Vista Works! (After 16 Months of Trying)

Seriously, it took me 16 months of beating on Vista to get the thing to work properly.

If I know anything, I know operating systems. My first one was CICS/MVS on an Amdahl mainframe, followed by VAX/VMS, CP/M-80, TOPS-20, more Unix and Linux variations than you could shake a stick at, every version of DOS and Windows from 1.0 on to today. For sheer annoyance value, Vista takes the prize.

There have been far poorer operating systems. Windows ME is the Windows' family bottom of the barrel, and let's not even think about MS-DOS 4.01 shall we? But, nothing else except Vista promised so much, delivered so little and was such a pain in the rump about it all.


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Still, after months of trying, I'm proud to say that I actually have a fully functional version of Vista SP1 running on a PC at last.

The system is my long-suffering HP Pavilion Media Center TV m7360n PC. The Viiv m7360n has a hyper-threaded 2.8GHz Pentium D 920 dual-core processor, 4MB of Level 2 cache, an 800MHz front-side bus and 2GB of DDR (double-data-rate) RAM. It also has a 300GB SATA (serial ATA) hard drive; a dual-layer, multiformat LightScribe DVD/CD burner; and a DVD-ROM drive.
It also has six USB 2.0, two FireWire, one VGA, one S-Video and one composite AV ports. And it comes with a 9-in-1 memory card reader, 10/100BaseT Ethernet, 56K-bps V.92 modem and 802.11g Wi-Fi. For graphics, it has an NVIDIA GeForce 6200SE video card (which takes up 256MB of the system's main RAM) and Intel Azalea high-definition audio with 5.1-channel surround sound. Once upon a time, it was a Windows Media Center PC.
Vanilla Vista

While this is a nice system, it's in no way, shape or form a killer Vista PC. For that, buy a new computer with 3GB of RAM, a dedicated graphics processor with a 512MBs of dedicated video RAM and a top-of-the-line dual-core processor such as the 2.33GHz Intel Core2 Duo E6550. I thought my older system should at least be able to run Vista Ultimate without tears.

Wrong. For more on the 'fun,' I had with Vista see my series comparing MEPIS Linux and Vista in DesktopLinux.

The short version is that with vanilla Vista , this PC wasn't fast enough, and it has one deal-killer hardware problem after another. When SP1 came out for MSDN (Microsoft Software Developer Network) members, I decided rather than face the horror of upgrading the system, to just blow away the old copy of Vista and start fresh.

It's always a good idea to do a fresh install instead of an update with any operating system facing a major upgrade. With Vista, as my compadre over at Microsoft-Watch has observed, upgrading an existing Vista PC to SP1 can be one slow-motion disaster after another.

Even though I avoided the upgrade woes, I didn't have clear sailing.