Thoughts On Vista Operating System


So finally I’ve got around to writing my review of Windows Vista. I’m not going to spend too much time going over stuff people already know about from other reviews, or even spend too much time repeating points made elsewhere that I totally agree with and don’t have anything new to add.

I’ve been running Vista Business as my sole work machine since Vista RTM was announced, and running a ‘test’ build of 64-bit Vista Home Premium for about a month now, and my review will be based on my impressions of the RTM version of Vista.

To cut a long story short, I personally don’t like Vista very much at the moment. It’s very much like the proverbial Curate’s Egg. While it is without a doubt the ‘best Windows yet’ in terms of technology included in the OS, without a doubt it is also the ‘most secure Windows yet’ (stop laughing) and there certainly are some very interesting features and tweaks in the new backup system, I find it to be rather frustrating to use on a day-to-day basis and I have grave doubts about how some parts of the new OS work, and about the overall cohesiveness of the system.

As such, I’m not convinced that Vista really represents a good overall experience for the paying customer at the moment. Maybe that will change in the future, but right now my suggestion is not to upgrade, or at least to consider alternative platforms.


Vista’s setup and installation routine has seen a lot of changes compared to the previous setup routines seen in XP and older versions of Windows.

Firstly, and most obviously, the setup routine has been upgraded to be a wholly graphical experience; text based setup mode has been dropped in favour of a new GUI based setup routine built on top of Windows PE.

Secondly, some even more important changes have been made to how setup actually goes about installing Windows. A standard Windows ‘wizard’ type process collects all the information required to install Windows at the start of the installation, then setup proceeds to install Windows from an image format in a way that has more in common with restoring a Ghost image than with more traditional Windows setup methods.

These changes have two important and useful results. Asking all the questions at the start of setup ensures that the user doesn’t need to ‘hover’ over a computer quite as much during install and can get on with other things, and the image-based setup is much faster than previous Windows installation methods, which means that while the disk ‘footprint’ of Windows Vista is much larger than that of Windows XP it typically installs in about half the time of XP.

Important to Take Not Of This in Upgrade Process

One bad area for installation is the upgrade process. This has been re-worked for Vista, effectively resulting in a clean install of Vista which has your previous settings and data imported into it. This sounds good, and in theory should deliver a better upgrade process for people who opt for this route to Vista, but in practice I’ve carried out a fair number of upgrades myself in various tests and have yet to have one single good result. I’ve seen a good few complaints about this on the Microsoft Vista newsgroups too, so it isn’t something that I’m doing wrong.

Now I, personally, have always been wary of upgraded system. While some fare better than others, upgrades on any operating system are a bit of a crap-shoot (I recall seeing a few posts in Apple newsgroups about problems with upgrades from 10.3 to 10.4 for example), but the fact of the matter is that the majority of home users will use this method to install Vista because it appears to be the easiest route for people who are not terribly technically inclined. If these people have the same bad results that I did with upgrades then this will be a disaster for Microsoft.

Lastly, for deployment, Microsoft have worked on a new and comprehensive set of deployment tools to make customising Windows installs easier for businesses. Windows itself is far more modular than before, allowing more control and easier customisation of the install process. Very little of this is exposed to the ‘average’ home user, who has very little choices during setup, but as much as this grates on some of us, it probably really is the right choice for the average home user. Remember that Microsoft are not just designing for the ‘best’ of their user community, in terms of technical ability, but for the worse too. As ever, third parties have stepped up to help home users, so those who are keen to fiddle with home installs are not left high and dry.

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