It's Not Done 'till Firefox Won't Run

I wrote previously that I think Vista, in its current state, is inferior to Windows XP (particularly for businesses -- Directx 10 will make Vista a must for gamers).  For my desktop computers, I build them myself and can still get Windows XP OEM through NewEgg.  Unfortunately, for my kids new laptop, I had no choice but Vista.  I have not been very happy.  Here are my results so far.

  1. It is way slower than XP, even on a fast dual-core Intel machine with a Nvidia 7900 graphics card.  You may have thought that the reboot and shut down process could not have gotten slower - WRONG!  Shutdown alone takes forever.
  2. Many machines being sold today with Vista are not fast enough to really run it.  In particular, if your laptop is more than a year old or you paid less than $1700 or so for it, it is probably not going to do the job
  3. Um, its pretty
  4. Firefox will not run reliably.  It will install, and run once, and then it will give an error if you try to run it again.  It does not uninstall fully, and once (I tried to install and remove several times) it did not even show up in the uninstall menu
  5. Unlike with XP, networking did not work right off the bat with Vista.  I had to do a lot of fiddling in menus that the average user wil never find or understand to get it running.
  6. Of course, as is usual, Microsoft has felt the need to yet again totally reorganize control panel and the right-click-on-the-desktop menu.  I am sure some day the new organization will seem natural, but for now its just a gratuitous change with no apparent benefit

If at all possible, I advise you to wait for Service Pack 1, and for Moore's Law to let average computers catch up with Vista's requirements.  And don't even think about upgrading if you have old printers, scanners, and/or oddball devices you need to hook up -- there are very few Vista drivers out there for legacy equipmet


  1. Ken:

    On point 5: in the first sentence, I think you meant that the last word should be Vista, not XP.

  2. Keith Casey:

    I bought a new laptop the night before last and was prepared for the same problems. Luckily, I wiped the sucker clean right out of the box - going to try to get a refund for Vista - and am putting Fedora Core 6 on it now. I figure if I need WindowsXP, I can use VMWare.

  3. Sol:

    That was my plan too, more or less -- buy a Vista laptop, wipe it clean, and install XP. (Does FC6 work reliably on the laptop? I've got FC3 or 4 as a dualboot on my current laptop, but it had some issues -- most notably no support for the built-in wireless.)

    At least as of a couple of weeks ago when I checked, you could still buy XP laptops from various companies -- you just had to look for a "business" system. I would imagine that will continue to be true for months. But the systems I found seemed quite unappealing.

  4. Brad Warbiany:

    I've heard that it can use a USB flash drive as cache, which really speeds it up... Since you can get a 2 GB USB drive from Microcenter for $12.99 on sale ($15.99 normally), that might be worthwhile to look into.

    Oh, and Microsoft tried to break Firefox compatibility? What a shock!

    I remember back in the old days, when I was still on dial-up, trying to set up a new computer and then use IE to try to download Netscape Navigator, IE always would crash on the Netscape site... I've always believed that was intentional...

  5. Miles:

    As to gamers, hasn't that market gone to dedicated consoles (i.e. XBox, PlayStation and Wii)? I can't even see the point of gaming support in Vista...

  6. Keith Casey:

    After dorking around with FC6 for an hour or two, I went with Ubuntu and it's working happily now. :)

  7. Chris Fritz:

    On the Acer Aspire AS5570-2792 Notebook PC (1.6GHz processor, and I think it has two of them; 512MB RAM), Vista seems pretty good to me. The boot time to login screen is comparable with Kubuntu. Loading the desktop takes a while, but that shouldn't be as much a bother after I turn off a lot of the autorun stuff (much of it on there by default by Acer). I haven't had a chance to install any additional software, but since I switched to Opera last year, I'd be trying that over Firefox. I can't imagine Microsoft would deliberately try to shut out Firefox...and not have people noticing and posting about it widely for the past half a year. (I could be wrong here. This is one of those "let me know when it's posted on Slashdot" things for me.)

    Shutdown also takes longer than it seems it should, especially with as quickly as I watch Kubuntu shut down.

    When I first started up the laptop, I had to go through some Vista installation procedure which also configured which "pretty graphic effects" the user interface could handle, so it's downgraded enough the things are pretty quick. Anything that switches from one image to another (such as viewing images, changing backgrounds, etc.), the images change instantly. I haven't yet tried this out in Kubuntu to compare.

    Now, Vista did have a problem where it wouldn't boot suddenly -- I had to spend an hour with the Acer recovery DVD for it to get Vista "reset" (luckily it left Kubuntu alone), then through the Vista install (under 30 minutes, whereas the Kubuntu install was about 10 minutes not counting partitioning).

    Back to Firefox, if I were installing a web browser, I'd be installing Opera (I mean, I personally would be, not saying others should be). However, IE 7 looks so nice... (and this coming from a web developer known to not be friendly to IE 6 or below). I know that IE 7 is still lacking a lot on the web standards side, but they've made enough progress that IE 7 doesn't mess up my super-simple layouts like IE 6 does. That's worth some praise for the IE team! For the time being, I'm planning on sticking with IE 7 to see what it's like in common use when using the laptop at work and not running Kubuntu Linux.

    From a business perspective, I can see sticking with XP. For a home user planning on sticking Linux on there, I would recommend at least trying Vista out, and giving it a fair chance. Then go back to Linux where all the wonderful software is (you just can't get so much good stuff for Windows!)

    I do like the part of the Vista user agreement whereas it's illegal to use it in VMWare, etc. =D

    --Chris Fritz, Devote Linux/Opera User, Believe it or Not (but I'm told that's because I haven't tried *BSD yet.)

  8. JW:

    I've been running Vista Business on my PC for a couple weeks now. (I do IT for a living, so it's in my interest to get to know it ASAP.) Here are the relevant specs of my PC:

    AMD Athlon64 3000+ (single core)
    Asus K8V mobo
    1 GB DDR RAM
    80 GB 7200 RPM PATA hard drive
    ATI Radeon x700 Pro 256 MB video card

    It is a bit clunkier performance-wise than XP, but not dramatically. No problem with drivers, though I haven't tried installing Roxio or POwerDVD yet. Rise of Legends still brings down the entire computer, just like on XP (grr).

    I'm curious about your Firefox issue. I haven't had any problems installing or using it. Ditto for networking. I have a Marvell GB NIC on the mobo, which Vista had drivers for.

    But yes, it is purdier than XP, which is about the best thing you can say about it. I'm not sold on the security aspect of it yet, considering you are still installing the default user as an admin, even though MS sells it as a "protected" admin, with UAC controlling the permissions elevation. UAC is a bad solution to security, escpecially if you are not an IT pro, which could be better controlled through a truly lower-permission account.

    You have to set yourself up as a power user or user to get REAL security on Windows. Once running as a lower rights user, you get a dialog box to enter the admin password, which actually works very smoothly, better than UAC.

    But yes, unless you have a burning need to go to Vista, stick with XP. I have no plans to go to it on my .org's network any time soon. XP is mature and stable and does have a smaller resource footprint.

  9. Brad Warbiany:


    I've played with IE7, and found it to be nowhere near as nice as Firefox, and certainly not anywhere near as configurable.

  10. Chris Fritz:

    Brad, I haven't looked at the configuration options on IE7, but I definitely believe Firefox to be much more configurable. Since I switched from Firefox to Opera, I've become less a "browser tweaker" and more a "browser user", so maybe that's why IE7 has a good feel. Keep in mind, however, that I haven't done any real "browsing" in IE7, only looking at sites on my local web server. I try my hardest to keep Windows offline, but the times it connected without permission were enough to get some Chinese virus on there. (I didn't realize Vista would make the first user account an admin user. Now do I try to remove the virus and how it's really gone, or do I spend an hour wiping out all of Vista and reinstalling?)

    As a side-note, I do use Firefox at work, with minimal extensions installed (just NoScript and Mouse Gestures). Infinitely better than IE.

  11. Carl:

    Yeah, Mac's are great if you have an extra $1600. I bought an HP Laptop with an AMD 64 dual core processor 1gb ram, ATI Radeon X1150 graphics, integrated wireless 'n,' an HD audio card, and 160 gb HD for $800. I installed (free) openSUSE Linux with BERYL (awesome GUI effects, wobbly windows, desktop on a 3D cube), and it literally does everything macs and windows can do and more (even running windows programs with WINE!).

    A comparable MacBook or PowerBook (Intel Based, of course): $1700-$1900. I think I'll stick with a pc, and just swap windows with linux.