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The True Cost of Windows Vista

I recently purchased a new laptop (Lenovo T61p) and as a part of that process I decided to finally take the leap to Vista. Since I don’t know how to do things half way, I decided that I’d go to Vista x64 — OK, that and I put 8GB of RAM in the system. I’ve been quite surprised with the experience. You see shortly after the launch I bought a laptop and tried to use it with Vista x64 — that was a miserable failure. Mostly because the drivers just weren’t present. I quite quickly reverted back to Windows XP and I’ve been running that ever since. However, the new machine created a new opportunity.

I’ve found that driver support has generally been pretty good with one very notable exception. I have a HP ColorJet 2840 integrated scanner, fax, and printer. It’s hooked to my server and does a decent if not perfect job of meeting my needs. However, I’ve realized that I can’t print in color to the 2840 from Vista 64 bit. Frankly, It’s got me wondering if HP is intentionally trying to flush their printer business. If you consider that Vista has been released for 18 months now and HP can’t get a set of printer drivers for the printer says one of two things: 1) The don’t care enough, or 2) they’re incompetent. I’ll choose to pick the former. Other than publically shame HP I’m not sure what to do — oh, well, I mean that and never buy another HP printer. The really tragic part of this is that the 2840 is still a current model printer that they’re trying to sell to small and medium businesses — oops.

So dealing with driver compatibility issues tops my list for the true cost of Vista. This isn’t Microsoft’s fault — it can’t be with 18 months in the market.

The other issue, is not quite as troubling but is pretty frustrating non-the-less. It seems like every application that I use has to have an update to work with Vista. Nero, Acrobat, QuickBooks, etc. OK, it isn’t every application, but it’s enough. Making things more interesting a few key features that I used don’t work in Vista. Nero has a feature called ImageDrive that allows you to mount an ISO like a drive on your system — and it doesn’t work on Vista. What’s the big deal? Well, because of my MSDN subscription I get most of my Microsoft software as an ISO. I don’t want to burn CDs or DVDs for everything that I want to install. With Image Drive I mounted the disk virtually and installed the software. Because of this limitation I ended up needing to license an ISO extractor tool.

So the second true cost to Vista is the software cost — not the cost of Vista itself but the cost of all of the software you have to relicense once you have Vista.

The final cost, and the only one in my list that Microsoft actually owns the whole problem for is the fact that I can’t get Vista SP1 to install. Actually, the core update that is the problem is 935509 — which is an update for BitLocker which is a prerequisite to SP1 installation. I also can’t install 930627 which Adobe claims is why the computer sometimes locks up. When I run the update for 930627 it says that it doesn’t apply to my system. So I do have a case open with Vista support. Support for issues installing SP1 are free. Of course the problem has been isolated (by me) to an issue with a manifest GUID conflict for the WinSXS (Windows Side-By-Side) component. Of course, what is causing the conflict or how to resolve it is beyond the folks I’ve been talking to.

So what’s the real cost of Vista? There’s a small software cost to it, most of which are the third party applications you use, but most of it is time. Time to get things reinstalled and working. Time to work on resolving your issues, and time to track down all of the things that you need to make it all work.

When you decide to take the plunge … make sure you have time on your hands … and a credit card.