Vista Upgrade: The Not-So-Rosy Picture

You thought you were finished with me and my Vista rants. No such luck, folks. According to the e-mail I've been getting, the buzz around Vista is still alive and well.

Things aren't looking so hot for Vista's right-around-the corner consumer release. There are a slew of reports that make me wonder if Vista's rough edges are going to keep lots of people from upgrading.

Step Into the Lab

Let's start with a PC World Labs report. After testing the soon-to-be-released Vista, it's clear that if you want to use all of Vista's features, you're going to need a truckload of power--at a minimum, 1GB of RAM and a fast dual-core processor. It makes me wonder if Vista's worth the move.

There's other not-so-good news. Notebooks users are going to see some of Vista's features gobbling up more battery power than they expected.

On the can't-we-just-work-together front: Security vendors (McAfee and Symantec, for instance) are unhappy with Microsoft. They're claiming Microsoft's making it difficult for them to gain access to the part of the OS they need in order to upgrade their antivirus and anti-spyware tools to work with Vista. The hottest issue, among other things, is host-based intrusion detection. I love it when these behemoths duke it out---provided, of course, they work things out before everyone upgrades.

Not surprisingly, our IDG News folks are saying that large companies are reluctant to upgrade for the reasons I've mentioned, and also because of program incompatibilities, the risk of hardware drivers not being available, and Microsoft's reluctance to issue patches for Vista.

If you're planning on playing content that's protected by digital rights management on a high-end audio device, such as one with a Sony/Philips Digital Interface (S/PDIF), you may be out of luck. Chris Mellor, of IDG's Techworld, reports that Vista disables equipment that doesn't have content protection features.

On the hacking side of things, Engadget reports that that there's a way to "freeze the 30-day countdown timer within the operating system in order to prevent it from ever leaving the fully functional evaluation mode."

I'm sure the Microsofties are on the case.

Dig This: Moe and Edna sent me a link to a movie trivia site. They said, "We had a blast with this one in the office. We managed to figure out 15 out of 20 (there's no answer sheet on the site) and wasted about 15 minutes." Me, I'm stuck at 2 out of 20.

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Free Vista With All the Trimmings

I looked on the front door porch: nada. Ditto for the back door. I was looking for the Acer Ferrari laptop loaded with Vista and Office 2007 that Microsoft was sending to a list of special bloggers.

With all my bad-mouthing, you might not be surprised to hear that I'm not on any of Microsoft's lists--except that very special one that starts with a capital "S" and ends with a "t." I was put on that list in 1995 after making what were called "disparaging" remarks.

It happened at PIBMUG, the users group I ran. Microsoft was there to show off Win 95 to the group's 2000 members. I was on stage doing the intro. The microphone wasn't working and a Microsoftie fiddled with it for a few minutes. When I got sound, I glibly said, "Wow, that's the best tech support I've ever had from Microsoft." I couldn't help myself.

The Laptop Deal

The laptops, according to 18-year-old Long Zheng, a blogger living in Australia, aren't gifts, but review units to help bloggers become familiar with Vista. Recipients have options: Keep the computer, return it, or donate it to charity. Read Zheng's blog for his take on the arrangement.

I don't know any of the bloggers on Zheng's list except for Ed Bott. Ed worked here at PC World eons ago. I know Ed and he's an ethical, by-the-book, straight-arrow kind of guy. He has a different opinion.

Ed's bottom line is the same as mine: We can't be bought or influenced.

Dig This: Oh, mind reading is cool, even if it's from an animation.

My Vista Plan

I'm installing Vista on my old production PC, but I thought it would be good to install Vista on a squeaky clean machine, too. So I also asked TigerDirect if I could use a brand-new Venture VX2 Systemax PC for a little over a month--it comes with an invoice, don't worry. I can ship it back in 45 days or pay the $2000 price tag.

The Systemax machine has an Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 2.66-GHz 1066FSB processor, an Intel D975XBX 2KR S775 ATX motherboard, 2GB PC6400 800-MHz DDR2 RAM, a 500GB RAID 0 Stripe SATA drive, and an ATI Radeon X1950 512MB video adapter.

I'll give you my impressions after I get back from the Consumer Electronics Show in a few weeks.

I have to run. I think I hear the dogs barking at the DHL truck.

Steve Bass writes PC World's monthly "Hassle-Free PC" column and is the author of PC Annoyances, 2nd Edition: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Personal Computer, available from O'Reilly. He also writes PC World's daily Tips & Tweaks blog. Sign up to have Steve's newsletter e-mailed to you each week. Comments or questions? Send Steve e-mail.
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