I have been dabbling since Vista RTM was released through MSDN on my 2 years old Asus K8N mobo with an AMD Athlon 64 3000+ and an Ati Radeon 9600 with 256MB. Originally I had 1Gig of SD RAM on board, but during this time I went through a series of upgrades.
Well, was it all worth it?
Initial install was not too shocking, having run the compatibility wizard on the installed OS (XP 64 bit) I knew I had to remove my version of Daemon tools. Being a stubborn type I didn't and thus my first upgrade installation relay messed it up. Can't gripe about that one, I was warned; so I reformatted the partition and went for a nice crispy clean install of Vista Ultimate 64 bit (having backed up all my files to an external drive first) After that, it was time for the WOW and ooohh's. (And later I installed a new version of Daemon tools that worked perfectly)
My first WOW was that I noticed that Vista had more "out of the box" drivers for my hardware (in comparison of XP 64 bit).Save from my Canon EOS camera and my ruddy web cam, everything worked from day 1. (I found a work around for the EOS later on)
Oooh's came from the way how you could work with the picture gallery and very big Pooh's with Media Center.
Having installed Office 2007 (yes, MSDN again) more Pooh's when sending pictures, compressing them in mail with ease, etc.
Well, running with ! Gig of Ram did not make things lightning fast in startup or shut down, for for the rest I could not see too much performance issues, although I must admit with getting Dream scene, the CPU would be on 32% constantly. Choosing some particular scenes could even push it onto 45%. Having said that I decided to do 2 things: Upgrade from 1 GB to 3 GB, overclock the CPU with 10% and raised the AGP voltage to 1.6 volts. That all increased the 3.1 performance index to 3.8 and starting up/shutting down time was halved. Having installed XP 32 on another partition I decided to see how well the games were doing. I was expecting better performance under XP, but was surprised that some games like Sub hunter 3 would perform better under Vista while Star trek Legacy would do much better under XP.
So far, the main OS I used was Vista...
Erm, good observation, that I am using past tense here because things got interesting from here.
Being a multimedia freak I thought it was time to retire the on-board sound card (which surprisingly did a very good job) and get real with audio. A Creative X-Fi Fatal1ty was purchased over E-bay since the support site did mention a driver to be available for Vista 64.
Installed the sound card an installed the beta driver and it worked although I found the control software to be clumsy and slow to use. Just out of curiosity I fired up XP and installed the software that came on the CD. WOW! I with all those extra knobs and levers for the card (and remote control functionality) I was kinda disappointed not having those features under my finger tips, but an afternoon browsing through forums I found that there was a hacked version of the XP software that would allow me to use and that cool stuff in Vista..Phew. It kinda reminded me of my search to get a wifi card driver for my girlfriend Ubuntu box...
Right. I was still a happy camper until I decided to make better use of the Media Center and got myself a Hauppauge HVR1300 as I had discovered on the Hauppauge forum that there were hacks to get it working under Vista 64 bit. Err... that is if you can get digital terrestrial signals and being in county Clare in Ireland, analog is all you get...
Determined to be using Media Center for all my media hungry needs I decided to done the old XP installation and install MCE 2005. Not something I would encourage you all to do, because it is driver hunting time again, although after gathering all my MCE driver for the hardware I had myself a media center, up and running just in 3 days time...(which included getting Vista's boot manager fixed)
Installing all drivers for my hardware I just couldn't help noticing some really cool features of my hardware popping up that I did not even know they existed. Draw back is that MCE2005's Media center does not have some of the function that you find in Vista's Media Center (which wanted me to install MCE in the first place to use all that stuff with fully functional hardware)
So now MCE is my default boot OS. Using yesterdays OS with yesterdays 32 bit technology to be able to use yesterdays hardware... But whenever I need to create movies, work on document, render pics, it's back to Vista (also because I didn't bother installing all that stuff on the MCE and some of my software is 64 bit and it does make a difference in performance.)
Should I blame Vista? I think not. It's more the hardware vendors that have pushed me back to MCE 2005. I noticed that if I would go out to the shop and get the latest Hauppauge HVR (4000) I would be able to use all that grand stuff (but then again, I would have to opt for Vista 32 bit)
Overall, Vista 64 bit has not been too much of a disappointment (granted, I didn't have to pay for any of the MS software, thank you ex-boss) and only one piece of hardware has created the situation that I am back in dual boot world. But still wish I could do with one OS and have that 40GB partition to store more pictures instead of having yesterdays OS on there and be able to use all the features in Vista Ultimate.. that would really be WOW and ooooohhh...