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Vista On The Wind, Conclusions

With your new, shrunken, Vista ISO at hand, the next task is to get the files within it on a flash device. I recommend WinRar for this, as it's free and easy to use. With WinRar installed, simply right click the ISO and choose one of the Extract to context menu options - the easiest being to simply point the extraction at the USB stick or SD card. That done, you'll want to insert the memory device into your netbook and turn it on.

Depending on which system you have you'll need to mash a different button at this point, labelled at the BIOS prompt (the screen you fist see on powering the netbook on) as Boot Menu or something similar. This will give you a list of options, from which you want to choose the particular storage medium that Vista is sitting on.

From here on out you can simply follow the Vista install prompts, bearing in mind that on some Eee PCs, one of the SSD partitions is only 4GB and won't cope with a full Vista install. Eventually you'll find yourself sitting at the Windows desktop and that's where the fun starts. At this point you'll want to go to your netbook manufacturer's website and download the supplied Windows XP drivers. Don't worry, these work on Vista as well and once you have everything up and running, Vista's Automatic Update function will offer up any more appropriate driver revisions anyway.

Having gone to all this trouble, then, the question is: was it worth it? The answer, unfortunately, isn't that simple. On the MSI wind, I found that Vista ran quite a lot less smoothly than XP. Even just opening folders took half a second or so, which isn't bad per se, but can become frustrating over time.

Running our usual set of benchmarks proved a fruitless exercise because half the tests in PC Mark Vantage simply failed to complete. Our unofficial benchmark, Trackmania, also failed to run at more than single-figure FPS most of the time - at the very lowest detail settings.

Installing Office 2003 was likewise, a disappointing affair, with both Word and Excel taking a good minute or so to start up and general use being a bit sluggish every now and again. For casual users the operating speed would likely be okay, but casual users won't want to bother installing Vista on their netbook in the first place.

The fact that Atom can run Vista at all is an impressive feat, almost certainly helped by the reintroduction of Hyper-threading. However, the operating system just isn't designed for such low end hardware. Time after time we've reiterated that you simply need 2GB of RAM to let Vista tick along smoothly.

Yes it's just about usable, yes it's kind of cool in a geeky way, but given the choice between Vista, Linux or XP on my netbook, the latter two would win out every time.

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