I bought a new Dell laptop with Vista installed recently. At first, I really liked Vista. The graphics look wonderful, and the basic install runs pretty well. I’ve been looking forward to running it for some time. But, after having used it for a little while now, I’m not sure what to do. The problem is that I’m basically faced with the choice to either shell out $200 for another GB of RAM, or to uninstall Vista and go back to XP.
With only 1GB of RAM, the laptop is not usable for much other than web-based applications. Installing Microsoft Visual Studio (which runs fine on XP with 1GB of RAM) was a pretty bad experience. First, VS2005 as shipped isn’t compatible with Vista, so you have to download Service Pack 1. That’s understandable, as not all software can simultaneously be ready for Vista. Unfortunately, the ‘patch’ is a 420MB download! It’s so big that IE can’t even download it. I tried twice with Internet Explorer 7, and both times, it just stopped downloading at about 75% done. That caused me to install Firefox, which downloaded it successfully on the first try. Finally able to install, I waited for 2 hours for the installation to finish. Yes – 2 hours. Available RAM dropped to zero, and it just swapped its way through the whole install. Why installing a product requires 1GB of RAM is a mystery.
Further, the security enhancements in Microsoft are a real warning to users to not install software. Installing any software has challenges of guessing whether you need to “Run As Administrator”, and you can certainly expect at least a few “Cancel or Allow?” dialogs. Overall, the operating system clearly tells the user “do not install desktop applications on this machine”.
In the end, a 1GB Vista laptop is best for using the web. You won’t want to run Word on it, much less Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote, Outlook, Quicken, etc, because they are quite slow due Vista’s memory management. Since those don’t run well, you might want to try the apps that do run well… Oddly enough, those are the web-based apps which Google does reasonably well with. Thus, Vista is a gift from Microsoft to Google.
It’s good to know that Microsoft is looking out for it’s end users. Having realized that desktop applications are difficult to install, require significantly more hardware resources, are difficult to administer, and are a frequent cause of malware and viruses, Microsoft has concluded that Google applications are better suited for its users than Microsoft Office is. This is a indeed a very noble step for Microsoft. I don’t know of any other company that would voluntarily sacrifice 1/3 of its revenues for its users than Microsoft.