by George Smith, HLS Systems, Inc.
4 Aug 2006
14 Oct 2009 14:33
As with previous operating system changeovers,
this one will be no different than those we've experienced in the
past when we upgraded from consumer operating systems such as DOS,
to finally Windows 3.1, then on to Windows 98, then 98 SE, ME, and
finally XP Home. For those who opted to buy into the
"business-oriented" operating systems offering better stability and
security features, there was NT and its various iterations, then
Windows 2000, Windows XP...with Service Packs 1 and 2. Which brings
us to where we are at today, 4 August 2006, faced with the introduction
of Microsoft's new operating system, Vista.
We will more than likely find that we'll have some
software applications, especially utilities, that won't run, motherboard
drivers that won't work, and internal or external peripherals that
won't have compatible drivers and thus won't function at all with
As in the past, there will be some catching up to
do by all the vendors of these soon-to-be incompatible products.
Some vendors will "belly up to the bar" and update their products in
a timely manner prior to the release of Vista, others won't.
I've read some of the hype to date regarding Vista and
all that it promises, but wanted to see for myself what all the
hullabaloo was about, and, to see just where we stand today with the
current software and hardware we use on a regular basis in terms of its compatibility with
Vista. With this in mind, I took one of my older (3+ years old)
office PCs, cleaned off the hard drive completely, and installed a
fresh copy of Vista, Beta 2 edition, build 5384. The installation,
which took about 40 minutes or so, was flawless and not at all
painful. This was a promising start to what at the end of the day
brought me back to a reality checkpoint, that we're in for some
stressful times once again in regards to upgrading to the most
current PC technology.
The next step was to attempt the installation of the motherboard
drivers. Here's where the fun begins! This test bed PC consists of
an Intel D850EMVR motherboard sporting an Intel 2.66GHz Pentium 4
CPU and 1GB of RAMBUS system memory...3+ year old technology. It
also has a newer PCI video card (nVIDIA-chipset) having 128MB of
video memory on board. And yes, this system also has an older
Pioneer CD/DVD-ROM combo drive installed as well. Good thing, as Vista
is provided only on
The boxed Intel motherboards we use in our system builds include a motherboard driver
installation CD, "Intel Express Installer CD," containing all the
motherboard drivers and applications. These worked fine up until
Windows XP SP2 when additional security measures were implemented
which kept the CDs from running. With a little trickery, you could
disable certain of XP SP2's security features to get the CD to run, thus
enabling you to "semi-automatically" install all the drivers
required to get your integrated video, audio, and LAN to work. The Intel Express Installer CD for the D850EMVR
motherboard wouldn't run on Vista. Perhaps again this was due to a security
feature implemented by Vista, for which there may well be a cure as
there was for XP SP2.
However, being impatient, I decided to install the drivers manually,
either from the original CD or downloads from Intel's support site.
Here's the results of those efforts:
INF - Problems installing, not sure of what did or did not
install. VISTA offers the opportunity to "reinstall using suggested
settings. After allowing the install to continue under those
conditions, something in the form of chipset installation support
code appears to have been installed. A second try later on using
downloaded (and most current) INF file hung up, and may have been
prevented by a successful first attempt.
LAN - This was not a good test, as the motherboard's integrated LAN
circuitry quit working a few years ago. I had installed a Linksys NIC
card to compensate. The Linksys NIC card installed properly from the
supplied Linksys driver CD.
AUDIO - Mixed bag here. First installation didn't work, so I
downloaded audio drivers from Intel and tried again. This time
something seems to have worked, as I do have audio at this time.
When all was said and done, I had no "warnings"
showing under device manager, so I can only assume that what needed
to be installed, got installed. It could be that many of these
motherboard drivers are being supplied on the Vista installation
DVD, obviating the need to do a separate install from Intel's
motherboard CD. That would be nice.
Having endured these efforts, I then wanted to see
if some of the utilities and software "tools" we use would load and
run. Here's the results of those tests:
OTHER TOOLS/UTILITY INSTALLATIONS:
Video Card Drivers: I'm using an nVIDIA-based video card.
nVIDIA provides a beta version of their drivers for VISTA. You can
download this for free from the nVIDIA web site. See nVIDIA link in
right-hand column. As it was, I had no problems with the video
display after the Vista installation, so once again Vista may have
supplied the proper Vista-capable drivers from its installation CD.
Antivirus Protection: Antivirus
protection doesn't currently exist for VISTA, save for the VISTA recommended
Trend Micros's "PC-Cillan, Beta Version" that you can download for
free from the PC-Cillan web site. This application seems to have a
few bugs in it as well, which hopefully will be worked out as time
goes by and the release date for Vista draws nearer. For example, I had to disable its firewall
protection to enable downloads from Intel's web site. Download would
hang after about 4MB of data was downloaded, which then had to be
restarted. After I disabled PC-Cillan's firewall protection, the
downloads worked properly. Click on the link in the right-hand
column "Anti-everything for Vista" to obtain your free copy of this
Print Server: I've got a 4-year old (or more) Print Server
made by NetGear. They supplied a utility that "automatically" builds
ports and assists in connecting networked printers to your PC. This
application only partially installed, and wouldn't complete a
network printer installation. The alternative was to manually build the ports
and install the printer drivers. Not for the faint of heart. The
available HP5000 LaserJet printer drivers for Windows XP seem to
work OK under Vista.
DVD Codecs: A surprise right out of the box was that Media
Center is included with Vista's Ultimate
edition. This brings with it the Codecs needed to play DVDs on your PC. Heretofore, if you purchased
a DVD-capable drive having no bundled DVD-playing software, you had to purchase software
which would include the necessary codecs to play the DVDs.
CPUZ: I've been using this free utility for a couple of years
now...when executed, it displays information about your system
relating to the motherboard, memory, BIOS, CPU, etc. This utility
installed and functions just fine with Vista! :-) Click
HERE to visit their web
The next items of interest relate to the standard,
work-a-day applications we all know, love and use on a regular
basis. These programs are the ones we'd normally purchase, install, and
use on a regularly occurring basis to perform some task with our PCs such as word
processing, video editing, photo editing, etc.
Microsoft Office 2007: Needless to say, as Microsoft will launch
VISTA in January (supposedly), Office 2007 has been made to be compatible
with VISTA. All of the Office 2007 applications loaded with no
problems, and with limited experimentation all seemed to function
just fine. All of these applications have a new look and feel to
them, with re-organized and more intuitive toolbar functions, etc.
Heavily graphic-display intensive. You'd better have a good video
card installed in your system, having as much onboard video memory
as you can afford. Try to install a video card that has 250MB of
video RAM if possible! The video card in our test bed system has
128MB, and seems to function OK, but then, this is a slow system
comparatively which may mask the relative slowness of a 128MB video
memory card. The Office 2007 applications I installed and tested include:
SharePoint (Web Page Authoring)
On 8 Aug
2006 I received the following info from Adobe regarding their
products and plans to update them regarding the intro of Vista. Keep
this feedback in mind as you contemplate upgrading your Adobe
"...however, they actually
troubleshoot issues like this. When products do not run, or error
out, the issue is usually considered a "Complementary Support"
issue, and is free of charge. Because this is a Beta operating
system, a solution is not guaranteed.
As of yet, there are no plans to update current versions of Adobe
products to run on Windows Vista. The release of this operating
system is still off a ways. Adobe Systems is looking forward to
supporting this operating system, however, in it's release form with
the next release of products.
Also, please be aware that our support plans are not in the $1000's.
Technical support has either a per-incident charge (if the issue is
billable), or you can purchase a support plan for $159 (for one
single product for one year), or 299 (for as many products as you
want/own, for one year). Both plans include a toll-free number to
call, and priority queuing."
Adobe Premiere Elements 2.0:
This is a Video NLE program containing the most important and
most-used pieces of its more expensive relative, Premiere Pro...or
whatever they name it these days. Works fine with XP, not so with
VISTA. There are compatibility issues reported by VISTA when you
attempt to install this application. VISTA offers the opportunity to
find solutions...in this case there were none.
Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0:
Again, this is a pared-down version of its bigger cousin, Photoshop
CS. This application experienced a few problems (as reported by
VISTA) during installation. VISTA suggested a link to a solution on
Adobe's web site, but when going there found none. This application
eventually installed as I clicked the "next" buttons, and appears to
work OK as seen by limited experimentation. [Note: Photoshop
Elements 5.0 seems to install and work OK. Haven't detected any
problems as of yet.]
Prior to using Photoshop, I used ULEAD's PhotoImpact. I still use
PhotoImpact to edit web page graphic objects. It is a well-rounded graphics application that works
with both photos and web page graphic elements. This application
installed and seems to work OK. The only problem I've found so far
is the Icon that gets placed on your desktop is a generic icon, not
the one supplied by PhotoImpact. Otherwise, and again with limited
experimentation, this application seems to work OK.
This application is as old as the hills, having been around for many
years...and which has gone through several versions as well. The most
current version, WS_FTP Pro 2006, would not install. I received a
message indicating "Secure loader used to protect this S/W has
encountered a fatal error. Contact vendor." This could have been a
problem of conflict with the PC-Cillan software. I successfully
installed an older version (8.03) which worked just fine.
Easy Media Creator:
There seems to be a new version of this released every 6 months or
so! I tried installing version 7 (I believe they're up to version
8.0 or so at this time), and encountered a few problems depending
upon which of its many modules you are going to install. VISTA
offered to check for solutions again, but as expected it found none.
I continued with the install by punching through the "next" buttons,
and finally got to the end of the process. I tried running what was
most important to me at the time "Creator Classic," the application
I use most to burn CDs. It worked just fine. I don't know which, if
any, of the other modules installed are working properly or not
after my limited testing.
And so...this wraps up my initial experiences with VISTA. Hope
you'll find this somewhat informative if not amusing. Just as in the
past when we upgraded from Windows DOS, 3.1, 95, 95SE, ME, NT, 2000,
and XP, we're more than likely going to see problems with some motherboard drivers,
external and internal peripherals, and incompatible
applications...some, if not all, of which must be upgraded with new drivers or
applications compatible with Vista to finally once again arrive at a functional system. To
test your current system to see which hardware or software you MAY
have problems with should decide to upgrade to VISTA, click on the
Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor link in the right-hand column.
And finally, if you have a system that performs
adequately at whatever it is you do, if your applications provide
all the functionality you need, and you're not having any hardware
or software problems with your current PC...you may be better
off to keep what you have and forget about upgrading at this time.
The added expense in terms of money and frustration upgrading an
older system and/or its peripherals may not be worth
it to you. If, on the other hand, if you're looking to invest in a new
system, give Vista some serious thought.
|To learn more about Vista, visit these links:
WINDOWS VISTA HOME PAGE
WINDOWS VISTA EXPRESS UPGRADE
WINDOWS VISTA CAPABLE PC
WINDOWS VISTA UPGRADE ADVISOR
WINDOWS IE VS 8.0
WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER VS 11
nVIDIA GRAPHIC CARD DRIVERS FOR VISTA
Security Products for Vista