Windows Vista Annoyances

Software and hardware incompatibilities, lost settings, and the dreaded UAC give users plenty to grumble about

Executive Summary:
Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system (OS) has received a lot of hype, but it has many features that annoy users. Most Windows Vista annoyances involve software or hardware from older systems that isn't compatible with the new OS. Users also complain about Windows Vista's frequent User Account Control (UAC) messages and the OS not remembering preferences.

You’ve heard the hype: Windows Vista is the new desktop standard! Vista has sold 40 million copies! Vista is Microsoft’s best desktop OS ever! But you look around and no one in your office is using it, so you become the official Vista guinea pig. Soon, you discover a host of Vista annoyances to scare (or share with) your coworkers. Here are my top 10 Vista annoyances.

10 Application incompatibility—Without a doubt, application incompatibility is Vista’s Achilles’ heel, particularly in upgrade scenarios. In a business environment, Vista was OK running applications such as Office. But my home upgrade was a nightmare. Nero and Roxio products were the first to throw up their hands. Many of my games were close behind, often hamstrung with User Account Control (UAC) messages. Most companies have updates available, but you usually need to upgrade to the next release to get Vista compatibility.

9 Windows Aero hardware requirements—Superficially, the most compelling reason to migrate from Windows XP to Vista is the Aero interface. Unfortunately, Aero requires modern graphic capabilities such as a minimum of 128MB of video RAM, and it doesn’t work on most older systems that use an integrated video adapter. Some older systems support an add-on video graphics adapter, but many don’t.

8 Too much UAC—Although I understand the concept behind UAC, the fact is it’s never prompted me for anything meaningful; it simply adds more dialog boxes to common administrative tasks. I keep it turned on in case it ever stops something important, but you can disable UAC in the User Accounts Control Panel applet.

7 Lost wallpapers and themes—After upgrading to Vista, all my themes and desktop wallpapers were replaced by new and, to me, unattractive substitutes. And, while Microsoft was changing everything else, why didn’t they move the power options out of the Screen Saver tab to their own tab?

6 Losing Windows Explorer settings—On the subject of losing things, why can’t Vista’s Windows Explorer remember settings for different folders? Try as I might, I can’t make it maintain the sort order I prefer. It stays for a while, but it always returns to the alphabetical file listing eventually.

5 Explorer drag-and-drop—Another really annoying feature in Vista’s Windows Explorer is that it drops files where your cursor is. When I have folders organized by date and I drop a new file into a folder, I want it to go to the bottom as the newest item. Vista places it wherever in the list you release the mouse.

4 Antivirus incompatibility—Like the application software incompatibility problem, the answer to antivirus incompatibility is to purchase an upgrade to a Vista-compatible release. If you want to run the Vista x64 version, you might need to switch products because not all antivirus vendors support the x64 edition.

3 VMware virtualization software—My copy of VMware Workstation 5.5 has always refused to run under Vista. Rather than buy the new version of Workstation, I switched to VMware Server 1.03. However, I ran into a driver problem where, for some inexplicable reason, VMware doesn’t sign their drivers. To get VMware Server to work on Vista, press F8 when the system boots and select Disable Driver Signature Enforcement.

2 Dual-boot difficulties—On XP, virtualization nearly eliminated my desire to create dual-boot systems. But Vista’s incompatibilities with my favorite VMware products combined with a pressing need to test various scenarios quickly brought back the idea of dual-booting. Unfortunately, the good old boot.ini is gone and XP’s simple boot process has been replaced with Vista’s nearly inscrutable Boot Configuration Data Editor (bcdedit.exe). I’ve created several Vista dual-boot systems, but it’s not nearly as easy as it was under XP.

1 All-in-Wonder incompatibility— This is my biggest pet peeve with Vista. This might be a more generic driver incompatibility problem, but the ATI All-in-Wonder card is where I ran into it. ATI’s supposedly Vista-compatible cards don’t provide video capture support like they did under XP. What’s worse is that this product has a “Works with Windows Vista” logo even though it doesn’t provide full functionality. That’s just wrong.

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