Thursday, February 08, 2007

Vista Experience - II

[Contd from here...]The first thing that I noticed after installing Vista on my laptop was that it was hot (no, not Vista but the laptop), the hard disk seemed to always spin and a quick temperature check with SpeedFan showed my hard disk was running at around 55o C (generally hdds are rated to operate between 40-55 C). I checked with someone who has been running Vista on a "high-end" laptop and found out that his disk's temperature was around 43, so it was definitely something to do with my system, first I felt it was maybe due to the Search indexer trying to index the existing data (I had around 20 GB worth) or because the disk itself was brand new, anyway, since I had no inclination to either fry eggs on my laptop or fry my hard disk, I got myself a cooling pad and since then the temperature hovers around 43-47, which I guess is acceptable. Anyway, back to my impression of Vista, the UI is really polished even without the Aero interface, the new icons are a welcome change and quite a few small niceties thrown in here and there, looks like the attention was indeed on getting the small things right. Two big features touted in Vista (apart from the eye candy) are the Instant Search and the Side bar gadgets, honestly, I've never found any use for gadgets on desktops, how many times do you look at the desktop while you're at your system?
During XP days the only Konfabulator gadget (widget) that I would run was the "Calendar", since on Limited User Account the date time widget on XP doesn't even display the calendar, since, that's been done away with in Vista, the first thing that I did was turn off side bar and gadgets. Search is definitely good and quite responsive, though again I don't have much use for it, I tend to remember where I file stuff and generally find them without much hassle. Other things that have improved quite a bit are task manager, the ActiveSync (a.k.a. Mobile Sync center).

All hasn't been that rosy though with Vista for me, firstly the external hard disk enclosure that I got for my internal hard disk doesn't seem to work with Vista, it's detected but well no drive letters show up in explorer for the drive (it does work with XP still, I tried on some other system just to make sure that I didn't get the connector wrong again!). The other thing was after getting the cooling pad, I wanted to see how my hard disk behaves under process intensive applications, so I popped in a DVD of The Moody Blues, CyberLink PowerDVD auto-started and well, crashed with a very helpful OK button and no error message, tried playing the DVD in Win Media Player, and it refused to play the DVD suggesting that I reduce my system resolution and/or Color Depth, changing either of them didn't have any effect whatsoever: Media Player kept on refusing and PowerDVD kept on insisting that I decipher the error with just a OK button and no message (to be just to PowerDVD, the version that I was using was one which came with XP and was retained during the upgrade). Couple of google searches later, I figured out that Vista Business along with Home Basic don't come with DVD codecs (neither did any versions of XP for that matter), so that's my Media Player wasn't able to play the DVD (again the different error would have helped a lot) and CyberLink had released a Vista version of PowerDVD for which you are supposed to contact customer support, anyway, one good thing about Vista (and for that matter even XP) is they allow you to run misbehaving applications by running them under compatibility mode; just right click on the app, select compatibility tab and choose Run Under XP (SP 2) to run in compatibility mode, at least that fixed my PowerDVD and DVD played without any jitters after that.

Final words: Vista is a positive move forward by Microsoft and has some nice stuff; would I recommend buying a Vista off the shelf? no, I guess the best time to get Vista is when you're planning to buy a new system (or maybe if you have a relatively new system with good horse-power, you might want to wait for sometime and get a Vista upgrade after Vista SP1 is released), XP, even though not as polished as Vista gets the job done and I don't think it makes much sense to shell out some hard earned cash just to get bleeding/cutting edge technology, well that is, unless you're a hard core tech who loves playing with technology.

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