Vista vs. XP: The Final Retreat

I suppose that most people are getting tired of reading about Vista vs. XP.
Written by J.A. Watson, Contributor

I suppose that most people are getting tired of reading about Vista vs. XP. I know that I am getting tired of writing about. I'm getting even more tired of fighting with it. So this will be the last time I do either of those, for the foreseeable future. I give up. I surrender. I retreat, for the final time. My Fujitsu Lifebook S6510 is running Windows XP Professional again, and I have no intention of spending any more time or effort on Vista until Vista SP2 comes out, at which point I might consider it again.

What precipitated the retreat, this time, was that I turned my laptop on this morning, after having done a normal "suspend" last night, and after several minutes of black screen and endless disk activity, Vista said "Improper shutdown detected, recovering...", and then proceeded to count from 1% to 100%, very slowly. Then it made a fresh boot, did a lot more thrashing around on the disk, asked me if I wanted to boot normal, safe mode or whatever, and then finally came up again. The whole process took a good 15 minutes.

That scares the daylights out of me - especially after having Vista give me the "unable to boot / unable to recover" business previously. Second, we are at a critical point in my work right now, and it is crucial that when I turn the laptop on, it is ready to use quickly - that is the reason I use suspend/resume in the first place. So I can't afford to have it unexpectedly take 15 minutes or more, or even worse have not start at all. So, I spent the morning putting back in the disk with XP Pro, which I had swapped out at the beginning of this month when I got Vista SP1 to install. Fortunately, that didn't take too long, almost everything I needed was already loaded, all I had to do was update the drivers, copy over mail and such. By early afternoon everything was running normally again.

In addition to this "major" problem which was the straw that broke the camel's back, there were a few other "minor" problems that had been getting more irritating as time went by. In order of severity and irritation, they were:

- Wireless-N connection to the Linksys WRT350N router. The problem I have written about previously, where Vista makes the Wireless-N connection the first time without trouble, but on some subsequent attempt it will no longer connect, was back with a vengeance. I did manage to figure out that if I reboot the router, it restarts the cycle - the laptop will connect again right away, and probably will connect the next two or three times, but it will always fail again. I had absolutely no luck getting this fixed, or even figuring out where the problem is. Linksys Customer Support said that it looks like it is probably a Vista problem, and neither Intel (the WiFi adapter) nor Microsoft have any reports of similar problems that I can find. Being able to use the laptop wireless anywhere in the house is important, so this was getting to be a major issue.

- Memory leak. I just wrote about this last week. When I boot Vista, the memory meter shows 38% memory in use (of a total of 3 GB). If I use the laptop without rebooting for a day or two, the memory use slowly creeps up to the 60-70% range. Then it starts to act strangely, and I have to reboot. I've tried shutting down all applications, even including the AVG Internet Security, and the memory use does not go below 60%, so I assume it is Vista itself, or a system program or utility that is leaking memory.

- Fingerprint reader. Sometimes when I suspend/resume, it doesn't seem to recognize the fingerprint reader. The OmniPass software comes up with a "master login" window, asking for name and password, rather than the fingerprint scan window. I suspect that this was performance related somehow, that Vista was waking up and looking around for devices, and didn't recognize and configure the fingerprint reader before the OmniPass software wanted it. It only happened about 20% of the time, but that was enough.

- Screen Saver: Some time ago, the screen saver stopped coming on. I checked the settings, they were all correct, but it just never kicked in, as if Vista thought something was active all the time.

It's too bad. I've said many times before, I like using Vista, and I really want it to be as good as, or better than, XP. But this laptop is a tool for me, and the first priority is for it to work. So no more Vista for quite a while The good news is, that also means no more writing about Vista for quite a while.

jw 24/4/2008

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