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tapping the LJ group mind for some tech questions
dream
evcelt
So, we've decided to replace the current PC at the Sorcerer's Cottage. A couple of givens, first:

- we're not going to get a Mac
- we're not going to get a Linux machine

That being said, I haven't heard anything good about Vista. Naturally, most if not all PCs come with it preloaded. The PCs I've seen with XP "downgrades" are all business models, and I'm not sure that sort of machine will suit us.

So...

- is Vista all that bad?
- if it is, do you know any reliable sources for XP machines?
- failing that, is it worth my while to buy a copy of XP for the new machine?

Thanks in advance...

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I've had no real troubles with Vista. I think it depends on how sophisticated of a user you are. If you are very used to doing things a certain way, it is likely to bother you, but if you are a normal user who doesn't do much maintenance work yourself... I don't think it's a big deal.

My experiance is limited since vista is on the two machines I use the least.

The one machine is a home (re)built and I do have habitual problems with the audio driver (supposedly the correct one) crashing the system.

The other is a laptop and was fully integrated by Dell and it has no such problems.

I've spent more time on a vista class server adn some things (like drag and drop paths and program names into a command line window have been removed god only knows why... so it's annoying, but it no actual problems.

vista was so bad at work, that the office had us all downgrade.

that said, i buy all my machines for Dell, the small business section, nto home. the machines there are better for same or lesser price. my laptop is their bottom end voistro and i love it. i highly recomend getting an xp machine from them

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I'll second this. Everything Microsoft got wrong with Vista, looks like they got right with Win 7. If you can, go with that.

It is the general sense of the household that we don't want to wait for three months (at the minimum; we know about Microsoft and release dates). Do you know what the upgrade path from Vista to 7 will be?

I got my computer from http://www.falcon-nw.com/

It wasn't the cheapest but neither was it the most expensive. I paid 30 bucks more for xp.

However.

Windows 7 will be released in 3 months. You may want to wait.

It is the general sense of the household that we don't want to wait for three months (at the minimum; we know about Microsoft and release dates). Do you know what the upgrade path from Vista to 7 will be?

Vista isn't a "bad" OS, in that it does work stably, and is as secure as any other Windows OS (not including Win2000 SP2 - ack,ptooie). The main fault we have found in it (other than having to relearn where some settings and utilities are) is the drastically increased level of overhead as compared to Windows XP.

We ran benchmark programs on identical systems where the only difference was XP on one and Vista on the other. The system with Vista actually came out with benchmark scores sometimes as much as 30% lower than the same system running XP. This may be even more noticeable in lower-end systems that have the bare minimum specs required to run Vista.

I personally think people would be less dissatisfied with Vista is Microsoft hadn't hyped the crap out of it.

Windows 7 looks to use less resources than Vista, getting benchmark scores equivalent to XP.

It is the general sense of the household that we don't want to wait for three months (at the minimum; we know about Microsoft and release dates). Do you know what the upgrade path from Vista to 7 will be?

I don't have any first-hand knowledge of this, but, knowing Microsoft, the upgrade path is a lovely little cobblestone affair, until you notice the cobbles are made of shit and good intentions.

I have never, repeat, never, had a good experience upgrading from one Microsoft OS to another. You are usually better off re-formatting/re-partitioning the drive and installing a full version.

- is Vista all that bad?
I found it really really annoying. It also is a resource hog the likes of which you've never seen. Figure you need a dual core machine machine with 2GB at a minimum.

- if it is, do you know any reliable sources for XP machines?

As a matter of fact yes, I have a local dealer I can hook you up with that is still selling XP machines, both desktops and notebooks.

- failing that, is it worth my while to buy a copy of XP for the new machine

As a matter of fact yes, I have a local dealer I can hook you up with that is still selling XP machines, both desktops and notebooks.

Have they got a website?

City Computers. http://www.city-computers.com. They are in Rockville. Owner Is David Ansari.

Best to drop them an email, they don't keep their web site up to date.

Vista is pertty decent actually
now that we are in service pack 2+.

Just don't skimp on the ram.
And use new hardware that has drivers for vista.

I have a hp laptop I use for work
and Vistas been fine. When I've had 'weird' things happen
it is due to some buggy piece of 3rd party software.


Is 4gb "not skimping" on the RAM?

4GB is about the minimum you want nowadays. You can run XP or 7 on 2, but the extra RAM would never hurt. And memory is relatively cheap at this time.

I have heard that SP2 does address some of Vista's resource-usage issues. Like I said, it works; it just uses more resources than one would expect.

To be honest, I was in the same boat months ago. I didn't want Vista, I wanted my comfortable XP. But to be honest, Vista has been great, I've had fewer problems than with XP. Yes, it does need RAM, 4 GB should be fine. There are a lot of bells and whistles that, frankly, you can turn off if you don't want them.

Where a lot of businesses are complaining is not really a Vista issue, but the new version of MS Office. Major design changes which a lot of people don't like. Because they're different. But since I use OpenOffice anyway, it doesn't matter :)

If you want to see Vista in action, feel free to stop on by sometime.

All that being said, I'm looking forward to Windows 7, because it sounds good.

I can't comment on the Vista issue because I haven't used it.

However, if you decide to go with an XP machine, you could talk to Random about building one for you. He built his own (a couple of times now) and mine, both in order to customize them and to do it for less money than it would've cost to order it assembled. He seems to have a real knack for tracking down great prices on the various bits and pieces online...when he was going to install XP for us, he found a purchasing loophole that allowed him to legally buy a copy for a lot less than the average going price. He also does stuff like salvage parts from the previous computer that are still serviceable (like the case or the fan or whatever).

They work well, too. We tend to have the same computers for years, just occasionally upgrading bits here and there.

Thanks for the offer of building one, but (for various reasons) we're going with a laptop... I don't think that those are as good subjects to build as desktops.

While hand-building a desktop can save you money, hand-building a laptop can actually cost more money, because the notebook versions of some of the parts aren't as commonly available.

I'm happy with Vista and haven't had too many problems. It seems the XP downgrade is doable also, but I have no experience with that.

I got a Vista laptop a year and a half ago, and because of all the complaints, I thought seriously about getting XP instead, but didn't (a downgrade was about $50 extra, IIRC.) After I got it, I wondered what all the fuss was about. I had a few annoyances with networking and something that caused Firefox to lock up periodically, and those went away once I got Service Pack 1, which yours should either have preinstalled or you should be able to download it immediately.

I concur that it's something of a resource hog, so the major complaints were probably from people who upgraded instead of those who were getting new machines. Pay attention to the recommendations on memory (with some room to spare) and you'll be fine. Upgrading to Windows 7 shouldn't be a big deal; pricing is here (looks like you get about a $100 discount if you're upgrading.) And you probably would want to wait more than three months (modulo release slippage) anyway, since it'll probably have various bits of hardware and compatibility trouble that will be fixed in its first few months of wide release.

For laptops, this is my second Sony laptop, and I love them. I figured my first one would last me three or four years before I'd need to upgrade, and I had it nearly seven years until the connector for the external DVD drive wore out and the hard drive started making noises. Both times when I was buying, my primary criteria were battery life and relatively light weight, without sacrificing too much in performance or screen size. My current one has a screen with LED backlighting, which is not only lower power than fluorescent, it's incredibly bright. (I had to turn down the brightness control slightly from the factory setting, because in low room light conditions, it was too bright to look at comfortably!) It's under 4 pounds, and the battery typically lasts 4-5 hours.

The main problem with Vista is Microsoft hyped it all to shit, and then the actual product wasn't totally perfect, so people got pissed.

It is a documented (by our test lab) resource hog. SP2 did address some of that, but it still does use more resources than XP, so your system has got to be ready for it.

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