Vista Business is unimpressive so far!

Last week I obtained an evaluation version of Windows Vista Business Edition (requires activation in 30 days). I try it out first of all in a VPC2007 virtual machine, where it installs successfully, but runs quite slowly. Buoyed by this success, I decide to try it on an actual machine. A one-year-old Intel D915GAG motherboard equipped PC with 512MB of RAM is selected. The existing XP system partition of 20 GB is duly joined by another of the same size for Vista’s use in a dual boot config. A DVD is burned from the ISO image and the PC is booted from it.

The installation goes without a hitch. I download and install EasyBCD off a USB key to edit the boot configuration to make XP continue to boot as default OS with a short boot menu delay to allow Vista to be selected when needed. I then join the machine to our domain and assign it to an OU of its own to prevent anyone else except me from logging onto it (configured through Group Policy).

It is soon after this that the “fun” starts. Through several different boots, messages come up telling me that subsystems have failed (Spooler) or that processes (Rundll32) have quit unexpectedly. Or that “the parameter is incorrect” when attempting to run applications or control panel applets. And all this on the bare vanilla OS install, apart from the EasyBCD software previously mentioned.

A search of Microsoft’s website yields few clues, but third party sites are found to contain a lot of information on all three problems. It seems the Spooler problems may be compatibility issues with our local XP drivers for our printers. All computers on the domain get a list of network printers pushed down by the Print Management policy on the WS2003R2 domain controller. However, I still have no idea how to fix “the parameter is incorrect” when running something as simple as a desktop shortcut, or an application from the search bar, and I’m unimpressed to get “access denied” messages when I’m logging on as a Domain Administrator.

So far, I will not be recommending early changeover for any school to Vista Business. The suggested path to follow is to either invest a lot of time fixing the problems as they occur, or (preferably) wait until enough significant issues are patched, maybe even Service Pack 1. I expect we will be offered laptops with Vista Business installed in six months, and we will then have to make a decision on whether it is worthwhile supporting. We already have offers of laptops running Vista Home Basic, and have to decide whether to keep that and wait for VB, or wipe and install XP Pro instead.