back to article Vista upgrade revisited

It's been a while since I decided to be brave and upgrade my ThinkPad laptop from Windows XP to Vista Ultimate, along with upgrading Office XP to Office 2007. The upgrade to Vista was covered in an earlier article, but I thought now would be the time to provide an update on Microsoft's operating system and the Office suite. …


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  1. CrackedButter

    Of course its difficult

    This is Microsoft we're talking about and considering its been in such a long development cycle, its no excuse. All these issues should have been resolved before it was released.

    Why they released it in the first place is beyond me as it offers nothing really new over XP and it isn't like MS is short of cash, they could have waited longer and tested Vista throughly.

  2. James

    Glad to hear Vista stinks at WiFi

    "Once everything is loaded and has calmed down a little, it trundles along at around 15 per cent per CPU core and around 55 per cent memory (remember this a 2GB machine)."

    This is not even remotely reasonable behaviour for an OS to consume 15% per core all the time. Consuming 1.1GB of RAM is also ridiculous.

    I was very happy to read that Vista's wireless connectivity is shockingly poor. I know that sounds like an odd statement but it reassured me that the problems my mother was having connecting to her perfectly functional but non-SSID-broadcasting access point were down to yet more cruddy code from Microsoft. It is intensely frustrating trying to help your family out with tech problems over the phone when Vista doesn't even approximate reasonable behaviour. One thing I found striking was that despite manually setting up a connection, Vista wouldn't connect. Why? Because it's an encrypted connection (Vista knows this) yet Vista asks for the SSID but NOT the damn passphrase >_<

    I have never been more certain that once I can no longer use XP, I will simply shift off Microsoft OS's forever.

  3. Steven Hewittt


    The only issue you've had is that one some wLAN networks that use hidden SSID's (which isn't common at all) it doesn't always work.

    This is an issue which MS have to address, but a reg hack and turning off IPv6 isn't exactly massive and overall this report seems to be pretty good if the only issue is occasional connectivity issues to hidden SSID's.

    I do take issue with the memory usage. I have 4 VM's in front of me with 1Gb dedicated to each Vista Ultimate machine. Just post logon the memory usage is 300Mb (30%) - so I'm not sure what add in, readers and players you've installed but I'd take a look at the MSConfig tool and TaskMgr to see what is eating your RAM - over 1Gb before running an application is a sign of something seriously wrong. (Unless you're running IE, Outlook and BCM (which uses SQL Server) all at startup)

    Don't get me wrong, the SSID issue shouldn't be happening at all, but compared to the slagging off that Vista's been getting it's refreshing for an honest opinon.

  4. Dax Farrer

    Sleep ..

    Whenever my install of Vista attempts to go into sleep mode, it fails to come out of it. The computer comes back up but the mouse and monitor remain "no input detected".

    You should be grateful that its just some dodgy network adaptor.

  5. Keiran

    Wireless problems after sleep...same on XP

    I have exactly the same problem on WinXP after sleeping my HP laptop.

    I've given up on 'repairing' the connection, only sure-fire way to make it work first time is to eject the wireless card and re-insert. I can only guess at the amount of swearing this would cause on the newer machines where the wireless adapter cannot be ejected easily via the 'Safely Remove Hardware' systray icon.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SSID broadcast

    Turning off SSID broadcasting adds absolutely nothing to security if you have encryption enabled. This is well known and Vista is not unique in having problems without the SSID. It is similar to trying to ward off burglars by removing the number plate on your house.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and you paid for this?

    So... i buy a radio (for example) and only sometimes when i turn it on can it tune into a radio station. ... seems like a flaw to me, so i take it back get a fixed one or a refund.

    The fact that in the world of software you can ship any old rubbish and charge hundreds of pounds for it seems crazy..... wait for SP1 ... if its on the same schedule as Vista was then dont hold your breath!

    The fact that so many people follow blindly and accept this level of arrogance from MS and pay whatever is asked is worse and exactly why they dont make any effort to make things better.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'trundles along'???

    'Once everything is loaded and has calmed down a little, it trundles along at around 15 per cent per CPU core and around 55 per cent memory'

    How do you find this acceptable? Its an operating system, it should sit there in the background and not use silly amounts of resources.

    I have a x2 3800+ and 2gb of ram and i am running 32bit Win XP SP2. Currently i have Flash(1 document), Photoshop(4 docs), Opera(18 tabs), plus a load of system tray items(including web & db servers) - CPU settled at 0-4% and 1.28gb ram free!!!

    I am not moving to vista until i absolutely HAVE to, ie i cant do my job without it. As i am a web developer, and adobe has just released new versions of their suit, i have at least 2 years!

  9. Shaun

    Stop complaining!

    Dude - just turn off UAC!!!!!!!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SSID...why bother?

    Why do folks still think its worthwhile hiding your SSID?

    If you hide it to 'protect' from other folks finding it and using it all they have to do is use Netstumbler and it detects it instantly anyway.

    Was maybe worthwhile doing 5 years ago but a waste of time now. Maybe thats why Vista handles SSIDs differently than the norm?

    I happen to think its handy to actually know how many other networks you are competeting against locally anyway.

  11. Mark W

    Vista and SSID

    Thank you!

    I thought I was just going mad. Being an IT person, my brother-in-law asked me to set up a wireless network in his house and his spanky new Dell laptop with Vista on it. He has no idea about PC's, so I was drafted in to set it up.

    Now here's the point where I confess I'm a Network Manager with 15 years of IT work behind me, first worked with CP/M and DOS, and I still got totally stuck with Vista's very random handling of wireless networks and the stupid way it handles static IP and DHCP. It just isn't that easy to troubleshoot because it's changed the baseline 'again'. So if I'm a self-confessed 'geek', how does a simple user have any chance? I'm half inclined to sell his laptop on Ebay and buy him a Mac which will do exactly what he wants it to do with much less hassle. (Partly the reason why I use macs at home now because I have enough trouble with Windows every day at work).

    One half of me thinks I don't care if the SSID is broadcast if I'm using a WPA-PSK2 key, because by using a Wi-Fi sniffer tool, you can get the SSID and MAC Addresses in seconds anyway, but that's not the point.

    Good article!

  12. Stuart

    Totally Agree

    I have the same issues using hibernate, it really lose's it when i move between my home wireless and any of my work sites. Luckily my laptop without much tweaking run's OS X which has improved these for me. I guess as you say once it's got to SP1 or SP2 then it'll work correctly.

  13. Nick Davidson


    Switching on SSID broadcasting is more or less risk free, anyone war driving will be using something like netstumbler and will be able to pick up 'hidden' networks such as yours anyway.

  14. jason

    Trundles along

    When are we ever going to get back to an OS that is just a single lean piece of code with a minimal UI that allows me to purely run the applications that I WANT to use on top of it.

    I dont use 85% of the junk in XP let alone all the stuff in Vista.

    If MS cant do this then maybe let us have a real custom install option that lets us trim out all the bloat we dont need? We used to get that with Win95!

    I'm not looking forward to Vista at all.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SSID hiding makes security * worse *.

    Hiding your SSID actually causes it to be broadcast more, and can be easily discovered.

    The six dumbest ways to secure a wireless LAN

    Debunking the Myth of SSID Hiding

  16. Martin Owens

    Software Problems

    I'm not sure I understand, your saying there are technical problems with windows vista? I never even got to that point the moral problems of supporting a convicted monopolist always seem to get in the way.

    Do principles not count any more? pity.

  17. Laszlo

    Change to Linux

    I have Vista as well at home and although I don't have major issues with it I just think it is useless. The only feature I like is the look of the system and possibily this is the main reason people buying it.

    I had enough of Microsoft, I installed Linux a couple of weeks ago and I was amazed how much it developed in the past years. I can recommend it to everyone!

  18. D Crunkilton


    Mepis a Linux derivitive of Ubuntu, a derivitive of Debian, reconnects to wirelsss just fine upon opening the laptop from sleep.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hidden SSID

    NetStumbler actually has a hard time finding cloaked/hidden/broadcast disabled AP's. For those you will need a tool called Kismet.

  20. William Bronze badge

    Misinformed, awful article.

    Now I am not a Vista fan by a long chalk. I bought it, tried it, hated it and binned it. I am back on XP.

    I personally believe you set out in the article to discredit Vista. Unfortunately for you all you have achieved is discrediting yourself by your lack of knowledge and finger pointing.

    I would expect the CPU to be active on boot up, did you really expect it to be idling?

    Vista uses more RAM due to prefetch so your applications load faster. What is the point in installing more RAM only for it lay constantly empty?

    UAC mimics both OSX and Linux. If it is too taxing for to click of couple of boxes when your installing programs then you really shouldn't be writing - I cannot imagine how stressful it must be for you to actually use your keyboard.

    And you know absolutely nothing about security. MAC filtering does nothing to prevent someone accessing your network.

    You also complain about turning on SSID being a security risk when it is not. Perhaps it is time you stopping listening to other people with as limited knowledge as yourself spreading the same type of FUD as you are. You really need to do more homework next time.

    I don't like Vista, but at least have some integrity and provide some real evidence why you don't like Vista or why Vista is rubbish rather than your own ineptness and inexperience with the issues your having. Ask an expert to help you, rather than pretend you are one.

  21. William Bronze badge

    Recovering from Sleep/Hibernation - Wireless connection.

    The issue your having with recovering from hibernation/sleep and reconnecting to the network is down to your wireless network driver. It used to happen regularly on XP machine until a driver update for my laptop sorted it out. And the only reason it got sorted was because enough people complained to the manufacturer.

    It has taken me 5 years to finally iron out every single kink out XP, and finally I can get it to do the stuff I want. Why on Earth do persist in using Vista? Its like going back to the early days of XP with all the driver issues and such. Except this time the benefits of moving from XP to Vista are negligible (if any). There is no real killer feature of Vista apart from the fact that in the future applications can run without administrator credentials.

    Why make a rod for your back?

  22. John Navas

    MAC filter and SSID hiding are bad ideas



    (Wireless LAN security hall of shame)

    MAC filtering: This is like handing a security guard a pad of paper with a list of names. Then when someone comes up to the door and wants entry, the security guard looks at the person’s name tag and compares it to his list of names and determines whether to open the door or not. Do you see a problem here? All someone needs to do is watch an authorized person go in and forge a name tag with that person’s name. The comparison to a wireless LAN here is that the name tag is the MAC address. The MAC address is just a 12 digit long HEX number that can be viewed in clear text with a sniffer. A sniffer to a hacker is like a hammer to a carpenter except the sniffer is free. Once the MAC address is seen in the clear, it takes about 10 seconds to cut-paste a legitimate MAC address in to the wireless Ethernet adapter settings and the whole scheme is defeated. MAC filtering is absolutely worthless since it is one of the easiest schemes to attack. The shocking thing is that so many large organizations still waste the time to implement these things. The bottom line is, MAC filtering takes the most effort to manage with zero ROI (return on investment) in terms of security gain.

    MY COMMENT: The downside of MAC filtering is that it often results in mysterious problems that waste lots of time to troubleshoot and fix. With no real upside, and a significant potential downside, it just doesn't make sense. Think cost:benefit ratio.

    SSID hiding: There is no such thing as "SSID hiding". You’re only hiding SSID beaconing on the Access Point. There are 4 other mechanisms that also broadcast the SSID over the 2.4 or 5 GHz spectrum. The 4 mechanisms are; probe requests, probe responses, association requests, and re-association requests. Essentially, youre talking about hiding 1 of 5 SSID broadcast mechanisms. Nothing is hidden and all youve achieved is cause problems for Wi-Fi roaming when a client jumps from AP to AP. Hidden SSIDs also makes wireless LANs less user friendly. You dont need to take my word for it. Just ask Robert Moskowitz who is the Senior Technical Director of ICSA Labs in his white paper Debunking the myth of SSID hiding.

    MY COMMENT: The downsides of SSID hiding are that it (a) makes it more likely that a neighbor will set up on the same channel as you, resulting in interference that can make your Wi-Fi problematic, and (b) can cause mysterious dropouts with products and/or drivers that don't handle it well. Again, with no real upside, and a significant potential downside, it just doesn't make sense. Cost:benefit ratio.

  23. Tony

    and we waited how long for this?

    Article hits the nail right on the head. However.. I had the same problems with turning off my SSID broadcasts on XP. It would just pretend that it wasn't there and go about it's merry unconnected way. So I set up MAC filtering and encryption. Easy solution to those that are paranoid about security. Aside from that even if you turn off SSID broadcasts, all you need is netstumbler for someone to find out all the info about your access point that they'd ever need to start trying to crack into it.

    The memory usage with vista is ridiculous. My Dell E1705 running vista home premium with useless services, and the classic windows XP interface (read: NO AERO) and the gadgets (which I could care less about) all disabled had no problem wasting 600mb out of 1GB of ram and a 512mb out of a 1GB page file.

    Now most people defend this outrageous use of memory as vista doing "pre-emptive processing" and whatnot to which I call BS. I wanna know why more than half my memory is gone when the machine is sitting idle and why I get less battery life than I did with XP with all the visual effects turned off, my screen dimmed and power saving mode engaged. These are issues that have kept me from upgrading. Direct X 10, superfetch and readyboost are no justification.

    All hail millennium edition II

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Glad you could join in the testing - America needs pioneers!!

    Glad you could join in the goat f, sorry testing - America needs pioneers!!- the rest of us will wait for SP2

  25. Ryan Stewart

    Wow, 15% cpu at idle?

    That is a lot of capability being used for little to no reason. I assume that is with performance settings all the way up.

    I would be worried that it would cause my CPU to throttle up draining battery.

  26. the Jim bloke

    to William

    Some people have to run Vista, to find the problems that Microsoft somehow failed to notice during its development.

    I certainly dont intend to, but I see the benefits of watching others hurl themselves into the minefield before my turn.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't use non-broadcasting SSID

    Non-broadcasting SSID is bad. The XP's behavior comes at an expense. It creates privacy problem by disclosing your preferred network list to the hackers. See and for details. Below is pasted from that artical.

    A non-broadcast network is not undetectable. Non-broadcast networks are advertised in the probe requests sent out by wireless clients and in the responses to the probe requests sent by wireless APs. Unlike broadcast networks, wireless clients running Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or Windows Server® 2003 with Service Pack 1 that are configured to connect to non-broadcast networks are constantly disclosing the SSID of those networks, even when those networks are not in range.

    Therefore, using non-broadcast networks compromises the privacy of the wireless network configuration of a Windows XP or Windows Server 2003-based wireless client because it is periodically disclosing its set of preferred non-broadcast wireless networks.

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