XP==>Vista upgrade or downgrade?

Discussion in 'Windows 64bit' started by Poka, Mar 13, 2008.

  1. Poka

    Poka Guest

    Why I downgraded from Vista to XPMore like an upgrade?
    By Dale Vile, Freeform Dynamics → More by this author
    Published Wednesday 12th March 2008 12:10 GMT
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/03/12/freeformdynamics_vista_downgrade/

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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    I blogged a while back on how a Vista upgrade effectively rendered my
    old desktop machine useless for business purposes (see Retiring Leonardo
    from last year). I got a lot of feedback at that time as many people out
    there were obviously trying to get a handle on the viability of
    upgrading older kit.

    While this debate continues, the related question has now arisen of
    whether even some PCs pre-installed with Vista are capable of running it
    adequately. Based on my own experience, this is a very pertinent
    question to ask if you are considering buying anything with less than a
    1.8 Ghz Core2 Duo processor with 2Gb of memory - the current minimum
    spec I work on for serious business use. Yet there are lots of Vista
    machines out there on the market that are significantly less powerful
    than this.

    Without getting into the rights or wrongs of this state of affairs, if
    you are unlucky enough to be struggling with Vista on a lower spec
    machine, you may be interested in a recent experience I had which was a
    bit of a wakeup call – not just in terms of the physical performance
    side of things, but also on the broader question of the value of Vista
    from an end user perspective in a business environment.

    A few months ago, I needed to replace my notebook. As a notebook to me
    is companion to my desktop rather than my main machine, I wasn’t looking
    for anything very powerful – size, weight and battery life were much
    more important considerations. So, after a happy couple of hours
    cruising up and down all of the hi-tech shops in London’s Tottenham
    Court Road trying all the latest kit, I opted for a Sony TZ Series –
    about 1.2 kilos in weight, fantastic screen, reduced size but really
    nice keyboard, embedded cellular modem, and lots of other good stuff.

    The machine came with Windows Vista Business Edition pre-installed and
    when I was playing with it in the shop, it was pretty responsive – the
    1.2Gz Core2 Duo processor seemed to be up to the job. When I got the
    machine back to the ranch and loaded everything onto it, though, I have
    to admit to being a little disappointed with speed. Nevertheless, it was
    good enough, so I just got on with using it.

    Over the course of the next four months, however, the performance
    gradually degraded and the user experience became awful. It eventually
    got to the stage where it was talking 12 minutes to boot and about 6-7
    minutes to shut down, with very sluggish performance in between and
    frequent hangs requiring a forced shutdown (which in itself was probably
    making matters worse).

    When researching the problem on the Web, it was clear that I was not the
    only one to be experiencing issues with Vista on the TZ Series, and the
    more I read, the more the answer to my problems became obvious –
    ‘downgrade’ the machine to Windows XP. A few forum entries mentioned a
    kit on the Sony website designed to allow you to do this, with all of
    the relevant drivers and utilities, and a set of instructions to guide
    you through the process. I duly downloaded this, followed the
    instructions, and it just worked. The longest part was installing and
    patching XP itself (which you have to buy separately, by the way – your
    Vista licence doesn’t cover it*).

    The end result is fantastic. The word ‘downgrade’ seems totally
    inappropriate – in fact, it feels like the machine has gone through a
    significant upgrade. It now boots in well under two minutes (with all
    the same applications loaded as before), is highly resilient (has gone
    through a lot of sleep/wake cycles without crashing once) and,
    interestingly, many of the Sony utilities work much more naturally (I
    suspect they were designed for XP in the first place then ported to Vista).

    The one thing I was a bit worried about was going back to XP from a
    usability and functionality perspective having got so used to Vista, but
    I was surprised to find that the experience was actually quite a
    positive one. Everything seemed more crisp, immediate and uncluttered
    and so far, the only thing I have missed is the enhanced application
    switching mechanism in Vista, i.e. the Alt-Tab and Windows-Tab
    functionality. That’s a minor sacrifice for the other benefits, though,
    and it only took me an hour or two to get used to the old mechanism again.

    The switch back to XP was such a breath of fresh air that I have also
    ‘downgraded’ the desktop machine I am using at the moment. On a
    reasonable spec PC you don’t see the same increase in actual
    performance, but the XP interface still feels a lot cleaner and snappier
    (at least to me). Having both machines running the same OS obviously has
    its advantages too.

    Now before everyone goes rushing out to downgrade their Vista machines
    based on this little story, it would be irresponsible of me not to point
    out that during my research, I read accounts from many happy Vista
    users, lots of which seemed to be getting on fine with the TZ and
    similarly spec’d machines. I would suspect the number and range of
    applications you work with has a bearing on this - remember I said that
    the TZ felt fine when I was just playing with OS with no applications
    installed before buying it. It could also, of course, be that people
    just accept the out-of-the-box experience as normal and don’t really
    question whether they are getting the best performance from their
    hardware. All I can say is that the downgrade was definitely the right
    thing for me, and is something to consider if you find yourself in a
    similar situation.

    In the meantime, we continue to experiment with various desktop options
    here at Freeform Dynamics, and those looking at alternatives may be
    interested a post from my colleague Jon Collins entitled Why I’ve
    replaced Vista with Linux.

    Finally, as I type this, I have a brand new MacBook sitting next to me
    here on my desk, and over the coming few weeks I am going to be looking
    at the practicalities of using the Mac in a Windows-dominated mainstream
    business environment, so watch this space for experiences with that.

    Dale Vile is an analyst at research firm Freeform Dynamics. See here for
    his original blog post

    * The right to downgrade Vista depends which edition you have. Vista
    Ultimate and Business may be downgraded within the terms of the
    Microsoft EULA at no additional cost, but this right does not apply to
    other editions of the software.
    Poka, Mar 13, 2008
    #1
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