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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Windows Vista: Not so Aero-dynamic

Last Tuesday, after I came back from Texas, I went to Greensboro to pick up my new computer at the store that I'd ordered it from. By the way if you're in North Carolina and want quality computer products and outstanding service, I would definitely recommend Intrex. This is the second system that I've bought from them and I've never been anything less than overwhelmed at their confidence and dedication. They've got stores from Winston-Salem all the way to Greenville, with two in Greensboro and several in the Raleigh-Durham area.

Anyhoo, I got this new 'puter as an investment in my new video production enterprise. That's what I've spent a lot of this past week doing: installing software, tweaking hardware and otherwise fine-tuning it to be the instrument that I need to have.

So forgive me if I'm a babe in the woods when it comes to Windows Vista, which I have never used before until now.

Actually I take that back. The first time I ever saw Vista up-close was over Thanksgiving, when my brother-in-law had it running on his laptop. Jonathan is a seminary student. He came close to crying and cursing like a sailor at how frustrating Vista is. Not that I could blame him either: I tried helping him with a technical problem on it that later turned out to be defective hardware. But that one fleeting bit of contact with Vista made me cringe, knowing that I'd probably be working with it on a regular basis soon.

So here I've been the past several days, trying to get my tried-and-true software working, without really paying much attention to just how radically different Vista is from every version of Windows that I've used up 'til now. I did great things with Windows 3.1. Windows 95, let me soar with the eagles. Windows 98 and 2000 and ME... meh. Windows XP was probably the most productivity that I ever got out of an operating system, not to mention the most stable. And so far, Windows Vista is very stable indeed...

But I just found out tonight that I've wasted dozens of hours of productive time, because of all the nonsense that Microsoft threw into this thing. There's one video production program in particular that I've got, that runs great on Windows XP. It should be working fine in Vista too. Except it kept locking up and giving me a "not responding" message. So tonight, after a few hours of investigating, I found out what was going on...

It's this "Aero" thing. That's the name that Microsoft gave to Vista's user interface. The thing that gives Vista that pretty "translucent" look.

Aero is a horrible resource hog!

In the fall semester of 1996, "Weird" Ed and I worked at a computer store on Elon's campus. This place has since become legendary whenever we recount our exploits: so much craziness happened in that place. "Chris come here," Ed told me one afternoon, "take a look at this." It was some student's brand-new (at the time) system running Windows 95. Every icon on the desktop was animated. And not "animated GIFs" either: we're talking actively rendered by Windows. "That's a waste of system resources," Ed said. He clicked on the Netscape Navigator icon and the little pilot wheel spun around wildly before finally opening the browser. Everything on the computer was like that. There's no telling how much faster it would have run were it not for worthless crap like that mucking up the works.

That's what Aero is like, only a hundred-score worse.

Yeah, I'll admit that Aero, when it's running, looks gorgeous. But I didn't buy this thing to oggle a beautiful desktop. I bought it to get things done. And Aero is a severe hindrance to productivity on a system built for resource-intensive use.

A short while ago I turned off Aero, and went for the classic Windows interface. And now, this machine runs like a beast! I've "blasted it through the walls" with all of my software, and everything is not only running fine but it's running about 100% better.

If you need to, here's how to turn Aero off on your Vista system...

- Click the Start button.

- Right-click on "Computer".

- Left-click on "Properties".

- Left-click "Advance system settings".

- Under "Performance" left-click on "Settings".

- Select "Adjust for best performance".

- Left-click "Apply".

- You can now "Okay" out and Vista will be running without Aero enabled from now on.

You can always follow these instructions to go back and turn Aero on again, but after seeing how much faster Vista operates without it, you'll be hard-pressed to come up with a legitimate reason why you would want that.

Otherwise, I'm probably still behind the learning curve, but I'm starting to warm up a bit to Windows Vista. If it just wouldn't bug me so much about whether or not I want to run the programs that I want to run, as this commercial for the Mac hilariously illustrates...


Anonymous said...

I bought a new HP laptop last December, pre-loaded with Windows Media Center edition and I received a free "upgrade" to Vista in early Spring. It took me until November to actually work up the courage to install it on my system. I have to get a newer version of my DVD software, but other than that, it seems to be working well enough for me. Sure, it's got its kinks, but once I got used to it, I like it. All new operating systems have their glitches. Macintosh OSX claims to be perfect out of the box, but I've been around it long enough to know that that's not the truth. It's the eternal argument: Mac vs. PC.

qemuel said...

Ugh. Vista. I'll stick with XP.

Anonymous said...

"If it just wouldn't bug me so much about whether or not I want to run the programs that I want to run"

You can turn that off. It is called User Acess Control (I believe) and can be turned of by going to the control panel and opening "User Accounts." There should be a selection in there somewhere to "Turn User Account Control (UAC) on or off."