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The Ow Starts Now


Once upon a time, I was something of an early adopter. I recall running early betas of Windows 98, ME and even Windows 2000. When Windows XP came out I thought it was pretty darn great – finally I was getting the stability of NT and the gaming ability of Windows 95 in one up-to-date operating system. I couldn’t really understand why so many of my fellow journalists were willing to bash it for, as far as I could see, just being new and from Microsoft.

The launch of Windows XP seems a long time ago now and rather than running early betas, a few months in from the launch of the much delayed Windows Vista, I had still yet to try it out. My experience was limited to reading the reviews and playing with it on review machines. I guess it’s just that these days I just don’t have the time or inclination to play around with betas – I just want things to work.

However, when the opportunity arose to put together new machines at both work and home, it seemed only reasonable to put Microsoft’s latest on them. Well, what an interesting experience that turned out to be.

I’d got the general vibe that there were issues with moving to Vista and that it didn’t want to play nice with a lot of hardware, but the desire to run something shiny and new was too much, and soon a Vista install disc found itself nestling in my DVD-ROM drive of my new home system. What followed was me having to deal with some of the weirdest behaviour on a PC that I’d ever seen.

The installation seemed to go quite smoothly. I was going with a RAID 0 set-up on my home system and was a touch apprehensive - it was the first time I had dabbled with it. However, Vista installed without even asking for a driver disk. I simply updated to the latest drivers once the surprisingly speedy installation was done using Windows update, which has now been nicely integrated into the operating system.

So far so good, so I went about installing all my applications. It wasn’t long though before I got my first problem. At each login I’d get the message, ‘Windows Explorer has stopped Working’ - it would then restart and then I’d be able to login - quite annoying.

Next, I found that some Quicktime files would not play smoothly, which seemed quite ridiculous for a system with a RAID 0, a quad-core Q6600 and 2GB of RAM. Oddly, after moving the files to a non RAIDed third hard disk, the files played back without issues. Clearly, something was up with RAID and Vista. I then started transferring some 5,000 songs into my iTunes library – only for the machine to blue screen on me.

I rebooted to find that the Intel Matrix storage driver was telling me that there had been an error on one of my disks. Obviously this is quite a scary thing to be told when you’re running RAID 0 – as one failed disk means you’re basically screwed. I quickly moved everything I didn’t want to lose to my third hard disk.

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