A tale of three PC companies and their upgrade plans

Microsoft’s Omar Shahine has some initial thoughts on his ThinkPad T60. I was struck by this description of the Vista upgrade process:

Running Vista has been a breeze. Other than setting up BitLocker (more on that nightmare later) I basically did a clean install of Vista, then downloaded a single application called ThinkVantage System Update, and that program did all the work of downloading all the required, recommended and optional components and craplets . Big Kudos to Lenovo for creating a single unified application to update, download and install all the things required to utilize the enhancements on the laptop (like the volume buttons, trackpoint, fingerprint reader etc).

What a great idea. Too bad other companies aren’t equally thoughtful.

I just (finally) got my Acer Tablet PC back from depot repair today and am considering how and when to upgrade to Vista. The Acer website is pitiful. First of all, it appears to be powered by two gerbils with attention deficit disorder. Just reaching a page takes minutes in some cases (I’m not exaggerating) and it took me nearly four hours to download less than 400MB of drivers and updates. Occasionally it speeds up, as if to give me false hope, and then settles back down at about 4 Kb/sec.

Acer’s Vista upgrade instructions make it sound like the company is following Lenovo’s lead, with one zipped package of drivers and BIOS updates and another for additional applications like Power DVD and NTI CD Maker, all of which should be installed effortlessly when you run UpgradeKit.exe. Alas, the download page I was sent to just includes a dozen zipped packages, each of which needs to be installed individually. It doesn’t appear there’s any way to get the bundled apps (which are valuable, not crapware) except by doing an upgrade.

Meanwhile, Dell promises to deliver its own equivalent tool as part of the Express Upgrade program that should be going out in the mail, oh, Any Day Now:

Dell expects to begin shipping the Windows Vista Upgrade in the latter part of February. In addition to the Upgrade, you will receive a Dell-developed Upgrade Assistant. This tool will walk you step-by-step through the Upgrade process, assisting in the installation of Dell-provided drivers and the removal of incompatible applications. The Dell Upgrade Assistant will only be made available to Dell customers.

I don’t understand why this shouldn’t be downloadable now. Unless it’s not finished, of course.

5 thoughts on “A tale of three PC companies and their upgrade plans

  1. No such luck from Sony, unfortunately. To get their Vista-version stuff running on my VAIO, I have to download over TWO DOZEN separate programs, the significance of which is never made very clear. They really don’t get it.

  2. I’m somewhat disappointed to find Acer haven’t bothered to make available a set of Vista drivers for the Travelmate 8000 series, I purchased the 8006 2 years ago which was their absolute top-end model at the time and it’s still perfectly capable (2GHz Centrino, 1Gb RAM, 80Gb HDD, 128Mb Graphics) so it’s a shame to see it ‘written off’ so early by Acer Support.

    No doubt I’ll be able to nick any drivers/Acer apps I need from another series when I make the move to Vista in April, but I shouldn’t have to!

  3. I went out and bought a cheap ($850) Acer notebook with Vista Home Premium preinstalled. The out-of-box experience is worse than my last XP system. It took 80 minutes for the initial setup to finally complete. The Symantec 90-day software was about 20 minutes of that. At one point the Symantec software said “You must reboot now” and I said okay, only to get a second dialog saying “Symantec detected that you tried to reboot, but we’re not done so we aborted it.” Whaaa?

    It takes about 12-15 seconds to come out of sleep. Looking at the new Vista event log info, I can see that it’s a combo of the Symantec crap and some bad hardware drivers. I have had several episodes of losing the wireless network and the built-in Vista diags were useless. Rebooting solves the problem. Drivers again, I suspect.

    Acer has a bunch of “update” junk running, the only redeeming quality is that they used Vista Task Scheduler to run it rather than creating a background program that runs at startup. It hasn’t told me of any useful updates available; I have a suspicion that it may be more of a marketing pitch generator than a support tool because it asked for my email address during OOBE. There are 11 tray icons, most are useless and all but 2 seem to override the auto-hide of inactive icons.

    I promised myself that since this wasn’t my main system, I wouldn’t do what I normally do–strip out all the crapplets, turn off most of the eye candy, and hunt around the Internet for working drivers. I want to suffer the way real users do. It hurts! No wonder people don’t like computers.

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