Vista Thoughts and Musings

<Updated>See here for information on Vista support for the Toshiba M7/R25 Tablets</Updated>

Since it has been almost a month since Windows Vista has been released, I thought that this would be an ideal time to describe my experiences with using Vista on a full-time basis on my Toshiba R25 Tablet PC.  Overall, it has been OK, but the experience was only truly acceptable as of last Friday when Toshiba released the majority of their Vista drivers and tablet utilities.

Generally, I have seen the following POSITIVE features in Windows Vista:

  • Better Tablet functionality - especially after one installs all of the tablet-specific drivers.  The Ink/TIP changes along with Gestures makes using the pen much more enjoyable.
  • IPv6 improvements - This is probably one of the areas most people would ever notice, but since I am a networking geek, I know of the impact this will have in the future.  PNRP and NAT-Traversal are two major features that have been somewhat ignored by the community in general.  Remote Assistance actually works with Vista.  Even Meeting Space works well.
  • Backup/Restore support is excellent.
  • The Install.  Actually, I complement the new installer for both Windows and for Office.  The Updates folder was a needed improvement.  I haven’t had a chance to look into the WAIK kit too much as of now, but I think installs will be made much easier.
  • Bitlocker.  (also note the Cons to Bitlocker below)  Bitlocker is a much needed addition to Vista for mobile users.  Any business using laptops needs to use Bitlocker or one of the other Volume Encryption products out there.
  • The new Microsoft Management Console.  This is a small thing, but it is much more user friendly.
  • IE7.  I did not expect this one to be a positive.  I had switched two years ago to the competing Firefox and have been extemely happy.  However, IE7 has been more than capable and I find that I will split time between the two environments.
  • Mobility Center.  This is a new one.  Until last Friday’s Toshiba driver drop, I thought Mobility Center was way too hidden in the OS.  It was difficult to get to.  But now that Toshiba made holding the D-Pad button in to start the Mobility Center, it is much more capable.
The negatives?

  • Bitlocker.  MS made it way too difficult for most End-Users to actually setup Bitlocker.  Plus, this should be seperable from the SKUs it is currently tied to (Vista Enterprise, Ultimate, and Longhorn Server) and made available to OEMs for use on all laptops they sell.  Including non-business laptops.  Personal data can be just as important to an individual as it is to a business.  Plus, many small- and medium-sized businesses purchase consumer level gear and will be getting Home Premium as its OS (which does NOT include Bitlocker)
  • Driver Support.  The driver support has been lacking as of late.  Drivers are taking ages to get released and some products won’t have drivers support at all.  Take the Toshiba M200.  It is still a very powerful tablet.  However, Toshiba has made it clear that they won’t support it on Vista.  What is aggravating is that they do support it, but apparently only to MS with internal driver packs.  The community will end up hacking the drivers for the M4, M7, and M400 to get it to work.
  • Aero.  I don’t care for Aero.  I don’t care for the new IE UI.  And I absolutely hate the new Explorer window.  I am using eXplorer2 as my new explorer replacement.  I must admit that the experience is better than it was during the beta, but the interface has been “dumbed” down too much and it isn’t always possible to change UI elements without going to massive registry tweaks.
  • Network speed.  More particularly, network speed between a Vista and a legacy (Windows XP) machine.  File copies take forever.  For example copying a file to an XP machine takes 4 times longer than it does to a 2003 Server machine.  However, copies to a Longhorn server are blazing fast.
  • Battery Life.  This is an easy comparison.  I get about 4 hours of runtime with my stock R25 and Windows XP TPC.  With out-of-box Windows Vista RTM, I get roughly two and a half hours.  When I go optimize the Vista power settings, I am able to get over 3.25 hours.  The optimized setting includes the Toshiba Power Extensions.  In all cases, Wireless was off and I had no USB mice attached.
  • Application Compatibility - Programs that were OK during the beta were suddenly marked as incompatible with the final.  I had difficulties running AutoCAD LDD, for instance, with RTM that I never had with any of the betas.  (I fixed this particular issue with installing a later AutoCAD build, but these aren’t publically available).
I will continue to document my experiences as time goes by.  I have been installing new drivers as they become available.

Tomorrow, I will document the same experiences that I have seen with Microsoft Office Ultimate Edition.  One quick teaser - OneNote 2007 rocks…