A week or so ago I did something foolish, I installed Vista on my primary laptop. Ok, so foolish may be a bit strong, after all, I did take precautions. Rather than upgrade my existing machine, I bought a new hard drive and installed Vista on that (so that my old configuration remained intact, just in case). The foolish part of this is that I need my machine all the time. I had to present Apollo at CFUnited Express last week, and will be presenting both ColdFusion Scorpio and Apollo at Spring this week. I can’t afford any down time, and so unnecessary machine upgrades probably fall into the foolish category.
Why did I bother? Probably because Vista is a new toy, and I like new toys. That, and the fact that customers are already running Vista, and I need to experience what they are going through with our products. I need to install Apollo apps, I need to try Scorpio (and in doing so discovered an issue on Vista that we’ll address in the next beta), I need to try other stuff that I can’t refer to by name yet … you get the idea.
So, with all of the media hype around Vista, with all of the discussions about upgrade problems, and broken applications, and poor performance on all but the latest hardware, and why you should wait, I must confess that I have so fallen for Vista that I won’t go back to Windows XP. Even though it means that I have to do without a few applications for now.
The installation itself was utterly painless. IBM has the ThinkPad drivers I needed, so no problems there. I have to run beta versions of Adobe’s virus scanner and VPN client for now, but so far no problems with those either. I needed to upgrade a few utilities to newer versions (WS_FTP, XMLSpy, and others). I needed to apply service packs and hot fixes to SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio .NET. Most of the other apps I needed ran as is. And a few I’ll have to live without for now.
I also installed Office 2007 which is superb, but that’s a separate post.
Vista takes a little getting used to. Some of the utilities and tools are buried in places other than where they used to be, but that’s easily learned. The new UI is slick, the new Windows Explorer replacement is superb, Wi-Fi support is orders of magnitude improved, printer support is close to perfect (it scanned my network, found them, added them, just the way it’s supposed to work!), when I plugged in a projector the screen auto-switched cleanly and simply, the peripherals I have thrown at it (cameras, microphones, SD readers, and more) have just worked, performance has been great … truth be told, I have yet to run into a single real problem yet. And this is not even a new laptop or one designed for Vista, it’s the ThinkPad T43P that I got before the ColdFusion MX 7 launch in early 2005. Everything thus far has just worked, and worked really well. As one of my co-workers teased, my laptop is now behaving like a Mac, and maybe it is. 😉
But none of this is why I’m hooked on Vista. The single reason that I’m not going back is a reason I have not seen mentioned by the press or the reviewers. The reason is simply how much easier Vista is on the eyes. Not being a designer or a creative type I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that I like, but the system fonts are much easier to read, the screen contrast is more pleasant, the curves and borders and lines are all gentler and feel less intrusive, edges of fonts and buttons and windows all feel less harsh, icons and notifications don’t feel like they are screaming at you. And this is true of the laptop LCD display, my ThinkVision monitors at home, my NEC monitor in the office, and even displays projected on those large conference room screens – they all look and feel better. I guess I did not realize how tough Windows XP was on the eyes until I started using Vista and then went back to XP (to retrieve stuff of that drive that I needed). And with the amount of time I spend staring at a screen, the easy-on-your-eyes gentler Vista is all the reason I need to switch.