Vista: Day 1

So, after finally calling it quits in my battle against my MacBook Pro, I retreated to Microsoft. You basically can’t buy a Dell without Vista now, so I figured I’d give it a shot. There’s been a fair amount of hype by Microsoft in favor of it, and a tremendous amount of anti-hype against it by basically everyone else. After my first day, I’ll say that neither side has much to stand on.

The system is what I’d consider an average developer box these days. Grand total with tax was less than $1150.

  • Dell E521
  • Athlon Dual-core 5000+
  • 2GB RAM
  • 250GB hard drive (no raid)
  • ATI X1300 video card
  • 20″ Dell 4:3 LCD
  • Windows Vista Home Premium

I hooked it up to my pre-existing 24″ LCD as primary monitor. I had bought a Radeon 9250 so that I could run the second monitor on DVI, but ATI doesn’t have Vista drivers for that, so I hooked it up to the VGA port until I return that card for a newer one.

Here’s what I installed:

  • JDK6 – No problems
  • Eclipse 3.3M4 – No problems
  • Jetty 5 and 6 – No problems
  • JettyLauncher (eclipse plugin) – Only works with JDK 5, not sure if this is a Vista thing, so…
  • Subclipse (eclipse/subversion plugin) – No problems
  • JDK5 – No problems
  • MySQL 4 – No problems
  • Firefox 2 – No problems
  • Yahoo IM – Crashed once, but it does that on XP too often too.
  • AIM 6 – Crashed once after I first started it, ran fine through several conversations later on.
  • Windows Mail (pre-installed, I configured for POP and SMTP over SSL) – no problems.

So the big complaint by the hordes has been performance. For a mid-range machine, with full Aero enabled on two monitors at 1920×1200 and 1600×1200, I see no lag at all. Aero is actually decent. It’s only major flourish is the new “flip-3d” where the windows stack up like something you would see on a Mac, but its really kind of useless, and I prefer alt-tab. The live previews when you over over the task bar are actually kind of nice, though not very useful. The transparency is fancy, but not overdone, the fade/shrink when you minimize is quick and nicely done. I haven’t disabled any of it yet after 7 hours of use, which is about 6.9 hours longer than the ridiculous XP theme lasted.

Programs launch and run faster, though it does seem like installers go slower and hang for a while. It also comes with a ton of nice fonts, I’m curious if we’ll start seeing those show up in CSS files. I set most of my stuff up for familiar 8pt Lucida Console, I’ll have to go through and see if they’ve added any other nice monospace fonts.

Microsoft seems to have adopted the unix idea of security when it comes to “sudo”. Whenever you do anything that affects the OS, it prompts you to allow it to proceed. If you want to do something like edit your hosts file, you’ll need to run your editor as an administrator, which is as easy as a right click. It’s all a bit annoying, but probably just because I was tweaking it alot. We’ll see how it plays out after a period of normal usage. The worst part is that when the box comes up, the whole screen flickers and takes on a lightbox type effect. Seems to be overkill and poorly implemented.

Other than that, I hate to break it to the Microsoft PR squad and the throngs of haters, but it’s really just good old Windows. The paths are a bit different, things are called slightly different names, but from my perspective, it’s all trivial stuff. Unless I come across something tragic or wonderful, I see no reason for people to upgrade, or to resist upgrading.