Vista upgrade battle stories

So far, so good. After installing Ultimate edition on an older vintage laptop and new desktop PC, the situation is stable. No pressing need to roll-back, no application compatibility issues, no horror stories of data loss, missing drives or precious iTunes collections going up in smoke.

But installation experiences followed decidedly different trajectories, with the desktop working out much better. An AMD x2 system from Dell, it was already labelled “Vista ready” (although the definition of that phrase is in dispute currently) and shipped with a dual-monitor capable graphics card, enabling Vista Ultimate to shine with the nifty Aero Glass visuals. Strange that Dell website made no mention of the dual-monitor capability, unlike other models where customers are given the option to purchase a second monitor.

The laptop, a Dell Inspiron 700m about 18 months old, did not fare as well, perhaps because it was not designed to run Vista. As far as quality problems, that would be the least of its problems. After about 1 year– no doubt coincidentally, the warranty period– the battery no longer holds a charge more than one hour, rendering the machine an expensive brick, unless it is tethered to the wall and drawing juice. But then again given the inclination of Dell batteries towards spontaneous combustion, one must be grateful for a merely useless battery. No more Dell laptops for this blogger.

After the upgrade, the 700m runs noticeably slower but remained perfectly usable. The perceived responsiveness of the system approximates the way blogger’s favorite Compaq TC1000 tablet PC with TransMeta used to run plain XP Professional circa 2003. Vista had no problems recognizing the NIC, wireless card, Firewire controller and smart-card reader. Biggest challenge has been the integrated touch-pad which is currently recognized as a standard mouse device. One of the key pieces of software from Dell website is a custom driver for the touch-pad and associated software that allows fine-tuning the sensitivity of the tracking surface. Without that it is extremely sensitive and the slightest glancing finger movement registers as a click. When typing away at a hurried pace, clicking at random will result in moving the cursor to a different place and scrambling existing text– or worse hitting a button such as “send” on unfinished email. Very frustrating. No Vista drivers from Dell yet.


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