Archive for August, 2008

Jumping to Windows Vista

Posted in Technology and Software on August 15, 2008 by Mike Procario

I took the plunge and upgraded my Windows XP desktop to Vista. I was motivated by both what I had heard from Paul Thurrott on his weekly podcasts with Leo Laporte and by my personal experience with a new laptop that I bought for daughter.

When I  bought my daughter a laptop for college, Vista was the only widely available option for consumers. I got her an HP with 4 GB of RAM and a Intel Core 2 Duo processor with Vista Home Premium with with service pack 1. I set it up for her by adding Firefox, iTunes, OpenOffice, and AVG antivirus. The process was relatively painless. She has been using it for about a month with any problems.

I had bought a desktop PC about the time that Windows Vista had come out, which was early 2007.  At that time it was not obvious that many people who prefer XP over Vista, so I thought I could pick a deal on an XP leftover and I did. It also came with a free upgrade to Vista, which I sent away for and it came within a few weeks. I did not upgrade immediately, since it quickly became clear that Vista did have some compatibility problems early on.

Given the experience that I had with my daughter’s laptop, I decided now was the time to take the plunge with Vista for  my desktop. The first thing I did was add memory. I had 1 GB and I added 2 more. Some of the memory is used for video so I only really had about 750 MB available. That did no

I dug out the install DVD that I had received a year ago and went to work. I backed up all of my files to an external drive. I choose a clean install. I had really installed a lot software over the last year and much of it I did not need, so I chose a fresh install. The install went smoothly and I soon found myself with a shiny new Windows Vista setup.

I soon found myself facing the blizzard of dialog boxes as I tried to install Firefox and iTunes. This was different from the experience with my daughter’s laptop, but my install DVD did not include service pack 1. I was going to need to add that later. The first dialog box that appeared on each installation was clear. Do you want to install this executable program? After that it was less clear as why the dialog boxes were popping up. I fell into the just click OK mode that some people have written about.

I ran Windows Update to see if there were any updates I needed. I was surprised by how few, I needed. Windows Update still seems to need to apply some updates before it sees others. I had to install two sets of updates before it offered me Service Pack 1. That is when the fun started. SP1 would not install. I became very familiar with this Microsoft support page, It recommended rebooting and trying again, scanning the hard disk for errors, running the system file checker, running the memory diagnostic tool, and trying the standalone service pack 1 installer. I tried them all over the course of three evenings. Some of those scans took awhile. Luckily I have a MacBook Pro, so I was not computerless during this ordeal. None of the recommeded solutions worked. I got error code 8024200D everytime I trie to install SP1. Searching Microsoft’s website did not turn up any mention of that error.

Microsoft has decided to offer free service pack 1 support, so I tried it out. It is chat based and I got a technician in India, but he did not pretend to be anywhere else as other companies will try to do. I get the impression that the support person was handling several people as once. The interaction was not smooth. I told him everything that I had tried and gave him the error code I had received, and he immediately elevated me to the next level of support. I was very grateful for that. My few experiences with tech support have involved redoing eveything I have already tried.

The next technician was able to remote into my system to fix it. He stopped a few services then installed a particular patch. That required a reboot, which required some gymnastics to make sure we got reconnected, but it worked. He then started the SP1 install that I had tried so many times, but this time it worked.

I still need to see if my printers and scanner will work with Vista. The scanner is pretty old now and I am somewhat worried about it.