Living With Vista: My First Few Weeks

Well I finally switched to Vista on my main dev machine at work. Its a Dell Optiplex 745 (detailed specs at the end) and installing Vista was trivial: I did a clean install via RIS from the corporate network. The default installation includes Office, so I had to add Visual Studio 2005, then its SP1, then its Vista pack. I had to install one more dev tool and I was done.

Multi-Mon Woes

I'm generally happy with the new UI, but there is one problem area, and it has driven me nuts: multi-monitor support is buggy on my configuration. When the monitors turn themselves off, sometimes one of them refuses to turn itself back on. This is very, very annoying. To get it back I can either reboot the machine (ug), or go to the Display CPL and tell it that Monitor #2 is no longer Attached, click Apply, click Yes, then tell it is Attached again, Apply, click Yes. Not as inconvenient as a reboot but not exactly plug-n-play either. Updating the drivers from the WHQL ones to the latest on the ATI site made no difference.

If you suffer from this problem, do yourself a favor and make your Primary Monitor #1 as that one always seems to get powered up. If you don't, the Display CPL will appear on the monitor which remains switched off, and you'll have to get it back onto the visible screen via the keyboard, which became surporsingly simple once I had done it like ten times. How Vista actually determines which monitor is #1 and which is #2 is a mystery to me. All I can suggest is that if the "wrong" monitor shows up as #1, power down, swap the video cables over and try again.

Windows-Tab Goodness

Without a doubt my favorite feature is the ultra-cool Windows-tab application switching. I use full-screen terminal server sessions to my email and Xbox development boxes, and with Windows-tab I can actually check on whether a build has actually finished without actually having to switch to the app. (I do wish it would display some text for each window as it switches though: with multiple instances of Visual Studio running I can't easily tell them apart).

UAC : Much Less Painful Than Expected

As I am a developer I seldom install things once a box is set up, and I haven't found UAC to be a pain. Yet, anyway. The screen-flash is annoying though. I don't browse the web on this box so I don't have any IE-related issues.

My Configuration

  • Dell Optiplex 745 (4G RAM, Intel Core 2 6600 @ 2.4GHz)
  • ATI Radeon X1300 256M VRAM
  • WDC WD1600JS SATA drive (160G used for System)
  • Samsung SP2504C SATA (250G used for source code)
  • Windows Vista Exnterprise 32-bit 
  • Windows Experience Index Rating: 4.1
  • Dell 2001FP and 2004FPW monitors via DVI


Comments (6)
  1. Kevin Dente says:

    I have the same monitor problem. Glad to hear it’s not only me. I ended up disabling monitor shutdown, and that worked around it for me (though not very green).

  2. Roger Womack says:

    Check the video drivers, I had the dual monitor problem with my ATI Radeon X1950 pro in versions of their drivers pre version 7.3, and it annoyed me intensly too


  3. jstangroome says:

    I also found UAC to be very bearable as a developer too, especially surprising as I run as non-admin.

    Multi-mon is good for me, same video card as yours, connected to 2x Samsung 940B LCDs, but with the default Vista x64 drivers I haven’t had any problems.

    Shame they still didn’t support a multi-mon taskbar, good thing UltraMon works on Vista x64.

  4. Michel Desangles says:

    Same problem with dual monitors here: the second one used to not turn itself back on after boot. I used to force-refresh it’s rate to 60 Hz (turns it back on) (either with ATI cpl or Display Properties cpl), then back to 75 Hz. Eventually, a clean uninstall of everything ATI then a full reinstall of the latest Catalyst drivers solved the problem.

  5. [Update June 29: Problem solved ! Also updated h/w config to 1G of RAM as it should have been] Short

  6. Forum Book says:

    I have to agree that the screen-flash for UAC is very annoying. If it wasn’t for that, I’d actually like it because of the protection it offers. But the screen flash to black is so disconcerting that  it makes me feel a little sick to be using Vista.

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