Vista on a ThinkPad T60p

As many of you are aware, Windows Vista RTM’d last week. So did Office 2007, for that matter. I spent some time upgrading one of my work machines as well as my notebook… traditionally speaking, upgrading a notebook PC to a relatively new OS can be suicide, unless the OEM has made specific drivers available to you. It’s not just a Windows thing: I’ve seen pages and pages of Linux folks attempting to get devices supported on machines that OEM’s have decided they wouldn’t support.

But I decided to do it anyway… this is the story.

I have been running betas and release candidates on Vista for months on this machine. In fact, I had Vista running on my old T41 but it was the lack of Aero support on that box that drove me to upgrade my notebook… the T41 was running the OS just fine, but it had a flimsy video card – 32MB RAM – and as it turns out, it was the only part of the PC that couldn’t be upgraded. Games? 3D stuff? Wasn’t going to happen with that card.

Throughout the Vista milestones, I would repave and reinstall with each release; I bought an extra SATA HDD for exactly that reason – I hate dual booting. I’d run with XP as my primary OS on the 100GB drive and use the new 60GB drive for Vista installs – one screw, a tug on a drawer, and I’d have switch OS’s. Now that I’m switching to Vista full time, I moved the XP image to the 60GB and installed Vista on the 100GB – Ghost made that possible. As for working with Vista, throughout the push to RTM, it ran relatively well on the T60p. A number of drivers were supported as part of the install – for things that weren’t I had the option of using XP drivers.

XP drivers running in Vista?!?! Sorta. It depends on what device you’re talking about… like video? No – that went through too many changes. Like a WiFi or LAN card? Maybe, if not a flat out yes. It also depends on the installation package that you got with the drivers… and that brings up the Compatibility option. Say you have a relatively low weight app that you love that works in XP that you know would work in Vista – nothing tied to hardware or funky with XP things – but the installation of the app prevents itself from being installed on anything but Windows version 5.1 (Vista is 6.0). Right click on the EXE file and select Properties; now switch to the Compatibility tab. On this tab, there are a few options that can help you. One is an option to run the application in “Compatibility Mode” – set that to Windows XP SP2 and your application with think you’re on version 5.1. There’s also the Privilege Level for applications that you know you can trust but were coded without taking UAC into consideration; a convenient workaround until an updated version is available.

Here’s the good part: with the exception of the Lenovo-specific biometric coprocessor – the fingerprint reader that I don’t use – every device in my notebook was recognized.

With XP I had to install a whole slew of drivers to get the T60p running well. Vista has a new thing called Windows Mobility Center – accessible via Start Menu or simply Win+X. Power Management, Presentation Manager, WiFi stuff – didn’t have to install any extra drivers. The Vista power scheme is smart enough to control power management at a per-device level: if I unplug it, it allows the CPU to drop to a minimum of 5% and brightness drop to level 2 of 7. When I plug it back in, CPU will run at 100% all the time [no speedstepping] and the brightness jumps to Full. WiFi? Don’t need Fn+F5 to manage it: Win+X brings up the Mobility Center and I can toggle it from there; Fn+F5 toggles Bluetooth now. Same thing with brightness or projection options.

Having said that, there were a couple of not-so-important things that would let me take an update from Lenovo… first is the touchpad. One of the biggest issues I’ve had since the introduction of the touchpad – on all notebooks, mind – is that fact that a tap is treated as a click. While I’m typing, my thumbs will flail around and sometimes hit the pad: if that option is active, I spray text all over an application… so I installed the XP version of the Synaptics driver. Works fine, but I’d upgrade it if there’s a newer version. Same thing with the Hotkey driver: without it the volume buttons still work fine but there’s no visible way to tell how loud you’ve made it. The XP version works fine, but I’m not bothering with it. If I cared about the fingerprint reader, I’d try the XP version of that driver too, but I don’t, so I won’t.

Video, Audio, PCMCIA Card Reader, SATA HDD’s, USB HDD’s, Keyboard, Mouse, Modem, LAN, WiFi, CD, DVD, IrDA, Bluetooth: all found and running.

Applications? Well, all of my software works with it *g* What about the rest of it? Backups are in question… whenever there’s a new OS released, Ghost usually has to get upgraded to work with it – time will tell. Nero already got their upgrade; I’ve already successfully burned an ISO using it, in fact. Office 2007 is very happy on it, as you would expect – I’m still a huge fan of the new Office, FWIW. Remote Desktop Connection got a huge improvement too: you can edit the RDP files to be whatever size you want them to be and the remote session respects it! For me, that’s an awesome thing: I run my work boxes at 1600×1200 and my home box at 1680×1050 – but my notebook is 1400×1050 which used to clip remote sessions. I’d rather scroll around a larger desktop than have to resize all of my apps when I get back to my desk…

Issues with UAC? I’m a bit annoyed that I have to confirm every move I make on the Start Menu – true I don’t move those often, but still – but aside from that, life has been OK with it turned on – I’m leaving it on, until I have reason not to.

In fact, the only application has caused any hiccups so far is the software for my Harmony Remote. And that’s not even a problem – it simply tells you that it doesn’t support Aero and it scales back the glass effects of Vista, until you close it. Then it goes back to normal.

Smooth sailing? Has been so far… I even switched from Courier to Consolas in my copy of SharpMT to celebrate the new desktop options…

Yeah, I’m impressed.

7 thoughts on “Vista on a ThinkPad T60p”

  1. So, is there anything new, that now that you have seen it, you could not live withought? Is there anything that wasn’t in beta 2. Anything, other than the excelent support for voice recognition that is unique to the OS?

  2. “Old” Thinkpad T41? I still use Windows XP on my six year old Thinkpad 600X. That’s a 450MHz Pentium III. I’m slow when it comes to upgrading. :)

  3. Hey, the T41 was a fine machine – lasted for nearly 3 years and I pimped the hell out of it. If I could have upped the video memory I would have kept it… but that’s the thing: I usually buy the lower models and upgrade them over time – helps defer the price over a couple of years, even tho it is slightly more expensive. With the T60p, I went top of the line out of the gate – the only upgrade I could have done was going to 2GB from 1GB. And I did that already :)

    I would still be using my Sony 505VE if it was worthy… I code too much on the thing to stay with one for too long… writing, blogging, browsing, and connecting to TS servers, no problem – once a compiler or a game gets involved, it’s all over.

  4. Not really.

    I have noticed that it comes to life but the screen might still be black – I bring it to life with the Fn key: that will also wake it if you sleep via Fn+F4.

    Also, Lenovo post an updated Power Management driver for Vista (with some other ones, some of which are Alpha) which might help you along. The new PM DOES tell me I have more time left than the original driver did… either it’s conserving more power or it lies better :) They also have an ATI drive that lets me scale back functionality when on battery power, which is nice.

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