My wife, daughter, and I spent last weekend at my grandparents’ home. Among the southern cooking, visiting, church-goings, and other such things, I spent some time each day (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) using their computer and dial-up Internet service.

The computer is new, an anniversary gift from the “kids.” It is a Dell something-or-other with a slick widescreen monitor and Windows Vista Home Basic. The weekend was my first chance to actually use Vista. Obviously I didn’t compose any documents, examine the full capabilities of the Widgets, or analyze the security features or parental controls, but I did get to use dial-up (28.8kbs, out there in rural Alabama) and Internet Explorer 7.

And I must say, without thorough testing, IE7 was very annoying. It was intuitive, tabs open with the tab button on the tab bar, history is in a neat little sidepanel like it often is, and I was somewhat comforted by the existence of pop-up and phishing monitors (of course I did not test their reliability). But despite the intuitive nature, it crashed a lot. I went to a total of five different websites, and having tabs (never more than five, this is dial-up) open on those websites was just too much for IE7. Gmail, Qwartz.com, KingsofChaos.com, Facebook.com, and my school’s Vista/WebCT Web Portal (Vista/WebCT is completely unrelated to Microsoft’s Vista. Confusing, I know!).

It was primarily the larger, more advanced javascripts that seemed to hurt IE7. Gmail reverted to the HTML version of itself, but that could perhaps be blamed on the bandwidth issue. And I like a webapp that can detect that it is taking too long to load, and does something about it. But in Vista/WebCT, IE7 just could not keep up with things. Between the webapp pop-ups and frames and such, it kept resetting the session, forcing me to log-in again. I was finally able to gain access and find the information I needed once I turned the pop-up and phishing monitors off (which, I just remembered, I forgot to turn back on).

Also, IE7 and Word 2003 do not mix as they once did. I don’t know if there was a solution, but clicking to open a Word Document instead of saving it forced Word to dim my screen and ask permission to access the temporary Internet file of the Word Document. That sort of thing is frustrating when IE7, Word 2003, and the Vista Operating System come from the same company. It seemed as if the other applications didn’t trust each other, or didn’t trust IE7.

So IE7 was not a wonderful experience. Aside from that, I did take the opportunity to run a few applications and check out the new Control Panel. Solitare and Minesweeper have been completely (at least graphically) rewritten. Boy, are they shiny. The Control Panel is laid out very differently, but I found my way around.

I have considered the strongest points of Microsoft Windows to be familiarity, hardware compatibility, and integration with Microsoft Office. Familiarity went out the window with Vista. The interface is simply very different. As for hardware compatibility, everything worked with the Vista-certified Dell with Vista pre-loaded, including the HP printer and a Cannon scanner (though the installation of drivers for the scanner gave me a warning, it was still functional). Although, I have read many horror stories of hardware problems with Vista. I did not use anything for Office to determine integration status, but I imagine Office 2007 does have it to some degree if Office 2003 does not.

All in all, I would stick with Debian GNU/Linux even if Vista were free. I just need to solve this modem issue on my Thinkpad so that I am not dependant on their computer when I visit.

[tags]vista, review, vista sucks[/tags]