I consider myself an early adopter and I love trying out new operating systems as soon as possible. I was in the Vista beta a while back but it ran pretty bad on my old computer system (3.4ghz, GeForce 6600).
But as soon as Vista was officially released I had to get me some Ultimate. Hey, I like the black box. The signed version wasn't at Fry's when I went there, in fact, there were very few Ultimates that day.
I'll keep the story short but basically it took me an entire week to get my computer running Vista nice and stable the way it should run. And the problem was entirely the network card (D-Link Extreme N; I installed it on XP and had the same problems). I changed to a Netgear and everything went perfect, no more lockups. I went through 3 motherboards, got a huge CPU fan, etc. And it ended up being the wireless card. Sigh.
Anyway, to actually get Vista running the way it really should I had to upgrade my computer: new motherboard (Gigabyte GA-M59SLI-S5), 2 gigs of Corsair 3200c2 2-3-3-6, new CPU (AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200+; 2.6ghz x2) and a new video card (GeForce 7900 GTX). My Windows Experience Index is at 5.2 (CPU being the lowest score; 5.9 for the other scores). The highest WEI you can get is 5.9 so it's a pretty nice system. I was looking at the Vista laptops Fry's is selling and they're all sitting at WEI 3.0.
I've been reading some reviews about gaming under Vista and I'm finding no sluggishness at all. I'm playing Half-Life 2 with maxed resolution (1920x1200) and it runs like a dream. Other games are just as great with Vista (WoW @ 1920x1200 is awesome). I'm playing old games like Ghost Recon, Quake 1, DOOM 2, etc. and the compatibility is great.
Here's a quick rundown review:
Stability: Vista is totally rock solid. I haven't had to reboot my computer in a week it's that stable. If something goes haywire it clamps down on it and fixes the problem. Under XP if your explorer.exe got jacked and pegged your processor at 100% you had to End Process on it and basically had to do a reboot. I haven't experienced this under Vista yet and I've been doing a lot with it. So, stability is just amazing.
Look: I absolutely love the look of Vista. The Aero interface looks polished, professional, but also fun. I'm not envious of the Mac anymore now that Vista is all 3D and uses alpha-blending in nice, subtle ways - although as soon as I can easily run a Mac that has Vista AND OS X Leopard on it and switch between them easily I think I'll be sold on it. But for now, Vista makes XP look like a toy OS. It's more fun and I love the customization.
Speed: With the proper memory, CPU and GPU you can get Vista to run extremely fast. With the hardware upgrade I just did, my previous Intel 3.4ghz, GeForce 6600 rig under XP felt SLOW compared to my new Vista rig. So, speed isn't really an issue.
Hardware Compatibility: Here's where Vista gets negative marks from many reviews - you basically MUST upgrade your system to work well with Vista. Is that a bad thing? NO. Get new hardware every couple years, you'll enjoy life more. And you don't need to upgrade your hard drives or DVD burner, etc. Just the essentials. The Netgear wireless card that worked in my new system isn't really new either. Hardware manufacturers are releasing Vista beta/final drivers every day as fast as they can. Total compatibility is within reach. But get new stuff and you'll be good to go.
Software Compatibility: Vista is pushing forward toward the 64-bit era so older software is getting harder to run. DOSBox v65 does a great job for the old games but you cannot run them natively anymore. Running any old DOS game natively under XP was a problem if the game used any sound cards (PC speaker was just fine). But, reports are that games running DOSBox under Vista run the games better than it did under XP!
So, to sum it up I'm extremely impressed and very happy with Vista. It works amazingly well and is so stable that I have even less fear of a crash than with XP (which was pretty rare already). I can't see myself going back to XP at all. Windows just keeps getting better. Well, it's been 22 years so I should hope so.