Article, May 2007
By Jan Fagerholm, Associate Editor, PC Community, Hayward, California
Obtained from APCUG with the author's permission for publication by APCUG member groups.
I’ve been transitioning to Vista cautiously with a dual boot system with both Vista and Windows XP for several months now. This has not been as painless as I might have expected because of the changes that Microsoft made in NTFS and the System Restore feature. Before delving into diatribe, though, I need to explain how this system is set up.
I use conventional IT practices for installing the OS, programs, and data on separate partitions on the hard drive. This is useful for preserving data in case the OS fails. (That’s “when”, not “if” in the case of Windows.) So, installing another operating system is a simple matter of creating a new partition for it, then installing the OS on that partition. You can boot into either OS at startup, then access the data, which is on its own partition. (Incidentally, this also makes backup chores easier, as you can simply back up the partition with the data on it, which is what you really want to keep.)
The problem comes when running Vista and XP on the same drive, because of the changes Microsoft made in System Restore. They are not compatible between Vista and XP. If you have System Restore set to monitor all partitions (the default), XP will wipe out Vista’s restore points when it starts, and Vista will wipe out XP’s restore points when it starts, so if you have a problem with, oh, let’s say Vista, which you will because it’s barely out of beta, then you boot into XP to recover something, guess what! – you cannot restore any of your drives in XP because Vista wiped out all of XP’s restore points! (Ask me how I know . . .)
There is a solution to this, though it does require you to commit to one system or the other. In my case, I took the plunge and gave System Restore responsibilities to Vista by turning off System Restore in Windows XP. This way I can still use both XP and Vista without losing the much-needed functionality of System Restore. I am committed to moving to Vista on the Windows side (though I spend most of my constructive time in the *nix systems of Linux and OS X.) At least this way I am able to use System Restore where I need it most, namely in Vista.
Looking beyond the gloom and doom view, there have been a couple of nice additions to Vista since it came out. I’m running Vista Ultimate, which offers something called “Windows Ultimate Extras”. These are some fluff pieces offered from time to time that are similar to what the old Plus Pack used to offer. In the case of Windows Ultimate Extras, these additions are offered as downloads and you receive notification of them through Windows Update, where you can download them. A recent addition is a wallpaper feature called DreamScenes, which provides animated displays as wallpaper on the desktop. Microsoft has turned some thoughtful people loose on this concept, so while my first reaction to things that wiggle on the desktop is that it is just distracting, there are some very pleasant and gentle animations that I find pleasing without being disquieting. There are a couple of nature scenes that I like to activate while I am writing, as the effect is similar to gazing out the window when you sit back seeking inspiration.
The last month has seen two of my must-have applications come out with Vista compatible versions; Corel Graphics Suite X3 and ABBYY FineReader Pro (OCR program). I’m still recommending that you wait for Vista SP-1 before upgrading from XP, unless you are adventurous enough to try some alternatives to what you may be using now.
So this month I found out that dual booting XP with Vista will trash my system recovery options while soothing my jangled nerves with moving wallpaper. What next?
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