Vista on a Laptop, Part 1

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In my recent articles about Windows Vista ("Switching to Vista, Part 1" and "Switching to Vista, Part 2"), I asked readers for their input. Specifically, I wanted to know: What was the Vista upgrade experience like? What are the best things about Vista, particularly for notebook users? What are the drawbacks?

I received over two dozen replies. This week, I'll pass along what readers said about the upgrade experience. Next week, I'll focus on the pros--things readers love about Vista. The week after, I'll present the cons. Without further ado, here are some reader comments about upgrading.

A Dual Upgrade

Gerald Branch of Dallas, Pennsylvania, has performed both a clean install and an in-place installation upgrade to Vista on his HP Pavilion notebook. Microsoft offers two upgrade paths to Vista from Windows 2000 and later versions: A clean install wipes your hard drive before installing Vista, while an in-place installation leaves your applications, drivers, and other files intact during Vista installation.

Gerald did the clean install first, then performed the in-place installation out of curiosity. Both went smoothly, he reports, although the in-place installation took longer--which gels with what Phil Aldrich, Microsoft practice manager for systems integrator Dimension Data North America, told me about the upgrade.

Encountering Incompatibilities

Glynn Brooks of Plano, Texas performed an in-place upgrade on his Compaq Presario notebook in December 2006. The Vista Upgrade Advisor, which is designed to flag potential incompatibilities and other problems users may have in upgrading, identified a few software incompatibilities, such as with his DVD burner software, Glynn says. He uninstalled those programs, continued with the installation, and recently upgraded his DVD burner software to a Vista-compatible version.

All told, it took Glynn over two hours to perform the upgrade. "But it required very little attention on my part after the first 15 minutes," he adds. "All my application programs work; all settings were retained; and there were no missing drivers."

Before doing a clean install of Vista on his two-year-old Dell Latitude notebook, Bob Liptrot of Clinton, Connecticut, upgraded the memory to 2GB. The Vista upgrade "went way smoother than I thought it would," Bob reports.

After upgrading, Bob experienced some application incompatibilities, such as with Apple's iTunes (since fixed with iTunes 7.1.1) and his HP PhotoSmart printer (also now fixed). He says nontechies should probably wait for compatibility issues with some software applications and device drivers to be resolved before upgrading. "But if you're technical at all," he adds, "go for it."

Kevin Grady of Ashland, Kentucky, who provides tech support and computer training to customers, recounts this upgrade story: "I was working on a guy's computer last night. His old computer died and he got a new tower from HP (with Vista). Everything was going well until we tried to install some of the things he uses. His printer, camera, scanner...would not work with Vista and the manufacturers say they will not be making drivers for Vista." The net result: Kevin's client not only had to buy a new PC, but he now must also buy a new printer/scanner.

"What bothers me is, the manufacturers knew Vista was coming," Kevin says. "This was not a huge surprise." And yet, too many software and hardware manufacturers did not have updated drivers or patches ready upon Vista's release, and some are saying they won't have them until summer or even later, Kevin adds.

Have It Both Ways?

Microsoft's Virtual PC 2007 is a free program designed to let users run multiple operating systems on one PC at the same time, so you could have Vista as well as Windows XP, MS-DOS, OS/2, or other OS (but not a Mac OS) on your PC and switch back and forth as needed. However, in his blog about the tool, PC World Contributing Editor Steve Bass points out recently that the Vista Home Basic and Vista Home Premium licenses prohibit users from running those operating systems in a virtualized environment.

For More Information About Upgrading to Vista

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