Installing The Final Version of Windows Vista

Well, I am like a kid in a candy store! The final version of Windows Vista was put up on Technet last night and I eagerly downloaded it. After downloading and burning the DVD, I booted from the DVD. The option to not put in a product key is still there. My guess is that the feature exists to further protect the product key. For example: you can take your PC into a store to have Vista re-installed and not give them the product key. The technician can skip the product key and then you can enter it at home. I decided to put the key in later, so I just clicked next. After a few more reboots, I was in Vista. Yes, I had Aero Glass! I have a 256MB PCI card because the AGP on my motherboard is shot. Aero glass unfortunately was a bit sluggish, so I turned it off (I was scoring 2.6). To be fair, PCI cards were not meant for high end graphics rendering, so this was to be expected. I then noticed I did not have any sound. I have a Creative Labs SB Live 5.1 card, so I headed to their site. No Vista drivers! Now most XP drivers should work in Windows Vista, so I just downloaded the Windows XP ones. Upon launching the setup program, it told me no qualifying products were installed on my machine. Yeah right!

Using the newly released Process Monitor from Sysinternals, I went in search of the files:

Ah ha! Before I hit finish (which would delete the files), I copied the drivers to my backup drive. I pointed the unknown device to the XP drivers and I now had sound! I zipped up and uploaded those drivers files here on my web site.

Another annoying problem was that Windows Vista switched all of my drive letters. My backup drive use to be F: and my download drive D:. Now my backup drive was D: and my download drive was E:! I was able to switch my drive letters back after rearranging a few drive letters, rebooting and then rearranging some more.

Folder and file permissions seem a bit screwy in Windows Vista. Upon trying to save a driver on my backup drive, I was told I didn’t have access to the folder, even though I created it in XP and I am an administrator in Windows Vista. It allowed me to take ownership and proceed. However, I do not want to get this prompt for every folder on my backup drive, so I went into the security properties of the partition and forced Vista to propgate the settings to all files and folders. Launching Xnews on my other partition produced a crash. I know that Xnews works fine in Vista because I was running it on my Vista workstation at work. I once again loaded up Process Monitor and saw that it was having problems writing to various files in D:xnews. I proceeded to force out all security permissions for this partition as well. However, that did not fix the problem. Even though I had set Full Control rights for administrators and told Windows Vista to propagate them to every file and folder, Xnews kept choking on various files. I ended up doing a RunAs on a command console and issuing “cacls * /g everyone:f” from the Xnews directory and then it worked.

Thinking about it, this makes sense. With UAC, users run as standard users. So even though I am in the administrator’s group, I don’t have the administrator’s token and therefore I only have read access to the said folder. So, instead of granting everyone rights to my folders as I did above, I took complete ownership of all files and folders on each of these data partitions. Then I granted myself full control of these folders. Problem solved! Now, for the partition that Windows is sitting on you will have to get use to the fact that you will need to RunAs programs that want to write to the C: drive. I realize how annoying this will be, but I’m slowly getting use to do it. I rather be a bit inconvenienced then have my machine comprimised by malicious programs (although for sanity sake I made a TEMP directory on C: and gave myself full rights to it so I can modify files in a “sandbox” without UAC in my face).

Another fun project: getting my Agfa Snapscan 1212U scanner to work in Vista. The drivers are from the year 2000 and the scanner itself is around 6 years old. I had to do the “snap the drivers from the temp directory” trick as I did with the SB Live! card. However, when I would launch Snapsan 1.4, it would just quit. Agfa doesn’t make scanners anymore, but I did find Scanwise 2.0 on their web site. The program would load, but it said it was having a communication problem with the scanner. I did some Google searching and found out about Vuescan. This software is extremely slick: it generically interfaces with your scanner and the company specifically supports Windows Vista! There is a generic scanner.inf file that works for over 500 scanners if you don’t have a 2000/XP/Vista INF for your scanner. I tried it on my PC and it worked great!

World of Warcraft was running decently under Windows XP, but it was a bit sluggish under Windows Vista. I tried the latest NVIDIA drivers from their web site, but that did not seem to help much. I decided to install Windows 2000 into the same partition as Windows Vista. I added an entry for Windows 2000 using VistaBootPro. This is a nice 3rd party utility that edits the BCD instead of using the command line utility bcdedit. Towards the end of the Windows 2000 installation, I realized that I shouldn’t have done that as it was updating files in C:program files and failing! Other than Internet Explorer not working in Windows 2000, everything actually worked out fine. After loading Windows 2000, it wiped out the Vista boot loader. I just booted from the Windows Vista DVD, picked Startup Repair and I was back in business.

For more information on Windows Vista, check out the Vista forums at ProNetworks.

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