Microsoft Vista
March 7, 2007
by William P. Meyers

My job, or business, as far as I can tell, consists of gathering facts, analysing them, and then communicating them to other people. As part of this process I mainly read and write, but occasionally I write computer programs, create databases, or use a spreadsheet to do some analysis. Of course I create web pages. For years I used something called Adobe PageMill, but lately I have been changing over to using Macromedia Fireworks and Dreamweaver.

I have been looking forward to 64-bit computing for several years now, ever since AMD introduced their 64-bit capable chips. In March of 2006 I bought a Systemax computer with an AMD 64-bit, dual-core processor. I thought Microsoft Vista would be ready, but between the time I ordered the computer and received it, Microsoft announced delays. In the end I started up my 64-bit version of Vista Business in late February, 2007.

Most people, even if they go out and buy a computer with Vista pre-loaded, are getting the 32 bit version. To get the 64 bit version you have to buy the 32 bit version, then order (for a shipping fee) the disk for the 64 bit version.

I can report that 64 bit Vista works. However, the only thing running in 64 bits so far is the operating system. The big guns like Adobe have not even announced plans for 64 bit versions of their programs (and given the intensity of graphics processing, this is a big failure for Adobe). To run 64 bit programs I have to create them myself on Visual Studio 2005.

Still, I expect 64 bit to be the rule soon. The only serious problem I have had with Vista is a lack of "drivers." Drivers are what make specific bits of hardware like printers and sound cards work with the operating system. Because my computer is new I only needed one new driver for it, which was for my sound card, and SoundBlaster had one ready. But neither of my printers, one from HP, one from Brother, have drivers available yet. That is not a 62 bit issue: they did not have any Vista drivers, and this despite my HP Laserjet 1020 being only slightly over a year old.

64 bit Vista has had no problem running 32-bit software I already owned. In particular it runs Fireworks and Dreamweaver just dandy.

As to the wonderful new look of Vista, it is okay. It isn't as annoying to me as the Mac user interface, which I detest. I suppose for some visually-oriented applications it might have a positive impact. There was a concern that Vista would waste too much processor power on graphics, but the nice metering tool (I like the old-fashioned clock, too) seldom shows any danger of giving my AMD processor much of a workout.

My advice remains to not buy a new computer unless it is loaded with Vista, but don't bother upgrading toVista if you have a pre-2006 vintage computer.

It is interesting to see the software makers so far behind the chip makers. AMD has been the leader in this transition and looks to continue to lead the pack during the next few years. They make great processors and were the first microprocessor company to pay attention to lowering your electricity bill. When buying a personal or business computer, you want to make sure it has an AMD chip inside.

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