I tested Vista RTM on a Toshiba Portege M400. This is a great though expensive Tablet PC: Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 CPU, fingerprint reader (handy for logging onto a table without tapping in a password), FireWire, Bluetooth, etc etc. Perhaps its most notable feature is the “slim select bay”, which comes as standard with a DVD rewriter, but can be replaced with a 2nd hard drive or a 2nd battery. Hence this is one of few laptops with an integrated RAID controller. The 2nd drive is also handy for testing multiple operating systems.
I had this running reasonably well with Vista RC2, and rather optimistically tried an in-place upgrade to Vista RTM. It failed badly. I left it chugging away and came back a couple of hours later to find it in a blue-screen, reboot cycle. I suspect the problem was with one of the beta drivers I’d installed in an attempt to get all the integrated devices working. Who knows what would happen if you tried the in-place upgrade from XP: probably bad things.
Anyway, I zapped RC2 and did a clean install instead. That was straightforward, although you still need to download Toshiba’s SATA RAID driver in order to get Vista to see the drive. Contrary to some reports, you don’t actually have to enable the RAID controller.
The laptop was immediately usable, though I did have to install Intel’s wireless driver to get the wireless network working. I’ve not reinstalled all the other beta drivers, since Toshiba will likely come up with better versions shortly. This laptop is promoted as “Vista Capable”. For the time being, some devices are disabled.
The Tablet side of things works very well indeed. My main use of Tablet mode is for meetings and conferences. Taking notes is easier and more natural when writing on a screen.
I realize that the Tablet has not been a big commercial win for Microsoft, and has probably proved a costly experiment for some hardware partners like Acer. Nevertheless, it’s an important advance in mobile computing. Tablets are a vast improvement on touch-sensitive screens such as those found on a Pocket PC. The electromagnetic digitizer means you can lean your hand on the screen as you write (just like paper), and finer drawing is possible.
Here’s what impressed me most. I opened up Word 2007 and started text input using the handwriting tool. I have poor handwriting, but my first sentence or two came out letter-perfect.
Overall Vista RTM does seem a little snappier than the RC2 release. It’s just those pesky drivers – which is no doubt why the laptop has problems resuming sometimes after sleep or hibernation.