Early Vista Experiences

Until recently I had always installed Vista in a Virtual Machine and everything had worked well because (a) the cozy environment provided for virtual machines hides them from the harsh reality of real hardware and (b) I was using it to investigate Vista and didn’t have to install everything that I needed for my host machine. Last week I installed Vista RC1 as the host operating system and I thought others might benefit from hearing some of the issues I encountered.
  • Vista didn’t recognize my hard disk - At first Vista refused to recognize my hard disk and I was unable to find a suitable driver for it. After much searching I decided to install Windows XP from scratch and then let Vista upgrade it and all was well.

  • Virtual PC 2004 - VPC2004 doesn’t run on Vista. The solution is either to use Virtual Server 2003 or the beta of Virtual PC 2007.

  • Visual Studio 2003 - Visual Studio 2003 isn’t supported on Vista but it can be made to work. The user account that you run in isn’t in the debugger group so to debug you need to run as administrator. You also need to install Frontpage Server Extensions if you use ASP.NET.

  • Various utilities for my Toshiba Qosmio G20 laptop don’t run in Vista - Toshiba don’t have solutions for these yet.

  • Norton Antivirus/Norton Systemworks - These don’t work in Vista. Symantec say that a free upgrade will be released (for the latest versions of their tools) when Vista ships. Until then you have to use another AV tool.

  • Visual Studio 2005 - You are advised to upgrade to VS2005 Service Pack 1. You also need to Run as Administrator for various parts of VS2005 to work. Unfortunately this means running as a different account so there are some differences in behaviour due to the nature of running as a separate account.

  • Adobe Acrobat Printer - I have been unable to get the Adobe Acrobat Printer driver to install on Vista. This is part of Adobe Acrobat Professional and allows me to convert PPT files to PDF. I don’t have a solution for this at present.

  • Shutdown - I am used to using Ctrl+Esc, U, U to shut down a PC. This key combination doesn’t work on Vista. Instead use Alt+F4 when the desktop is focused. (Use the Windows Key with D to focus the desktop).

  • Vista and Projection Equipment - This is the biggest problem for me. Vista doesn’t like projection equipment. I was at VBUG this week at the Microsoft Campus in Reading and I was using the same laptop with the same projection equipment that has worked just fine for a long time. It didn’t work with Vista. I could get the laptop to output to the projector but the laptop’s own display refused to work in this mode. Other people had similar problems with Vista. However, still others (inc. Mike Taulty) had no problems with Vista. My solution in the end was to use my old Windows XP hard disk that I brought in case of emergencies. I am feeling very smug with my level of preparedness right now.

    • I think you should read this as a list of teething problems and not as any critique of Vista because clearly it doesn’t mention the wealth of new features that Vista offers. I offer it in case it saves someone else some grief getting up and running with Vista.