My last few days looked like this:

10 Days to Go5 Days to Go4 Days to Go3 Days to Go2 Days to Go

 

Unfortunately, I was away on “1 Day to Go”, so I wasn’t able to get a screen grab, but I think you get the idea. My days of using Windows Live One Care, were over! Trust me, I celebrated!

The inclusion of Windows Live OneCare in my 90 day stint, was most certainly a disaster, and also the cause of most of my stress during my use of Windows Vista. Just like other Virus/Spyware detection combo software suites, it too was always scanning in the background. Scanning so much infact, that it would often make reading my email near impossible. I would sometimes wait up to 5 minutes for an email to load into view. The Windows Live OneCare firewall was a pain in the butt, not to mention that Windows Vista itself, did not even acknowledge that it had a firewall installed. For the entire 90 days, Windows Vista was bugging me to enable Windows Vista Firewall, because apparently I didn’t have one installed! For some unknown reason, Windows Live OneCare continued to disable Windows Defender. I found this to be a pain, because every few days Windows Defender would make it to the top of the pile saying “Hey! I am disabled! Enable me Again!”. Of course after enabling Windows Defender, I would then have to do a spyware scan, even if I didn’t want to! “Later” I would click, only to see my CPU usage go way up as it started scanning in the background instead.

One very irritating caveat of Windows Vista, is physical memory usage. During my 90 days, I was unable to get Windows Vista to really function the way I wanted it too. For example, I have 2GB of DDR Memory. So I figure “what do I need a swap file for”. So I disable the swap file, and immediately Windows Vista complains that it does not have enough memory! It even performed sluggishly! Now, if I were to do this in Windows XP, the system would be forced to push as much as possible into physical memory. Which in the case of my laptop with 2GB of DDR Memory, was perfectly fine! I never exceeded 2GB and my laptop never skipped a beat. Come Windows Vista, and I am able to perform the same feat! The best I could get was a compromise, which was still horrid. I was able to push the swap file down to a minimum size of 200MB (instead of the “Windows Managed” 3.5GB). However, if a program on my laptop should use more then 200MB of Memory (Firefox for example, as I am sure many of you have experienced), I would still get the memory warning errors. Sure, I can ignore them, but eventually, Windows Vista would crash Firefox altogether, or whatever offending programs were “taking up too much memory”. As I said above, this was never a problem in Windows XP. Hopefully there is a work around for this out there somewhere. I share my HDD with a Linux Partition, so 3.5GB wasted on a swap file is a lot for me, especially since Fedora 7 is quite capable of running smoothly with no swap partition at all!

Overall, my 90 days of Vista has been fun, and for the most part, I have had next to no troubles. I have swamp of applications installed, and they all work fine, including the ones I had to install in “Windows XP SP2 Compatibility Mode”. Heck, I was even able to install Command and Conquer Windows 95 Edition. With an extra piece of software, I was able to battle against my younger brother.

The slick new interface is funky, and easy to disable when it gets in the way (like when it is sucking up too much of my 200MB swap file for example!). Windows Aero is handy, but it’s not the be all of Windows Vista, it’s just the icing on the cake.

I also opted to include Microsoft Office 2007 in my 90 day stint. The latest version of the Microsoft Office Suite, and boy is it something! Most of the applications have been completely re-written, others updated. If you haven’t tried Microsoft Office 2007 yet, you should give it a shot!

I am sure that Windows Vista has far more to offer then what I have experienced so far, and for the moment, I am going to stick to using Windows Vista and Office 2007, to get the most out of both of them, and broaden my knowledge. I am somewhat established here now, and it would be a shame to just leave it all. I miss using linux, however I think I will continue my use of Windows Vista, at least until Fedora 8 is released.

I will even continue to post my findings and discoveries of Windows Vista, and hopefully at some point, I write a “Windows Vista – The Perfect Setup” guide. Actually, I have one in the works already… so stay tuned!

Get Better Graphics Performance

So far I have managed to do a fair amount of complaining about Windows Vista. In particular, I have referred my quality of computer gaming, gone down the drain, due to the strain and drain that Windows Vista puts on my computer. Well campers, I found a solution to my problems just hours ago.

WARNING:

BY FOLLOWING THE INSTRUCTIONS BELOW, YOU AGREE THAT I WILL ACCEPT NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR DAMAGE CAUSED TO ANYONES COMPUTER THROUGH MISS USE OR MISUNDERSTANDING OF THE INSTRUCTIONS BELOW. PLEASE FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS BELOW AT YOUR OWN RISK. JUST COVERING MY ASS. FEEL FREE TO POST ANY QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS 🙂

Step 1 – Install TweakVista

Yep, download and install this baby. Once installed, customise to your hearts content. Try disabling lots of things. TweakVista won’t let you break your computer, so go ahead, disable stuff. In particular, disable any services or programs you don’t need running. You might need to visit the services list in the Windows Vista administrative tools (not a section in TweakVista). Once there, go through the list and stop / disable any services that you do not use.

Do yourself a favour. If you haven’t already, disable User Account Access Control. Windows Vista will fuss about it, so disable the annoying pop ups too. If you don’t have a home network, there are heaps of services you can disable that would otherwise be sucking up precious memory!

Step 2 – Disable Windows Display Manager

Yep. This is the fancy smancy applet/gizmo that runs on top of windows and gives you that funky glass (or not so funky glass if you have Vista Basic) look on your desktop. You can disable the Windows Display Manager in TweakVista. Alternatively, you can tune your computer for performance instead of looks. You can do this under Advanced System Settings, in the Control Panel, under System.

Your desktop environment will be reminiscent of Windows XP Classic, but heck, does it really matter?

Step 3 – Update!

Make sure you have all available Windows Vista updates installed. Also, make sure you have the latest graphics drivers installed. If you are like me and have an ATI Radeon 9800 SE (software modded to be an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro) then make sure you have the latest modded driver.

Step 3 – Reboot and Play Games

I couldn’t believe the performance hit! Suddenly my games were fast, EVERYTHING was fast! My computer logged on to the desktop in seconds. It now also only takes seconds to shut down! Absolutely amazing stuff!

Summary

Install TweakVista – Customise your system for performance rather than features

Disable any unneeded or unnecessary services – Take your time, read the descriptions. Disabled as much as you can. If you are unsure – LEAVE IT!

Adjust your system for best performance – Disable Windows Display Manager (WDM). You won’t have your fancy looking interface, but you will be saving on that new graphics card you were considering purchasing.

Last Night, Windows Live OneCare informed me that I was now rounding the last corner towards the home stretch.

1000951245onecare21daysleft.jpg

With the exception that mine said “30 Days” where the screen shot says 21 Days. I neglected to take a screen shot of my pop up (it was 11:30pm, and I was trying to watch the end of a DVD, while an automated system scan by Windows Live One Care not scheduled by myself in any way, was taking up 100% of the CPU time). I wonder if Windows Live One Care might actually start to do a better job, in an attempt to encourage me to purchase a subscription at the end? Some how I don’t think so.

Issues

The amount of software still not compatible with Windows Vista is becoming a problem. So far I have been able to install some software using the Windows Vista Compatibility Settings. Windows Vista Compatibility does work well, but it’s not the solution for every program. Some software applications just will not work.

I guess my biggest complainy is a result of the amount of times Firefox has crashed in the last 40 days. It crashes now at least once every 2-3 days. I applaud its ability to restore my session after the crash, but why did Firefox crash in the first place?

Windows Live One Care still continues to can my system every damn night! When 90 days are over, I will be removing Windows Live One Care, and installing a real firewall and anti virus software combination. It seems that the free 90 day trial, can’t actually remove anything from the system, it merely finds viruses and spy-ware and “quarantines” them. Want to remove the malware? Sorry, have to pay for a subscription to be able to do that! As for the monthly Tune Up. What Tune Up? I haven’t seen it once yet!

The installation of Windows Live One Care has probably been the worst caveat so far. The integrated firewall is particularly annoying. Especially when the pop messages for programs that require access to the internet, always manage to appear behind absolutely everything else. To make matters worse, they don’t flash on the task bar, like a new active window does. This then causes programs to function strangely, because they need access to the internet, which they don’t have, because Windows Vista failed to notify me correctly.

For some reason, Windows Live One Care also continues to disable Windows Defender. I have no idea why this occurs. Every time I go to run Windows Defender, or it is scheduled to run, I get a pop up message telling me that Windows Defender has been disabled, and that I need to re-enable it. The disabling seems to happen all the time, and is completely invisible to me. Sometimes Windows Defender must be disabled for days at a time, as it often needs to download updates, and than perform several scans. On My PC with Windows Vista, this never happens. My PC however, does not have Windows Live One Care installed either. In fact, My PC is running perfectly fine, with the exception of the degradation in graphics performance.

Pretty soon, getting a replacement AGP graphics card won’t be too easy. Better start shopping around on eBay now I think!

Power consumption is something that I feel Windows Vista does not take care of too well. When I was running Windows XP, I was able to use my laptop, on batter power for a couple of hours. With Windows Vista, set to “Power Saving Mode”. I am lucky if I am able to get 30 minutes out of my laptop, before the performance is so low that my system is unusable. I guess if I turned off Windows Aero, I might get a few more minutes, but wouldn’t it be useful if Windows Vista just reverted to the Basic Theme when the systems is running on battery? It’s not as if it is a big task to change to the basic theme. Just stop the Windows Display Manager server (WDM).

With all of that our of the way, Windows Vista has still been quite good otherwise. I have my complaints, but I haven’t been forced to go back to Linux. Oh how I do miss my Fedora! I wonder will I get to use Fedora 7 much, before Fedora 8 is released? According to the Fedora Release Schedule, I will get a month or so of use before Fedora 8 is released. I know I could just continue to use Fedora 7, but I like to live on the edge!

A Few Annoying Bugs

Why must FTP support always be crappy? No matter what version of Windows I use, whenever I put an FTP address into Explorer, in the username:password@hostname.tld/public_html/site/this/that/etc it always crashes the first time. That’s right. Even in Vista, it crashes the first time, and then when I try it the second time around. I am denied access. To get to where I want to go. I have manually login again with Explorer, and then start at the home directory and navigate my way to the directory I want to upload some files too. Arrgh! Such a pain! Why does Explorer remember the locations I have been to via FTP in it’s history, if it is going to deny me from using such short cuts!! And No, it’s not just one FTP sites, It’s all FTP sites. And No, it’s not my internet connection, because I have been to many different locations with my Laptop, and the result is the same!

What is with Presentation Mode? (I am using Vista on a Laptop). It doesn’t do anything? Every time I connect my laptop to a projector (to teach a class with a PowerPoint presentation for example), I have to use “Extend Desktop”. Even with the Official ATI drivers installed, I can not get the Projector to function as a second monitor per say. Presentation Mode On, Presentation Mode Off. Wtf? I used to be able to do this fine with Windows XP.

The automated running of Windows Live One care is a pain. Especially at 10:30pm at night, when I am working on a Power Point presentation, and I want to save it! If I am able to save it (i.e, my system responds long enough to accept the command) I have to be sure not to click anything else, otherwise Power Point goes all white eyes on me and then it never recovers. Why did Microsoft steal the “darkening of the non responding windows” from Linux? Especially since the windows nearly always recover in Linux. Why don’t they just go down the Mac road. If the current window has stopped responding for more then 30 seconds, just make it go away! To quote Hunter Chrestle “Poof! It goes away! You didn’t click anything, you didn’t even save! It’s just gone!”

I think Windows Live One Care wants my money. I feel slightly like I am being scammed. Every night, Windows Live One Care does a scan. Every night, it tells me how it found 7 (or 10) viruses. It also tells me how it tried to quarantine them, and failed! The same message box says that I should pay for a subscription with better protection. After that, the status of Windows Live One Care stays all green, and apparently there are no problems! So, do I have viruses on my PC, or is this just a copy cat situation, like plenty of that scam software out there available on the internet? What do they call that? Spyware was it?

Interesting Smarts

Vista and Office Ultimate do have some interesting new features. For Example, Outlook 2007 will now attempt to find out your incoming and outgoing mail servers for you. You just put in your email address, and it does the rest. Success rate so far? 0% and I have 8 (yeah I know) different email addresses. Perhaps it only works with Paying Hotmail and Microsoft Subscribers?

Internet Explorer 7 doesn’t crash. Every time I used IE7 in Windows XP, it crashed. Yes, I did have a legitimate version that I paid for. Every time I use IE7 in Vista, it never crashes! I like that, but not enough to give up Firefox, which unfortunately has crashed several times this week alone.

Going back to my pains of the Projector, when I extend the desktop, I no longer need to match the resolution on both screens. I can keep my 1440 x 900 resolution, and have the projector, or other monitor attached, set to any resolution I like. I was never able to do this with Windows XP. Being able to do this with Vista, has made using my desktop in “Extended Desktop Mode” bearable to say the least.

The automatic network connection sensing is good! I no longer need to disable an interface, when I am using the other, to prevent my computer from having problems accessing the network. I can leave them both enabled and Vista fails over to the device with the best availability. Which means I can switch between work and home, and never have to alter my network settings. Fantastic!

Having Said That …

So far it has been good. I am enjoying using Vista, although I do find myself pining every once in a while for the familiar linux console. Sometimes I run up a command prompt, but it just isn’t the same, like really.