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Summary:

I have to admit that Kevin’s enthusiasm won me over as his Vistagami series unfolded detailing his experience of installing Vista RC2 on his Samsung Q1.  He’s put a lot of work into it and has gotten Vista running at 95% efficiency which is exciting enough […]

I have to admit that Kevin’s enthusiasm won me over as his Vistagami series unfolded detailing his experience of installing Vista RC2 on his Samsung Q1.  He’s put a lot of work into it and has gotten Vista running at 95% efficiency which is exciting enough to make me say, "hey, I’m going to give it shot".  Now my Q1, Flash, only has a 32 GB flash drive and since I use it as my primary work machine it is loaded with so much stuff that there is not enough free space to install Vista in a dual-boot scenario.  I’m not gutsy enough to install Vista as an upgrade over my perfectly functional Windows XP system so I did the only thing I could do, install it on the HP tc1100 instead.  That’s when the nightmare began.

I wanted to do this install the best way possible and put it on its own partition in a dual boot configuration so my WinXP system would be unaffected.  With that in mind I ran Partition Magic 8.0 to resize my 60 GB hard drive down to 30 GB so I could create a new partition for Vista.  Partition Magic immediately gave me an error because it didn’t like that I was creating the new partition as a logical partition.  I knew I could change it later so I reran it telling it to create a second primary partition, which it dutifully did and then rebooted.  To a totally black screen, I didn’t even rate a BSOD.  Luckily for me I have a set of rescue floppies which has saved my butt on many occasions.  I booted into a DR. DOS version of Partition Magic and had a look.  It seemed that the program decided it didn’t know which partition should be tagged as the active partition since I now had two primaries and rather than leave the original WinXP partition as active it left me with no active partitions.  So, WinXP would not boot because it didn’t know where it was.  Brilliant. One menu click and I set the WinXP as active and rebooted fine to begin my Vista adventure.

I installed Vista RC2 from a downloaded ISO file and it took about 2 hours to copy all the files and bring me to a first real Vista boot.  There is something really cool about seeing a brand new OS boot up for the first time and this was no exception.  A lot has been said about whether Vista is an attractive UI or not but I find it to look quite nice.  Until I tried to use it, that is.

The tc1100 display was surprisingly running at 800 x 600 resolution, even though the native resolution of the display is 1024 x 768.  It didn’t take me long to determine why it was displaying that way, Vista did not find nor configure the nVidia graphics processor in the tc1100.  It had installed a "standard VGA adapter" which means it did not correctly identify and install the drivers for the nVidia.  This surprised me as the nVidia is a very common GPU and at this late stage in the Vista test cycle (RC2) I expected this to be the least of my troubles.  I realize this is test software and not a real production release but let’s be honest here, RC2 is a very advanced release by design and while it might not be accurate I have read that there will be no further public beta releases prior to the official launch of Vista so the fact that a common system component is not recognized is disturbing to me. Vista will likely be released to OEMs to include with their systems in the not too distant future and it will be fatal if it can’t correctly install and configure common system components like this.  Upon closer inspection of the tc1100 there are a number of components that did not get identified and configured, chief among them the ethernet controller and one unnamed "base system device".  I haven’t tracked down what that is yet but it may be the Wacom digitizer for all I know.

Out of the box Vista RC2 will not run IE7, it immediately gets a "IE7 has stopped working" dialog and then closes.  This leaves me with no ready way to get to the Internet to try and get these devices working by finding other drivers and manually installing them.  It’s a shame too as Vista looks really nice and runs quite fast on the older tc1100.  I like the new interface and especially the Tablet PC bits which look far more functional than the previous version.  Unfortunately, trying to do anything with the Tablet Input Panel (TIP) generates an exception error, probably due to a lack of drivers for the digitizer but since I can’t easily troubleshoot it I can’t tell for certain.  I’ll have to invest a lot of time to track all of these shortcomings out of the box so I will only know after I’ve done that how well Vista will run on the tc1100.

I’m not trying to be unduly harsh about Vista RC2 as I fully realize it is not ready for prime time but as I said earlier, it’s so late in the product launch cycle that it should be at least installing properly on systems with standard components, even if they don’t meet the heavy Aero Glass specifications.  It seems to me it should be a standard install and run process by now to at least give the OS a shot.  Let’s face it, if IE7 won’t even run then Redmond, we have a problem.

By James Kendrick

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  1. Fascinating, jk. Also not trying to be unduly harsh here, but I’ve held off on RC2 because of difficulties I’ve heard about. RC1 +1 seems to be working just fine (with the exception of the sleep/hibernate problem) on my M200. I believe WNewquay got RC2 running on his TC1100, you might want to check with him and compare notes.

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  2. Yes, WNewquay got his working OK by performing an upgrade to RC2 over RC1 which I don’t want to do. I wanted to test how “ready” RC2 is on its own.

    I suspect that those who report RC2 working fine on the tc1100 used the same upgrade method and it’s important to remember that they likely jumped through a few hoops to get RC1 running OK which is why the upgrade works so well for them. I was hoping to have a similar experience with RC2 on its own, as the OS should be getting close to “install and go” functionality.

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  3. Hey, for future reference, Partition Magic would have allowed you to set the primary partition when you performed your first resize, avoiding the first problem. After that… now I’m reconsidering installing Vista RC2 on my delivered-next-week R1F. :-(

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  4. Sorry to hear about your problems, RC2 installed fine on my tc4200, and has been troublefree since. After using it since RC2 came out though, I have to say that other than a more attractive UI, the tablet specific features are to me, the only reason to use this vs. XP. The TIP, and speech recognition are fantastic upgrades vs. XP, the extra security related taps to ok things, I could do without. I realize that the security related things are more geared toward the average, non-tech savvy user. Anyone with Spybot, an Antivirus, and a clue about what NOT to click on when surfing the internet, is going to be slowed by these things.

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  5. After some (ok alot of) initial troubles, Vista RC1 is running great for me and I don’t plan on upgrading until RTM. I don’t think it’s exactly fair to say that Vista is not ready for prime time, however based on your experience with one particularly old Tablet PC model that even by most optimistic predictions, only shipped maybe 100,000 units.

    My experience installing Vista on 3 Tablet PC’s and a Media Center desktop makes it pretty obvious that the newer the hardware, the better off you are. My Media Center (HP m7334n) and my Gateway CX2724 convertible notebook, both of which were purchased within the last year, installed and ran Vista smoothly. The Motion LE1600 installed almost everything ok, but a few missing hardware features like fingerprint scanner and glass doesn’t work. The Electrovaya SC2000 was by far the worst install experience I’ve had, but still not all that bad. Same thing with the fingerprint scanner not working but I had to connect a wired network to get the wifi drivers. Still no glass and it’s not too speedy.

    But my point is, Vista’s success will have little or nothing to do with old machines upgrading to Vista. It’s all about new computer sales that *will* come with Vista and have everything working out of the box.

    In my experience, Vista is indeed ready for prime time and ready or not, it’s coming in November!

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  6. I think that we should go back to calling it Longhorn until Microsoft gets their act together and actually releases the product to the public.

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  7. Tablet PC User Sunday, October 15, 2006

    Sorry JK, you just had a bad experience. I installed RC2 on both my tablet (acer) and home pc. Both installs were solid. Found all the drivers for my nVidia GPU (aero glass included). My wife loves it so I KNOW very close to be ready for Prime-time. As Josh has said, the old hardware is just too old for a next generation OS like Vista.

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  8. My ViewSonic V1250 and I have seen better Vista releases. My major issue is that the wireless card never wakes up after a Sleep, resulting in a BSOD. I can’t read any of my SD cards. I hate not being able to change my color scheme (hopefully someone will soon figure out and publish UI hacks).

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  9. I hear what everyone is saying about older hardware and Vista but let me provide some food for thought. The hardware in the HP tc1100 I use is representative of the hardware in just about every Tablet PC sold in the past 12 months. That indicates that Vista is not going to be a viable upgrade option for virtually everyone using a Tablet PC. That’s what I’m gleaning from this conversation, anyway.

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  10. I installed RC2 on my m200 with no problems, it was just as responsive as Windows XP. Definitely what i’d call a solid install. It detected all drivers, the only “error” i encountered was that i could no enable aero glass, but i found on other forums that it was a known bug of RC2 and that there was a registry fix, i changed a value in the registry and glass was enabled with no problems. I am running a 1.5 ghz, with 1gb ram.

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