yeah, right! posted by

Windows Vista – oh good grief…

Vista

I’ve just started using Windows Vista in earnest, having moved from XP to a newer laptop and I’ve just got to say that it’s the worst piece of trash I’ve ever had the misfortune to use. It makes Windows 3.1 look positively radiant, and it’s no surprise to me that people have been flocking to the Apple Mac in droves if this is the best that Microsoft can do. It’s slow, buggy, unbelievably and I mean unbelievably annoying and breaks just about every Windows convention that has been established over the past 20+ years. What on earth were the development team thinking? It’s really beyond pathetic.

Vista2

I’ve been running it for a week or so now, and every day there’s a new nightmare to deal with. Today it was half a day wasted because the stupid thing a) decided to stop unzipping files properly (I’d just end up with an expanded empty folder, which is apparently a bug. The fix is to download a 3rd party tool like 7–Zip and use that – great!) and b) stopped downloading files from the Web completely.

Vista3

This is a real doozy. The file arrives on the machine and then is immediately deleted by the operating system. Wow, brilliant. After hunting all over the Interwebs I finally discovered a work-around, to download an add-on utility for Firefox called Custom Download Manager and switch off the ‘Scan Files When Completed’ setting. Which seems to fix things. Yep, it looks like good ole Vista security – oh how you’ll get to hate that word if you start using Vista in earnest people – is being so safe that it’s wiping out any files that land on your hard disk. Absolutely totally garbage.

Anyway I’m going to stop now before I go completely off the rails, but boy is Vista one huge foul smelling crock of dog mess.

Here’s a couple of other tweaks I learned over the past few days trying to wrestle this filth into submission –

  • If you get stuck with not being able to delete a folder on an external drive, try downloading the free Unlocker program. It worked for me when Vista refused to let me delete an old folder taking up space on an external yesterday.
  • If you have trouble getting Vista to record streaming audio, try following the instructions on this site to enable the hidden Stereo Mix setting.
  • How to activate the hidden Admininstrator setting on Vista.
  • How to overcome the Access Denied to Documents and Settings problem. Oh you’ll enjoy that feature folks, yes you will.
  • Changing permissions and taking ownership of your files. How dare we want to do stuff with our files, eh? Tsk.
  • Oh and speeding it up? Get rid of the dumb Aero bloat immediately, by going to the control panel, click on Performance Tools – Advanced Tools – Adjust the Appearance… and on the Visual effects tab select Adjust for Performance. It’ll look horrible. But if you then go and right mouse click on the desktop and select Personalize – Theme and select Windows Vista, you’ll get a fairly decent looking interface which runs at a decent clip without all that useless Aero bling bloat.
  • And if your sound disappears suddenly for no reason at all, just check in the Control Panel – Sound – that Vista hasn’t randomly deselected the working audio driver settings in favour of something that doesn’t work. Well if it can happen to me like that….

[Update: Vista problem of the day today? Now will not re-establish wireless connection after coming out of sleep or hibernate mode. Fix? Go to Control Panel – Device Manager – Network Adapter, and disable the wireless network adapter. Wait a couple of seconds, then enable it again. Voila, network connection restored. Lovely little bug, this one. At this rate I may just start a Windows Vista Problem of the Day series!]

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.


  • Kainnon

    Oh Nigel, we’re in this together – I definately share your pain. I’ve got a few weeks head start with a new laptop and Vista Business.

    Thanks for your tips! I’d like to share one with you as well:

    Don’t turn off UAC! Set it to auto permit, instead.
    http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2007/06/dont_shut_off_v.html

    I’ve wasted so much time tweaking vista. I think I’m gonna image it all, and then go back to XP and see if I really miss any of the new. As far as I can tell from other ppl, I might miss the extended battery life. Vista supposidly has better power/battery management… But frustration management is a bit wanting.

  • Brandon

    I’m confused by your situation. I’ve been using Vista since before it’s release, and have had almost no issues. A few quick questions that might make it more clear about “slow performance”. How much RAM does your new laptop have? What extra software came preinstalled? Is it a slow 5400 rpm or 7200 rpm or SSD drive? Just curious because in my experience Vista runs very fast and smooth as long as the hardware is current and you have at least 2gigs of RAM. Also have you installed Service Pack 1? and installed all of the other updates that have been made available after Vistas release? Some computer manufacturers are known to not update the OS before shipping.

    Other than disagreeing with Vista being junk, I love your site :D

  • @Kainnon – thanks for the tip, I’ll set it up. @Brandon – hmm..it’s a top line 3GB RAM, SATA drive laptop with SP1 and all the trimmings. Trust me, I’ve been messing with operating systems since CP/M (ah the memories) and this is a pile of junk. Really!

  • If you bought a new car.. ( electric of course ) you expect to be able to put the key in & it work straight off the bat, A to B, job done :)

    You would not expect to get the car home only to need to open the bonnet & require 2 weeks of faffing about , hundreds of hours of your time bent over, confused, frustrated, a degree in Car Mechanics, extra parts, work around’s , tips on making it “actually work”… if that was your new car , you would take it back, screaming for your money back or a replacement.

    its also not surprising that PC Die hards say “ooow im not switching to mac, id rather go back to XP ” I mean, after all the trouble it took you to get the PC to work , you wouldn’t dare want to go through that nightmare again on a totally different machine would you ??.

    Bias, some might say from a mac user of 25 years :) but i could not help chime in after reading your woes…come on Nigel you know you want one..

    All together now….. ” Holidays are comin , holidays are comin, holidays are comin holidays are comin”

    MM

  • @Marc – don’t tempt me, sir…don’t tempt me… :-)

  • I remember people raving about Vista, almost entirely because of Aero. Eejits.

  • @Brit – eye candy suckers. :)

  • Scott

    When I bought my laptop, it came with Vista. Within two months I had “downgraded” to Windows XP. If you decided to do this, make sure to get all your drivers downloaded first and have them burned to a CD so you can install them when it comes time during the downgrade. Also your Vista licenses covers you downgrading to XP.

    About 95% of what I do could be done on a Linux computer but I need to stay with Windows for that last 5%.

  • Rob

    Nigel, after years of downloading myriad PC updates, dealing with incompatibility issues, and fears over potential security breaches, I had finally had enough last year. I bought a Mac. There was fear of the unknown to be sure, but I still had the PC to fall back on if I needed to. I was shocked to find that the Mac was extremely easy to figure out, that installing hardware items was no more difficult than plugging them in (!), and installing software required my password entry – hence the Mac security (no auto-installs from web sites, e-mails, etc). Macs are so logical compared to PCs that the difference is quite amazing. And just wait until you experience your first five second boot up time. Yes, really.

    The only struggle I had was adapting from my habit of right-clicking to using menu files instead. I use a Wacom tablet with Photoshop though and the tablet’s pen provides a way to right-click in the Mac! There you have it: the best of both worlds.

    The initial cost of a Mac prevented me from getting one for a long time, but I balanced that one time only Mac cost with the ongoing costs associated with a PC: my own time not being productive, frustration, cost of software upgrades, cost of hardware upgrades, cost of security suites, the list goes on. Just the headache avoidance alone is worth the additional cost, and allows me to focus on my work and not on fixing whatever the computer problem of the day is.

    I’m still a frustrated owner of two Windows PCs and a Windows laptop, but it’s been months since any of them were powered on. I’m a very satisfied MacPro and MacBook owner, and use them every single day. Take your frustrations to an Apple store and have someone there show you the difference in person, then tell them to buzz off so you can play with the system by yourself. You’ll likely find the same as I did.

  • Mike

    Wow! I guess I must’ve gotten the only working copy of Vista in the world by the way it sounds. I’ve had mine for well over a year now, do most of the things you mentioned (other than recording streams) and have had next to no issues. Come to think of it I use it at work too and no issues there. All told I probably spend 10 hours a day on Vista and despite all the dire warning’s I hear it’s been absolutely pleasant. Both are dual core machines with 2GB RAM, so not massive by any means.

  • Jeff

    Hey Mike, I also got a working copy…. well, two of them because I bought two computers with Vista on them. I also have duo core machines with 2GB RAM.

    I have to admit that I was a bit worried about getting Vista SP1, I tend to wait until the second round comes out. I bought these from Dell and after a few months, one of the computers hard drive crapped out. But Dell was very responsive and had a tech out in a day to swap it out. Did this have anything to do with Vista? I don’t see how it could, but I am no computer guru.

    All in all, I am quite happy with Vista. It is a bit bloated, but the changes I have made, or that MS shoved down my throat, have been over time and have not frustrated me. I also like the user interface.

    I guess it comes down to viewing the OS like a new car; you either like it after you buy it, or you don’t. Also, you may get a lemon from the factory depending on your configuration.

    So far, Vista is just what – I – hoped it would be and it has been working well for me.

    However, I can understand the frustration of others if it has become a nightmare. As far as a Mac goes, to each his own. You have to go with what works for you.

  • Lewis

    I tell you what is pathetic, your winging!
    For goodness sake, you expect everything to be perfect jsut because it’s the 21st century, that’s no excuse!
    When I first got Vista, in all honesty for the first few weeks I hated it; because I didn’t know how to use it. However, after configuring some settings and discovering some differences from XP, I figured it out and since then, which was well over a year ago, I have had absolutley no trouble with Vista. I find it easier, faster, it looks more modern (which to be honest is important when people start complaining things don’t look up scratch), and some applications compared to XP is so much more simple. Granted, Vista has its problems; MSconfig has far too much compared to XP, and some components of the computer are far too complex and complicated. But generally, I think it’s a good development from XP; the problem is these days people are afraid of change and will do anything to kick up a fuss about something new. The first comment on this page, I say; please, get a life! I don’t know how someone could be so passionate about a computer, so much to actually describe it to the equivalent of something completely useless. Vista isn’t useless! It works! Some people just think that computers will do everything for them, no! You have to maintain them, regularly.
    I definetly think however Microsoft could have done a much better job, and still have a very long way to go to creating the perfect people friendly computer – but I have really just about had enough of people running Vista down like a bad disease. Instead of winging about it, either sort it out, try and get used it, don’t use a computer at all, or just go back to XP! Stop moaning!

  • Nigel

    Nice to hear from Vista supporters. :-) @Lewis, the trouble with not moaning is that we encourage companies to keep dealing out the same old garbage, and that’s not good for progress. @Jeff and @Mike, I don’t know how you used your computer, but maybe it has something to do with the fact that I tend to carry forward a lot of legacy data with me, and I do push my computers because that’s my job. I’m not saying you don’t, but maybe it’s just that I do it more, and that’s what’s so annoying to me. I shouldn’t have to go back to basics just to do my job, eh? :-)

  • Nigel

    @Rob, to be honest I’d move to Apple in trice, if it wasn’t for the fact that I need to run a lot of programs that have no Mac counterparts, I write about Windows issues for a living (!) – heh – and I can’t stand Steve Jobs. :-) Just kidding Steve (he reads us you know- heh, just kidding again).

  • Kainnon

    Oh my some ppl have gotten a bit worked up, eh?

    Anyhow, I don’t know how useful or not this might be for you Nigel, but there’s a keyboard shortcut to Windows Mobility Centre that I was totally unaware of until a few minutes ago:

    Windows key + ‘X’

    and then a variety of other keyboard shortcuts:

    http://windowshelp.microsoft.com/Windows/en-us/help/2503b91d-d780-4c80-8f08-2f48878dc5661033.mspx#ECFAC

    I hope the link works.

  • EvilPoliticians

    I use XP Pro. It’s stable, compatible and does everything I need. What compelling reason is there to move to Vista? This is one of the few times that I agree with corporate IT departments – it’s not worth the hassle.

    I’ve played with a Mac and installed Ubuntu just to drive it around for a bit. Lot’s of potential with Linux – especially with the economic situation. Can’t beat free.

  • Bob

    I bought a new PC and I thought… “how bad can it be”.

    The worst thing is that my PC treats me like a moron!! I know I can turn off / modify UAC but why should I have to? If it’s so blinkin’ clever why doesn’t it know I’m the only user and therefore I know what I want to do.

    And why does my PC have enough horsepower to run the Matrix but seems to run Vista through porridge. New PC: quad core cpu 4GB RAM/Bells/Whistles/Vista. Old PC: Dual Core/2GB RAM/Bells/Whistles/XP/ FASTER!!

    I just want to do stuff. I don’t want to geek-pimp Ubuntu or keep telling Vista I’m sure about doing this.

    How much are those Apple thingies?

  • John Skillman

    There is an option besides Mac, considering you just bought new hardware. You guessed it – Ubuntu.

  • Nigel

    Hmm…thanks for the support folks, I’ll keep a look out for the hardware issues, although it doesn’t ‘feel’ like that to me, it’s too random. I would expect the broken things to repeat if it was hardware.

    Re Ubuntu, yep agreed. I had it on dual-boot on the XP machine using the most excellent Wubi (http://wubi-installer.org/).

  • @Jack Sparrow – Hmm…I've got 3 GB RAM. Vista is fast? Really?Wow, I smell some serious astroturfing… :-)

  • syahid a

    man, i've used vista for about a month but never really have a big problem with it. i've only have 2gb of ram though. it is not that bad but it is not really groundbreaking like OSX. just okay for me.

  • Jack Sparrow

    i dont know whats all the fuss on vista! i have a dual-core, 500gb hd, 4gb ram and windows vista is amazing! fast and security filled!!! i love it …. maybe people that hate vista hate it cuz their pcs suck!!! get some more ram!

  • Stevie

    A real doozy crock of dog mess.

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