I recently posted about getting back in touch with Vista after a rocky start almost a year and a half ago. My conclusions were then (and are now) that Vista isn't the terrible disgrace that some might think. It's definitely not perfect, but it's not that bad.
Of course, I was also running it on an extremely high-end IBM Intellistation zPro with 8GB RAM and a few dual-core CPUs. This is far above the spec that most Vista users enjoy.
So, I decided to scale back a bit, and switch form factors. I'm writing this post on an HP Compaq 2710p tablet running Vista Business Edition with tablet support. HP sent this unit to me at my request, and I heartily thank them for the opportunity. I wanted this system because it's around a year old, and shows off the tablet support in Vista. It has an Intel Core 2 Duo at 1.20Ghz, 2GB of RAM, and an 80GB 4200 RPM SATA disk. Not too shabby for an ultraportable laptop first released last year, but obviously not nearly the same horsepower as the IBM workstation.
I've only had the system for a few days, but I'm embarking on the same basic premise of my earlier posts -- I'm going to forego my MacBook Pro and MacBook Air for a little while, and see if I can work with Vista in a mobile setting.
Part of this is due to my apparent trend towards challenging my own notions. I'm a strictly OSS kinda guy except for my laptops. My personal servers and workstations run a few different varieties of Linux, with the servers tending towards FreeBSD. My laptops are Macs with the exception of a Dell Latitude running CentOS. I haven't run Windows as a primary desktop for a decade. Currently, my sole Windows desktop is the aforementioned IBM zPro, with a few Windows XP VMs floating around the lab.
My only real criteria for desktop operating systems is that they get out of my way. Eye candy is nice, if it's within reason, but core functionality is key, along with the ability to be basically transparent -- when I want to do something at the OS level, I want to get it done, and not spend time dallying around with the OS itself. If you saw my normal working environment, you'd see a dozen brower windows open, a dozen terminals open, logged into different servers, perhaps a 6509 and a router or two, an IM client, Microsoft Word or OpenOffice Writer, and one or two email clients like Thunderbird. I generally run my laptops and workstations very hard.
So far I'm reasonably impressed; the Vista handwriting recognition is surprisingly accurate, and I have horrible handwriting (the unfortunate downside to spending so much time in front of a keyboard). More importantly, the sleep/suspend cycles have yet to fail me. This is a big deal, as I believe that rebooting any system should be an extremely rare event. The one big downside is the lack of a native bash or (in a pinch) csh shell. I'm going to install Cygwin eventually, but it's still not the same.
In any event, it should make for an interesting experiment. I'm going into it with a completely open mind and I have every expectation that I'll survive.