Giving Vista another chance

12:00 am Articles, Ask the Geek

You shouldn’t be too closed-minded in the tech world. I try to keep an open mind when new versions of my favorite operating systems are released. Once upon a time, I had been excited about Windows Vista when it was still in beta testing. Near Vista’s release date, I installed a “release candidate” (one of the final testing versions) on my laptop and primary desktop computer.

Aside from the slick new interface and a few new features (like “Instant Search”) to drool over, my experience wasn’t wonderful. Boot-up times were sluggish. Programs took an eternity to load. Resuming from standby was torture. It wasn’t a difficult decision to remove it and wallow contentedly in the stability and friendliness of Windows XP.

My experience was echoed by other technicians, then regular users, up to and following Vista’s release in early 2007. Computers that bore the “Vista Ready” logo proved to be anything but. Early Vista adopters wrestled with Vista while watching Apple advertisements mimic their frustration.

Among my clients, the handful that tried Vista that first year typically regretted it. Buying a new laptop with a crippled sound system or nonfunctional wireless networking became commonplace, and drove consumers to declare that Vista was garbage. The media echoed this cry. Despite high reported sales numbers, Microsoft Vista has been considered an abysmal failure by many standards.

More than a year and a half after its release, Microsoft is asking us to give Vista another chance. They strongly believe they’ve worked the biggest kinks out of Vista but worry you’ll never know about it because you’ve already formed your opinion based on a bad first impression or overwhelmingly negative media.

This idea was the subject of the “Mojave Experiment.” Armed with a couple of sales guys, their regular work laptops and a few convincing product mockups, Microsoft set out to change the public’s perception of Vista. The idea was simple: Show a bunch of regular people all the cool new features of the next version of  Windows, code-named “Mojave.” Let them see how slick it looked, how fast it performed, how Instant Search worked, how they could protect their kids’ online activities, etc. These regular folks – people who had already described their negative impressions of Vista – were wowed by Mojave’s features.

Then Microsoft told them the truth: “Mojave” was fictional.They had been seeing Vista the whole time. It’s difficult to argue the point Microsoft was trying to make.

According to one Microsoft site: “…We know a few of you were disappointed by your early encounter [with Vista]. Printers didn’t work. Games felt sluggish. “You told us – loudly at times – that the latest Windows wasn’t always living up to your high expectations for a Microsoft product. “Well, we’ve been taking notes and addressing issues.” They echo the claims that Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), “…can slash average startup and shutdown times for Windows Vista by as much as half.”

Has Vista evolved past the initial growing pains? Is it finally worth your time? My wife and I updated our laptops to each have 2 GB of memory, then reinstalled Vista (we had “downgraded” to Windows XP right out of the box) and applied SP1. Keeping that same 2 GB “memory minimum” in mind, I’ve converted three other machines I use on a regular basis as well.

Honestly? So far, so good.

What has your experience been? Have you tried Vista and loved it? Have you ever replaced Vista with XP on a new system? Have you been using Vista all this time and never knew what all the whining was about? Write me and share your story. I’d love to hear it.


Kevin McDonald: Writer and professional computer/network administrator. He lives in Amarillo with his wife and children, and owns and operates Definition Computers. E-mail Kevin at with questions you’d like to see answered in this column.

(This article was originally published in the Amarillo Independent newspaper.)

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