This is about the best way to describe my experience with Vista: it simply sucks!
I downloaded my copy as soon as Vista was posted on MSDN. Tried to upgrade my XP (twice!) with no success. After an hour and a half or so, Vista would bluescreen (!) with some IRQ exception and refuse to start up. Granted, I wasn’t nervous because Vista creates a backup of your OS in case the installation fails.
After two unsuccessful installs and rollbacks, I gave up on the upgrade path and installed Vista on a separate hard drive. I can live with a dual boot. In retrospect, I’m glad my XP didn’t upgrade.
Apps that never ran
All along, using Vista was a bumpy ride. Some applications simply don’t start. They just… quietly… go away. My guess is they don’t check if they have enough permissions, and, since you’re not an admin anymore, Vista kills them. Very few applications at least crash with a permission exception which gives you a clue to run them as an admin. Looks like software vendors have some catching up to do.
Speaking of which… Firefox in Vista is hosed. Is simply does not remember any settings. You turn off toolbars—they come back. You try to bookmark a page—it won’t bookmark. You download a file—you can’t run it because it’s not signed by a trusted publisher. Again, my guess it’s a goof-up on Mozilla’s end. Some “well-known” system paths have changed, and Firefox, obviously, has a few things hardcoded. So for all intents and purposes, Firefox is not usable in Vista yet. Oh, if your bookmark toolbar is empty and you try to hide it, behold a funky “animation”.
Just about the only reason I installed Vista was to get a feel for its UI and try out the new IIS. However, VS 2003 won’t run in Vista, and Visual Studio 2005 comes with plenty of disclaimers. And never mind SQL Server. What’s up with this?
“All Programs” menu
This is, perhaps, the thing I hate the most: the claustrophobic menu where Vista tries to cram all shortcuts to installed applications. In XP, every subfolder expands to the right, so you’ve got plenty of screen real estate. In Vista, it’s all there, in a tree form, inside of a small box. Downright horrible!
I couldn’t even suspect I’d have so much use my the Reset button. If I put Vista to sleep, things go very wrong once I wake it up. IE 7 freezes everything so bad, that you can’t even bring up the Window Task Manager (CTRL-Shift-Escape does not respond). I don’t know if the networking drivers crap themselves over, and I don’t really care. My Reset button is now shiny!
The lethal shutdown
The day before yesterday, I pressed the Shutdown button expecting a prompt (something you can configure in XP). Vista neatly closed the few applications that were running, logged me out and shut down, nice and easy.
Imagine my surprise when I booted it up tonight only to see a Windows 2000-style “flat” user interface with everything I installed missing, no glass, nothing. Somehow I got downgraded to a non-privileged user, unable to even see anything in the Control Panel. To add insult to injury, every “zone” in IE 7 became locked. I was locked out and not given any options to do anything about it.
This is where I said enough. Big thanks to the author(s) of VistaBootPRO who made it very easy to get rid of Vista from the dual boot.
There’s plenty more, but you get the overall idea—wait for a service pack.
Help with the launch? No, thanks
As a diligent Microsoft MVP, I wanted to volunteer to help the mother empire with the Vista launch. I would go to a local BestBuy or CompUSA and help Microsoft promote the new OS. But after this experience, you won’t drag me there even with a free Zune. I just can’t offer people to buy such crap. I’m sorry for people who will buy and install it. Hey, at least I’m being honest about it!