Windows Vista For Music Production

It’s been well over a year now since the official launch of Microsoft Windows Vista, and it’s fair to say that the OS had a few teething problems, particularly in the area of music production. I’ve held off on making the switch until now, but as my computer was in need of an upgrade, and almost all new PCs come bundled with Vista, it’s time to investigate whether the latest Windows has finally become a reliable pro audio platform…
(from Music Technology)

Preparing For The Vista Switch

Although a new PC will come with Vista preinstalled, it may be a good idea to perform a fresh install anyway. There are two main reasons for this; firstly, the preinstalled version often features a lot of ‘bloatware’ programs added in by the OEM. These are extra ‘utilities’ that you will almost certainly never need, and may drain precious computing resources. The best way to make sure there’s nothing extra in there is to format the drive and start from scratch.

Another reason you may want to reformat your drive is that OEMs often create multiple partitions on the hard disk, of which only one may be visible. These can include a data recovery partition, which you may want to back up to DVD or an external drive if you’re formatting the entire drive. The advantage to removing these hidden partitions is that you then gain access to the storage space that they were taking up – and you can then repartition your drive in exactly the way that you want.

Of course, if you get a PC from an audio specialist store, they’ll take care of these issues for you, and if you’re building your own PC, you’ll be starting from zero anyway. If you want to take your Vista-stripping to another level, you might try an installation customiser such as Vlite. This will allow you to choose which Windows components to leave out of the installation altogether – but make sure you know what everything does before you start cutting.

Vista and XP Dual-Boot

If you want a more flexible OS setup, you might want to try a dual-boot configuration. This means that when you start your computer, you will be presented with a menu that lets you choose whether you want to boot into XP or Vista. If your hardware is not yet compatible with Vista, you’ll be spending most of your time in XP, but it’s nice to have the option to use Vista whenever you need it. You can find a guide to dual-booting XP and Vista here, but I’ll post again on this topic when I’ve had a look at Vista first-hand.

An alternative to dual-boot is to have an entirely separate hard drive for XP. This is obviously a more expensive option, but does afford an extra dimension of data protection. On a laptop, it’s not really practical if you plan on using both operating systems on a regular basis, but if you only use one OS occasionally (or like to keep everything separate), you can swap out your Vista hard drive for a blank drive and install XP on that. Changing the hard drive on a laptop is very easy, and can be done in a matter of seconds.

For a desktop PC, it’s much easier – you can install XP on a second hard drive, and then when you want to boot into XP, you just enter the BIOS when you start the computer and put the XP drive first in the boot sequence. When you want to switch back to Vista again, just reverse the order.


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