Last weekend I decided to buy a license of Vista to replace the XP install I still kept for the occasional necessity. I went for the Home Premium version which I got from Amazon.de for €89.
As I usually use Ubuntu I decided to do a clean install to replace the XP partition completely. All documents are on the Linux disk anyway, so nothing to lose there.
The install worked flawlessly, even though I do not know how long it took, because I let it run over night after I had entered the product key. In the morning it was asking for a user name and allowed me to log in shortly afterwards.
At first glance I did not notice any striking differences compared to the RC1 build I had tried out some time ago. Nevertheless I quickly realized that the computer was beeping using the internal speaker. A look at the device manager (Ctrl-Pause still works) revealed missing drivers for my sound card.
Windows update pulled about 170MB and wanted a reboot. After that I had new graphics drivers (nvidia Geforce) and sound drivers (Creative Labs Soundblaster SB Live). While the graphics worked fine, the audio sounded somewhat garbled - just as if the volume was too high for the speakers. Only when reducing the volume to around 5% the sound became clear. Looking around the net I found out that Creative Labs has announced the end-of-life for its Audigy and Live series. This means that a perfectly fine sound card that has served its purpose well for is now utterly useless, because of missing drivers.
While I can understand that Creative may have new products to sell, I can tell you that this is not going to drive me into their arms again. For now I have settled with the onboard Intel sound chip that was disabled via BIOS setup up to now.
Apart form that driver issue there seems to be a little more work to do with the sound subsystem. When I played the "refurbished" Solitaire game and switched to a different window the game sound were gone until I closed the game completely and re-launched it...
The "new" start menu (is it still named like that, even though the "Start" caption is gone?) has a nice search feature that allows me to just enter some characters and see all matching entries. However I would have liked it even better had they not removed the old program group cascading menu structure. The way it is now almost forces me to switch between mouse and keyboard, while the old style was a little easier on mouse only usage.
So far I cannot tell I am terribly impressed - only the Aero GUI is nice to look at. So I guess I will continue to use Ubuntu as my main work OS and just go to Vista to test Windows specific stuff and maybe to play from time to time.