Vista is on MSDN. Now for the tricky decisions.

MSDN subscribers can now download the final build of Vista, which means it is available to a large number of people outside Microsoft for the first time.

If you are one of them, you will have one or maybe two tricky decisions to make.

I take it for granted that you will install it, for test and development of course.

First, do you upgrade the release candidate? Or clean install? Daniel Moth says the upgrade is OK, but I plan to do a clean install eventually, despite the hassle. Otherwise there is always the nagging worry that something which doesn’t work right is broken because you upgraded.

Second, do you enable or disable UAC? This is a hot potato. If UAC is widely disabled, then Microsoft’s best effort yet to secure Windows will have been wasted. On the other hand, it is undoubtedly annoying, and in the worst case some app you depend on might not work at all.

I’m keeping it on. With RC2, I’ve found ways to run all the apps that I need to have working, even including Borland Developer Studio 2006 (a very problematic install, though it may be better in the final release build).

As I said to Dan Fernandez:

My view is that Windows security is a huge issue both for Microsoft and actually for every internet user. UAC looks like a pretty good effort to improve it, so to my mind it is in all our interests to try and make it work.

That said, I’m not optimistic. I think lots of people will disable it; I’m also waiting for the first support notes from third-parties that give users the steps to do this – like the little leaflets that come with video cards and other hardware, explaining that you must ignore the warnings in XP about unsigned drivers.

By the way, although Vista is now final, there is still going to be a lot of pain around drivers as well as application compatibility. For example, the Vista drivers for my Toshiba Portege M400 are still in various states of beta, and no doubt the fingerprint reader still does not work. It’s going to be a while before the situation improves and users get anything like a smooth upgrade on this kind of hardware.


See Ed Bott’s post and the linked article for an illustration of the extent and impact of the Windows security problem. The article analyzes a recent pump-and-dump spam attack. Apparently 99.95 of the botnet machines used were Windows, 47.23% XP with SP2.

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