Very early on after its release, I gave Windows Vista a try on one of my secondary computers. I was primarily interested in the Media Center funcitonalty of the Operating System. I had and am currently still am using Windows XP MCE 2005 and like it alot. So Vista MCE was seemed very interesting to me.
I installed it, and initially I liked it quite a bit. But then the bad Vista came to bite me. The audio drivers for the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Platinum Pro were clearly not designed for Vista. The Nvidia drivers for my Geforce 8800 GTS Card were also clearly immature. But most of all, the Media Center software that was the reason for my testing out Vista COMPLETELY disappeared from the computer. There was no sign of it at all. It happened all of a sudden too, I had turned off my computer prior to a thunderstorm and when I turned it back on after the storm, Vista was there, but the Media Center had been erased from existance. VERY WEIRD. These things caused me to give up on Vista for around a year.
I recently purchased a new motherboard, processor and ram. I went with the EVGA 780i SLI motherboard and the Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 CPU with 4 gigs of Corsair Dominator ram. Everythign else, I kept the same in my system as the other components are all fairly current. In the older system, I was running Windows XP MCE 205. With such a major change in componenets, it is necessary to reinstall the Operating System. So I decided to give Vista a 2nd chance as Service Pack 1 was already available.
The installation was not super smooth. I only have SATA optical drives in my computer now. The LG Bluray-HDDVD combo drive is very nice, but is not available in PATA/IDE. Windows Vista does not seem to like to install from SATA optical drives from waht I can tell. Luckily, I had an old external USB DVD recorder which allowed me to install Vista Ultimate with ho hitches.
Once installed, the system seemed to function well, after updating all my drivers to Vista approved versions. All of the software I use seems to be fully functional in Vista when I turn off the User Account Control. UAC is just an annoyance to me. I consider myself to be a power user, and UAC is very invasive — that said — I feel the SUDO in Linux is also annoying. If I am capable, I should be able to run as root. I realize its a bit of a security risk, but I have a pretty good idea what I am doing. Therefor, the ability to completely disable UAC is good foresight by Microsoft. Anyway, all seemed well and I decided to let Vista run for a few months.
Spring forward to today —
At the present I have been running Vista on my main computer for about 3 months and on a Dell XPS m1330 laptop for about 4 months. At this point, I have to say, I notice very little difference in performance between Vista and XP now. I think Vista is at least equivalent in both categories and may actually perform better than XP in some things. I have figured out where all the settings have been moved to on Vista, so tweaking things is about the same as XP. Gaming performance is on par with XP now too. In fact on the main computer with an Nvidia Geforce 8800GTS with 768 megs of ram, gaming runs very very smoothly. I have no complaints really. I game either at 1270X800 or 1920X1200, depending on the game. Anything I have tried works well.
Part of my job is running Autodesk Maya and MotionBuilder along with Vicon Nexus. Thse programs run fine as well. I notice absolutely zero difference between Vista and XP as far as speed or stability goes. Infact, Vista may be slightly MORE stable at this point.
The laptop doesnt get used for gaming, so I can not comment there. I have another m1330 that has a Geforce 8400GS M in it, that does get used for gaming, but I have XP MCE 2005 currently on that machine. The Vista laptop is very stable and seems runs very quickly. This laptop was purchased 5 months ago for around $700 USD.
I have no complaints at this point with Windows Vista — aside from the complaints I have with all computers. It seems to have most of the bugs worked out, and Nvidia seems to have their act together on the drivers at this point. If you read any review or critique of Vista at this point in time, make sure you check the date of the article. My feeling is that it is working and can at this point be adopted by the masses as a decent operating system.