Installing Vista: One Hit, One Miss

by Todd Ogasawara

I just tried to install Vista RC-2 Build 5744 on two production PCs (vs a test box). Here's how it went down... The hard drive in the Dell Lattitude D600's notebook PC I use in my office died this past Wednesday. Fortunately, it still has three months left on its three year warranty. The replacement hard drive arrived on Friday and I figured I might as well install Vista on it instead of XP Pro since Vista has been running pretty well on my test PC (a Dell Optiplex GX-280). The installation went quickly (about 30 minutes) and everything except the integrated Bluetooth radio was recognized by Vista. The D600 has an ATI Radeon 9000 with 32MB of video RAM. Decent for a business notebook. But, not enough for Aero Glass (128MB required). So, no Bluetooth, no Aero Glass. But, good enough to consider this installation a hit.

Next on a my list: My home low-end but serviceable PC with an Athlon 3200+, 1GB RAM, and nVidia GeForce FX5200 board with 256MB video RAM added in (Microsoft's Vista upgrade checking utility said the card was ok for Vista). I figured this would be my chance to play with the Aero Glass interface and little tweaks like 3D-Flip (the test PC Optiplex GX-280 does not have a dedicated graphics card). I decided to perform a clean install since all the data was backed up to external drives and all the applications CD/DVD discs were on hand to reinstall applications. The installation seemed to go smoothly. So, I left the room to let it complete the process and go through its auto-reboot. However, when I came back to the room, the display was dark. I powered the system down, rebooted, and watched what seemed like a normal post-install reboot until the LCD flashed that it was getting a sync signal greater than its 1280x1024 maximum. I tried a couple of reinstallations to see if Vista would let me know force a lower resolution. But, I didn't see any such option during the installation process. I installed XP Media Center 2005 on it. It did what Vista should have done: It set the resolution to a relatively low one and let me reconfigure it after starting up. So, let's call this Vista install a miss.

I could probably pull the nVidia card from my PC, install Vista, and then re-install the graphics card. But, that seems like such a hassle.

I wonder what the overall Vista upgrade experience will be when the personal retail versions become available in January 2007?