Power, Portability, and Mobility with Windows Vista
Previous versions of Windows shipped as an operating system and nothing more. As seen in the previous pages, Windows Vista is going to lenghts to make it a lot more user-friendly from the minute you install it; and perhaps here is where it’s most visible. The normal way of making a laptop travel friendly was to install all the extra junk that comes from the OEM in order to add better battery power-profiling and mobility applications.
Windows Vista come’s with three things that make this different (different isn’t necessarily better though!). First is the excellent power-profiling plans, and then there are two more applications dedicated to mobile users – in theory they’re great, but in reality, not so much.
Power Profiling on Windows Vista
If you ask anyone about power profiles on Windows, they’ll tell you two things: One, that they’re really easy to set up, and two, that they just plain suck. Vista changes that. It still has the plain-and-simple power dialog, but at the same time, it introduces a new and very powerful advanced settings window.
From there you can specify how your laptop (or desktop for that matter) acts to anything, down to the last detail. You can configure what happens to PCI-E and AGP devices separately, you can define triggers (power source, button press, lid closing, etc.) and make complex plans that suite you perfectly. With it, you can make sure you use power only when you need it and that when you really need it, it’ll be there for sure. It’s not that easy to configure, and it’s not too well labeled on some things, and there seem to be certain drop-down boxes missing the “never” option, but it’s really great.
Ever since Windows CE first came out and the PDA craze began, Windows users have been forced to use a wide range of increasingly crappy and unstable mobile synchronization programs in order to keep their data up-to-date – until ActiveSync 4.0 that is. ActiveSync and its predecessors were unstable, prone to extreme data loss, and sudden, unfixable no-longer-working moments.
But when Windows Mobile 5.0 came out last year with its excellent PDAs, Microsoft decided to do something about it, and ActiveSync 4.0 was released. It was great; and didn’t suffer from any of the old issues, and Microsoft promised to integrate it with their upcoming Windows Vista and let the fireworks fly. But unfortunately, Microsoft just bungled it up again.
The “ActiveSync” that comes with Windows Vista is worse than the versions that shipped with Windows-based PDAs ages ago, and almost never works. When it does its slow and tempramental, and only synchronizes with Windows Mobile 5.0 PDAs; no Windows CE or PPC (2002/2003) PDAs work with it. To top things off, Microsoft also decided to take the perogative and disable ActiveSync from running on Windows Vista – so PDA users are, at the moment, left stranded. Let’s not forget, this is RC1, and Vista isn’t complete.. But RC1 is supposed to be code-complete and virtually ready for release…. *grumbles*
Portability & Performance
Windows Vista comes with enhanced networking all over the place. It looks great, and it’s really powerful, but (just like everything else) it has terrible performance. Wireless network profiling is great, with automatic detection of networks and on-the-fly network security application. But wireless reception is absoloutely dismal at best, and if a wireless network loses range, 9 out of 10 times you have to restart your PC for the signal to become visible once more.
Bluetooth can partner with phones and PDAs without a hitch, and even send files… but don’t think about receiving anything without a really big, bad headache. Performance is OK, but if it can’t receive files, what’s left?