After giving my MSI Wind a good workout with Windows XP for a month, I started to get listless. It was running beautifully, but I just couldn’t help wondering how it would handle a fancy, new OS like Vista.

Now, I’m no dope. Step one in my process was swapping out my original 80GB drive for a 160GB that I’d salvaged from a dead Dell XPS system. I mostly didn’t want the hassle of doing a full-blown factory reinstall on my Wind just because I later got bored with Vista and wanted XP back. I’d already cracked the cover once to max out the memory, so I figured I was now ready for the update.

I opted for Vista Home Premium – Ultimate seemed a bit over the top, and Basic, well, it just isn’t as pretty. A format and bit of waiting, and I was ready to test things out.

One annoyance to note: neither the wireless or wired lan worked without loading drivers. The XP network drivers included on the Wind’s factory CD work just fine, though, so it’s only a minor inconvenience. Vista didn’t recognize the i945 graphics right away either, so I opted to download the latest Vista video drivers from Intel’s site, and I was ready to rock. If you’d rather, just load the LAN driver and fire up Windows Update – it’ll locate all the missing drivers by itself.

Overall, the system runs very well. Vista’s system assessment rates it a 2.7, with 3d performance (2.7) and CPU (3.0) being the low marks. Everything else rated quite nicely, including the suprising 5.2 scored by my scavenged hard drive.

In normal use, the Wind performs quite well in Vista. With half a dozen tabs open in Firefox, Notepad++  running, and Dropbox, Faststone Capture, and Clamwin running in the system tray, I barely noticed any difference from my Intel Core 2 laptop. Performance is markedly better with Aero’s Glass effect turned off, though the Wind handles it fairly well considering its underpowered graphics.

Things changed a bit once I threw Photoshop CS2 the mix. Doing simple edits with only a single tab open in Firefox it performs reasonably well. Anything more is a bit rough on the Atom – which was also the case with Windows XP. I didn’t notice any major difference in application performance after upgrading to Vista. If you’re going to do any mildly technical photo work on your ultraportable, look into a similar app with a lighter footprint like Gimphoto/Gimpad or Artweaver.

The real reason I wanted to attempt the switch was to see just how much life Vista could squeeze out of my 6-cell battery. Under normal use I’m able to get about 5 hours with my screen at 70% brightness. Cranking it down all the way let me squeak out another 15 to 20 minutes, and the screen is still extremely readable.

That means a total increase of about 30 minutes over XP, and one of my main motives for buying an ultraportable (specifically one with a 6-cell) was the kick-ass battery life. Running Vista, the Wind also resumes from standby and hibernate a little more quickly, which is a nice bonus.

All in all, I’m excited about the way the Wind is handling Vista and I don’t think I’ll be switching back any time soon. Well, maybe I will – but only because I’m always itching to try out something else. Now where’s that Wubi download…

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Lee Mathews

Computer tech, blogger, husband, father, and avid MSI U100 user.

8 replies on “Vista on the Wind a Breath of Fresh Air?”

  1. Vista shakes out very well with SP1. It’s doesn’t have any real overhead greater than XP, with (obviously) better power management in exchange for slightly worse data transfer rates over networked drives.

    Assuming you have a gig of RAM, anyway.

  2. Everybody is fleeing from Vista even Microsoft which is going to rush Win 7 in twice less time that it took Vista and you consider this a step up?

    I got to give you props for putting Photoshop on.
    Too many times have I heard that the chip is too weak for anything than browsing.
    Cs2 is not a light software, so maybe the chips arent that useless after all.

    I dont see myself retouching photos on the MSI after spending all day doing that stuff on a 24 inch screen but the fact is I COULD do it if I needed to finish something.
    Another reason why the dual boot Acer 15.4′ laptop wont be leaving the table again.

    I dont get how you got to run Vista faster than XP. From the test machines I ran both on, you saw the difference immediately on older hardware.

    1. I think the Atom is extremely underrated as far as CPUs go. I do the same tasks on it as I do on my Core2 Acer, and honestly the only difference I notice is FLV playback – which is pretty poor. I’ve taken a look at improving that, but I don’t watch enough online video to care.

      And yes…OSX may be my next step! I’ve got another 80GB sata drive, after all. If my slim USB DVD would just show up already….

    2. I wouldn’t say everyone is fleeing from Vista. Most of the people I come across are more than satisfied with Vista. Furthermore the reason you assume this “rush” is because the media portrays it that way. Microsoft spent a long time on Vista because it was written from scratch whereas all older OS’s had been just revamped from it’s previous versions. Windows has now a strong platform to work with here and resume where they’d left off in previous releases. Some people call Windows 7 the Vista RC2 kind of like Windows 98SE. From the TechNet meetings I’ve been to they say this is not the case. Windows 7 will be a major release since it is to change a lot of the interface and implement touchscreen technology. I don’t see Apple Crashntoss doing the same thing for all the computers they release. Windows got a lot of bad press because of Apple but they failed to mention that Leoptard had more issues upon release then Vista. I do think Microsoft could have done a better job standing up for themselves though. I’m a Vista Ultimate x64, Windows XP Pro x64 and Ubuntu Ultimate 1.9 x64 PC. Mac sucks mainly because of their dictatorship and very limited close source development. Vista runs best for me then Ubuntu and lastly XP. I’m an IT Professional working as an IT Engineering Analyst at Tyco Electronics. I give little credit to Apple as I will no longer use nor support their components.

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