Early signs of trouble

Early signs of trouble

Robert Vamosi Former Editor
As CNET's former resident security expert, Robert Vamosi has been interviewed on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, and other outlets to share his knowledge about the latest online threats and to offer advice on personal and corporate security.
Robert Vamosi
3 min read
I'll mention again that I'm running Windows Vista beta 2 on a Acer TravelMate 8200 laptop. This model includes a 2GHz Intel Core Duo T2500 processor, 2GB of 533MHz RAM, a discrete ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics card with 256MB of dedicated GDDR3 VRAM, and a 120GBhard drive. This laptop certainly qualifies under Microsoft's Premium recommendations for installing Vista.

Once installed, I used the new Windows Vista Welcome Center to orient myself and install additional drivers. Missing were drivers for my IPMI, my PCI serial port, and my USB 2.0 Web Camera; attempts to download drivers from Microsoft failed, but none of these components are crucial for my work.

What is crucial is the Internet. While I had instant Internet access, I didn't have Firefox nor the various Flash and Shockwave components that are required today. Firefox 1.5 installed on Vista without incident, however, viewing CNET requires Macromedia Flash, and I had trouble getting that to work. For some reason, it took multiple attempts to install before Flash would operate properly within Firefox. My experience was worse using Vista's default browser, Internet Explorer 7. In IE, the Adobe site was inaccessible for some reason. Once Flash did install on both browsers, I was surprised when my chosen video still didn't play properly.

I had a new set of postinstallation problems: although the device manager shows that the Acer TravelMate High Definition Audio Device driver installed (version 6.0.5384.4, dated 6/21/06), it would not run. I had no sound on my laptop. When I queried Vista for solutions, it said there were none.

Being clever, I asked the Vista Device Manager to search my Windows XP partition (I strongly recommend dual-booting your test Windows Vista machine; you'll be much happier). From the XP partition I was able to install a working driver from Realtek Semiconductor (driver version, dated 11/17/05). Giddy with success, I then asked Vista to search the Windows XP partition for the USB 2.0 Webcam driver, and again it found one (Logitech, version, dated 11/18/05). No such luck repairing my IPMI or PCI serial port this way, however.

Using Vista's new "Performance rating and tools" diagnostic tool, I discovered that my installed Vista drivers (the ones that came native with the Vista operating system, not the ones I added manually) are also causing problems. According to the diagnostic tool, several drivers are not performing correctly and therefore are preventing my laptop from going to sleep or hibernating properly. At this juncture, I don't plan on "contacting the vendors or updating them," as Microsoft advises.

My final task for this first day is to install Trillian, the multiparty instant-messaging application. Trillian also installed QuickTime 6, which blanked my desktop display a few times before asking for a reboot. This happened again when I tried to launch and configure Trillian. Vista has a built-in display defense, and I noticed several times it tried to warn me that some app was causing a disturbance, but the message came and went too fast. As configured, Trillian won't load. I'll continue to hack away at this.

Final observation, as I load new apps, Vista seems slower to reboot.

All in all, my experiences today were about average for a first day with a new OS. No matter how hard Microsoft tries to make things simple, there will be drivers that won't install correctly and other minor glitches. That said, it really wasn't a productive day, so expect to spend some downtime with your new operating system. Check back tomorrow to see what I discover next.