My experience with Vista.

July 20, 2007

This post is about my struggle with Windows Vista.

So in my role as the “computer guy” I was asked to help a friend buy a laptop for school. She was looking at her computer package from school and had all the usual anti-virus, firewall, and fourteen different spyware programs needed. Her network apparently makes it necessary to run Windows so I went shopping with her. We got to a few stores and ask for a laptop running XP (Vista isn’t supported because its … new) but we couldn’t find any. Online, we can’t find any that we are happy with. What frustrates me to no end is that we get no choice in the matter. Unhappily we get a 32-bit Vista system and I run the role of setting it up. I get to starting and have to accept the terrible restrictive EULA. Fine. I have to go through HP’s Personal Care system or something. It asks me for a name, email address, real address, etc etc. At this point, I get frustrated because I don’t want HP getting her information. I dislike the “send anonymous usage statistics to HP (recommended) check box. I dislike the tons of pre-installed programs that HP includes like Personal Care, AOL. ActiveX controls, etc. All this because we’re not given a choice in the matter, we don’t get to decide what we want installed, what startup programs launch (initially. I know we can msconfig the startup programs). I couldn’t even uninstall Internet Explorer (security holes that Microsoft refuses to close) so I installed Firefox and blocked IE from accessing the web. The frustrating matter is the lack of choice. What frustrates me moreover is the programs that request information about us to install. My email address inevitable becomes something along the lines of user@fakeemailadress.fake.

The other problem I have is how increadibly slow Vista was. We got a laptop with only a gig of RAM. Only a gig. and it ran slower than a snail in quicksand. By the time I was at the desktop, it took at least 45 minutes, not including the time required to set up firewalls, remove unnecessary programs, anti-virus, and anti-spyware. It took close to 2 hours to set up the laptop. In 30 minutes, with my sister’s laptop, we were online and surfing in a fourth of that. The laptop couldn’t even find my wireless network when it was less than 5 feet from the router (I think because it has a WEP-encrypted connection.)

Earlier that day, I was eating dinner with a cousin and she was explaining to me how she bought a brand new laptop, everything was maxed out for close to 1400 UDS and she had it for a few days. Yet she absolutely hated Vista, and returned the laptop. She wasn’t able to buy an XP system either so she just upgraded a computer with more RAM, better HDD, etc. Yet the thing that struck me was when she said “What are people going to do now that Microsoft isn’t supporting XP? What are people going to do, are we going to be stuck using Vista even if we don’t want to?” I told her I run Ubuntu at home and it accomplishes 100% of my tasks in a cleaner, safer (no viruses / spyware), without cost, and she couldn’t believe me. I ended up telling her that there is a vicious cycle related to the monopoly Microsoft has and I think it really struck home that people should get a choice in their computing experience. After all, a person’s computer is their property, they should decide what the OS does.


  1. … reasonable, just, I can’t stand the fonts in Linux: very blurry; what’s the point in squinting at something ‘free’

  2. http://www.dafont.com/

    or you can install the msttcorefonts package.

  3. required: depends on the settings (there are settings radically changing the look of the font on the screen), but I do see your point — ClearType is particularly readable, on a high contrast setting even on a CRT; this could be due to that it seems to only “blur” horizontally (which is similar to what Freetype seems to do on High hinting, but ultimately fails to make some fonts readable as a result)

    Freddy: I too find this attitude particularly stupid from Microsoft — and there’s no way in hell I’m shelling out so much money (I don’t mind paying for a software if I can afford it and the price is reasonable) for something so ridiculously bad. XP stays and the moment KDE 4 is out for Win I’m installing it there (too).

  4. Hi,

    You’ve split this post on a read more… did you mean to?


  5. @ Kirrus
    Yes I did because I get it aggregated on Planets that may appear offtopic.

    @ Henrik
    I don’t mind paying money if it is free and open (GPL) and what I need. I’m not a fan of anything restrictive but I don’t have any a choice in this matter.

  6. you know…after speaking with my friend who just happens to work for HP, all of that extra crap that gets installed now makes sense to me.

    You know how you sign up for Yahoo mail, or some free service and there are all those ads? Well Microsoft and HP do the same. In order to get the Microsoft Windows license so cheap, HP and Microsoft sell space on the actual computer for other software vendors to purchase so their software can get marketed. Ridiculous, but true. So that is how you get Windows for damn close to free on manufactured PCs/Laptops.

    It is nuts, so I shell out money and pay for this system that comes not only with software that I do not want, will not use, and will delete upon startup, but like you said, I have no choice in the matter. Well I do, but it is odd how most companies sell a PC w/o software/OS the same price or if not more. Speaking of which…this laptop (Compaq/HP), when I bought it, had more icons on the desktop than I have ever witnessed. My dad is an “icon on the desktop” kind of guy, and even his desktop on a 20+” CRT couldn’t even hold all of the icons. And lets not forget the worse part. All of that extra crap that is on your system, 90% of the time is a limited edition. 30, 60, or 90 days, and boom, they want you to pay more. A friend of mine just bought a new laptop and she thought she was covered with anti-virus, only to find out, after 90 days the anti-virus cut off, and now she calls me asking me how to get rid of viruses.

    So, if you are a Windows user and have a virus on your computer, the best anti-virus/virus remove can be downloaded from http://www.ubuntu.com ;p

  7. Or get a mac 🙂

  8. Well I changed laptop recently and got a Dell with Vista preinstalled (on which I installed a double boot Ubuntu system right away). I absolutely hate the amount of useless programs they did put into my windows installation, but I have also to say, I think they did an average job with Vista (I am ready for the flame war here 😉 ). Indexing is much more consistent and functioning than beagle, for once, the Aero interface is nothing compared to compiz…but compiz does not work that good right now, especially if you are under KDE. There are features which I love seeing right now in Vista (for example, as in Ubuntu, the fact that some folders are considered protected and need explicit authorisation to be written into), the gadget (they got it right IMHO) etc. I know it’s far frorm a perfect system. But considering I have hundreds of euros of commercial software (mostly games, but not only) which will run under Windows only, I think I did the right choice choosing Vista.

    Also, I would like to point out…if you took away the Aero interface the system speed should boost up very distinctly. And I doubt that compiz would fare that well on that laptop you bought: it is giving MY laptop performance problems in KDE with a NVIDIA GeForce 7300 and 2 GB RAM. If you strip Aero down I am sure you will find Vista can perform quite well 🙂

    About the software crap which comes along with the laptop….blame the business problem, but yet, that is a different issue from how good Vista is.

    Oh, and final note: KDE4 programmers should really produce good games for october, ’cause the ones included in Windows Vista are, simply put, GORGEOUS. I know you can’t judge a system from the little games it provides, but still 😉

    (Note: I am writing this comment in Kontact from Kubuntu – I use Windows basically when I want to put my Oblivion DVDs into use, which can be often 😀 )

  9. @Jerome
    If you want to pay 150% more then you need to, then upgrade to Quicktime pro, then realize that iLife no longer comes in your upgrades (site license). Not saying it’s not good hardware, it is, but it’s still way too much money.

    I find that Ubuntu 7.05 does everything that I need, font, codecs (except DVD, but I can change that with the click of a mouse 😉 ), and anything else. All for free, all working well. Since 7.04, I’ve never had an hardware issues on install, no font issues, nothing. It’s been smooth and wonderful. And the mac owners in the office just drop their jaws at the desktop cube and scroll wheel transparency. And now with Beagle, Avant-window-manager, etc, I can have a finder and dock.

  10. Heh. Nice one. My experience here -> but its way less detailed than this one ofcourse http://www.tuxmaniac.com/blog/2007/06/17/dell-xps-m1210-a-charm/

  11. maybe it’s because I searched in Germany, but while I searched for a new laptop for my business I found enough laptops where I could get XP. Both, HP and Dell offer systems with XP – maybe only in the business series.

    Being in the situation that I need XP I’m happy that there is a chance to get one. Didn’t you look at system from HP and Dell or do you have no way to get one from them with XP?

  12. Clean Vista can be quite pleasant and mostly have great performance. HP and other OEM vendors manage somehow to screw those installations always up 😦

    You know, in Windows it actually matters for instance in which order you install drivers (it can make 200% difference in for instance start-up time!).. Also, they screw up by installing all sorts of entirely unnecessary stuff…

  13. I buy a car, it’s mine, all mine. I expect the same thing when I buy a PC/laptop. It is mine, all mine, and I refuse to “share” with a crappy OpSys bundled with more crap then frills, such as Vista, and the software “time out”.

    I gave up buying pre-packaged machines – I build my own. It is simple, cheap if not cheaper and more co ntrol in the install and config of the OpSys, (Ubuntu by the way).

    It’s almost become a cottage industry for me, I get requests from friends, and their friends and friends of friends, for a PC and its intended use, and they happily cover the cost and the time assembling.

    With that crap from Redmond, the PC is never really yours – they just allowing you to borrow it, and if your going to spend a thousand bucks(US), the dam machine better be all yours and not a timeshare or co-op.

    I have placed side by side an XP-based machine, a Vista machine and an Ubuntu machine to “observe” the performance. I get tired of waiting for XP and Vista just to “bootup”, and by the time it does, I forget why I turned it on. In the meantime all tasks I wanted to do can be completed with Ubunutu’s less then 60 second boot to desktop.

    Not a gamer so frilly graphics don’t entice me.

    True- manufacturers load crap like the AOL and “other rediculous crappy SW” to lower consumer cost, but it sure be nice if they provide an easy way to “purge” that waste of MY compueter’s resources.

    If AOL wishes I keep their crap, they can pay me a monthly rental fee, same with the other crud.

    My experiences with customer service from some prebuilt machine companies is dismal as well. After the ten minutes of Q and A, its thier point of view that the problem is my fault, but they will fix it for a few hundred dollars and six months.

    Why don’t these manufacturers understand that when I make a purchase, it’s mine, not “ours”.

    The Linux OpSys help fulfill that simple dream of making a machine the true property of the owner, not a “shared” item.

    Go Linux!

    Go Ubuntu!!

    Want a machine to perform at it’s best – build it from the ground up. If you can install an OpSys, take the next step with a few common tools, an afternoon of patience, and buy each component and assemble yourself. In the end its an accomplishment that you can truely be proud of – and brag about being “mine”!

  14. Your experience has been mine also with a Toshiba Laptop to my grandfather in law. Even worse than taking all the crap they put in the machine is that in terms of usability, Vista isn’t as near of XP or Ubuntu as it should be… (at least thinking on the time they had to make a decent product)

  15. […] My experience with Vista. This post is about my struggle with Windows Vista. […] […]

  16. to Slacker: since you can’t post anything useful on my web log that is useful, I’ve blocked your IP and hope I never have to read anything you ever have to say. There is much more i’d like to tell you but I frankly don’t care enough.

  17. I’m a Linux user and we run Vista at work on a 1 gig PC dual boot with Feisty. It runs only slightly slower than Gnome, can’t really feel the difference if I turn off the aero effects .
    I think Vista is great, I would never buy it myself cause it’s too expensive ,but if you got it for free and run it with firefox instead of IE it’s not a bad OS, just a very boring one (and expensive ,did I mention that?)
    I suspect your friend who complained about Vista and ended getting more RAM , would complain even more if she had to use Ubuntu.

  18. @ sesho
    The problem with Vista is that yes, you can turn off the Aero effects (btw, I am running a computer with 512Mb of RAM and compiz that would make Aero cry) and it is still a hog. People recommend 2 gigs to get Vista to play nice and I have never gone over 1 gig on my desktop (the laptop holds up very nicely too, no performance problem). Everyone knows Windows is memory hog.

    Also, we didn’t get it “for free”, Bill Gates doesn’t become one of the worlds richest man by running a charity.

    Lastly, my friends biggest complaint was really price. She didn’t like paying $150 for Office 2007, another $100 for a gig stick of memory, etc etc.

  19. Someone posted earlier that XP would be supported for many more years along side Vista. I said XP isn’t supported because I know its not. Here is the proof: http://www.mozillazine.org/talkback.html?article=22198

    Microsoft refuses to fix this vulnerability as it’s “not a problem,” which leads me to think that they don’t support their products. Thats why I say their products are unsupported. Hell, I’ll patch the products but wait, I can’t see the source…that almost worked.

  20. “Everyone knows Windows is memory hog.” Oh, it’s just software as usual, quite comparable. What is different is the way it swaps (or doesn’t) and how it handles all sorts of buffers. That area is completely screwed up with Windows, it really doesn’t make use of a lot of your memory.. To be able to actually USE the 1 gigabyte you need 2. It’s really really screwed and kernel fault. The software itself is quite aok.

    By the way, Office 2007 is just awesome and worth that money. We can agree about the rest (os, memory chips, etc) but Office2007 has got plain superior usability, and feature set if you compare it with OOo. Also, it makes creating beautiful and professional looking documents extremely easy (mostly automatic) unlike OOo.

  21. @ eric
    I have yet to use Office 2007 so I wouldn’t know, I’ll give it a look when I meet some rich friends that can afford to buy it :-). I never said anything about office other than the price because I haven’t used it and the issue was with the price not OOo vs. MS Office 2007.

  22. @Freddy Martinez
    “Lastly, my friends biggest complaint was really price. She didn’t like paying $150 for Office 2007, another $100 for a gig stick of memory, etc etc.”
    Sadly , most people still prefer to complain and pay an extra buck then try an alternative….

    “Office 2007 is just awesome and worth that money”
    office 2007 is certain cool , but it really depends on your salary , the average salary where I live is 200 US$ a month. Is Office 2007 worth our money ? I don’t think so

  23. @ Sesho
    The sad part is that using an alternative wasn’t an option. She needed Vista and Office and what not for her college.

  24. Couldn’t she have run Linux with Office on crossover.
    I run word2000 (for my university ) quite smoothly on wine , though it doesn’t print

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