So I’ve been running Vista for the past year and a half. I know Vista gets a lot of grief, but overall, I really like the OS. Well, I should say I liked the OS because I’m not too happy with it now.

I recently purchased a new iPhone. After synching it with my Vista PC I started having strange problems. I can’t say it all started here. Let me go back a bit to when I first installed Vista…

In August 2007 I built my own PC. I ordered a copy of Vista Ultimate. I wanted Ultimate mainly so I could have the media center to try out and to have remote access to my computer while I was at work.

Trying to install was a nightmare. After about 5 tries I think I finally got it to "stick". Generally what would happen was I would got through the install and it would freeze at random points. That led me to believe I had a bad piece of hardware – such as the memory or hard drive. Ultimately, I figured I got it to work when I upped the voltage on my RAM – despite severe warning from my BIOS.

So I have been running Vista since them without major incident. There were problems. For example, I could never get SP1 to install. It would take over an hour when it tried then stop on the last stage, then another hour to uninstall itself. I never could get that figured out. There were also some other windows updates that would not install, but I didn’t worry too much about them.

At one point I swapped out my processor. That seemed to take my system to its knees and I thought I would have to reinstall the OS completely, but luckily I got it working.

So back to the iPhone. I can’t say for sure it was the iPhone, but that is the only change I can think of that would have caused my problems. Things started acting weird and lost internet access and programs wouldn’t run. So I decided to reboot. After that I could not get Vista to boot again. It would try but always give me a blue screen of death.

Again, I gave Vista the benefit and thought maybe my hardware is bad. I tried chkdsk but that didn’t help. I tried it memory test and it froze in the middle so I figured maybe I have a bad piece of RAM? But I happened to have an old Ubuntu instance on there and I could boot to that just fine and access all my windows files.

In any case I couldn’t get into Vista at all. So I decided it was time to wife my hard drive clean and start over. I decided to first try Ubuntu. I downloaded the 64 bit edition (I was running 32 bit Vista – I heard there was problems with 64 bit when I built my system). I was amazed at how fast and smooth the install went.

Once I got Ubuntu installed I did some configuring to get my dual 22" monitors to work and then installed VirtualBox and installed Vista inside of virtual box (my Vista install has never gone so smoothly)

VirtualBox was cool and you could certainly do some cool things to make Windows look somewhat native, but despite giving the VM 2 GB of RAM to work it, it still didn’t perform as well as I had hoped. Plus, I tried to get my files off of my mozy back-up and couldn’t.

These were all things I was willing to tinker with a bit then I realize a big problem I had… The main product I develop only runs on IE due to ActiveX controls! I didn’t want to spend my working day inside a VM. Eventually I decided to go back to Vista.

There are just some apps I need to have that run in Windows and not Linux, or don’t have good enough Linux counterparts, or maybe they do, but I’ve gotten too comfortable using what I have, such as:

  • E – my favorite editor (I suppose I could have made gedit work, but…)
  • Photoshop
  • BeyondCompare
  • Mozy
  • TortoiseSVN
  • Xampp
  • GoToMeeting
  • IE7 (for one site only – the one I work on)
  • Google Chrome
  • MS Office (Sorry, I don’t like OpenOffice.org)
  • iTunes (better support for iPhone & iPod)
  • Windows Media Center (couldn’t get MythTV running – didn’t want to spend much time on it anyway)
  • Manufacturers printer/scanner drivers and software

Down the road I may go back to Ubuntu someday when I’m not in a work environment that is dependant on Windows. But for now, I’m not in that spot.

Now, on to the Vista install. The first two attempts failed – they froze in the middle of installation. The third attempt almost made it. It crashed during the configuration stage. I thought it might be okay, but once I got it and I couldn’t get automatic updates to work. I also tried downloading and installing SP1 and it crashed every time too – sometimes with the blue screen of death.

At this point I didn’t know what to do. I had just wiped out my Ubuntu set up that I had spent about 8 hours configuring. I have XP, but I don’t want to go back there… I was certainly not going to buy another copy of Vista just to get a decent installer and SP1. So I looked forward. I grabbed a copy of Windows 7 beta and installed it.

Gratefully there were no errors on the install. Everything seems to be running fine. I’m writing this post from Windows Live Writer. All my apps I had on Vista seem to work great on Windows 7. No problems so far – except for Mozy. I think once I finally get my files back from mozy, I’ll drop their service and use JungleDisk for online back up.

Now, a word to you Mac missionaries… I could use a Mac, but I don’t want to. I don’t hate Mac. I just don’t understand why people love them so. I grew up on Macs. It wasn’t until I got into a CAD class that I ever used a PC. I felt I had just gotten into the real world of computers where you could actually do cool things (what? you can put more than one button on a mouse?). I’m sure it was just a perception. Don’t tell me Macs don’t have problems. After high school I worked for the school district. All we had were Macs. I’ve spent hours fixing Mac problems. If I could put the Mac OS on my existing hardware (legally) then I might try out the new OS. My dad still owns a Mac, so it’s not like I haven’t kept up. I’m still not that impressed. I’m not going to buy their overpriced hardware just for their OS. (Well, maybe, if I decide I want to make some iPhone apps I might look into a mac mini). Rant over.