Foresight?

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy
James Madison (American 4th US President (1809-17), and one of the founding fathers of his country. 1751-1836)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The cost of upgrading to Vista...

Okay...here I sit...the one who stated that he would not upgrade to Vista until after the first service pack...well...I am now here to tell you that I have gone the Vista route, as cautiously as possible, and boy do I have a story for you. Let me start out by saying to Microsoft:

HOW IN THE HELL CAN YOU PUT OUT AN OS THAT IS NOT ONLY INCOMPATIBLE WITH SO MUCH SOFTWARE, BUT LACKS DRIVER SUPPORT (*cough*NVIDIA), AND LACKS IN SO MANY WAYS ANY REAL PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENTS?

I was fortunate enough to get two copies of the OEM version of VISTA HOME PREMIUM, yes they are legit and yes I got irritated peeling off one of the security stickers off one end of the little white cardboard sleeves. After slipping the clear plastic DVD case out of the sleeve I was pretty excited to see what this little gem had to offer...after all the Vista hype and so on. Little did I know this cursed little platter would have served a better purpose fertilizing mushrooms...but I digress. Anyhow, being one to not go and ruin a perfectly fine machine, XP PRO(tweaked the way I like it), I opted to use my newest test box for this "upgrade" (a term I will use loosely throughout this post). The hardware was as follows:

ABIT KN8 SLI Motherboard
AMD FX-60 Processor
2GB OCZ Performance PC3200 (DDR400) RAM
120GB Western Digital 1.5gb/s SATA Hard Drive
Plextor DVD RW Drive
EVGA NVIDIA 7900GS 256MB Video Card

Nothing on the hardware side is overclocked...all of it is working as it should...and I must say it isn't a slackin' machine by any means for Vista. I did however debate on whether I wanted to "upgrade" from XP or do a clean install. Well, I opted for a clean install, via the install once with no code and again with a code, however this seems like a waste of time...it did work, albeit I had a "WINDOWS.OLD" folder that ate up 10GB worth of space. This kind of left me wondering whether or not Vista would have just installed straight up after entering the product key. I will have to investigate that further at a later date...as I am sure to '86 this install in the near future.

The install left me no real options...I booted from the DVD...it had an option to upgrade or do a custom install. The upgrade option was grayed out and unavailable, so I had to opt for the custom install, which just consisted of picking the disk and performing any advanced functions on the drive selected (format\partition\etc...). Other than that...it was pretty straight forward and beyond putting in my locale info (time zone, keyboard type, language) along with an ID and password information...I was pretty much done with actually installing Vista and now it was time to FIX VISTA to work with my hardware.

The first major issue that has yet to really be rectified is the fact that my video card is having issues. It all started with Vista substituting the Microsoft version of the Nvidia driver...that was beautiful...text was alternating between light and dark (regular and bold font size) no matter what resolution or refresh rate I used. I updated the driver to the EVGA\Nvidia v.100.65 driver, which cleaned up the drastic difference in the font and left me with a red halo around bold fonts. Then I found a newer EVGA\Nvidia driver v.101.41, all of which are beta drivers, which I installed and much to my disappointment...still a damn red halo around bold text. At this point I figured I might be just too anal in my expectations, so I figured I would look past the font issue and just toss a game on to see if it effected that in the same way as the font. After installing BF2...well...with the colors going crazy and the screen flickering...I figured that yes...there is still alot to be desired in the area of EVGA\Nvidia drivers working under Vista. I concluded that this problem would have to wait until there was a suitable driver for my card in Vista.

The second issue was the integrated sound card on my motherboard, RealTEK AC'97 Audio. Yeah...I know a few of you are laughing your asses off with that...well...you are probably the jackasses who can tell a difference of a bird chirp on my gear and the $200 card you have :P Anyhow...after getting Vista up it found this audio card as a RealTEK, but with an unsuitable driver? What the hell is that? Anyhow...off I go in search for a driver...you would think that ABIT would have Vista drivers for it's products on their website...then you would be wrong. I think the last time they updated the downloads on their site was 2005, so I had to go in search on RealTEK's site...and EURIKA...they had a Vista driver that worked flawlessly. Although Vista's UAC service made it clear that I would not be able to use the HD Audio function of Vista with this card. Thanks Vista for letting me know that!? PFT!!

Third issue is kind of related to the first...the Nforce network adapter wasn't recognized by Vista. Heading over to the Nvidia site, as ABIT is severly lacking in updated drivers, I found the Nforce4 driver I needed and BOOYAH...in business.

Fourth issue...revolves around my wireless card...an Edimax Wireless Turbo Card...great card with a tethered antennae that works like the BOMB! Now like ABIT Edimax doesn't have a driver for the card on their site, but they are nice enough to point you to a link of the chipset manufacturer for the driver...and uhh...it wasn't for Vista and didn't work in Vista. So, I remembered that previously this card used the RaLink utility to connect in XP...soooooo...I headed over to the RaLink site to find the latest Vista ready app. There it was...and as it turns out this utility has an equivalent driver that works great.

Finally on the hardware front...my monitor...an AG Neovo 19" LCD...it had a generic driver and that just bothered me...along with the whole font issue with the display driver. I opted to change the monitor driver only after the previous graphic card drivers failed to resolve any of the problems I was having, so I figured it might be that. AG Neovo had a driver for this monitor, but again it wasn't for Vista and I could not find ANY other means to get one. However, the XP driver seemed to work fine...as it was recognized without issue.

The hardware issues weren't so bad really...something you would expect with any upgrade, but it is the lack of driver support that really irks me. This is not a new issue either, but in the graphics area in particular...one would expect one of the top graphic card manufacturers to have a damn updated driver for their product ready for the release of THE major OS of the world. This problem is totally in the hands of Nvidia and in my opinion is one hell of a fumble. Fumble or not though...I, as well as other, are loyal or die hard fans of Nvidia and would rather wait than go to the other side. However, you need to get off your asses Nvidia and get this fixed...for the sake of my Vista experience and I NEED TO GAME! The other hardware manufacturers mentioned before, ABIT and EDIMAX, you guys are ridiculous. You make the product...you sell the product, but you don't support the product...and this is just in reference to keeping the drivers updated on your site. How many average users are going to know to go and search out for the chipset or component manufacturer for a driver. I would guess far less than you would expect, so get on the ball guys...provide a service with your product...to at very least keep updated drivers on your site(s).

Now it is time for probably the biggest pain during my whole experience with Vista thus far, UAC. UAC was behind every damn prompt to install or do anything that was beyond what the average user would do and yes I did disable it. I found it funny that when I was researching exactly what UAC was...almost always the description was followed by the various ways to disable or tweak it to be more friendly. However, most sites that dealt with "tweaking Vista" in particular would go on to have "disabling UAC" in one of there 10 top tweaks or as the very first thing to disable. All of these sites would go on to say how they don't recommend it, but continue right on to instruct one on how to do so. Yeah...UAC sucks...as does Defender...and the Firewall. I will use my own apps for these things...at least those that work with Vista, which leads right into the whole point of this article aside from the upgrade process I went through.

That point would be...what is the real cost of Vista? The cost is in fact alot more than the sticker price for the OS itself when you consider what hardware upgrades you need and what software upgrades you need to have the system you had before without sacrificing performance. In regards to hardware...if you are a gamer or someone who does alot of media projects...well you are gonna want a system that rates on the MS rating system somewhere between 4.2-5.0 or higher, which will most definitely mean an upgrade in CPU, VIDEO, RAM, or Motherboard. One of these items will have to be upgraded to attain such a rating. The other side of this money pit is the software. In my day of installing all my software on Vista...I became all to aware of what wasn't working...and after visiting some of these software developer sites...well...they either just did not support Vista yet or the version of their software I had did not work with Vista and I would have to upgrade. I added up the software I would have to have in order to be both productive and entertained as I was on XP and it came out to a staggering $1200. I personally do not have that kind of cash to throw at software just because Microsoft wanted to develop an OS that refuses to work with software that isn't NEW. However, I don't feign to think that Microsoft gives a shit about my or anyone elses financial inability to keep up with the Jones' or this upgrade track that Microsoft has set for everyone.

In any event I took the jump and although I don't like it...it seems we will all have to do it eventually. That is "IF" you want to be technologically viable in your knowledge of an OS that will take roots in most companies and offices eventually...not to mention your homes as PC manufacturers adopt this OS. I do not for a minute like the fact that Microsoft put out an OS that is not backward compatible with older software, but what are you gonna do if your hands are shackled to this beast known as Vista. I know...there are those that say go to Linux or use a Mac...well there is no guarantee that my software will work with those either. I do wish I would have waited and saved myself a little bit of frustration and I do most definitely suggest to those of you who have not upgraded yet to do just that...WAIT. Let the bugs get worked out...these bugs such as driver support, software support, and those geniuses out there that figure out the best tweaks and such. You will save yourself alot of stress in doing so.

I also want to add...if you do upgrade feel free to share with everyone that visits. I get A LOT of emails and not alot of comments...comment please...that is what it is there for. Thanks!

2 comments:

Drakken Ravenclaw said...

You should have gone with your instinct to not upgrade to Vista until at least the first service pack. Did you try Vista's Upgrade Advisor before trying to upgrade? Its rather useful in determining what might need upgrading and what wont be compatible (for now). It wasnt only Microsoft's fault that there is little driver support, many companies have had some time to beta test and/or purchase the RTM.

I got my hands on a copy of Vista Ultimate, for testing purposes, and although very shiny, I saw no real advantage to using it over XP. If anything it was worse. A lot had changed and those who arent computer geeks will struggle having to learn where everything is. Also, using the full capacity of Vista's shininess (Aero), it idled on startup at about 600 MB RAM. Even if I had 4 GB I wouldnt want the OS alone using up a fourth of my RAM. XP Pro uses about 230, and never more than 350.

ctrl said...

Well there is a lot to be said for instincts...unfortunately one doesn't truly appreciate instincts over impulse at the time of reckoning. Damn...that almost sounds poetic, but true.

I did in fact use the upgrade adviser and the only issues it showed was that the AC'97 sound card and the Edimax network card needed a driver upgrade. So, to boot into Vista and see all these other issues was surprising, as I did go into this open minded and actually gave Microsoft the benefit of the doubt in regards to the Upgrade Advisor anyhow.

As of last night...I have managed to get rid of all my real issues with the exception of the Nvidia video driver problem, which is the most annoying as it is the most noticeable (fonts with reddish ghosting and gaming issues). However, after some tweaking I have managed to tame Vista to respond the way I want it to. I spent a lot of time messing with UAC, as I didn't want to totally disable it.

I would say geeks and novices alike will have some learning curve, but I do feel for the end user who has no real interest to learn those things they need to in order to tweak Vista to their needs.

Now the memory issue is kind of cool actually. Where in XP you always had large reserve of physical memory available...with Vista it will cache almost all of your memory, I think I had 32mb free out of 4gb, so that it is actually used. This memory allocation in the end will make the system perform faster as more of your physical memory is used for caching and so on.

Thanks for the comment Drakken Ravenclaw