With all my talk on FreeBSD and Mac OS X, as well as my generally unfavorable attitude to Microsoft's operating systems, I decided today to finally install Windows Vista on my primary desktop to do a more in depth review and to see if Service Pack 1 has fixed some of the more irritating problems.

This morning with my paycheck I marched down to Best Denki at Ngee Ann City and purchased a copy of Windows Vista Home Premium. I figured there was no point getting the Ultimate version seeing as I don't really play many computer games, and the Ultimate Extras offerings have been less than stellar. I bought the upgrade version because I already had a copy Windows XP Home Edition already from 2002; the one I had for less than a week before I wiped my machine and reinstalled Windows 2000 Professional.

PowerQuest PartitionMagic Beforehand I used my trusty older copy of PartitionMagic 8.0 (the last version released by PowerQuest before they were bought out and destroyed by Symantec) to resize my FreeBSD partition down by 64GiB to allow space for Vista to install. FreeBSD really doesn't like sharing hard disk space with other operating systems, so it's usually a good idea to have it installed first before you start installing Windows, or Linux for that matter.

I couldn't post any screenshots of the installation given that it didn't have an OS on it to do so (for obvious reasons!), but not having the kludgy DOS screen like messages was certainly a fresh and welcome change from previous versions of Windows; no doubt the FreeBSD sysinstall folks could learn something from it. It detected all of my hardware flawlessly, including a troublesome 64-in-one card reader that even my MacBook Pro with Leopard had difficulty with.

Within a few minutes of finishing the install, activating online and adjusting the resolution to fit my widescreen 1680×1050 Samsung display, I was firing up Internet Explorer to download Mozilla Firefox, The Gimp, Inkscape and OpenOffice.org. I still find it thrilling that Windows has such a fantastic assortment of powerful, capable, reliable and high calibre Free and Open Source software available for it that's completely unmatched on any other platform.

Fresh Vista desktop, with Firefox installed in the Quick Launch bar :)
My fresh Vista desktop, with Mozilla Firefox installed in the Quick Launch bar

As excruciatingly painful as it is for me to admit this; using Vista for a few hours, checking out the new Windows Explorer, the new layout of the Start Menu and the Control Panel… I must begrudgingly say that I'm enjoying the experience (pun intended!) more than I thought. The new Aero interface is quite pretty and leaves KDE 4.0's and Compiz Fusion's graphical effects in the dust; Mac OS X Leopard still looks better but it just uses so many system resources in comparison to Vista's visual effects I figure it's just not worth it.

Because this isn't a laptop I can't comment on Vista's battery life or wireless connectivity capabilities, but from a desktop perspective it's pretty good. I'd be hesitant to say I'm ready to give up FreeBSD on all my desktops, but I'm sure I'll keep Vista around on this primary machine.

Stay tuned for more screenshots and compatibility reports.