A week of Vista 64

I installed Vista 64 a week ago. I wanted to take advantage of my 4gb of RAM1 and I needed more Vista experience generally. So I installed it all while watching the election2, then messed up with an unsigned driver3 so did it again the next day. I’ve been playing around since, and trying to get it as customised as my XP setup.

The good:

  • It’s fast. Blisteringly fast. Adobe Lightroom, a program designed with 64-bit in mind, is insane – I can whip through thousands of RAW files without it skipping a beat. Google Chrome, combined (presumably) with SuperFetch, is similarly speedy. And as I spend much of my day in these two programs, that counts for a lot.
  • Most programs have worked without a hitch. I was worried a 64-bit OS might throw weird problems, but not so much.
  • It’s completely stable. To be fair, so was XP SP3, but it’s still pleasant not to have any crashes.
The bad:
  • My scanner & webcam aren’t supported. 64-bit operating systems require 64-bit drivers: my scanner is eight years old, and the webcam four. So while irritating, that’s fair enough.
  • Google Desktop doesn’t support Vista 64. This is a pain, as I used GD a lot. Its sidebar was particularly useful, and Vista’s built in sidebar is…less impressive. Hopefully Google will support me eventually.
  • I keep trying old XP tricks and finding Vista doesn’t support them. Like, you can’t drag the quick launch bar into a separate toolbar any more4. And why would they get rid of the ‘up’ button in Explorer dialogs? There are ways around most of them, though, so it’s no big deal.
  • Weirdly, being able to use all of my RAM is a disadvantage at times. Lightroom + Photoshop have this week reduced the computer to a crawl, which isn’t something I’m used to! They could only access so much RAM before, and I always had enough extra to keep everything else running smoothly. This is a pretty stupid thing to complain about, though.
The ugly:
  • Vista is somehow worse than XP at colour-management. It lacks an equivalent of the ultra-configurable XP Color Control Applet, so I haven’t yet found a way to set different colour profiles for different monitors in Vista. And, Vista’s UAC security prompts apparently knock out colour profiles, which could be annoying. I haven’t properly finished investigating all this, but I’d naively assumed Vista would be at least as good as XP.
  • UAC. I understand the reasoning well enough to leave it running, but it’s still bloody annoying at times.

These are just initial impressions – I’m still getting used to it. I’ve yet to play around with its clever backup systems, for example.

Windows 7 (the official name) is apparently coming out in a year’s time. I suspect many people will skip Vista, and I don’t blame them – there’s no particular reason to upgrade from XP SP3, in my view. But so far I’d say the 64-bit is worthwhile, if you’ve got the RAM and the application support.

  1. 32-bit operating systems can’t properly access anything over 3gb – ish []
  2. it took till yesterday for my sleep patterns to start working again []
  3. Vista requires signed drivers, but lets you install unsigned drivers. It then refuses to boot. I think there are clever ways around this, but I didn’t know them. []
  4. apparently too many people did this by accident and got confused / angry, which I can completely believe []