Monday, August 13, 2007

The Vista Grouchiness

Laura's new laptop arrived today! It's extremely nice, and it has a gorgeous display. It's unfortunately also got Vista installed. I thought I'd make a categorical list of my gripes with the OS, as I try to set up the computer for her. So far:
  • I'm copying new fonts over to the laptop by dumping the entire contents of the Fonts directory on the old computer to a flash drive, then copying them into the Fonts directory of the new computer. I knew there'd be some duplicates, but I wanted to leave the original fonts on the new computer where possible. I was hoping that the standard "This file already exists. Would you like to overwrite it? [yes] [no] [yes to all] [cancel]" dialogue would be supplemented by a button that says something like [do not overwrite files; continue copying]. No such luck. Not only didn't they add this useful feature, they also removed the [yes to all] button. And the dialogue box appears in a slightly different place on the screen every time, so instead of just clicking the touchpad button whenever it beeps, I have to check every time to make sure my mouse pointer is over the [no] button before I click it, and I occasionally have to move the mouse around to hit the button.
  • I thought they were just kidding about the security warnings. These are going to get old fast.
  • Given that one of Vista's supposed selling points is the ease with which you can connect with the rest of the world, it was inordinately difficult to get it to connect to a wireless network. I had to enable lots of surreal settings hidden in completely inobvious places.
  • More comedy: Every time I install something, Vista security asks me for confirmation. Except for the iTunes installer. While this was installing, Vista asked me for permission five times, and the permission requests were all in the background. That is, it didn't pop up with a dialogue box like the rest of the security warnings; the install freezes, and you have to notice the little blinking icon on your taskbar and click on it before the install will continue. I guess M$oft still has problems with Apple....
  • The InstallerVISE install system apparently uses fewer colors than the stock Vista display settings. So every time you install a program that uses VISE, you get an error message and your display reverts to 256 colors. Mildly irritating, but not awful.
  • I killed all the processes that didn't seem important, and the computer still idled at over 900 megs of RAM in use. This was with just the background virus checker and the OS running. I thought it was awfully nice of Dell to offer a free upgrade to 2 gigs of RAM with their new notebooks; I'm now suspecting it's just good marketing. People won't be happy with their new computer if it runs slow when it's brand new, and the default Dell install of Vista sucks over 1 gig of RAM. It's also not surprising it takes so long to boot up after a restart; it's got to load all that crap into memory.
  • I'm extremely irritated that on our factory-new PC, a lot of features (including the "Aero Desktop", whatever that is) are disabled by default until you validate your copy of Vista. Hey, I was just thinking that Microsoft hasn't made me jump through enough hoops recently before I can use products I have legitimately purchased. Thanks, Microsoft!
  • Vista makes you step through a non-intuitive process to change the default program which opens a particular file type. And, not surprisingly, the defaults that are so difficult to change are mostly Microsoft software.
That's it for now. I may whine more later. In short, so far, the Dell laptop is extremely nice, and the Vista OS has some sucking issues.
UPDATE: I also noticed that the new laptop takes a long time to boot up. Like, three or four minutes. This might be because I'm installing new stuff, but I suspect it's a slow process anyway. This might be the other down side to taking up a gig of RAM: you have to load all that stuff into memory. And this might also be the reason why the "sleep" function is so easily-accessible (the sleep button is on the start menu, but the shut-down button is buried in a menu). It wakes from sleep mode in moments.

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