Canning Vista

Well, I tried running Vista since mid November, so I figured I've given it a valiant shot.  On Thursday I blew it away, returning to the comfort and performance of Windows XP.

There were two real issues for me with Vista, and why I decided to can it.  Both of them revolve around hardware issues in a way, which I figured that I could work through.  I use a Toshiba Satellite P30 laptop, which boasts a 17" widescreen monitor (1440x900), a hyperthreaded 3.06 GHz processor, and was upgraded to 1 GB of Ram.  Based on all the specs for Vista, that should be plenty, despite the fact that the new OS now requires a whopping 512MB of RAM for it's own use.  (As an aside, I remember sitting on the bus in high school when one of the cool kids had just got a desktop with 512KB of RAM.  It was going to be a killer gaming machine! LOL!)

At any rate, armed with my healthy PC and the disk, I installed Vista, and took it for a 1 1/2 month test drive.

Now, I didn't hate Vista by any means.  It's a very attractive user interface.  Some of the gadgets that you can put on your desktop are quite neat, although you do have to minimize all your programs to see them.  (Something that doesn't usually happen in my experience.)  I'll admit that I found the updated explorer a little clunky, but that may have just been me.

So what were the issues that caused me to drop Vista?

Lack of driver support.

Okay, now I'd be an idiot if I thought that everything would be supported, and I'd like to think I'm not.  There were about 5 drivers in all that I couldn't get, and I only cared about one of them:  Video.  My Toshiba sports a Mobility Radeon 9600/9700 card, and the native drivers just didn't work.  Sure, they displayed an image, but the max resolution I could get was 1024x768.  Not only did it look a little funny on the widescreen, but I really felt the decrease in screen real-estate.  I waited about 3 weeks, hoping that it would be fixed, an then went on a hunt for experimental drivers.

Toshiba naturally didn't post any new drivers for my machine with Vista.  Why would they?  After all, this laptop is an obselete product, being purchased almost 2 years ago.  But this is where I found something that really surprised me... ATI is an AMD product.  Why am I surprised?  My processor is an Intel... I really didn't think that these guys would mix things up, but then what do I know?  🙂

At any rate, I found the ATI site, and they even had a Beta suite for Vista.  Sweet! I thought, downloaded it and installed.  The driver wouldn't even start.  So here I am no better off.  I submitted a detailed email to their team, and never received even so much as an acknowledgment.

Now, if there is one thing that really irks me, it's not bothering to reply to someone who sends Beta feedback.  I am going to the effort of testing your product.  The reasons I'll do this are varied, from interest to need, but the least that you can do when I volunteer my time and effort to testing your product, is send me an automated reply that says thank you.

Two days after I submitted my email, they uploaded a new build at ATI, which I downloaded.  Again, no luck with installation.  Again the driver did not even start, with errors generated in the Vista Problem Reports Section.  In three weeks, the build never changed again, and the claustrophobia finally got to me.


The other issue that really drove me up the wall was speed.  I still feel that my computer's specs are quite current, despite the fact that I don't have a dual core with more than a GB of RAM.

Vista boots quite quickly.  Faster, I think, than XP.  But trying to run programs is frustrating.  When I open Outlook 2007 on XP, it takes a few seconds.  When I did it in Vista, it would take over a minute, and show the "program is not responding" message.  Trying to open 2-3 programs at once... not good enough.

And then comes the UAC, or "User Access Control" feature.  Naturally, this is another one of those things that is supposed to protect you from yourself.  If you try to open a program that has not been digitally signed, you get prompted to ask if you're sure.  Fine, no problem.  But I have a few programs that are not signed, and that I use frequently.  By design, the team at Microsoft decided that you would not be able to check a box to say "don't ask me about this program again".  My personal feeling is that this was an absolutely ridiculous decision.  I believe that you can turn off the UAC feature, but why should I have to sacrifice the protection everywhere to allow certain trusted programs to run.  I hope that Microsoft one day realizes that the solution to security is not to add more clicks to slow users down, but rests in other methods.  (And no, I'm not saying I know what they are, that's up to them to figure out.)  Just think how effect it is with your printer's "are you sure prompt"... you click print, then you click "Yes".  Then you realize that you made a mistake!  Additional prompts are effective the first few times, then lose their effect.  Users become conditioned to them.

So there you have it... the reasons I canned Vista.  And I gave myself quite a scare on trying to replace it with XP too...  The disk I burned for the XP OS (legal, thank you), wouldn't boot!  It just skipped right by and went in to Vista.  I seriously thought that I was going to need a new laptop as Vista appeared to be holding on tightly.  LOL!  Fortunately I realized it, got a new disk, and was able to install XP Pro again.  And boy, at that point did I ever miss Vista's quick install.  6 hours later my machine was back on XP, patched, and programs installed.  In fairness, there aren't many patches for Vista yet, and less programs work there.  I'm also quite familiar with my XP install process, and like my machine customized to a certain way, all of which takes time.  I still feel that the Vista install is faster though.

At any rate, I'm back on XP now, and will try Vista again when my wife and I replace her PC in March and it comes pre-installed.   🙂

12 thoughts on “Canning Vista

  1. AMD and ATI only joined forces in October 2006, so when your machine was built they were very much separate companies. Even now, ATI is still entirely autonomous and there is no 'only works with AMD' or 'only works with Intel' type compatibility issues.

    Just FYI 😀

  2. Hi Ken,
    Happy new year mate.

    I totally agree with the UAC, I think it is a 100% rubbish idea, it will also make deployment a 100% pain in the tushy!

    Also lets face it, in about 6 months every hacker in the planet will have a way around it. The story is simple, you can't make computers idiot proof, the user has to know enough not to get caught out.

    Shame to hear Vista is such a resouce hog, i think some of the things they are trying to do are good, but genrally the HW is not good enough to cope. - your not angling for a free laptop are you? 😉

  3. In my opinion Vista is great and offer lot of interesting new stuff. However, I fully agree when it comes to drivers and performance on laptop.

    As for drivers it will take some time before the vendors have catched up with Vista (in a similar way as with 2000 and XP).

    I was very disappointed with the performance on my laptop (which I bought last year) and therefore re-installed XP after only two days. On my stationary developing machine Vista runs very well and I'm pleased with the performance.

    I would like to know the technical explanation why the poor performance exist with laptops.

  4. Ross, if MS would like to send me a free laptop, I'd be only too happy to test Vista again. That wasn't the angle though. 😉

    Dennis, it's interesting to know that your experiences were similar. I, also would like to know why the performance issues. I really didn't think my laptop was that poor a quality!

  5. Hey, I am having the same problems with vista on my P30 I am using the full Vista Ultimate, and still the drivers won't load.GRRRRRRRRRRRR

    yeah, toshiba won't get back to me either, which is unfortunate because this is my 6th!!! toshiba notebook, (infact I have a newer one making number 7) I enjoy the stability of the machines and have never had a major hardware problem infact I still have a notebook from 2000 which operates like it was new.

    I guess this explains why this is the first time I have found they have HORRIBLE tech support. I think this lack of support will be enough for me to look at other manufacturers.

  6. Yeah...same p30 with vista business edition (release).

    it's SO FRUSTRATING AND GHEEEEY....I mean c'mon...this isn't really an obsolete laptop (2 years yeah...but faster than many laptops) and either m$ or amd needs to get their act together and FIX THIS ISSUE...I'm almost certain my next laptop is NOT going to be a toshiba and am 100% certain it's NOT going to have an ATI graphics card....this is one peeved ex-loyal customer

  7. I must add my vote about the satellite p30 issue with ati. You are most defenatly not alone with this problem Ken. (and yes this laptop can still pack some punch. ok might not run the latest games or big 3d applications as fast as todays stuff but its still very dx9 compliant and works very well for normal word/IE/etc like programs). Heck, one of my friends have a much slower Desktop PC than mine and he can run vista good.

    The only solution i found was to run the mobility xp 6.5 drivers. I get the resolution fixed however no areo and i get a bluescreen on evry shutdown. Its a good tradeoff for me as i can run my applications good with this one. The bluescreen on shutdown is not such a big deal (as long as you dont use sleep mode too often as it doesnt work with the bluescreen).

    Im fighting with amd right now to get some sort of decent reply but im getting throwned over to toshiba because they didnt get any sort of deal together to modify their drivers.

    Quoting amd's tech "Dear Customer,

    Notebook manufacturers and our partners (Sapphire, PowerColor etc) that license our products can modify the specification and drivers."

    Im hoping that at some point in the future, they will just hit the bug without knowing and some drivers will fix it (lol but i think im dreadming here hehe).

  8. Thanks for posting, everyone. It's always nice to know that you're not alone in an issue. It is a shame that neither Toshiba nor AMD seem to be concerned about this issue at this time, especially when their loyal customers start jumping ship over it.

    For my own sake, I did not bother trying to contact Toshiba on this issue. I figured that they'd tell me it came with XP on it, so go away. I am surprised that AMD wouldn't want to solve the issue though. It's them that needs to provide the driver, and their reputation that should be most at stake in this. This isn't the first time I've had issue with an ATI card, and may be the last time I buy a machine that sports one.

    Personally, I don't like the thought of a daily bluescreen on shutdown, so I'll avoid the previous drivers. If anyone does hear about an updated one that actually works for the P30, though, I'd love to hear about it. 🙂

  9. Been using drivers, only bsod once in a while. Only ones working for me on my p30.
    Quite good really, got to get over the fact that toshiba is so slow with fixing this problem.
    Think it's something to do with the agp not being recognized.

  10. I too had similar driver problems but finally figured how to solve this, the problem is in deed the AGP driver, the solution is that you need to extract the standard driver for XP but dont install locate the missing agp device in system devices, its named something like PCI bridge and there should be two, second one right click install manually locate your agp driver now you should be able to get full screen, I used the Omega drivers, 3rd party drivers there site also has a hack for the ATI drivers, which allows you to moddify the standard ATI vista drivers for mobility use, also an issue which is ATI dont supply drivers for Mobbility machines like the Toshiba P30, this is left to Toshiba loads of info on the subject can be found at and here:
    without things like the ATI smbus driver installed the P30 wont perform well, I did get all this sorted only to be thwarted by my TV card drivers so i went back to XP and installed a Vista theme which looks and feels like vista without all the headaches including all the new tools and look, so who needs vista, on top of this all once you get over the obstacles you'll find alot of software wont work on vista machines.
    My conclusion was that give vista a wide birth for 2 years by then its should be far better.
    Overall the Toshiba P30 is a beast still compared to current laptops with 3.2 GHZ but is let down by its hardware support, also gottaadd that the DVD drive sucks, no support once again, have never managed to burn a DVD faster than 2X DVD RW does do 4X and toshiba has no interest in supporting this hardware, it also has issues with the cooling fans that get blocked, so if you getsudden shut downs you may need to open up the machine and clean them out then regularily use the vacumm vigarously on the fans and make sure you you prop it up slightly to aviod issues. Slightly gone off subject!!!.
    P30= great laptop Toshiba= Totally sucks support, I probably wont buy one again simply because of their tech guys laziness.

  11. I have Toshiba P30, and paid a lot of money for the upgrades and thinking it will support high-end computing and upgrades.
    My screen backlit module died after 9months, replaced under warranty, shortly after warranty is over the LCD screen is flickering and lossing colors.
    I noticed Toshiba cheated by providing non-intel and non-ATI based motherboard. ATI 9700/9800 with 128 mb ram supports vista but the interface between ATI video and AGP motherboard processor is based non-ATI or non-intel chipset. Therefore it is customized for Toshiba only. If I knew this I would have never bought this laptop. Toshiba should have disclosed this in specs. I was thinking I was purchasing intel based ati video interface.
    I have also found a disclaimer on CPU not taking advantage of some high-end intel capabilities.
    Toshiba failed my expectations, therefore I would never nuy another Toshiba. I prefer to buy "cheap" Acer and use it for 1 year and buy another one.
    It is not Microsoft's or ATI's fault, it is Toshiba's who does not want to write the driver because they know their product is not as good as it should be and also
    their strategy is to sell us another expensive laptop. I would have understood Toshiba's position if P30 was a entry level laptop.
    I do not recommed Toshiba. Buyer beware their laptop's chipset is not 100% intel. Do not pay premium for Toshiba and do not trust Toshiba. Buy Lenevo (previusly IBM) or Acer.

    Toshiba Satellite P30
    Mobile Intel Pentium® 4 3.46 GHz
    Memory RAM 2GB
    Hard drive: 80GB upgraded to 100GB
    Vista Performance index: 1.0x (boo to Toshiba)
    Vista driver for ATI SMBUS Driver is not provided by Toshiba only works in XP.

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