Vista upgrade on my Sony Vaio SZ381

I’ve been holding off as long as possible to upgrade to Windows Vista on my work laptop (Sony SZ381p) as the driver support uncertain up until RTM.

Unfortunately Sony has been dragging their butts and still don’t have any drivers published, even internally at work. Despite this, I finally decided to take a dive off the deep end and go for it.

I first used Windows Easy Transfer to backup all my files and settings just in case something went wrong. I’ve gone through so many nightmare scenarios previously with XP upgrades that I couldn’t afford any downtime since this is my primary work machine. I chose the default options in the Easy Transfer application and it identified 75GB worth of files to backup. Luckily I just got a new 120GB Western Digital external HD the other day.. made backup a snap. (Btw, this drive is highly recommended as I love how it draws power from the USB port instead of having a separate power supply. Makes it completely portable).

I plopped in the Vista CD and installed the Ultimate edition. After 2.5 hours, I was presented with the Vista login screen and tada! It was done and everything seemed to work. Turns out I had to make a few changes and install some supplemental applications, but they were relatively minor:

  1. Install a newer versions E-Trust Anti-virus, Microsoft Firewall Client for ISA Server and our corporate Remote access client
  2. Change the display settings to the native resolution of my notebook (1280×800)
  3. Install Windows Mobile Device Center to get my Samsung Blackjack to sync

The only issue haunting me is that I can’t use any of my special function keys to control sound, display or toggle my wifi/bluetooth since the Sony Utility Library doesn’t support Vista. The only painful impact is the screen brightness since it’s eating my battery life alive to have it at full brightness all the time. Every other function I’ve been able to workaround through various control panel entry points (e.g. Windows Mobility Center).

All in all, I was shocked (and pleasantly surprised) how seamless the XP to Vista upgrade was. All my files were intact and all my 3rd party startup apps are still functioning. I was most pleased by how easy it was to connect my Smartphone. Previously this was not a very intuitive process, requiring the installation of Activesync and entering a bunch of settings. Once I installed mobile device center, I plugged in my phone via USB and I was prompted for sync settings. I was never once prompted for my mail server address, credentials or any other information. Either this was pulled from the phone, or it kept the settings from XP during the upgrade. Either way, I was really impressed.

The kicker was that I’m finally over my beef with Bluetooth and device connectivity. Vista has made it absolutely braindead simple to connect my Smartphone. A simple setting change in Windows Mobile Device Center to say that I allow Bluetooth connections coupled with pairing my phone to my notebook allowed me to have Sync’ing over Bluetooth done in less than 2 mins!

You’ve probably read other blogs raving or chastizing Vista on either features, performance or . So far, from my perspective, we’ve done a kick-ass job especially in the arena of Setup and Upgrade. In my 6-12 hours of usage so far on Vista, I’m super impressed with all aspects of the OS. The hidden gem was Windows Photo Gallery where we’ve evidently done a ton of work including EXIF parsing, tags and a better thumbnail experience. w00t!

Feature wise, I’m impressed so far, and since I have the Ultimate Edition, I have every single bell and whistle including the much talked about Volume Shadow Copy feature, which is described on Microsoft’s site as:

“Have you ever accidentally saved over a file you were working on? Accidental file deletion or modification is a common cause of data loss. Windows Vista includes another useful innovation to help you protect your data: Previous Versions. This feature automatically creates point-in-time copies of files as you work, so you can quickly and easily retrieve versions of a document you may have accidentally deleted.”

This is definitely going to save my butt once or twice, like it did for Omar. Remember, Windows Vista is scheduled for world-wide availability on January 30, 2007. Save the date!