10:09 AM

The InformationWeek Windows Vista Roundtable: Part One

What do IT managers, consultants, programmers, and everyday users really think about Vista? We invited six of our readers to give their opinions -- and we got an earful. Here is Part 1 of our 5-part series.

We've all heard from dozens -- actually, hundreds -- of analysts, journalists, pundits, bloggers, and other opinionated writers about Vista. They've written about its interface, its features, its development, its PR machine... But one segment we haven't heard from are the actual users -- the IT managers, consultants, programmers, and everyday users who are the ones who will have to actually deal with installing, learning, tweaking, and fixing Vista in their workplaces and homes.

To find out how Vista is being approached in the trenches, we invited six InformationWeek.com readers to a week-long roundtable discussion. Participants included:

  • Dennis Barr, Manager, Information Technology for the Larkin Group
  • Marc Chester, Vice President, Business Development for Data Reduction Systems
  • Bill Flanagan, independent IT/networking consultant
  • David Gray, Vice President for Information Technology & CIO and CEO, UMassOnline for the University of Massachusetts
  • Chris Rutkowski, IT Manager for Reliant Behavioral Health
  • Wayne Wengert, retired programmer/IT specialist
Over the next week, we'll find out what these IT professionals think about the introduction of Vista, its pros and cons, and the likelihood that it will be adopted in their workplaces. In this, the first of five segments, the participants introduce themselves and offer their initial opinions about Microsoft's new OS.

Wayne Wengert: I am an MSDN subscriber so I had early access to Vista. I had a laptop built for me by a local guy (ASUS 7615, nVIDIA 7600 LE, 160GB HDD, 2GB RAM) and installed Vista Ultimate on it as a new install.

Problems to date are mostly driver related. I am having all sorts of problems with power management (can't wake up out of Sleep, system starts up in the middle of the night for no identified reason, restart/shutdown often hangs). From what I've been able to find, there are apparently known issues (unresolved) with ASUS/nVIDIA drivers? This problem is really a pain!

The Windows Vista Roundtable

•   Part 1: First Impressions

•   Part 2: The Inevitability Of Vista

•   Part 3: Vista For Developers

•   Part 4: Is Vista A "Wow!"?

•   Part 5: Final Thoughts

•  Join The Discussion

I also ran into another problem that prevents the screen saver from ever kicking in. It turns out that it is also a known problem that occurs when you use a wireless mouse (I have a Microsoft Wireless Notebook Optical Mouse 3000). There are several suggestions on various newsgroups and blogs but none have worked for me so far. Waiting for a fix on this one.

As to the Vista interface and features, I am having problems making the switch from my old XP habits. Change is always a pain, especially for us old guys, and in time I may get used to the new interfaces, but for now, I find them uncomfortable and, in most cases, I don't see them as an improvement.

For example, the way you have to click that tiny drop arrow next to the lock to get to Restart. The little use I've made of Search is inconclusive. Sometimes I am impressed with getting to what I want quickly but other times, I end up having to open Help and search from there.

Another thing that has caused me quite a bit of trouble is the Administrator mode that doesn't have all permissions. I was trying to install a developer's tool (FarPoint's Spread) and, after numerous failed attempts, I finally learned that being logged in as Administrator is not always enough. Not a good thing in my opinion.

My current efforts revolve around trying to get applications I've built under Visual Studio 2005 (VS2005) to build correctly under Vista.

On the plus side, I am impressed with Vista's ability to see and connect to wireless networks and the ease of viewing files across the network.

Marc Chester: As a Microsoft ISV, we had been encouraged for months to gain experience with Vista. In the summer of 2006, we decided to take the plunge and begin our evaluation of the pending release. We decided internally that we would set up a user with both Vista and Office 2007, both in different stages of beta at the time. While I am not one of our development resources, I have been viewed as a "super user" here at DRS. This distinction earned me the keys to a brand new PC with Vista Beta 1.

Where should I start? Beta 1 showed tremendous promise (beautiful interface, improved security, etc.); the tradeoff was instability. This made daily work tasks a challenge. I began a journey that quickly took me down many paths -- discovering that various hardware and software no longer worked with my slick new OS. This included our online Web meeting client, and our CRM system, to name two. Mobile synchronization also came on board with many issues that still need to be resolved.

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I stayed the course and continued my evaluation, which allowed me to provide feedback to Microsoft regarding issues that I encountered. I followed an update path that included Beta 2 and Release Candidate (RC) 1. Each release pointed to major improvements from my first challenging days with the first beta product.

I am currently using both Vista Business and Office 2007 on my production PC. This is the PC I use for communication, webinars, creating marketing pieces, etc. I am glad to say that the final product is a thousand times better than the beta products I used through the end of last year. So much so, that we are planning on upgrading our sales group here to Vista. Additionally, one of our custom software applications will include upgrades that will allow us to exploit some of Vista's newer features.

Will this be an easy upgrade path for everyone? I think the jury is still out regarding ease of upgrading. All in all, I did not start out to become a Microsoft Vista evangelist, but over time, I have come to appreciate many of the features in this new OS. I can however, recommend unequivocally that if you are purchasing a new PC choose the Vista OS, you will not be disappointed.

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