I'd never advocate being an early adopter at the enterprise level, but I'm enough of a geek that I really wanted to get my hands on the latest and greatest from our friends in Redmond.
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor

I just installed Windows Vista Business on my laptop.  I'd never advocate being an early adopter at the enterprise level, but I'm enough of a geek that I really wanted to get my hands on the latest and greatest.  Having played with preview releases, I was certainly impressed by the polish, appearance, and apparent security.  Besides, since my experience with 64-bit Windows had been less than stellar and my wireless drivers had just crapped out on my latest Linux install (Fedora Core), I figured now was the time to move.  We also have several new machines coming in that will be running XP, but are eligible for upgrade, so I wanted to start evaluating in our environment now.

So I broke out the disks (for some reason, the vendor sent me 4 CD instead of a DVD - UGH) and got ready to boot from the CD.  I had Ed Bott's two articles on Vista installations ("Vista Hands On #2: A no-fuss, nondestructive clean install" and Vista Hands On #4: Clean install with an upgrade key) up on another computer in two Firefox tabs.  I had backed up all of my files and I was ready.  Irritated with the whole "no clean install from an upgrade disk" issue, but ready nonetheless.  So I tried to boot from the CD.  And couldn't.  Apparently there was some BIOS issue with certain motherboards and Vista install media.  Of course there was.

After flashing my BIOS to no avail, I just started the install from within XP since I happened to have a partition devoted to a Linux distro with crappy wireless drivers that I didn't mind blowing away.  That seemed easy enough and restoring all of my files would be less painless since my existing install remained intact.  Until I tried doing the minimal install per Ed Bott's instructions, which, as I should have known, only applied if I didn't have an available target partition (and which I couldn't have followed exactly anyway since I couldn't boot from the CD).  The install option that bypassed Microsoft updates just kept hanging, leaving me to do an install with a very lengthy update process.  The update, in fact, took so long and gave so little feedback that I assumed the install had crashed the first time around.

The second time around, I exercised a bit more patience and, after about an hour of updating, the install ran through to CD #3, when it promptly crashed.  The third time was the charm and all of a sudden I was running Vista.  At least it recognized most of my devices right away (including wireless).  Other driver updates were completely painless.  However, I didn't activate Windows until tonight since I needed a primer on the vagaries of Vista licensing.  I know it can't just be a GNU public license, but come on...If you're rolling out Vista in your organization, know and understand the licensing schemes.  I had to convert from a KMS license to a MAK license (I found out the difference about 10 minutes ago), think about installing a KMS server if I go for a mass deployment, and jump through a few other hoops of fire on the Microsoft volume licensing site before I was actually activated.

Why the *Sigh* above?  Beacuse while I knew Microsoft had made some really substantial leaps in terms of aesthetics and security, I was hoping they might have taken a few more lessons from their Linux brethren in the installation department.  I was also surprised at just how correct that Mac commercial showing the PC and his bodyguard really were.  I spend a lot of time confirming for Windows now that I really do want to download, install, and otherwise use my computer.  Obviously I have some more playing to do to get Vista tweaked just the way I like it.  I'll give it one thing, though...It sure is pretty.  I'm glad I sprang for the higher-end graphics card on my laptop so that I can write this blog basking in the glow of the Glass interface.  Oh yeah, and my sound drivers work now, too so I can bask in tinny laptop surround sound at the same time.  More thoughts on Vista to come as I dig in further...

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