Upgrading at work… will the Vista be beautiful?
I’ve noticed over the past month that months of testing, installing and uninstalling, and other random tasks that I’ve pummeled my machine with have caught it in a quagmire of registry and dangling file issues. So, what better to do with a bit of slower time than clean it off? What’s even better? Why not try out the new Vista RC1. Beta 2 was a bit quirky for me–hardware issues–but many seem to be having a good run with RC1.
Well, in following of Scott Hanselman’s diary of his Vista upgrade, I figured I’d do something similar as I upgrade my work machine to Vista RC1 x64. I took a different approach, since I’m a somewhat mobile user via VPNs and my laptop, as everything is stored on various network locations–my desktop only houses the tools. So, I opted for a fresh install over an upgrade.
Why would I care about Vista?
We’re preparing for rollout almost as soon as it becomes ready for the enterprise. Again, why? Not my call. Plus, I’d rather hose up this machine before I hose up my home computer. Hah.
14 Sept 2006
8:15 AM – the 4GB DVD download began. O_o;
3:30 PM– Still going, 50% or so… 148Kps ftw. Note, we’re on one of the largest network pipes in the state. I’m assuming the MSDN download site is a bit hectic.
15 Sept 2006
10:30 AM – Out of meetings and the DVD is burned. Copying last changes to network drives so I can keep truckin’ via my laptop.
10:40 AM – The DVD boot up, a change from Beta 2 that loathed my Dell Precision 670’s SATA raid controller when it attempted to detect my hard drives.
10:45 AM– Extracting, copying, and first reboot complete. w00t. We’ll see if it boots up or BSODs like Beta 2 would. I have my XP Pro DVD in hand.
10:59 AM– Hmm, wow. Just logged in for the first time after it “determined my system’s benchmarks” and I’m now waiting for it to “Prepare my desktop.” Now that I’m into the graphical environment… Scott is right.. the default video drivers are HORRID for acceleration. That’ll have to be fixed. Oh, and I notice my second monitor isn’t working. Mouse, keyboard, and such seem to be there though. More to come.
11:40 AM– Well, still working on video performance. It’s HORRIBLE, even with the 96.33 forceware drivers. I totally disabled Aero and it still dragged along–sorta like Acceleration isn’t turned on somewhere. Oh, and the fact that it blanks the screens for a couple seconds EACH time it feels it needs to authorize a program is sorta annoying.
The system is a Dell Precision Workstation 670, dual Xeon 3.70Ghz with 4GB ram, Quadro FX 4400, RAIDed SATAs in 0, CreativeLabs sound card, and DVD writer and reader. Vista picked up EVERYTHING except, oddly enough, my sound card–even the media slots attached to my montor (24″ dell widescreen) and the USB 60GB drive I had attached to the monitor.
My computer rating so far, a 2.0. Out of what? That’s, of course, dragged down by the video performance rating that I’m working to fix. Oh, and I’d take a screenshot of this beauty 2.0 given it wouldn’t crash when I tried… Oh, and how slow am I talking? I’m talking I can type a LOT faster than the characters appear on the screen.. using hunt-and-peck with my eyes closed.
My PC’s rankings:
- Processor: 5.2
- RAM: 4.5
- Graphics: 2.0 (nVidia Quadra FX 4400 PCIe — not a GeForce 7950 Quad SLI, but it kicks nicely)
- Gaming graphics: 3.3 (512MB PCIe video cards are 3.3?!)
- Primary hard disk: 5.9
12:25 PM– Quirks. Wierd video quirks. My video card is on the list of approved video cards; however, every small thing seems to cause another odd thing. Taking a print screen locked up the system. Running in Aero Glass mode, oddly enough, SPEEDS UP the system. How? No idea. My assumption is that it’s offloading the rendering to the 3D portion of the video card… which leads me to believe the acceleration issue isn’t specifically the card, but the 2D rendering. Oh, and Safe Mode? Video performance is AMAZING because it’s using the standard VGA adapter driver. *sigh* Woot for 1024x768x16-bit.
1:20 PM– Well, it appears that the video driver is disabling hardware acceleration. I found a registry hack for it, but it doesn’t appear to work. That sorta explains what I was thinking earlier… but… not really.
So far, video is my only issue… though 2-3 seconds per minimize or maximize… or dragging that causes it to lock for 5-10 seconds is unacceptable. I’m curious… is this because I’m running x64? I doubt it because the drivers are specific to the x64 environment… and I can’t fathom that this type of performance is acceptable–even for testing.
2:00 PM – So, in comparison, I’m curious why the differences… and am actually leaning towards the x64 factor. Scott’s machine, a Pentium 4 3.0 with 2GB ram, scored over DOUBLE my ranking. But, his video card, an ATI, seems to have working drivers. I can test both theories at home–I have a 3.73Ghz Extreme processor at home (so x86) and both an ATI X800 PE and an older Nvidia 5950 Ultra card that I can test. I’m reinstalling x86 Windows XP Pro SP2 on the machine now. I figure I’ll get another slower day and can try it again with the x86 version–ahh dreams of someday seeing all of my memory.
I don’t blame any, at this point, issues on Vista or it’s architecture. The fact that it runs super fast in safe mode, with the standard VGA adapter, points that it is probably something to do with the current Forceware from nVidia. I’ll know more after my attempts this weekend at a rebuild on my home machine.
Odd quirks discovered:
- Locking the machine seems to … lock the machine. When you Ctrl-Alt-Del back in, it sits and spins at ‘Welcome’. But something is hitting the CPU VERY hard… after 2-3 minutes of waiting, all of my fans kicked into 100% (aka the jet engine took off). Hard reboot required.
- Disabling the UAC, User account control, which is supposed to prevent the annoying prompt for permission on EVERYTHING, doesn’t seem to disable it. Meh…
- I can’t vouch on the performance of much else due to the video issue… 😦
- Usability is pretty slick once you get used to it. I found I could find most everything, but the learning curve will be VERY shallow for many users who have used Windows for a long time.
First glance opinions:
- The gadget side bar is a cool concept… but I’ll always have it off. Not my dish… I love screen room.
- Aero Glass is slick… I hope whatever system I’m on (not this laptop though) can run it.
- The 3D task flipper… uh, I’m not even sure I can get it to “work” right. Very slick… but… why?!
- Network throughput. Fast. Period. Wow, what changed… I need to techNet this one.
That’s about it for now. I’ll post a full run from my home ones when I get a chance.