I think I’ve had my new Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium UMPC for around six weeks now. In that time, I’ve run Windows XP Tablet Edition (which came pre-installed), Windows Vista and even Mac OS X. It’s time to settle down now and that means I need an operating system for the long haul. Yes, I might do more experimenting, perhaps with a Linux distro or two, but I need my UMPC to be usable and rock-solid for everyday mobile use. So I’ve just wiped the drive and made a choice. Many of you would choose otherwise, but I went with Microsoft Windows Vista.
Let me clarify one point right from the beginning. I’ve now run Vista on UMPCs with a 900 MHz Celeron, a 1 GHz Pentium M and most recently, a 1.33 GHz Core Solo CPU. The experience obviously varies with different equipment. However, one thing has remained constant: the overall performance is greatly enhanced with 2 GB of memory. If I didn’t upgrade the RAM on the Q1 Ultra Premium, my choice would have been Windows XP.So why did I go with Vista? There’s a few reasons and these reasons are personal to me. I won’t go into every possible pro and con here, but instead, I’ll hit the main points. I fully expect that others might make a different choice because logically, they have different needs and requirements.The main reason I made this choice is for the inking experience. Bar none, Vista offers the best and most integrated Tablet PC experience over any other option. The Tablet Edition of XP isn’t even what I’d call a close second. Yes, it’s very usable, but by comparison it feels like an add-on feature at best. Ink, and to a lesser extent, touch, permeates the operating system in a way that makes it a part of the operating system. Obviously, if ink isn’t important to you on a UMPC, you’re more likely to go with XP for performance reasons.While I could use the split QWERTY keyboard on the Q1UP, it’s usually my last option. When out and about with the device, I carry a Bluetooth keyboard with me. For heavy text entry, it’s my tool of choice. But when I’m sitting around the house or enjoying a nice day on the deck, I really don’t want to balance a keyboard on my lap. It’s far more effective to whip out a stylus and ink for a little input. I’m sure the integrated QWERTY keyboard works well for many people, but it simply doesn’t for me. The keys are too small for prolonged use and I don’t like darting my eyes back-and-forth as I search for keys. I’ve tested my input speed and I’m far and away a faster inker than keyboarder with the split keyboard. It doesn’t hurt that Vista’s handwriting recognition learns to become more accurate over time as well.The second reason I opted for Vista relates to my point of clarification above. Simply put: the hardware I have can handle it quite well. No, the UMPC I have isn’t a desktop-class device, but it does have a notebook-class processor in the Intel Core Solo. Coupled with the 2 GB of memory, the integrated Intel 945 graphics chipset, 80 GB hard drive and 1024 x 600 touchscreen, I’ve got a very capable device that makes for a positive computing experience with Vista. I’m certain that folks using XP will point out “When I use [insert application name or feature here], it’s much faster in XP”. That may well be and if so, I say: great! But again, everyone’s needs are different and we all value different aspects of our computing experience in a personal way.Another reason for my choice: I’ve somehow avoided some of the performance issues that many others have unfortunately experienced. Call it luck of the draw, but I never saw any major disk thrashing and when I sleep and resume my device with Vista, it only takes a few seconds. I rarely shut my device down so boot times are a non-issue. I don’t think I’ve done anything special to avoid this situation and I suspect that part of the reason for it is that I don’t install tons of third-party applications. I’m a pretty basic web-worker these days and I gravitate more towards web applications over installed applications.Staying with XP is certainly a strong consideration. Many people would do just that due to personal experiences or second-hand horror stories with Vista. Honestly, folks are justified to keep XP for their needs. For me though, there’s no compelling reason to go with XP over Vista. I end up losing functionality (out of the box) in terms of ink integration and I don’t need the performance of my UMPC to compare with my Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro. It wouldn’t with XP anyway. Make no mistake: not everyone needs or wants Vista and I suspect Windows XP will be around far longer than folks think. Still, for my needs with the current device I own, Vista is a solid choice for me at the moment.