Vista SP1

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If you stop by here regularly, then you know I’ve railed about Windows Vista at least once. Aside from hearing tons of complaints from friends and strangers, I had the displeasure of using my previously mentioned computer ministry to set up a new Dell computer for my cul-de-sac neighbor’s mom last year.

At that time, Dell was only offering Vista on some models of their laptops, something they then backed off of. The machine, a Dell 1501 was value priced, so I endorsed the purchase (Vista included) in advance. I only say this to make the point that I wasn’t against Vista before I experienced it directly!

Anyway, I had never seen a more unstable machine from the minute it was turned on. Since then, I haven’t been asked to work on it (thankfully), mostly because the mom really doesn’t use the machine much, and she’s not really a complainer by nature either.

Last week I wrote about working on one of their machines which ended up in a full reinstall of Windows XP. As a result, my friend asked me if I could take a look at her mom’s machine to make sure all was well. I agreed.

Yesterday afternoon her mom dropped off the laptop. When I booted it, it was every bit as unstable, and downright unpleasant to work on as I remembered. Every few minutes the desktop would restart itself (in XP, that might be explore.exe or explorer.exe, but I’m not really sure). Aside from that, everything took forever or hung awaiting some hidden dialog box requiring a click.

I struggled to apply Windows updates until the only one left was Vista SP1. That claimed to be a 66MB download, but even though I’m on a blisteringly fast Verizon FiOS connection, multiple attempts (at least five!) to install it all failed, with the package never fully downloading (on a wired connection).

I turned to my XP laptop and downloaded the full 484MB standalone Vista SP1 file directly to a flash drive. It came down so quickly I couldn’t believe it. I put the flash drive in the Vista laptop and ran the patch. It took a while (as they predicted), and rebooted a number of times (as they predicted), but when it was done, I had my first experience with a stable Vista machine!

It wasn’t half bad, and I’m man enough to admit it. I was then able to clean off some other bloatware, install some useful utilities, all without a hitch. The machine is running quite nicely, and I will be returning it to her later today.

I had heard similar things from other people. One friend of mine told me that Vista was crashing on her laptop a minimum of once a day. After she installed SP1, it hasn’t crashed even once, and that’s been over three months now.

Anyway, I’ll bash when it’s deserved, but correct when that is deserved as well, and it now seems reasonable to consider Vista if you are going with a Windows-based machine anyway.

If/when I get closer to buying a new laptop (could happen in a day, or in six months), I’ll share my thoughts on that, as I am heavily leaning towards running Vista 64 on any new machine I buy.