Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Vista – first reports

I blogged the other week about whether I really did want a new Vista laptop, and if I did whether I needed Microsoft products running on it. Well, I visited another PC superstore and they had about two Mac laptops and absolutely none at all with Linux pre-installed. In the end I was swayed by the hardware and took the software that came with it. So yes, I was turned to the dark side and now have a Vista machine.

I bought an HP Pavilion dv9000 laptop – it has a 17” wide TFT screen (1440 by 900) and is sleek and black. The processor is a 1.66GHz core duo T5500 centrino duo chip. It has 2GB of RAM and twin hard drives providing 120GB of storage. The operating system is Windows Vista Home Premium. As well as being wireless enabled (802.11a, b, g) it has an nVidia GeForce Go 7600 video card, DVD writer, and even a digital TV tuner. So it should be able to do everything except make pot noodle (as they say!).

I turned it on, and after a long time it allowed me to set it up – pretty normal stuff here. It found our wireless network and I was soon on the Internet – all good so far. It came with a 60-day version of Norton, which I started and then let it update from the Symantec Web site.

Next, I thought I’d connect to the other computers in our office network. That’s when I met the first problem. The default workgroup name is WORKGROUP, with XP it is MSHOME (I think), anyway, I had to change the workgroup name so it was the same as on the other computers.

The next problem was that although the XP machines could see the new Vista laptop, they could not access it. That problem was solved by turning off the Norton firewall (gulp!). Once we’d done that, the Vista machine could see all the other workgroup machines and they could see the Vista one. From the Vista machine we could see the folders “shared” and “shareddocs” on the XP machines, but from the XP machine we couldn’t see any directories at all on the XP one.

That problem was solved by selecting the Network and Sharing Center and, under Sharing and Discovery, turning on Public Folder Sharing and turning off Password protected sharing. We now have a shared directory on the Vista box and it can be accessed from all the other networked PCs without needing a password or anything else. It also told us to modify Norton to allow network access but nothing else. We haven’t quite managed to find where to do that yet!

The next stage was to use Laplink ( to transfer the contents of the old computer to the new one wirelessly over our network. This worked brilliantly (I think) although it did have to run overnight (it said it would take 12 hours). Once it finished, my new Vista machine looked just like my old XP machine. Laplink ran a start-up program showing which applications were launching automatically. Obviously I didn’t need my XP anti-virus or anti-malware (I’ve got Norton). I did ask it to start PC MACLAN and Iomega software (yes, I still back-up to a ZIP drive).

I tested that my applications were running OK. All were except Word! Word would launch and then disappear. We spent ages trying all sorts of things – re-installing etc. Someone suggested a hack they knew which did the trick. We right-clicked on winword.exe and selected properties from the pop-up box. We then clicked the Compatibility tab and ticked the box saying, “Run this program as an administrator”. It seems to have done the trick.
The next stage was to connect up the printer, ZIP drive, and Macintosh laptop. But I’ll tell you what happened there next time!!

Our main problem was finding the time to work on the new laptop because we kept expecting each step to take much longer than we’d normally anticipate. And that’s because we didn’t know what new differences Vista would throw at us. Any additional help and advice gratefully received! (Anyone writing “told you so” or “only a complete idiot would buy Vista” would only be repeating what we’ve been saying in the office this week!!) You can contact me at

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