Carl Camera

Windows Vista Disappointment

Suddenly, My Computer Stinks.

After installing Windows Vista Ultimate RTM on my notebook computer this week, I believe that Windows Vista has accomplished its intended goal: To generate dissatisfaction with my current hardware.

My current computer:

  • Dell Latitude D600
  • 1.6GHz Pentium M
  • 1GB RAM
  • 60GB Hard Drive
  • 1440x1040 LCD
  • ATI Mobility 9000 32MB vRAM

Up until three days ago, this was a fairly decent system. Now it stinks. It needs more RAM. It needs more video RAM. It needs a bigger hard drive.

No Aero Glass

My first and most lingering disappointment is No Aero Glass windows with translucency. It's not even an option that I can enable and suffer through. Vista scoffs at my mere (mere!) 32MB of video RAM. "Sorry, Charlie" it seems to mutter at each reboot, "You need 128MB of video RAM before I give you Aero Glass."

Because of this deficiency, my machine is only offered the Vista Basic interface, which is sort of a "Light Blue XP" theme. No Flip 3D task switching. Instead, I get Windows Flip. No Live Taskbar Thumbnails. Instead, I get hover text.

Screenshots, by the way, are from Paul Thurrott's Supersite For Windows article: Windows Vista Review Part 5: Windows Vista Features: User Interface Features. Paul's extensive review of Windows Vista is excellent.

Sluggish Video Playback

I'm guessing a couple driver updates may help out, but currently the video playback is sluggish and jerky at times. A big improvement was to install the latest SigmaTel XP drivers from the Dell website. Still, the advice I'm getting from folks at Dell is that I really should have 2GB of RAM if I want smooth video playback.

Hard Drive Squeezed

The 60GB drive suddenly isn't big enough. With XP loaded with all my apps and 20GB of data, there was still plenty of room. Now with Windows Vista, Microsoft Office 2007, and Virtual PC 2007 beta (with an XP image installed on it so I can run Visual Studio 2003) I've less than 10GB free space and I still haven't installed Adobe Premiere.

I've already been to Fry's to purchase a new 120GB hard drive. Ahh. That's better. I was able to back up my computer and restore it to the new hard drive using only Windows Vista utilities.

Upgrade Scenarios

Can I upgrade my video to Aero Glass specs? No. The ATI Mobility 9000 is soldered onto the Latitude D600 motherboard. No Upgrade. No Aero Glass. No Joy.

So it seems pretty bleak for us folks running Latitude D600s -- and there are zillions of us. If I were a corporate IT manager, I would not recommend upgrading D600s to Windows Vista. Even with the forced sub-optimal UI, Windows Vista demands too much of the D600. If you allow upgrades, you'll need to also start handing out larger hard drives and more RAM.

The best IT policy from my point of view would be to start purchasing some of those new sleek and sexy Latitude D620sD630s. 256MB video RAM. Cavernous Hard Drives. Up to 4GB RAM. Yeah... I need a new computer.

Which was, perhaps, the goal of Windows Vista all along...


If the Vista OS needs 2 GB of RAM, plus a 128MB video card, it makes me wonder how much more I will need to be happy with performance while running Visual Studio, Photoshop, checking email, and "unraring" binaries at the same time!

Shane Shepherd 27 Nov 2006

Shane, It does make one wonder. Right now, Vista is running my apps fine. I'm very confident that new ATI drivers will help with the video playback situation. And I'll be looking into ReadyBoost.

If you haven't heard, ReadyBoost will allow us to plug a USB thumb drive into our computer and Vista will use it as a memory cache. No, really, I'm serious. I picked up a 1GB USB drive at Fry's when I bought the new hard drives, but Vista tested the thumb drive and gave it the ... uhmmm ... thumbs down. I'll take that one back and try to get a speedier one.

Carl Camera 28 Nov 2006

Carl, I had heard about ReadyBoost. The concept seems like a good idea, but kind of annoying that I have to plug in a peripheral to get the performance I want. I'm still running Windows XP Pro, SP2 (when I'm not on my Mac) for now.

Shane Shepherd 29 Nov 2006