Valery's Mlog

Mindlog of a Freak
December 7th, 2006 by Valery Dachev

Windows Vista Impressions

A few days ago I decided to reinstall Windows on my laptop. It was high time to do so as I had installed and removed loads of stuff. Unfortunately I couldn’t record my recovery disks (a long story…) so I had to install Windows XP Professional from another source. However Windows XP + SP2 seems to live in the previous century without any SATA support by default. So the installation couldn’t detect my hard-disk. I pressed F6 in the very beginning of the installation and I was asked to insert a diskette with my SATA drivers in Drive A:. Oops, no floppy in my Compaq NC6320. I imagined one but it didn’t detect my imagination… Oh, no USB memory sticks or CDs allowed – just the good old diskettes. I couldn’t find a USB floppy in the office… My colleague told me he had installed Windows with SATA support on another system but that installation needed a volume license product key and would reject my OEM one. One solution is to create a custom installation CD with the SATA drivers but it takes too long. A quick workaround is to disable the “SATA Native Mode”. In this case the installation works but the hard disk is slower (and it can’t be changed later as easily as enabling that setting). I decided not to do so. We’re an ISV partner so we have free Vista licenses and I downloaded the final release (build 6000) and installed it…

Installation: It is quite straightforward. After a few questions and restarts my system was ready. They had erased my boot manager (GRUB) again, but nevermind. Oh, and no more “time left” display during the installation. However I have an “Earlier version of Microsoft Windows” option in my boot menu that I (personally) can’t remove. Nevertheless it was easy…

Experience: Beautiful, really beautiful, just like charm. The new Aero feeling is great. I took me some time to get used to the new navigation and features, but I liked it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the advanced sound mixer I had in Windows XP and I can’t remove the “Favourite Links” box from my Windows Explorer (or whatever they call it now) but most of the things I do with ease. Computer management is totally reorganized and things get done in a much faster. From a developer point of view there are a few major changes and applications should be aware of that. First of all, hardcoded paths would possibly break. We’ve got a brand new “ProgramData” folder and “Documents and Settings” is now just “Users”. I tried installing some software and the most of it worked. Zend Studio 5.5.0 beta didn’t – I couldn’t find the locatio of the main executable. I was able to find the uninstaller though. :) Latest WinRAR’s context menus were broken too. Our software (Archimed eDMS) didn’t make it, too. The “Profile Manager” writes to a different location from the one the webserver reads. This will be fixed in the upcoming versions. I suppose the reason is some of the files get installed in to the so called “virtual store” of the users installing the software, e.g. “C:\Users\Valery\AppData\Local\VirtualStore”. Others – in a completely different location or not installed at all (e.g. my ZDE.exe). My WinAMP keeps crashing from time to time too. I’ve sent a few reports to Microsoft for fun and profit. :) Oh… and whenever my display turns off (if I close the lid or the computer is going off for stand by) it can’t be turned on although the system goes on with it’s work. I was forced to disable this feature. Oh, yeah… They included the new Bulgarian phonetic keyboard layout. IT SUCKS !

Tips & Tricks:

  1. On Windows XP I used Stanimir Stamenkov‘s package to install a normal Bulgarian phonetic keyboard layout. Due to the new improved security of Windows the installation gets interrupted. To workaround this, you should disable UAC (User Account Control) by going to “Control Panel”, then to “User Accounts” and click on “Turn User Account Control on or off”. I should restart after that.
  2. I don’t use the development web server when developing websites. Instead of this I use IIS. Windows Vista comes with a brand new IIS 7.0 with unlimited connections. Microsoft have improved its security and now websites can’t be debugged as easily as before. There are some things you should do in order to start debugging and deploying:
    1. In “Turn Windows features on or off” you’d better enable all of the “Web Management Tools” of “Internet Information Services” especially the “IIS 6 Management Compatibility”;
    2. You should run Visual Studio as administrator or the user the website application runs with. Just right-click the shortcut and go to “Properties” &rquoa; “Advanced” and enable the “Run as administrator” checkbox;
    3. If it still doesn’t work, go to the IIS Management Console, find your application and choose “Basic Settings…”, click on the “Select…” button and change the application pool to “Client .NET AppPool”.


2 Responses to “Windows Vista Impressions”
  1. Ilian Jovchev says

    Windows XP (+SP2) supports SATA, but in your case you have latest Intel ICH7 SATA chipset (may be released after SP2), so default Windows XP(+SP2) installation does not include appropriate drivers.
    May be in SP3, all will be OK with that :)

  2. @Ilian Jovchev: I think I found another solution (rather than waiting for SP3 release) called WinFuture xp-Iso-Builder 3. It’s a freeware and it works on/for Windows 2000/XP/2003 only. I check it out in a week and I’ll probably devote it a separate post. Unfortunately, I have no idea if building a custom Installation CD is legal according to Windows’ EULA.

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