Last July, when I first started thinking about getting a new computer, I wrote about my Vista worries, based on everything I’d been hearing about it. Then came December, when I finally bought my new computer with Vista, since that’s all that was around (well, I could have paid extra for XP, but that didn’t seem so smart), and I hadn’t quite had enough time to truly evaluate it.

Now I’m about six months into it, and I think I can give an honest evaluation of it; Vista is the dog of all operating systems. To be fair, I never tried ME, which I heard was pretty bad, so I don’t know about it. But compared to all the other Microsoft operating systems, it’s the worst.

Since I’ve had this computer, it’s crashed twice. By crash, I mean the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). That’s actually not so bad when I consider what my other computer used to do. Still, this isn’t a dog of a computer; it’s got real power in it. This time, I know it’s not the computer itself, but the operating system.

The problem is the 64-bit thing. There aren’t all that many programs, at least older ones, that will work properly in the 64-bit setting. Many of my programs wouldn’t load into this OS. Some that did loaded into a different Program Files directory. Vista has two, those programs it likes, and those that it tolerates.

Some of those that it tolerates are their own products, though older versions. I have the Office 2003 suite, which I loaded. You’d think I wouldn’t have any problems with it, but it does, probably because they wanted everyone to go to Office 2007, which I saw and didn’t like.

Anyway, on my computer, there are certain programs where, if I let the computer go into its own energy saving mode, will freak behind the scenes and cause me minor grief when I come back and shake the mouse. One is Webshots; another is my email program, ECTOOL. A third is Top Style, the program I use to create my HTML pages. If those were open when I left, they’ll have corrupted when I come back. That’s not so bad, as I just have to shut them down, then reopen them again. Of course, if I hadn’t saved what I was doing in Top Style, I have to do it all again.

The real culprits, though, are Word and Excel, the two Office programs I use the most. They totally change how they look, and they freeze. Luckily, when I close them both back, they’ll have saved the files, since I made the settings save those files every 5 minutes. However, today, something new was added to the mix.

I had a business meeting that lasted about 3 hours today. I came back to the office, and once again the files had corrupted themselves. Word, my email chess program, Top Style and Webshots all had decided to pick on me. I went to shut down Word, as I had two different files open on it, when the computer decided to die on me. I got the BSOD, which is the second incidence ever that I mentioned earlier.

Then it started to reboot on me, which has never happened to me before, never on XP, and not the first time on this computer. I figured no big deal, except I’d had a Notepad file open that had some information I really wanted to keep. Then I realized I hadn’t heard a sound I’m used to hearing when the computer boots up, and looked on the screen to see something saying “ERROR LOAD OS”. What the hey? I tried hitting the button to shut the computer down, and instead it started to reboot again.

This happened a few times, and the start button never went off. I tried pulling the plug, waiting a bit, then put it back in. The first couple of times the light was immediately on, which was strange. The last time it was off when I plugged in, but it still wouldn’t boot up properly.

At that point, I knew it was time to try to boot into safe mode, so I did and it came up just as it was supposed to. I thought that was kind of odd, based on the error message I’d gotten, but I ran a quick diagnostic, and everything came up fine. I then rebooted in regular mode, but lo and behold I got the same error message again.

This time, I rebooted, but decided to go into the BIOS. I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for, but thought looking around wouldn’t hurt. Everything looked pretty normal until I got to the area where it talked about boot order. Oddly enough, I noticed things had changed. For whatever reason, Vista had changed the boot order so my computer was trying to load my USB external hard drives first. Now things made some sense. I don’t have any OS on either of the external drives, but once Vista recognizes it as a hard drive instead of a floppy or CD it thinks that’s the drive and that’s that. In safe mode, your USB connections don’t work the same way, as in your computer won’t boot safe mode from an external source like that, which is why that worked.

I changed the order to have my main hard drive first, saved it, booted up, and all is fine with the world once more. But I’m thinking that’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen, the BIOS changing orders like that.

In any case, it’s made me disdain Vista even more than I already was. I hate that so many of my good programs won’t work. I hate that things such as Zone Alarm won’t work because they won’t create it in 64-bit. I hate that I can’t run my Dragon program, which had been relatively new, because they want me to buy the latest version at $150 to work with Vista; nope, not happening. I hate that Vista didn’t come with a fax program, so I’ve had to purchase one. Yeah, the professional version came with it, but it wasn’t offered when I bought this sucker; well, I didn’t want to pay an extra $200 for it.

There’s a rumor that Best Buy will be offering a special deal for the upgrade to Windows 7 the last week of June, even though it won’t be released for awhile. I’m hearing nothing but good things about it, however, if I go this route, I don’t want to buy an upgrade, but the entire program when it’s ready. So, for now, I’m stuck with what I have, but now have to be more cognizant of what I leave open when I leave the house, or go to bed.

And that just stinks.