Living With Vista: First 30 Days

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Where's the Wow?

In many cases, where users end up with Vista depends in large part on where they started. Survey respondents who bought Vista preinstalled on new systems were less likely to report problems than those who upgraded older machines. Obscure or less popular peripherals and apps also tend to generate more trouble than mainstream ones, says Bott.

"Vista is very usable right now by tech folks who are not afraid to implement workarounds and tweak settings to get things to work," says Mary Jo Foley, editor of the All About Microsoft blog. "It also seems usable if you get it preloaded on new machines. But as far as upgrading an older machine to Vista: I am hearing quite a few horror stories there...even among fairly technically savvy folks."

Even those who say they like Vista don't necessarily recommend you rush out and buy it. Most advise waiting for more drivers and the first service pack to arrive before considering an upgrade, or waiting until you need a new system and Vista is your only non-Mac option.

Vendors say the real benefits of Vista will start to appear after the awkward transition period has passed. That likely won't happen until SP1 is released.

"The transition to any new operating system is often bumpy at first," says nVidia's Diercks. "In a few months' time, all of this will be a distant memory, and users will enjoy exciting games and features in Vista that redefine computing and entertainment on the PC."

Users, however, aren't that impressed. "I consider Vista an evolution of Windows," says Jim Middleton, a 55-year-old IT analyst in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who says he's "somewhat satisfied" with Vista. "It takes advantage of modern hardware, supports new standards, etc... but there is nothing 'must have' in the OS. Given Microsoft had five years to work on this thing, I think they could have done a much better job."

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