Ladies and Gentlemen, Windows Vista has left the building
published: Wed, 2-May-2007 | updated: Fri, 5-Aug-2016
Enough is enough. I'm beyond frustrated. I came to my new laptop this morning — much earlier than usual since I was taking an early phone call from the East coast — only to find it completely and utterly frozen in the screen saver. I tried moving the mouse, pressing any key, giving the three finger salute, anything. I gave it my all and in return I received nothing. I had to forcibly power it off.
I cannot begin to tell you the level of exasperation and discouragement I've reached. No matter how I use the machine it seems, it works nicely for hours and then, wham, 100% CPU. Sometimes I can do work when the CPU hits that utilization level; other times, my foreground priority is not enough to even cause a click to focus a window.
Let me recount some of the ways in which I'm frustrated with Vista.
— Vista and Intel's SpeedStep. The former just doesn't use the latter properly. Or, if it does, it's retarded. For example: the CPUs will hit 100% for minutes at a time. I can hardly move the mouse. The OS, though, decides that 42% of my CPUs' top speed is good enough for this situation (I have a 2.33GHz Core Duo, so that's a 1GHz speed for those without a calculator). And then, at another time, when Vista seems to be happily bumping the CPUs along at about 5% utilization, suddenly the speed creeps up to 100%. It's wucking feared. And don't even begin to say, well what are your Power Options set to then? EH? Got you there, huh? Set to 100% for both the maximum and minimum processor speed, thank you very much, so I shouldn't even see anything less than 2.33GHz. In fact, it got to the point where I was sure there was something I'd forgotten to set in the BIOS to give me the fastest speed of the chip — I certainly didn't spend $550 to upgrade the speed of the chip from the basic Dell configuration for Vista to decide that I shouldn't use it.
— Did I mention that Vista will suddenly, for no apparent reason, decide that some running process is so damned important that the bloody owner of the laptop has to wait until it's done? I'm reminded of a quotation I saw once about undocking a laptop from a docking station. Windows XP thought about the request for a little while and said no can do at the moment, to which the writer of the blog post muttered "Undocking this laptop wasn't a request, it was a command." Well, if I, the owner and user of the machine, want to type something in a text editor and the window goes opaque because it's "Not Responding" due to some remarkably hidden high priority process, then all I can do is mutter "You were purchased to serve me, not the other way round." And have you had the display driver get restarted by the OS because some damn high priority process has frozen the machine to such an extent that the OS decided the display driver was "Not Responding"? I have, and I nearly put my fist through the LCD when Vista popped up a "good doggy" bubble to say "Operating system restarted the display driver successfully after it stopped responding". It could have read "Operating system helped driver to its feet after brutally clubbing it to the ground" and would have been more believable.
— And I've already gone on way too much about the USB audio. Admittedly this is probably a device driver problem, but it looks mighty fishy when two separate devices with two separate device drivers both fail in exactly the same manner. Let's see, the commonality would be what exactly? Ah yes, Windows Vista. Maybe it's the DRM?
— One I haven't mentioned before is the crapshoot you suffer when you try and copy files onto your Vista machine from another machine on the network. That is, when you initiate the copy from your Vista machine. It's a complete joke. If you're lucky you get a file transferring dialog pretty quickly, but then you'll look at the "Calculating Time Remaining" display for a long time, even to the point of the copy finishing before the display updates. Normally though, you might as well forget any kind of responsive file transfer. I'm told that doing a file transfer the other way around (say, initiating the copy to the Vista machine using the "from" machine instead) is three to five times faster. And, yes, I've read the "fix" about Remote Differential Compression; in fact I've read this entire thread on TechNet about slow file copies, moves, and deletes. I'm gobsmacked.
— What else? Oh, yes, the NVIDIA driver is so old (it was released in January; the 97.46 version) that it forgets sometimes on reboot what resolution I have my external screen set to. Given that it's a new LCD it's really obvious when this happens, lots of smeared text until I reset it. OK, so that's a bash at NVIDIA's driver support of Vista, kind of like two degrees of separation. Oh hell, let's got for the three degrees of separation: NVIDIA has already released the 158.18 version of its GPU drivers for Vista (mainly for desktops), but are the laptop versions to be found on Dell's download site? Er, that would be no.
I really can't quantify the amount of time I've stared at a slow-as-molasses Vista system, trying by willpower alone to get it to run properly or even to give me enough cycles so that I can right-click on something to get it to close. Apart from the first time when it was kind of funny, I can't tell you how irritating it is to see the Gmail Notifier try and display a toast message to say there's a new message and it kind of quivers there and slips back and pops out again and slips and pops, because some high priority service or driver is doing something that must be done RIGHT NOW.
The last two weeks have had their share of sheer desperation as I disabled services and programs one at a time, trying to find the culprit of all my Vista problems, and then re-enabled them when I failed. There was one time I even thought, nay, convinced myself, that the sidebar was at fault and killed it (and no, it wasn't). The worst time of all though was when I actually disabled one of the cores in the BIOS and used the thus hobbled machine for a full six hours before it red-lined. To be brutally honest, I'm in horror of the sheer waste of time and of my life over the past fortnight on this bloody operating system.
So, after this morning's incident I ordered a new laptop SATA drive from Newegg and am having it delivered overnight. Tomorrow, I'm going to take out this hard drive, put it to one side for six months, and install the new one and then Windows XP. Maybe after Vista SP1, I'll swap them over and try again.
Of course, my own particular Vista gremlin noticed this purchase and decided to lie low. Today (as in the last 12 hours) has been completely without incident. In fact, my processor is running at 85% right now with 2% utilization as if nothing had ever happened.