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January 31, 2007

Upgrade Day


This should be fun. Depending on how fun it is, I may be working on it a while. However, so far, so good. I'll let you know when my PC is back among the functional. On a side note, this is why it's nice to have a PC and a Mac. While one is upgrading, the other is working just fine.

Update, 9:18: Upgraded and up and running without too many incidents -- downloading some new drivers now.

Posted by john at January 31, 2007 08:10 AM

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Ray | January 31, 2007 08:20 AM

All I can say is you are brave..
Does Vista really have more "useful" features than XP? I hope your data is also backed up. It would be a shame to have that new Worldwide blockbuster novel you are writing explode into 0's and 1's that will not reassemble. In my opionion, goto FreeBSD.org and download the 6.1 release. After all, MacOS is built on top of a FreeBSD kernel.
Anyway, I look forward to hearing how easily the upgrade went. Good luck!

strugglingwriter | January 31, 2007 08:21 AM

You're a very brave man to upgrade anything Microsoft this early. I hope it works out for you. I have seen some demos on Vista and there are some good features, but I'm going to wait a bit.

John Scalzi | January 31, 2007 08:25 AM


"I hope your data is also backed up."

It is, of course, and there's nothing on the PC at this point that I can't afford to lose (or, generally speaking simply re-install). The PC is new enough that even a catastrophic install won't actually do much to piss me off. And if it doesn't work for some reason, I'll just install Ubuntu.

Bill Blum | January 31, 2007 08:27 AM

Oh, good luck with that....

I shudder at the thought of having to upgrade our campus PCs to Vista... but then again, I've been using Linux on my desktop and laptop, since I can just remote-desktop into whatever windows box I need to administer.

Pablo Defendini | January 31, 2007 08:36 AM

Brave, brave man.

Steve Buchheit | January 31, 2007 08:39 AM

I remember upgrading my macs, about an hour (because I wasn't paying attention) and then boot up and were cooking with gas.

I saw the Daily Show bit with Bill Gates on repeat last night. I love how he said that, "This is the final, everything is in there."

So, how soon do you think Service Pack 1 will need to be downloaded?

Miko | January 31, 2007 08:41 AM

I think this may be inadvisable.

(I hereby reserve the right to say 'I told you so' at any given opportunity. Mwahaha.)

John Scalzi | January 31, 2007 08:48 AM

Steve Buchheit:

"So, how soon do you think Service Pack 1 will need to be downloaded?"

I know they're working on it now.

Steve Nagy | January 31, 2007 08:49 AM

I've this picture of you wearing a surgical mask, eyes wide, staring down at that poor actor who's the PC from the Apple commercials.

PC (confident as always): "You're that science fiction writer?"

Scalzi (smiling; you can tell because his eyes crinkle at the corners, but the expression hides behind his mask): "Got it in one, PC, but I don't just write science fiction."

PC (arranging his hospital gown): "Did you like Star Trek? All of you are Trekkies, right?"

Scalzi (examining his scalpel): "It had it's moments, PC."

PC (talkative, as usual, but groggy because he's slowly going under the anesthetic): "So ... what you write? Is it like Star Trek? Are you exploring the Final Frontier?"

Scalzi (deadpan): "Nope. Right now, I'm looking at different vistas."

Pat J | January 31, 2007 08:54 AM

That's, uh, quite the desktop wallpaper you've got there.

DJN | January 31, 2007 09:09 AM

"So, how soon do you think Service Pack 1 will need to be downloaded?"

MS is apparently hoping to cash in on modular upgrades to the OS (Similar to apple's strategy, however, MS has got a patent application for it). I would suppose that there won't ever be a SP1, but Vista Live Release 1 or some such, and there will be some cost involved in getting it.

I've used the Vista Beta's and am running the RTM at work - it's nice, but I don't know that it's a revolutionary OS. I don't find the comparisons to OSX terribly apt either - having used both, I don't find the similarities all that striking.

That said, I'll be attending the launch event in Madison, WI tomorrow. Here's hoping for good swag.


Sally Lou Liz | January 31, 2007 09:55 AM

John, you are incredibly brave. When I first looked at the screen grab you've posted, I thought it looked like flames. Vista, sending your hard drive up in flames.... I will be interested to hear how you like it, since eventually I know I will have to upgrade too. I, however, intend on putting it off as long as I possibly can. And since I made hard drive with intermittent boot failure keep working for almost 3 years, I figure I can put off Vista for a very long time. :)

hugh57 | January 31, 2007 10:05 AM

I have a laptop (Dell E1505) running Windows XP Pro that I bought last June, and it works rather well (much better than any other Windows box I've owned), so I'm not inclined to upgrade it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, I say.

I also have a desktop that is 5 years old, and I doubt I'll upgrade it at all, given that it would probably require hardware upgrades (at least 2 DIMMs of RAM and a new video card - it already won't play some of the more recent game titles because of the anachronistic video card), and that would be expensive enough that I might as well just buy a new (and better) desktop.

I will, of course, be watching your blog to see how this Vista thing works out for you. If I see a lot of cartoon cussing with Bill Gates and his peeps as the target, I'll know not so well. I'm glad you've got a Mac so that you can still post to the Whatever even if Vista crashes. But good luck! :)

theophylact | January 31, 2007 10:49 AM

Hard to see why you're doing this. If you had XP updated with Service Pack 2, you had all the security fixes that you'll get with Vista. All you will have now -- assuming that you have the horses to run them -- will be a pretty user interface and an improved search tool. In exchange, you'll have increased overhead, you'll lose support for OpenGL, and you'll surrender a lot to DRM. Tom's Hardware has some good analyses of these issues.

If you have a brand-new speedster machine with at least 2 Gig of RAM, of course, you'll never notice that it's dragging its heels a bit. But "upgrade" here is a bit of an oxymoron.

JD | January 31, 2007 10:54 AM

We got the pre release business version a few weeks ago and I have to say I am not impressed and won't be upgrading any of my home machines.

I think Microsoft got so beaten up on the safety from that they went too far the other way and locked it down so you can't do anything.

JonathanMoeller | January 31, 2007 11:24 AM

Save the hassle and install Ubuntu now.

Andrew L | January 31, 2007 11:33 AM

It might be a bit late for it now, but have you read Peter Gutmann's now-famous "A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection"? (Best known for it's "Executive Executive Summary", which reads, "The Vista Content Protection specification could very well constitute the longest suicide note in history.") It's a most elegant summary of everything that's hideously wrong with Vista and the "Keep Hollywood happy at all costs" mindset that underlies its design. (And a fun read, to boot.)

Justin Anderson | January 31, 2007 11:43 AM


I assume you're talking about UAC (User Account Controls -- the box that pops up whenever you try to do something that requires admin priveleges). This can be easily turned off (just google "disable UAC"), although in a business environment, your sys admins probably won't let you.

I'm not rushing out to upgrade myself, but whenever a decent CableCARD certified HTPC comes out, I'll be getting one. The FUD going on seems to be ignoring the consensus that there's not a compelling reason to upgrade for most users, but if you do, it's not going to cause you major headaches.

Gordon | January 31, 2007 12:18 PM

Since I didn't see this addressed: what version did you get? I forget all the names; I just know the high-speed one is $400, which is an insane price for an OS. If not for the fact that I'll eventually need a box that's DirectX 10-compatible (I like teh gamez0rs), I probably wouldn't bother. Once I get back I'm definitely putting Ubuntu on at least one of my laptops, with an eye to using that as my primary OS from now on.

Justin Anderson | January 31, 2007 01:19 PM


As far as I know, there's nothing about Vista Ultimate (the top-end version) that would qualify it as "high-speed". It contains everything that's in the Home Premium and Business editions. For gaming purposes, Home Premium is all you need. You can also save a significant amount by buying an OEM version (no manuals/support, though, and theoretically you can't transfer the license to an entirely new box). Newegg is selling OEM versions at $119 for Home Premium and $199 for Ultimate.

Andrew | January 31, 2007 01:28 PM

I did my Vista install the other day, and have been a-tweaking it to make it jussssssst right. Useful tool I found if you want things to work just so is TweakVI:

The free version has plenty of useful stuff.

And Kubuntu's better than its U-named brethren. :)

Jim Wright (who's still jetlagged and grumpy) | January 31, 2007 01:35 PM

I actually LIKE MS Windows XP (I guess that confirms Nathan's observation that I am indeed an alien, heh). And I'm pretty confident of my home network security and reliability under XP. I usually don't upgrade MS products until after the first Service Pack comes out, on the assumption that it's better to let the rest of the world work out the bugs. Additionally because of the number of machines I have (8-10), upgrading is pricey proposition. I usually upgrade one of my remote machines first, and then move to the high value units once I'm sure everything works and meets my needs.

So, I'm interested how Vista operates in a mixed environment, i.e. XP and Vista machines in a peer-to-peer network, any empirical results along these lines, John, I'd be highly interested in. File sharing and the like.

Also, my primary machine is a tablet laptop and I haven't got a warm and fuzzy on how Vista will handle tablet computing. Supposedly the handwriting recognition is better under Vista, but I have yet to meet anybody who's actually used it. I'd be very interested in hearing from anybody who's using Vista on a tablet, especially if they have special situations (me, I'm left handed, and have pretty bad penmanship due to having my hands broken numerous times). The tablet edition of XP does a fairly good job of recognizing my crappy input, around 80% I'd guess, but I'd sure like to improve that.

Gordon | January 31, 2007 02:04 PM


Sorry, I was using "high-speed" in the military slang sense, which is a bit more all-encompassing that the literal definition (that is, in this case I meant "most expensive"). I'm aware that Premium is really only differentiated by Aero Glass and some other fancy things that no one actually needs.

Interesting note about the OEM editions; I might have to look into that when I actually do upgrade. I've been using the same bootlegged copy of XP for five different computers over the past 5 years now, so it's been a long time since I bought an OS that wasn't preinstalled.

And I think I must have gotten some bad data on pricing in any event, as the "Ultimate Upgrade" version is only $250, which isn't quite so outrageous as $400. Clean install as long as I have a copy of XP? Yeah, that's too easy.

John Scalzi | January 31, 2007 02:06 PM

I got the "Ultimate" version in the upgrade.

John | January 31, 2007 02:44 PM

John, I have just one question: why?

Not trying to be a smartass, I'd just like to hear your reasons for upgrading at this time.

Me, I only use my PC to play games. And XP is handling that fine now. It should be quite some time before there are enough DX10 games out there to entice me into upgrading.

Just wondering.

MikeB | January 31, 2007 03:30 PM

Been running a business release of Vista for a good few weeks now and, despite the comments floating around, I actually like it. I mean, any desktop OS that can run for over six weeks without performance degradation and forced reboots isn't all bad is it?

John Scalzi | January 31, 2007 03:36 PM


"John, I have just one question: why?"

Because I wanted to see what it was like, basically.

Scott Elyard | January 31, 2007 07:31 PM

How's Aero?

John Scalzi | January 31, 2007 07:41 PM


Scott Elyard | January 31, 2007 07:58 PM

And the speed?

Ian Randal Strock | January 31, 2007 08:08 PM

I echo the "why?" question, even having seen your answer. Are there things the (now former) operating system didn't do that you needed it to do, and that the new one does? That's the question I keep asking when I hear about all these software upgrades, and I almost never can answer "yes." So I must assume that software upgrades exist solely because the software companies feel they haven't made enough money from me. That's their right; what I really hate is when every other one upgrades to keep pace, and suddenly I can't get support for a program that does everything I want precisely as I want it done, and I have to upgrade because some dodo decided there was another pretty little doodad they could stick in the new iteration. Grumpy? Me?

John Scalzi | January 31, 2007 08:08 PM

Scott Elyard:

Good, but then I have a kick-ass computer.

Ian Randal Strock:

So don't upgrade. It's fine by me.

Chris | January 31, 2007 08:31 PM

DJN: Actually no, Service Pack 1 for vista won't cost you anything. They're already working on it (late release 2007 from what they've said) but it won't cost anything, same as a service pack for Windows XP. Though this one should be much like sp1 for XP in that its mainly bug and security fixes.

The modular upgrade part for Vista relates to being able to upgrade from Basic, to Premium, etc. without having to purchase a new boxed copy. You can do it straight through the OS. Kinda nifty.

Theophylact: Again, not true in regards to security. Unlike in XP, the Vista firewall monitors both inbound AND outbound connections, and operates at all times while booting, or shutting down. Secondly, the kernel of Vista doesn't allow outside patches or rebuilds against it, which XP actually did. This is what personally pissed Symantec and McAfee off so much. You also don't loose support for OpenGL, it still exists. Microsoft had at one pointed stated they wouldn't support OpenGL within the operating system, but its still there.

The system also runs pretty spiffy even on a Turon MK-36 with 1Gb of RAM we have at the store. Sure, it might not run games well but its not intended for that. And Vista will get faster with age, just like XP did.

One final thing to keep in mind with the OEM versions. They're basically locked into whatever hardware your purchase it on. From the way Microsoft has been explaining, you can't reinstall if you say, swap out the motherboard for a new one. Now, that might change like they've changed many of their licensing stances (see VM usage for Premium/Ultimate) but who knows at this point.

For open consideration, I dont work for Microsoft I just use their stuff. I also run OSX and Linux as daily boxes :)

JerolJ | January 31, 2007 09:51 PM

Vista is making me a little nervous. There's supposedly a fair amount of DRM buried in Vista and that always makes me a little nervous. I tend to get a little testy when someone tries to tell me what I can or cannot do with my own music files.


R. Scott Kimsey | January 31, 2007 11:00 PM

I didn't "upgrade," but I did buy a new laptop with Vista pre-installed. So far, it is working well and looks nice. The laptop seems to handle the OS quite well. I have XP on my desktop and don't plan to upgrade, and I also run Linux on a separate desktop so I figure I've got some options. But so far so good with Vista.

Bruce Arthurs | February 1, 2007 12:04 AM

We just bought a new computer, with Vista pre-installed. Haven't set it up yet, so can't give a consumer report.

We'd have been just fine with a Windows XP OS, but our old computer died just in time that all the electronics stores locally (Fry's Electronics, Best Buy, etc.) had sold all their pre-Vista machines and we had to wait for the new shipments of Vista-installed machines.

(Yeh, we could have got a "refurbished" machine with an older OS, but I've had bad luck with that sort of thing.)

Jim Wright | February 1, 2007 02:45 AM

In answer to the question, Why? Here's why:


John | February 1, 2007 07:54 AM

John: Hey, good reason to try it.

I'll probably wait awhile, let the dust settle and major bugs to be ironed out. I DO like the looks of Aero and will probably upgrade our PCs at some point.

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