Vista Mythbusters

Welcome, Digg visitors! If I may be so bold as to suggest that you actually might want to click the links and read the FULL posts before commenting? Just sayin’. (Oh, and thanks to commenter Nick for some excellent design suggestions, which I have incorporated.)

Over at ZDNet, I’ve been publishing a series called Vista Mythbusters. The goal is to debunk some of the nonsense (both from Microsoft and from its many detractors) that has been written about Windows Vista in the past few months. Here’s a summary of what I’ve published so far. Be sure to follow the links to read the full story behind each myth.

Vista Mythbusters #1: It’s not a hardware hog
Lo and behold, Vista really does run on older hardware, with some relatively minor upgrades. And if you want to buy a Vista Premium Ready machine, you can get it for less than you might think.

Vista Mythbusters #2: Dual-core and 64-bit support
Once a week I read something from someone who is shocked, shocked to discover that the Vista Home Basic license prohibits its use on dual-CPU machines. They think that means they can’t use a dual-core machine. They’re confused. Click the link and read the full story. (Yes, every edition of Vista runs great on a dual-core machine.)

Vista Mythbusters #3: Will Microsoft dump XP to push Vista?
Eventually. But probably not until after April 14, 2009.

Vista Mythbusters #4: Yes, Microsoft really is price-gouging
I explain why the price of Windows Vista Ultimate doesn’t make sense.

Vista Mythbusters #5: Aero isn’t rocket science
Your old video card might choke on the fancy Aero interface, but you’ll be shocked at how cheap the upgrade is and how even low-end new PCs support it.

Vista Mythbusters #6: Is Vista really more secure?
Everything you always wanted to know about UAC and IE7 Protected Mode.

Vista Mythbusters #7: How much DRM is too much?
Vista contains a form of DRM that has never before been in Windows.

Vista Mythbusters #8: That license isn’t so bad, after all
The Windows Vista license is written in plain English. But you wouldn’t know it to hear some of the practically paranoid interpretations of it. Here’s some counter-balance.

I’ve got two more installments in the pipeline and will probably hold off on the last one until just before launch day, January 30, 2007.

34 thoughts on “Vista Mythbusters

  1. Regarding Myth#1, how do I get Vista to run at least half as fast as XP in a VM? I’ve turned off all the eye candy and background activity like indexing, but it’s still insufferably slow.

  2. Have you installed the Virtual Machine Additions, Dave? In both VMWare and VPC 2007 Beta, that makes a staggering performance improvement for me. Things run very slowly until the VM Additions are installed.

  3. Ed, I have a more general (and probably very dumb) question. Now that Vista is in the RTM stage, is there a way that we power users on workstations can get an advance copy for our current computers? If not, can I still download the latest RC1 or RC2 version somewhere? TIA as always.

  4. Ed, I just double-checked and VM Additions 13.552 are installed. The system is no slacker, Athlon64 3600+ with 2GB of RAM, 1GB usable by the VM. I easily run 3 XP VMs at a time on it. A single Vista VM kills it.

    I tried RC1 on a Centrino 1.4GHz notebook with 512MB RAM but that was insufferably slow even after turning all the junk off. To upgrade RAM on that system I’d need to throw out the old RAM. XP runs fine on it.

    So far I am not convinced that #1 is a myth.

  5. Dave, are you running Virtual PC 2007 Beta? You should be running VM Additions 13.724, which makes a huge difference.

    And especially on a notebook, 512MB is not enough, because too much of that RAM has to be used for video. That’s certainly a case where the upgrade is painful.

    And let me be clear. I certainly think Vista is more demanding of hardware than XP. That makes sense for an OS that was designed for hardware that is five years newer. So yeah we could point to examples all day of hardware that works just fine in XP and is terrible with Vista, and those will define the boundary. If you had originally spec’d 1GB of RAM for that notebook, you would have had a little better performance with XP and you would be much happier now.

  6. Ed, I don’t have a MSDN or TechNet subscription. How does this work? If I buy, say, a singer user subscription to Technet, do I get to download Vista for free, or do I pay for that separately? And if so, which specific TechNet subscription should I subscribe to? I briefly visited TechNet and become totally confused.

  7. Ed, disregard most of Comment 7. I figured out how to get a TechNet Plus subscription for a single user. My only remaining question seems really dumb: does this mean that I can download Vista for free if I go ahead and get the $499 subsription? The answer is almost certainly no, right? I would like to get Vista a bit early, but not if I pay for it later when any applicable evaluation period ends. Again, TIA as always.

  8. Ken,

    Yes, you would get the right to download and use up to 10 copies of Vista RTM with a TechNet Plus subscription. If you have a fast connection and a DVD burner, skip the $499 version and get the Direct option for $350.

    I’ll have more on this in a day or two.

  9. Thanks. I am looking forward to it. I do have the fast connection and a DVD burner. But this makes sense for me only if it means that I don’t have to pay for a retail version of Vista when it becomes available next January. I doubt that that’s the case. 🙂 Still, TechNet is intriguing to me — I have read many of their articles over the years when looking for advanced computer information.

  10. Ken, go read the license terms at TechNet. They’re available for public inspection. You have enough of a background to interpret them yourself, I’m sure. 😉

  11. “Dave, are you running Virtual PC 2007 Beta? You should be running VM Additions 13.724, which makes a huge difference.”

    That’s good to know. I am running Virtual Server 2005 R2 at the moment. I can’t find a download for that version so I suspect it runs only with VPC 2007.

    There is no doubt that the OEMs will update their configs to make sure Vista runs well on them; for example, the Dell site has changed significantly in the past couple of months to eliminate most low-end configs that couldn’t endure Vista. My concern is that the idea of XP-to-Vista upgrades is being oversold. Why pay $300 for Vista and upgrade both memory and video if you can buy a new system?

  12. Actually, VS 2005 R2 is up to 13.725. You should be able to get them from Connect. (VS 2005 R2 is a public beta, so you register and get access immediately, IIRC. I think the additions are in SP1)

  13. Ed, I read the license terms and yes, they (very clearly) answered my questions. Thanks. I really know to do things like that.

    And would it surprise you that of all of the things I’ve read about Vista so far, the one that intrigues me the most is SuperFetch and the new performance tools? I really need to get a life…:)

  14. superfetch and readyboost are great. I’m running RC2 on an amd 3500+ with 1gb ram, and games bogged the system down quite a bit – so much so that I was thinking I’d have to upgrade my ram for vista.

    On a whim, I bought an el cheapo 2gb USB stick and told vista to use it all for readyboost. Now I don’t think I’ll need to upgrade, the difference is very very noticable 😀

    I wish there was something like technet for full use, I’m in Australia and they’re charging what translates to US$570 for vista ultimate so I’m gonna be stuck with home premium 😦

  15. Well why should I believe in a Microsoft Windows fan boy like your self. In fact studies do show that vista using the Aero theme does hog resources. If its not a system hog then why are they pushing dual cores. All I see in this blog is Microsoft Hippie loving lies.

  16. Ed, you’ve been dugg 😉

    In the Geek community, everyone is saying either get Linux (I’ve already switched, and I don’t regret it) or switch to Macintosh. I rarely use Macintosh, and have never had it installed on my computer, but according to Mac users Vista is behind, Mac already has these GUI enhancements, a secure OS and a stable kernel, and surpasses Vista by far. I find Linux (OpenSUSE with XGL) good enough for me, especially considering the price (free).

    Linux isn’t as user-friendly as Windows, and it does take a while to transition, but graphically its great and feature wise its becoming better.

    What’s your take on what the average consumer should do? You seem to be a Vista supporter, there’s no doubt about that, considering that you started this series in the first place, but what do you say to proponents of Linux and Mac?

  17. By the way, I’m trying to be a bit less critical as Randall was, even though I really do believe as strongly as he does against Vista.

    I’ve used the Vista release candidate, and it is slower than Windows XP by a lot. That was on the Basic version, which doesn’t even have Aero or Flip3D. Linux runs faster than Windows XP by a lot, compared to Vista it would blow it away.

  18. When Windows 95 came out is was a resource hog. And don’t get me started about Windows ME. Vista is a new Microsoft operating system with lots of eye candy, and it will require more resources. Hardware will catch up and we won’t notice it anymore, untill the next operating system that requires a holographic video card and a terabyte of ram comes out, and it will be a resource hog.

  19. I had to upgrade my 1.5 year old PC to support Vista… so #1 isn’t all that true. I had to upgrade my RAM and my video card.

  20. I think you’re confused. Vista Basic is nothing like XP Home. Vista Basic doesn’t have Aero so there are going to be a lot of upset people!

  21. YAy… another idiot blogger spreading nonsense!!

    Dual-CPU != Dual-Core! .. Vista Home single cpu license will support a multi core cpu. idiot.

  22. You mention upgrades (GPU), and even cheap replacements. But forget how many people use laptops which don’t upgrade easily, and can be expensive to replace, even on the low end. Laptops with Intel Integrated chipsets (which either barely, or don’t handle Aero) were sold just recently, so they are still very new machines.

  23. To be honest, they don’t look like links. They look like headings. This illusion is because they are emboldened, differently colored, and positioned like headings, as if this were a definition list. I would have never noticed them had my mouse not stopped on one and changed the text color as I scrolled down the page.

    Try putting the underline back. Try removing the underline from the disclaimer since it isn’t actually a link.

    See usability note at; make the changes, then berate your users.

  24. Nick, you think that’s berating? Man… But thanks for the design comments. I redesigned the site last month and got a lot of feedback, but no one mentioned the points you did. I’ve changed the design to incorporate your suggestions. Hope you like it.

    Robert, point taken, and one I’ve written about before. The good news is that the very popular Intel GMA 950 graphics do support Aero. But older laptops will have the most problems with the visuals.

  25. Not berating, really–I should learn not to comment when I’m in a crabby mood. =)

    Thanks for considering the changes! You’ve got an interesting blog, and a new regular reader.

  26. All pro-Vista stuff aside, Vista is still going to be cracked wide open for people to download. It doesn’t matter what Microsoft does about it. Honestly, how long did it take for hackers to crack Windows XP Pro? Not long at all. And it won’t take all that long for hackers to crack Vista. Am I trying to encourage people to not pay for their own copies of Vista? Of course I’m not. All I’m stating is the inevitable. Honestly, I really don’t care too much for Vista. Why? Because I know that it’s going to have all kinds
    of security holes that Microsoft will have to inevitably patch in order for Vista to be the “secure” OS that it’s supposed to be right out of the box. Also, I really don’t care if the new version of Internet Explorer is supposedly more “secure”. I’m sticking with Firefox. Why? Because I’m tired of Microsoft talking all their stuff about “the new version of Internet Explorer will be better than the previous version”, only to be let down tremendously. Just my thoughts on this whole Vista thing.

  27. graphicartist2k5, Windows XP Pro (you’re speaking of the Volume License Key version) didn’t need cracking; it didn’t have any activation.

  28. I’m not all exited about Vista. They lost me when they canceled the new file system.

    I’d love to find some of the “sky is falling” myths that people were saying about XP when it came out.

  29. Nice group of articles. I particularly liked the article on price gouging. Its also nice to know that my XP won’t be absolete for a least another couple of years.

  30. Vista is a resource hog, in my opinion. Linux can give you the same graphics with much less demands in terms of hardware. Just try out XGL, I can use it on even old computers.

Comments are closed.