It's been quite awhile since I actually spent some time in front of a Vista system. About a year and a half, actually. The other day, I decided to give it a go once more, and this time, in style. I'm spending the week foregoing my normal Linux and Mac workstations and laptops in favor of a Vista Ultimate system. Back in February 2007 I found some problems, but I didn't hate Vista. I find that now, I'm actually enjoying Vista. I'm sure this revelation will come with some form of pestilence, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria, and so forth, but there it is.
Of course, I'm using a ridiculously powerful workstation, which I'm certain is the major factor in my appreciation. I don't think IBM makes the zPros any more, but this Intellistation zPro has dual Intel 5160 dual-core 3.0Ghz CPUs, 8GB RAM, an nVidia Quadro 3500 graphics adapter, and SAS drives. I'm using Sun's magnificent 24.1" LCD monitor, and a second 20.1" LCD to complete the picture (so to speak). It's terribly attractive.
My quest with Vista was to replicate my normal working application set, Vista-style. Of course, the tried-and-true native bash shell isn't possible (without Cygwin, anyway), but I'm finding that there are enough alternatives to replicate my must-have applications.
I'm using Ecto for Windows to post to my blog, which appears to be as featureful as Ecto for the Mac, and this version is arguably sexier than the 2.4.2 I've been running on my Macs. Ecto 3.0 on the Mac appears to share the design elements of this version, however.
With Office 2007 installed, alongside Thunderbird, FireFox, Pidgin, WinAmp, and a smattering of handy gadgets, I'm feeling quite at home. I even tossed a 2GB USB drive in to run the ReadyBoost flash paging stuff. Although no operating system should be slow or sluggish on this hardware, Vista is actually surprisingly fast. Apps launch in a flash, and the overall system performance is very snappy. I guess I should mention that the Windows Experience Index of this box is 5.8, with all components at 5.9 except gaming graphics at 5.8. Since 5.9 is the max, it's safe to say that I'm running at the top end of the scale.
I'm running Vista Ultimate x64 SP1, and haven't run into too many software incompatibilities so far, showing that my 17-month departure from Vista has allowed developers time to catch up. Even the most persnickety apps from last time seem to play nice.
The one major downside is the sheer number of times I have had to reboot. Every little thing seems to require a reboot, especially compared to Linux and Mac OS X, that only need a reboot once in a blue moon. I've also run into some odd window focus issues that drove me mad until I rebooted (of course), but I can see how someone well-versed in the Windows reboot trend from years of Windows 98, 2000, and XP would think that Vista hardly ever needs to reboot, and count that as a positive step.
At the moment, I have a half-dozen SSH sessions running using Private Shell (which I've found to be a very decent Windows SSH client), FireFox, Thunderbird, Microsoft Word, Ecto for Windows, Outlook, Pidgin, and six widgets, including the XM Radio widget tuned to Beyond Jazz. I'm also running Nokia's PC Suite applet, and another dozen tray apps. The CPU load is around 5%, 26% of the 8GB RAM in use (2095MB).
The infamous UAC warnings have been toned down somewhat, but it's very annoying when they do appear, as they blank both screens for an instant when they are invoked, and again when they are dismissed. I'm not sure if that's a driver issue or not -- I'm using nVidia's drivers, so I'd hope that wasn't the issue. I've also had some applications vanish from the taskbar, yet still be running (and accessible from the Task Manager), and some other relatively minor nonsense. The new Start menu is really annoying, oh, and the lack of middle-button pasting (a la X11) is driving me batty.
Other than those issues, I've been pleasantly surprised so far. Now let's see if I can last the week.