So I started working as a technical support agent helping people with Vista on their new computers. I figured that I would be spending plenty of time working with the new Vista operating system with which I had not yet had any experience. I acquired an OEM copy of the software through a local store (pcclub. btw guys, where's my rebate?). OEM means no Microsoft support. It's meant for PC builders. I figured that I'd have access to plenty of hands on through work and wouldn't need a full retail copy. OEM copies tend to be a lot less expensive.

My thoughts so far are mixed. I have it running more or less solidly and it's a very graphically pretty Operating System. I find that the changes that have been made can be challenging and that the casual user (read most typical computer owners) will find the OS a bit daunting and a bit of a learning curve will be involved. Microsoft has changed some things for the better, some things for the worse, and a lot of things have just changed that maybe didn't need to. I have a feeling that with a bit of work, Vista could be made into a very nice OS for the average consumer. Let's hope that with some more updates and major service packs that it gets to the maturity and refinement level that XP has settled into.

This Blog will be covering a lot of general PC troubleshooting points, especially ones that come up on a very regular basis with my customers at work. I am not going to limit it strictly to Vista, but am using Windows Vista tips and experience as my entry point into more general PC troubleshooting

The first thing that most people will notice about Vista is that the hardware requirements are kind of steep. I have it running on a computer that meets most of the requirements but my computer won't run Aero in it's current configuration. I have a gig of memory which I think is the minimum. Technically it's supposed to be able to run on 512mb but I don't recomment it. Vista really seems to like having 2 gig. I think Aero is pretty nice but that the Aero features are rather blingy rather than practical. I think MS has made this feature rather more hardware taxing than it had to be as a way of helping its partners in the hardware game sell higher performance equipment. Linux and MAC OS have similar features that require much less performance graphics hardware and I'm sure MS could do it too were they so motivated. There are some very small applications I know of that makes windows more or less transparent for instance, glass2k, which doesn't tax the hardware very much at all. Other companies also sell software enabling features much like flip 3D on lower versions of Windows as well.

That being said, there are things I do like about Vista such as the networking troubleshooting console within the network and sharing application. The visual depiction of the network can be helpful. The recovery features seem a bit more robust and the Windows disk itself can run some nice applications very similar to what you used to have within Windows XP Pro. Media Center, formerly a separate OS, is now a component of the Home Premium and Ultimate versions of Vista. It seems to have quite a few interface improvements and also to be a bit more robust. There are still some things that could be a bit better but it does seem quite a bit more usable to me. The error reporting features have also been very helpful. It actually suggested the root causes of a few problems I had accurately and provided useful information to help fix them. For instance, I have a sound card that only works about halfway with Vista. The inexpensive Create SoundBlaster Live is an older generation sound card and the game port on it doesn't work and Vista told me so. Initially Vista told me the card wasn't going to work at all but later detected an updated driver for me and automatically installed it. Wallah, I had sound. Very nice. The parental controls seem very powerful and handy for those with multiple users on their computers. I could see this being used even in some situations where the other users might not necessarily be Children.