’t turn off any of the UI features.”

    You’ve disabled UAC, the new Control panel, gone to classic mode, and done how many other UI changes and yet you say you haven’t disabled any of the UI? You and I have different definitions of what the UI is, I think. 😉

  11. Oh, and about UAC: I bet you’re making the same mistake everyone else does: you got annoyed in the first two days, and said the hell with it. Once you get past the point of installing all your software, you hardly see the thing. Given the HUGE increase in security you get from it, it’s worth an extra 4 or 5 mouse clicks a day.

  12. Oh, and about UAC: I bet you’re making the same mistake everyone else does: you got annoyed in the first two days, and said the hell with it. Once you get past the point of installing all your software, you hardly see the thing. Given the HUGE increase in security you get from it, it’s worth an extra 4 or 5 mouse clicks a day.

  13. Umm, UAC is not related to the UI at all. Maybe you are thinking of something else, but UAC is User Account Control or in other words a very poor attempt to copy what has been done in Linux forever.

    I said I like Classic Mode in the Control Panel, not Classic Theme in Vista (though I did say the Classic Theme in Vista looks like crap) I didn’t say I was using it.

    So yeah, I’m using Vista the way it was meant other than the Control Panel that I’m using like Windows 2000 because Windows XP had the same “ease of use” organization that also sucked.

  14. UAC is a great security increase, but a key in software development is to not have to be annoying. If it is annoying, no matter how much it is needed or it helps consumers will hate it. And let me tell you, consumers hate UAC in its currently implementation. They don’t care about the security increase, because people are dumb. What they care about is it popping up and annoying them. IMHO, it is done correctly in Linux and Vista has a lot of work to do to get it right.

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