Recently, I got a Del Inspiron 1420, with Windows Vista Business…This blog is about the review of the laptop, the OS and the Office 2007 package which I bought.

Firstly about my laptop, the looks were rocking… just like this…


Keyboards are very good in this Dell. Looks wise the laptop rocks. Not like the old beige body inspiron 640 Alpine white, I think is the only professional looking color. Black attracts fingerprints and blue looks like dark black and the finish is dull… (Microsatin). The colored laptops are microsatin finish, and they don’t attract finger prints… White, though not comparable with the MacBook, it looks quite ok compared to MacBook.

Now, the bloatware. There was literally very few, I should say. Norton 30 days trial. (Uninstalled and using AVG), Microsoft works 8.0 (uninstalled and using office 2007 professional plus). Yes, I installed office 2007 professional plus… *original* edition. Finally, I *bought* my first software…! Though I’m a Bill Gates, fan boy, I have been using pirated Windows, Office and Visual Studio so far. My college, participates in the student select program of Microsoft and I got office for 121.25S$ including GST, the original price is somewhere like 800S$ or something. The number of themes bundled with office is very less and Microsoft’s strategy is that, if you buy original office, u can download themes and others for free. The downloaded themes are far better than the bundled one and give ur document a real professional touch…

Now on to Vista Buisness,

First thing I noted about Vista was the lack of virtual desktop… With computing becoming increasingly powerful, its become very common to use more than 10 windows open in parallel. Managing them with one single desktop is very difficult.

Secondly, Vista as you know uses the Window Desktop Manager to render its windows and other graphics on screen. But there isn’t an option to change the animation it uses. I was expecting options like, “Fade effect” and “Genie effect” as in Apple Tiger… Though I don’t like the Genie effect, I wanted some new effects that could be customized. — Disappointment number 2…

Did Microsoft renamed IE 7 beta as IE 7 and bundle it with Vista? This browser crashes like hell… I always preferred Microsoft products (as I’m a Bill Gates Fan boy), except on this crapware stuff… I tried Mozilla Firefox, (my default browser at least since the release of v1.5) also. It’s quite stable, but not as it’s on XP. Somehow, browsers are not rock solid. May be that could be due to the increased security in Vista. But, with increased security, when a website is trying to invade a Vista machine, is should be blocked. Crashing is not the answer to the problem. Firefox, if it crashes, it’s not a problem, as these bugs can be fixed only after some initial days of release of Vista. But IE 7 should not crash. It was developed in parallel to Vista. I was very unhappy about it.

Now comes the visual aspects part. Vista’s icons are visually more appealing and larger than XP’s. Hence a minimum screen resolution of 1440X900 is required. With laptops having 1280X800 resolution, icons look very large and ugly. Just like the 800 X 600 resolution of Windows XP. The Dell Ultrasharp screen, which I purchased was extraordinary. Priced at 80S$ higher, it’s worth the money you put in. If you are going in for a desktop, prefer an 1920 X 1200 monitor with atleast 17 or 19 inch. These days, large LCD monitor are damn cheap… However, they extra resolution comes with a price. The nVDIA graphics card I got, was not performing well with Aero. The WPI rating was a mere 3.6… It was not so great for Aero performance with a screen of this resolution.


It’s ok for 1280 X 800… smooth. In my laptop (1440X900 res), minimizing a maximized window sometimes jitters the playing song occasionally (very slightly.. may be for 500 ms or so)

The config T7100, 128 MB, nVIDIA GeForce 8400 GS graphics card, 2GB ram is only a sort of OK OK type…

It’s not a ultra modern laptop, though, for college purpose, it’s rocking good…

The Gadgets that come with Windows Vista are very limited.. Downloads are even much limited and of cheap quality..

I’d prefer yahoo widget engine to this… I did not get the “WOW” factor that Bill Gates promised… The sidebar platform is good.. but not the gadgets by itself. For Example, Yahoo Widget has a wonderful option of dragging the widget to the desktop and enabling it to be “Always on top” and “Ignore mouse clicks”. I’m kinda so addicted to this option that, I used to drag my clock and a calendar out of the Yahoo Widget Sidebar (I don’t know the exact name) and set these two options… Without these options, I would say that, a gadget engine is useless… Moreover, gadgets have more options in Yahoo Widgets than that of Vista Gadgets. For example, the clock can be set to chime every hour, which again is one of my favourites.

The thumbnail icons below the minimized screen is one of the advantages of Vista, though it does not warrant for the 5yr protracted development time. As you see from the pict below, are more visually better than before.

The famously touted flip 3d is another totally useless feature… Using flip 3d, you can do anything productive apart from showing off to your friends that, Hey see I’ve got Vista… and it has got this cool feature… You just can’t drag a file from one window, use flip 3d to find the target window and drop you file there. You can drag a file, use flip 3d, find the target window, flip to the target window, make the target window active and then drop the file. That’s in 3D mode, windows are not real “Window objects”. They are only snapshots of the content of the screen. Thus in 3D mode, your windows are just graphical snapshots and will not respond to any interactions, except mouse clicks. As opposed to this, in Leopard, Expose does this perfectly, drag a file, “Expose” the target window and drop it there… More useful… than Vista flip 3D.

Microsoft should not have copied Apple to this extent… L The progress bar of Instant Search, is merged with the address bar just like the Apple Safari browser…

I did not expect this sort of overt copying… Copying features is ok… but not the look and feel… and that too not to this extent.

U3 drives, esp the older ones don’t work and I asked SanDisk. They replied that they are not ready to provide a firm ware update in short time. I uninstalled U3 and am using portable apps. Now that I’ve my laptop and a internet connection, I don’t want a portable apps solution though I use one with Firefox alone. (Just to remember my passwords and cookies)

Vista’s instant search is one of the fantastic features of this latest release. Better the Yahoo (X1), MSN, Google desktop search. People, who have used X1 desktop search, may like this vista’s default search. The index engine is sort of very light weight, better at indexing that any other third-party desktop search in XP. I somehow got addicted to this feature that I can’t go back to XP now. But again, the lack of Windows file System (WFS), an object oriented file system, is still a missing feature out of it. With the five year protracted development time, Microsoft could have added this feature into Vista.

Switching between users will blink your screen like hell as it was in XP… No improvement here…

Text-to-Speech is fantastic. You can read aloud any document and the TTS engine is no longer robotic!!! But still a lot of improvement is remaining in this area…

Vista has a lot of features new on the background… Support for .NET framework 3.0, which means a lot of new class libraries for developers like me… A redesigned kernel that prevents patches made to it by malicious code, registry virtualization, etc., etc., But on the usability part it has to mature more. Mac OS X leopard is just too good… but comes with a hefty price tag… remember that though, Mac OS X leopard is just 129$, but you can’t get OS X separately… you ought to buy a Mac to get it… It’s all a marketing gimmick… A similar configuration of Mac would have costed me at least 1000S$ higher… My Dell is just 1750S$.

Office 2007, A rocking piece of work… though the ribbon interface may be difficult for a lot many people at first, the logical grouping of the features are so great that, professional looking documents can be created easily with Office 2007 than with previous versions of Office. I’ll strongly advise you to upgrade to Office 2007 if you are using an older version. I just can’t live without ribbon these days..! But I would prefer having one more tab… “Search”. I should be able to type in some features there and Office should automatically direct me to that feature. Like, if I type “smart art”, I should see the smart art icon in the search tab of the ribbon… this would have made an already rocking UI, the best one. I would also like to see ribbon interfaces in other applications like Windows Media Player, windows explorer etc.,

So finally to wrapup… I was not happy with this OS… I did not experience the “WOW”, which Bill Gates promised… I would not advise some one to go ahead and purchase vista if you are happy with XP. But if you are a search junkie, and you have a huge hard drive and a lot of data and simply find it difficult to organize, go get this one… It’s far better than any desktop search in XP. If you are getting a new PC, prefer Vista over XP as it’s more stable than XP… Yes, in my case, the OS have not crashed once so far…

Critical comments are welcome…


Regards,
Mugunth

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