I installed Vista a few days after it came out. I chose Vista Home Premium upgrade along with Microsoft OneCare Live for antivirus and spyware protection. The upgrade process went well and I am quite pleased with the results. I am organizing this post into these topics: install process, applications migrated smoothly, applications that took a little arm twisting, applications that didn't work, those that I am holding off on, and pleasant surprises.
When you purchase an upgrade edition of Vista you are expected to upgrade your existing version of Windows without performing a clean install. The full versions of Vista are designed for machines that do not have a licensed version of Windows and cost significantly more ($80 more for Home Premium) as well as allowing you to easily perform a clean install on an existing Windows system. I wanted to perform a clean install so that all of the garbage that had accumulated on my XP system would not be migrated into my Vista install. This would also ensure that I will have fewer problems in the future by having a clean system. Since I already have a legal copy of Windows XP I consider it unreasonable to pay for a full license rather than an upgrade license. You can perform a clean install with the upgrade disk but you are unable to use your license key to activate the installation. Luckily the workaround is fairly simple: you simply reinstall Vista on top of the first clean install and then throw away the renamed directory called Windows.old. Specific steps can be found at DailyTech.
In short, I booted from the Vista upgrade DVD and installed Vista onto my unused new 200 GB hard drive as a 30 day trial. I then reinstalled as a 'clean install' on that same disk. This means that I now have two bootable disks in my PC one for XP and one for Vista. I know that I need to continue to rely upon the XP system until all of my programs function on Vista. Now when my machine boots I get a Windows Boot Manager screen that asks me which version of Windows I wish to run. I did not need to install the Boot Manager it simply showed up. (One thing I noticed is that whichever system boots shows up as the 'C' drive.
The next thing I did was to boot into XP and remove unwanted user accounts, old programs and old data. I did this so that the Windows Easy Transfer utility would not move as much over to Vista. You run the transfer utility from the DVD and it allows you to choose which accounts and data you want to move. You save the large file where Vista can find it and import the information. The utility works like a charm and made the migration process quite painless. It does require that you reinstall your programs since it basically transfers data and user settings not everything required to run the actual programs.
* A side note - if you plan to migrate from a mail program other than Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express to a Microsoft mail client then you should first import your mail to Outlook Express before beginning the Windows Easy Transfer process. I decided that although Mozilla Thunderbird was decent for XP I was too impatient to wait for a new general release build that supported Vista. I chose to switch to the new Microsoft Mail program that comes with Vista. There is no simple way to do this but rather you need to convert all of the Thunderbird mail files from MBOX to EML files (I used a wonderful utility called IMAPSize to do this) and then run Outlook Express to import the files. I kept my address book by exporting into a CSV file and then importing into OE. It is important to get all of your mail working first within Outlook Express before using Windows Transfer Utility which will do a good job of getting everything into Vista.
Since my last Vista post I also bought a Hauppauge TV card (WinTV-HVR-1600 $75) that features both a standard TV tuner and a HDTV tuner (ATSC) hitting my goal of $240 for Vista and the TV card. My next upgrade will be a 750 GB drive for storing TV shows.
I also updated the ATI X1300 video driver although the Windows Experience Index dropped from 2.4 to 2.0. I was able to enable Aero but I get noticeably better performance with it off. I am quite happy with the performance of the PC knowing that at PCI interface to the video card is my bottleneck. Most of the other ratings are around 3.5 for the system.
The Good - Applications that migrated smoothly
- Windows - The install went very well
- Quicken 2007 - Reinstalled from a downloaded executable and then performed online updates
- Java 6 - Installed easily and designed for Vista
- Adobe Reader 8 - Adobe recognized Vista and download was simple
- QuickTime 7.1.3 - Even Apple updater works well
- Microsoft Office 2007 - I received a free copy at the Detroit Vista Launch last week so I figured that I would run Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Publisher along with Groove 2007.
- Windows OneCare Live - this is Microsoft's protection suite and includes backup and tuning software.
The Bad - Applications that migrated with some pain
- Palm Desktop 4.1.4 - The install and initial sync with my Palm IIIc went well, but since my wife and I share the application it took some time to figure out that the only way for us to share the data on our separate Vista logins was to copy the date files hidden in C:/Users/Stuart/AppData/Local/VirtualStore/Program Files/palm (found this by making a change to my data then searching all of the local drive for changed files by date/time).
- IOMagic IDVD168DL DVD burner - The DVD and CD works fine under Vista but I am unable to get Media Center to burn a TV show to this device. I upgraded the firmware (it uses a Lite-On SHW-160P6S driver which I upgraded from PS08 to PS0B. The drive is not advertised as working with Vista so I think it it just a matter of time before they upgrade the firmware or Media Center becomes more forgiving. (The logs show a cdrom.sys paging error.)
- Advansys ABP3922 SCSI adapter - This cheap little SCSI adapter came with the SCSI scanner I bought years ago. The updated v2.9k driver is found here.
The Ugly - Applications that didn't make it
- Umax 1200S - The drivers for this scanner don't seem to work even though I downloaded the latest drivers.
- My bank allows me to make deposits directly from my scanner but they don't recognize my system (Vista? Java?) Even if they did - my scanner is no-op :(
- iTunes 7.0.2 - Apple says to wait for the next version so I will. I currently boot to XP to update my iPod and download podcasts.
- MusicMatch JukeBox - I used this to create CDs but I am going to try to use the software that came with Vista.
My main reasons for upgrading to Vista were for security and Media Center recording of TV shows. On both accounts the upgrade is wildly successful. Vista is obviously more secure, IE 7 is far better on Vista than on XP. When surfing the Internet the browser functions in 'Protected Mode' which is a virtualized space within the operating system that isolates the browser from the rest of the machine. The User Account Control mechanism lets me know when a process is trying to access protected components. And the kids now run as standard users (not administrators) which requires me to provide my password if they need extra privileges.
Media Center is terrific. I can watch TV and record favorite programs from a free programming guide that Microsoft provides. I look up a show (like Lost) and it records each episode once. If it misses an episode it will try to record the next showing. The quality is very high and I can watch the output on my TV as a second screen. The analog (cable) shows run about 3 GB per hour (hence the desire for a 750 GB drive) - I haven't used the HDTV tuner yet - I understand that uses about twice the disk. Shows record even if no one is logged in as long as the PC is powered up. My TV tuner has a remote control so I operate the media center like a TV/VCR except skipping is much quicker.
My son also discovered ZooTycoon 2 so that has become our first purchased game for the system.
Bottom line: My critical programs are: Quicken (works); Internet browsing (improved); iTunes (waiting for Apple); e-mail (Outlook is great) . Office 2007 is a nice perk and Virtual Earth is an absolute jewel that I least expected. The kids are going to be able to use the PC without undue risk and Media Center has eliminated the pain of managing video tapes.
Conclusion: Windows XP - good riddance!
Our next PC: Macintosh with Leopard 10.5 and/or iPhone. As good as Vista is, Apple still runs rings around user interface and stability of Windows systems.