Thursday, August 16, 2007

Why I Choose XP over Vista.

This isn't an "OMG I HATE VISTA" blog entry, It's got it's ups, and downs. This is a calm and collected entry in my blog explaining why I cannot possibly deal with Vista at the moment. What I'll do is create two categories, a pro and con list. Anyway, the operating system has bombarded me with issues since Beta 1, none of those are persistent thankfully, however, equally frustrating. Let's take Beta 1 for example, the only released build of Vista that I ever had consistent blank blue screens, which I completely place the blame on drivers. For the next few builds, even past the first official build of Beta 2, it was smooth, with small and easy to deal with UI inconsistencies.

However, the second build of Beta 2 is where the trouble began, the OS's performance took a major nose dive. System resources began to get eaten up a much faster pace, creating times where I quite honestly had to restart DWM in order to regain speed and performance. I bugged this every build religiously, up until the last build before RTM, where it finally stopped. With this, the most frustrating bug of them all alleviated, I was finally content. RTM was close, and I honestly, as an active member of the beta testing team, felt as if the OS was ready.

RTM rolled by, and I was able to install Vista in September or November of 2006. Low and behold, a show stopping bug reared it's ugly head. My monitor, a Sceptre 19" LCD, replacement for my Acer 19" monitor that was stolen while I was in Buffalo, hated Vista for some unknown reason. If I were to boot directly into Vista's post-install setup, I'd be greeted with an "Out of Range" error on my monitor. This is a driver issue with Vista's ATi Radeon driver, that causes my monitor to go "out of range" at 1280x1024 at 75Hz. To alleviate this, I need to F8 into the "special menu" just after the last reboot of setup. Choose "Low Resolution (640x480)", and continue setup that way. It even goes "Out of Range" after setup, if I select 1280x1024 75hz. I would need to set my res to 1280, then make sure that 60hz was selected in my Monitor settings. Installing ATi/AMD's latest Catalyst drivers for Vista fixes this problem.

Now I know my PC isn't a spring chicken, but it certainly isn't completely obsolete.
AMD Athlon XP 2400+
80GB Seagate partitioned four ways.
ATi Radeon 9550 256MB AGP 8x (Probably the issue here, alongside my ram)

The OS runs nicely, for about a few hours, then begins to crap out. I would need to disable Windows Search, Scheduled Disk Defrag, Scheduled Windows Defender Scans, IPv6 for network improvements, Windows Sidebar, System Restore (To save space, and I never use it, even on XP), UAC (Because I don't need MS to ask me stupid questions constantly).

Apps I need to install to get a DECENT user experience.
Perfect Disk
Because the defragger included in Vista is absolute garbage.

Let's compare.. 600MB (Ten minute transfer time with default file transfer)
600MB (Two minute or less transfer time with Teracopy)
WMP is the slowest piece of garbage I have ever seen in a default install since Windows Me!

Now .. Vista does have it's advantages, for instance, the OS sits inside a sandbox mode, you're able to modify system files without having to restart, a log out would do it. It's more secure, with UAC enabled it's almost impossible for "Joe User" to get a virus, or a form of malware, provided "Joe User" isn't a flaming idiot and doesn't accept the UAC prompt.

Now I know for a FACT that Vista will run perfectly on a bleedingly modern machine, considering it's not running any Creative or Nvidia devices, ugh, the horror stories I've heard. I also know Windows XP had close to these issues when it first came out, it was slow as piss on the moderate to low end machines of the time and we had a lot of "Windows 98 or Bust!" statements towards the OS. I guess I'm one of those "Windows xp or Bust!" people. Sure things will get better, the initial reports from users getting a hold of Service Pack 1 for Vista speak of the performance increase. I just cannot honestly use the damn OS until it gets more stable, and gains better support.

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