I tried upgrading the laptop to Vista yesterday

Yep, we got sooo much snow that I had to punt off taking the ham-radio license exam yesterday. We wound up getting about 15 inches of snow, and there’s a little more on the way. So that made it a good day to try out Vista on the trusty Thinkpad and see how it worked.

I’ve got a Thinkpad G41, which is a weird beast — it’s a desktop replacement machine, so it’s got a Pentium 4, running around 3 ghz and lotsa memory. But it’s also pretty cheap, which means not much oomph on the video card. Which turned out to be trouble down the line. More about that in a minute.

Anyway, I set out at 9am with a copied image of my hard drive (thanks Nate, that turned out to be a great idea) and fired up the Vista Business install.

The only hard part about the installation was the dreaded “Sonic Studio DLA” problem — Vista scurried around the hard drive before launching the upgrade and said it wouldn’t proceed until I removed that program. Only trouble was, there wasn’t a program by that name to uninstall. Some rummaging in the registry and I realized that IBM had renamed the program “IBM DLA.” They’d also done that with another Sonic product called “RecordNow!” — I pulled both of those programs off the machine and Vista cheered right up.

The rest of the upgrade was easy — it just took a long time. I didn’t time it, but my guess is around 4 hours. The nice thing is that the upgrade is completely unattended so I didn’t have to babysit the machine. At the end Vista popped up, asked me for my password and I was good to go.

I drove around for the rest of the day and just before dinner rolled back to XP Pro by dropping the old drive back into the machine.

There are several reasons why I decided I like XP better on the laptop (which, to be fair, is not listed as a Vista-ready machine on the Lenovo site). The video card is the main hardware reason I rolled back. Vista’s graphics made the video card work so hard that the laptop’s fans were on pretty much all the time (unlike XP where the fan comes on only when the machine is working really hard).

But the real reason I went back to XP is because there really isn’t anything new in Vista. Oh yeah, lots of eye candy, cute new interfaces and navigation. But as one web site says, it really seems like XP with Mac-wannabe clothing on. I’m willing to put up with a lot of pain if software lets me do something cool that I can’t do any other way. But I couldn’t find that cool thing while running Vista.

Meanwhile, of course a lotta stuff broke — I’d have to upgrade a bunch of software that I use a lot (like QuickBooks), peripheral drivers were ok but whining about stuff, the usual bother of an OS upgrade. As I said, I’d do it if it were worth it. But it wasn’t. Sure am glad it was just a drive-swap to return to XP…


Hm… Others share my view. Julio’s blog turned me on to this grouchy piece in Forbes. The recommendation? Don’t even think about upgrading an XP box to Vista.