I had planned on getting ooVoo installed, and making a first report about it this morning. Those plans got put on hold when my frustration level with Vista on this laptop finally reached the point that I gave up and made a tactical retreat to Windows XP Professional.
I have been running Vista since the first week after its public release, with varying degrees of success. Although this Fujitsu-Siemens laptop came preloaded with XP Professional, it is listed as "Vista Ready" on their web page, so I bought Vista Home Premium and a new 100 Gb disk, and loaded it from scratch - keeping the original disk in reserve, so I could go back to XP in emergencies. That turned out to be a very good thing, as especially in the first few months the "emergencies" were the rule.
The reason I have now finally decided to go back to XP permanently was one very large problem, and number of smaller problems and irritations, a significant number of peripherals which are not supported and never will be, and even more peripherals which are only minimally supported on Vista. Here are the details.
- The largest problem was that the USB 2 controller on this laptop would occasionally just freeze. Since I have most of my peripherals connected through two USB 2 hubs, when that controller froze, nearly everything else did as well. Even worse, when it froze it was so bad that I couldn't even shut down or restart the laptop, it would hang somewhere late in the shutdown and I had to use the power switch to turn it off. I've had enough experience with corrupted file systems over the years for that to make me very nervous.
- Another very irritating problem was a Vista bug that my laptop acquired related to installing drivers for new hardware. A typical symptom is that you plug in a USB disk driver which you have used before, and should be no problem, but this time you plug it into a different USB port than previous times. Vista should recognize it as a know device, and load the drivers for it on that port, but somehow it doesn't find them, and ends up telling you that it can't find the drivers for a "generic disk". There has been extensive discussion of this on the Microsoft Developers Network, and there is a slightly tedious workaround, but even that doesn't always work.
- At the top of the list of unsupported peripherals is my Linksys WPC54GX4 CardBus wireless network adapter. I just bought this, and a lot of other Linksys SRX400 wireless equipment, less than 6 months before Vista was released. I was surprised when there was no Vista driver available for it at the beginning, but I was flabbergasted and furious when Linksys finally admitted a few months later that there would never be one.
- Typical on the list of partially supported peripheral is my Canon BJC-55 printer. There is a native Vista driver for the printer itself, but I also have the IS-12 scan head for it, so I can use it as a scanner when traveling as well, and this is another item that is not supported and never will be on Vista.
- Another item on the partially supported list is my HP Scanjet 4670. They finally came out with a "basic feature driver" which makes it work with the Window Photo Gallery on Vista, but none of the other scanning or document management software which originally came with the scanner will work with Vista.
- There are various software packages and applications which still don't work on Vista, some of which never will. The most irritating of these for me is the Lantronix Device Installer, which I need to use for my work. The lack of this one program meant that I had to keep a second computer in my office running XP.
- Finally, there are some things which work, but just aren't quite right on Vista in one way or another. The best example of this is SightSpeed, with the "choppy audio" problem that I wrote about last week. Running under XP on the same laptop, the SightSpeed audio is just fine.
There are more examples in every one of these categories, as well. Add all of this together, throw in the fact that I was getting very tired of having the second computer in my way all the time, and the balky USB 2 controller became the straw that broke the camel's back. I probably could have put up with it, there was at least one way that I could have worked around it, but I finally said that I have to give up, at least on this laptop, and stay with XP.
So, I spent my weekend reloading Windows XP Professional from scratch. After a couple of false starts, and some digging around on the web to find the latest drivers, it is up and running just fine now, much smoother and more stable than Vista had ever been on this laptop. No freezing USB controller, no BSOD's, no unexpected reboots when it should have just been waking up from sleep mode, and the audio in SightSpeed is just fine. Now I am ready to continue with loading and testing various video chat and IM programs, so I should have a report on ooVoo in the next day or two.