More Vista Suckage

The laptop I bought my kids 6 months ago is rapidly becoming the worst purchase I have ever made.  Not because the laptop is bad, but because of a momentary lack of diligence I bought one with Vista installed.  It has been a never-ending disaster trying to get this computer to work.  A while back, I put XP on a partition and my kids spend most of their time on XP since, well, it works.  Vista does not.  It is the Paris Hilton of OS's -- looks pretty but does not work.

In particular, the networking is an enormous step backwards from XP.  The wireless networking was a real pain to get set up in the first place, in contrast to XP and my wife's Mac which both worked and connected from the moment the power switch turned on. 

Now, we are getting two new errors.  First, at random times, the computer will stop being able to connect to the internet.  It will have a good wireless signal, and see other computers on the network fine, and the other computers on the network will see the internet, but Vista does not.  Just rebooted the computer into the XP partition, and XP sees the Internet fine -- its just Vista that is broken.

Second, and perhaps even more inexcusable, I have to reinstall the printer driver in Vista at nearly every log on.  There is a bug in Vista such that laptops that move off the network and come back will find that the network printers are now marked "offline" and there is nothing one can do to bring them online short of reinstalling the drivers.  Really.  I thought I was doing something wrong, but searching the web this is a known problem.  None of the suggested workarounds are working for me.

Vista is rapidly becoming the New Coke of operating systems.  I have had every version of windows on my computer at one time or another, including Windows 1.0 and the egregious Windows ME, and I can say with confidence Vista is the worst of them all by far.  More: corporate demand for upgrading to XP from Vista;  DRM hell in Vista;  how I set up dual-booting on a Vista machine; and what happened to the File menu?

Looks like the XP partition is soon going to be the only partition.  But recognize how serious this step is:  Laptops, unlike desktops, have more model-specific device drivers.  For example, instead of one Nvidia graphics driver for all cards, you tend to need the driver for your specific card in your specific computer model.   The computer I have has never and will never publish XP drivers.  I have found drivers that work for XP for most things, but not for sound.  So I will be giving up a substantial piece of functionality -- sound-- in exchange for never having to swear at Vista again.


  1. CTD:

    I switched to Ubuntu 6 months ago and couldn't be happier. I keep a small XP partition for using Netflix's "Watch Now" feature. I'll never install another Microsoft OS again, though.

  2. nicole:

    My old laptop died this spring and I found myself having to purchase one around May. I started looking around and was (somehow) stunned to find that all the stores around were only carrying ones loaded with Vista - why, when it was well known that nobody wanted to adopt it? I held out for a Vaio that still had XP on it and got a discontinued one from a semi-sketchy dealer in Brooklyn for about 2/3 list price. Great deal, and thank god I'm saved from Vista for several more years.

    But we just installed office 2007 at work and as you say, there's no file menu...

  3. Micah:

    At the risk of sounding like an open-source fanatic, have you thought about Ubuntu? It would depend on what software you absolutely had to have, of course, but I've found Ubuntu to be an EXTREMELY pleasant and powerful productivity environment (alliteration unintentional). You can download a LiveCD and test the entire operating system without needing to install anything. If you can set up XP on a dual-boot, then you can certainly set up Ubuntu.

    Just something to consider.

  4. Sol:

    I had good luck scrubbing Vista and installing XP on my laptop. Everything works, but it was a major effort getting it running and happy. Definitely easier to install Linux, in my experience. (Knock on wood -- planning on doing two Linux reinstalls this week...)

  5. Xmas:

    You used Microsoft Bob?

  6. ErikTheRed:

    I'm curious as to which brand of Notebook you're using. I've switched 100% to Lenovo (formerly IBM) ThinkPad machines for my company's notebooks. The driver support is second-to-none and they've always been pretty FOSS-friendly. You can download technical documentation and maintenance manuals on-line and order parts via an 800 number. They're well-built, heavy on the business features, and not weighted down with crapware. Their Access Connections software (included free), in particular, rocks - it lets you set up profiles for the various places you connect from and can be set to recognize these places again next time you're there (via WiFi SSID or ethernet switch MAC address). The profiles allow you to set every conceivable location-specific option - TCP/IP, Proxies, Firewall, file / printer sharing, default printer, home web page, etc. (and allow you to run custom scripts if that's not enough). The TrackPoint pointing devices are less intuitive than a touchpad to use (ThinkPads include both), but are far more efficient if you take the time to become proficient with them.

  7. bbeeman:

    Minority report. I've got a Dell E1405 with Vista Ultimate that has been trouble free for some five months now, and it is on and off several networks regularly.

    So I think it can be OK, given that you do have all the right hardware drivers, and it does appear that not all manufacturers have done a good job of this.

    I'm not a Microsoft fan generally...I run Fedora on both my servers and my main workstation, but there is still some software that has no usable equivalent in Linux (or Mac).

    I wonder if some of the push-back on Vista is that when we went through the teething problems on XP we were more willing to put up with the problems because of issues with 2000 and earlier Windows versions, whereas XP, in its present maturity is "good enough" for most of what we're doing.

  8. Sol:

    I dunno, I think I waited a year and a half after it was released to buy my first XP machine. Give how complicated operating systems are, that just seems like the sensible thing to do. Maybe my memory is faulty, but I don't remember a huge push to make everyone who bought a new computer in fall 2001 / winter 2002 get an XP system.

  9. Mesa Econoguy:

    I am in the process of canceling an order for a Dell laptop as we speak [unacceptable delays], with XP.

    I cannot find any other vendor offering laptops with XP installed. Anybody know of one?

    Everything I see out there comes automatically with vista, and I cannot run vista with applications I use – they don’t run on vista.

    I’m about 10 seconds from switching back to Macs……

  10. Charles D. Quarles:

    Wrt Vista, Coyote, are you running 64 bit or 32 bit Vista? It does make a difference. I am running a local lan. Box 1, vista 64 Ultimate as a file server. It works just fine. No problems getting 64 bit drivers. Box 2, vista 32 bit Ultimate. It works just fine. No problems with drivers. Box 3, dual boot 64 bit vista Ultimate. No problems with 64 bit drivers. Some compatibility problems, but no more that I had with XP beta, win2k Pro, win 98, win 95, win 3.11 for workgroups, win3.1, or msdos 6.22 back in the day. Box 3, dual boot #2 is vista home premium 32 bit. No driver problems, fewer compatibility issues. Box 3 is the most troublesome *because* it was a cheap Gateway box. Box 1 is home built. Box 2 is a locally built game system.

    The main compatibility problems are with 64 bit systems. There are fewer 64 bit drivers and you cannot use 32 bit kernel drivers on a 64 bit system. Older programs that run 16 bit installers or are 16 bit older msdos or windows programs will not work on a 64 bit system without using an emulator or a virtual machine. Main 64 bit system has 32bit os virtual pc images that work just fine.

    Oh yeah, I have been a Microsoft beta tester for 10 years now. I always go for the latest OS as soon as possible. YMMV, no YMWV. I will upgrade both 64 bit machines to 4GB RAM ASAP. All 3 run 2GB RAM for now.

  11. Iblis:

    I've had a lot of luck using reference drivers from the parts manufacturer rather than the system assembler. For example, a Dell laptop with an Nvidia graphics chip would probably work fine with a driver from Nvidia, even if Dell doesn't offer one for your model, OS, etc.

    Just my $0.02.

  12. markm:

    IMHO, "the Paris Hilton of OS's" is far too generous to Vista's cartoonish appearance.

  13. bill-tb:

    I was a beta site for vista, got a free "full copy". I foolishly thought that it would solve the problems I was having with my years old 3 GHz Dell server box that serves as my browsing machine. Sloooooow, sapped all the power. DRM was just not useful.

    Removed vista from the Dell computer and installed Ubuntu, never looked back. With Gutsy Gibbon right around the corner, been beta testing that, it's going to be my new OS of choice.

    The wife on her machine at home is also warming to Ubuntu. She is computer adverse, hates anything new ... but she is beginning to like it. No virus checkers continuously running and interrupting her, no foolishness about programs trying to install themselves, just works. The free apps are starting to grow on her as well. Next the kids and games :-)

    No more store bought machines, it's back to building cheap ones and installing Linux.

  14. Anonymous:

    Vista is a new operating system. Folks who are "XP experts" will not be Vista experts without accepting the fact that Vista is NOT XP 2.0. That said, no vendor is perfect, so perhaps their "Vista-ready" hardware is leaving alot of users at a disadvantage.

    I've been running Vista for close to a year now, and though some things are done differently than they were in XP, I've had no issues, reliability, networking, or otherwise.

    One thing to note is that there's always a handful of right ways to go about something, and 10 times as many wrong ways. I suspect taking bad habits from XP and into Vista causes most of the "Vista-Hell" we hear about. Either that, or I'm the luckiest user in the world.

    That said, I'm not sure what crack they were smoking when they dropped the std windows menus from office. Considering those menus have been uniform in almost every Windows application for over a decade, perhaps I could have been weened off them for a release or two.

    Finally, I'd be remiss not to mention the fact that I'm yet to find someone who agrees with me regarding Vista. Maybe it's because I have been exploring OS's to varying degrees for nearly 2 decades, and have been spent the better part of the last one programming.

    And oh yeah, I'm not a gamer. I like simple pleasures, like auto-aim, and being able to enjoy the game-play without spending 36 hours jamming the reflexes into my mid-brain. That industry lost me at Quake. Vista has a new video subsystem, and I've heard alot about that breaking games, and obviously can't comment on it since I've not experienced it.

    This concludes the "keep this comment in perspective" portion of, um, this comment:-)