My former colleague Joe Wilcox wrote a fairly damning column on Microsoft Vista yesterday, and I generally agree with his overall analysis. I have also written here in the past that I simply could not get Vista running reliably as a media center upgrade. And yet, somewhat surprisingly, my Vista box is now running well: no crashes, no problems connecting to peripherals, no problems. Four things have contributed to the updated (and happier) state of affairs:
- I reinstalled a fresh copy of Vista. That's never a good solution, but my alternative was reinstalling XP (or trashing the box altogether), so it seemed worth the effort. (Added cost: none, but it took a couple of hours to back up all the data and reinstall the OS)
- The consensus I found online is that the Vista drivers for ATI are problematic, and there was clearly something wrong with my video card and Vista. I upgraded the video card from one running on an ATI chipset to one with an nVidia chipset (an eVGA GeForce 8500GT 256MB), and have had no crashes since then. (Added cost: $125)
- I added 1 GB of RAM, for a total of 2 GB. (Added cost: $63)
- Microsoft has continually loaded upgrades and fixes in the background. I suspect that this is why my Bluetooth keyboard and mouse now work even after the computer goes into suspend mode. (Added cost: $0)
So I spent another $200 or so to improve the basic hardware, Microsoft has patched things up, and it's working. To celebrate, I invested another $200 in a 22" widescreen monitor - more on that in my next post.