******* UPDATE ********
It turns out my slowness issues were related to Nvidia’s drivers. After a few months, I tried again, and what do you know – I could watch those demos at full speed.
I’m back to Vista, and enjoying it.
I just figured out what Vista is. Vista is a mondern day Windows Milennium edition.
You may recall the short-lived “upgrade” that came between Windows 98 and Windows XP. It was intended to be user-friendly and more foolproof. To that extent, Microsoft removed a lot of flexibility – the greatest of which was the ability to access DOS.
Microsoft claimed that DOS did not exist in WinME, but this was only partially true. Windows ME was still an aplication running on top of a minimal version of DOS, and it was possible to hack the full DOS functionality back into it.
The next problem was that it was slow. On a given peice of hardware, Windows ME was noticably slower. It took longer to install, required more memory, took longer to boot (in theory it was supposed to be faster…) It had driver compatibility issues for no good reason.
The end result: Windows Milennium Edition was a flop. Users (who had a choice) stuck to Windows 98 or Windows 2000.
I sure hope Microsoft comes out with a better solution, perhaps a service pack that strips out the DRM garbage.
Since upgrading back to XP, my computers are quite a bit faster – disabling Aero and the sidebar did not grant me anywhere near the performance boost I got from switching to XP. (I should also mention that I tried both the x64 and x86 using all fully supported hardware – this was no compatibilty issue, it is a crap code issue)
For example, playing a windows media stream. In Vista, playing anything through Windows Media Player invoked a 15% processor penalty from the process that ensures the sanctity of the secure path.
Now I am playing a Windows Media 9 Audio stream in WMP11 on XP, and my CPU is below 1%.
This is all very unfortunate I must say. I like Aero. I like the new start menu. I like the new search facility. I like the sidebar. I like bitlocker and speedboost. I didn’t really mind the UAC warnings “Confirm or Deny…,” when they worked correctly that is. I like Media Center and Internet Explorer Protected mode.
They got a lot of things right, and I miss these new features already. But as soon as I play a song, watch a video or play a game, I remember why I switched back. (IT’S SO FAST!!!)
So anyway, hopefully somebody will stumble across this and not support Microsofts great folly.