Mostly about my amusement

Tag: Vista upgrade (page 1 of 1)

“James Bond never had to put up with this Vista sh&^”

My Vista 64 bit OS has been acting a little flaky for a long time.  The latest symptom was my DHCP client not working.  When Dell did the free motherboard swap upgrade, I was supposed to re-install the OS then.  But I procrastinated and just waited till the pain got bad.

My XPS 700720 came with Windows XP Media Center Edition. When the upgrade came out, I purchased it from Best Buy.  I sent in the $19 and received the Vista 64 bit version DVD in the mail. For months I’ve been using the Vista 64 bit version.

My plan was to do the following:

  1. Using vlite I slipstreamed a copy of Vista SP1 onto my upgrade.  That was time consuming but worked.
  2. Backup all my data onto my WD Mybook.  I’m going to regret saying this but 1 TB is HUGE and my data fit with no problems.
  3. Wipe out my existing drive.  My registry was foobar so that was a good idea.  I did not want to upgrade from one mess to another.
  4. Clean install off the Upgrade DVD.  Worked last time, all you have to do is remember to not install the product key.
  5. Upgrade the clean install.  Redundant, but my version is an upgrade.  If I did not do this then my Vista would not activate.

That was the plan. Except the DVD would not install software, no way no how.

The bootable DVD HATED my 4 GB of high performance RAM.  I kept getting the BSOD before I could install anything.  Now Vista running has no problem with my RAM upgrade.  But the installer on the upgrade DVD refused to do anything except BSOD.  Lucky I kept the old slow speed 2 GB or RAM so I was able to get past that problem.

The upgraded DVD did not like my drives.  It’s not exactly a clean install that it does.  The target drive has to be formatted and a WINDOWS directory, or something in the WINDOWS directory, needs to exist.  If it’s not then the installer will refuse to copy files onto your disk.

I had to insert step 3.5 into my plan. I was able to get around this by booting off of my Windows XP install DVD that came with my PC and began to install the old version onto my system.  I did not have to complete the install.  Once files started to be copied I rebooted with my Vista SP1 upgrade.  Then I was able to proceed as planned.

The one piece of unexpected good news is that the fresh upgrade install activated online successfully.  I  was sure I’d have to do the 1-800-NOT-EXTORTION-EXACTLY call to Microsoft just to activate my software.

This is just crazy

Microsoft might be good with apps (debatable) but their OS’s always requires a rebuild after a period of time.  It’s just how it is since the registry just collects garbage from adding and removing hardware and software.

If my PC came with Vista then in theory I should have had an easier time of it.  Just pop in the vendor supplied rebuild DVD and off you go.  In the past that’s always what I did.  With this Vista upgrade, I should be able to install cleanly without the tricks.

The fact that I have to install an upgrade on top of a clean install that I just did is bizarre.   It shows that either the clean install was a mistake on their part or they put it in because they knew this scenario would exist.

They should include and support this for their upgrade too. A little online documentation would have been helpful.

Stupid Vista Tricks

I attempted to update the drivers for my XPS 700 using the Nvidia nforce web site drivers. After a few reboots, the BAD thing happened. I lost all the data on my workstation and I am not able to re-install Vista.

Ubuntu works well off the Live CD but that’s about it. I’m using vLite 1.0 to build a new Vista install DVD but so far what I have created is not working.


No need for Vista upgrade

no need to upgrade to vistaI have been kicking around the Vista upgrade to Home Premium and it reminds me of the PS3; for now get an Xbox 360 instead.

Vista is like that. If it comes with your new PC great. But there is no need to upgrade.

Overall I like it, but I also like working with broken things.

The upgrade

When I first tried to run the upgrade it told me that I had to remove my Symantec System Works 2006, upgrade my driver for SCSI/RAID, and the firmware on one of my DVD writers.

Dell’s support web site did not have the updated nvidia drivers so I had to get the nforce one’s from Nvidia’s web site. They did have the firmware update for the DVD hardware.

I ran the upgrade and it rebooted. I left the DVD in the drive and naturally it booted up. I thought that it would continue the upgrade from there.

No such luck. After removing the DVD and rebooting the upgrade failed.

SCARY! I ended up turning of booting from the DVD drive in the BIOS but that was not good. I was afraid that the PC would be left unstable but it recovered well. Re-ran, waited, upgrade was successful.

Driver support is goofy. After all was done I went to Nvidia and Creative’s web sites for driver updates. The Nvidia one’s are good but the Creative drivers for the X-Fi sound card are beta and act like it.


The User Account Control is annoy-ware and I suspect that anti-virus vendors will opt to have their users turn it off and let the anti-virus app do it’s work.

The increased security from UAC is IMHO not really increased security at all. It’s just “Well YOU selected to install that code, so WE’RE off the hook”.

If Vista had something such as sudo to escalate privileges then I might be inclined to like it. But that assumes an informed user who knows what privilege escalation is. That’s not Microsoft’s fault exactly but click through security is not really useful.

I’m not turning it off (yet) but comparisons to the TSA’s war on liquids comes to mind.

User interface

Well it sure is pretty and I’ll admit easier to use. It’s also a pretty blatant rip of OSX 🙂

The Start Menu has been revamped and takes some getting used to. The Start Search field is good, you type part of the name of the app and it locates it. The old Start -> All Programs always dissolves into a mess if you install lots of apps in the default location. This does not really fix a disorganized menu as much as makes it less obviously disorganized.

The Window effects are nice eye candy. If you use other video codecs then you should follow the instructions at Respect Sakura. I use the Media Player Classic all the time and this makes it work better (and look nicer) in Vista.

Built in gadgets side bar is cool. It’s naturally better integrated than Konfabulator but feels less developed.

Media Center

I have a Hauppauge PVR-350 card in my PC hooked up to my cable line. I like to watch TV in a window from time to time.

The Media Center is more responsive and does work better than the same one in MCE 2005. In MCE 2005 pausing live TV or re-winding always worked badly if at all. Now it is very responsive and works well.

Firefox, iTunes, Games oh my

No Firefox integration yet. Clicking on links runs Internet Explorer 7. Seriously annoying.

The iTunes works oddly. I ran the iTunes fix and that helped but iTunes get’s twitchy when I sync up my iPod and locks up a lot.

My games work well mostly. Every now and then the sound dies and I need to restart the PC. That will probably change once the sound drivers are no longer beta.


As I’ve said there is no reason to upgrade. A tuned Windows XP with good AV and utilities works better right now. I’m not going to roll back (can I?) but I think Vista is too immature to make the switch.

If I get a new PC it will have Vista but other than that Vista is a pass.