Found something useful? Don't forget to leave a comment!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Windows Vista: The Real Story

It seems that everyone's mind has been solidly inundated with horror stories about Windows Vista and how bloated and slow it is and how horribly it runs on not-so-new computers. I have been using Vista now for quite some time, both on a low-end single-core desktop and a high-powered Core 2 laptop. Compared to XP, I am EXTREMELY satisfied with my Vista experience on both machines.


Vista: It ain't so bad...

The desktop in question is a true bargain-basement system, a lowest-of-the-low prebuilt Compaq. To be honest, it is slightly souped up, but the base specs would have had a hard time running even XP decently. I wasn't expecting much when I threw Vista onto this underpowered box, but I am quite pleased with the end results.

  • Compaq SR5110NX
  • AMD Athlon 64 @ 2.4GHz (single core Orleans chip)
  • ECS nForce4 430 motherboard
  • 1.5GB DDR2-667 RAM (up from the original 512MB)
  • ATI Radeon HD 2400 Pro/256MB DDR2 with VGA/DVI/HDMI (up from the original integrated GF6150SE)
  • nForce integrated Ethernet + Netgear WG311T wireless card
  • Seagate 7200.7 120GB SATA 3.0Gbps 7200 RPM HDD
  • no-name 16x Lightscribe DVD burner
  • Windows Vista Home Premium SP1
  • AMD/ATI TV Wonder 650 USB HDTV Tuner

A meager machine, no doubt, but guess what? This baby not only runs a stock install of Vista snappily enough, but can handle HDTV recording via Media Center any day. Average RAM consumption is about 450MB, well below the 1.5GB available. Thanks to the Radeon 2400 Aero runs fluidly.

So why the big disparity between perception and real-world performance? When Vista first came out back in January 2007, it had its share of issues. Computers were sold that were barely capable of running XP, let alone Vista; consumers hoping to invest in a cheap Vista computer were, unsurprisingly, disgusted. Intel took a lot of heat for selling substandard integrated graphics parts, which simply weren't up to snuff when running Vista's Aero interface. Vista did have demanding hardware requirements - the problem was that big-box computer manufacturers failed to prepare adequately for the Vista launch.

Now, the situation has improved, and virtually all consumer machines sold today are more than capable of running Vista - even on anemic integrated graphics parts. You will still find computers sold with only 1GB of RAM, but from firsthand experience I can say that Vista WILL run. Don't expect any miracles - budget computers are intended for easygoing tasks, so you get what you pay for.

Microsoft has also matured Vista with the release of Service Pack 1 (SP1) back in April 2008. Like any new OS, the RTM version of Vista was plagued with a slew of annoying bugs and glitches, which SP1 has helped to resolve. SP1 may also be responsible for improved system memory usage as well. In general, I find that a fully-updated Vista system is just as good as, if not better than, the same system running on XP SP3.

Maybe the critics were right in the beginning, but they sure as hell don't have a lot of credibility now. XP will remain around for the foreseeable future, but Vista is now a formidable contender in the Windows OS market. Now we wait and see what Windows 7 brings...

No comments: