I asked for an Inspiron (with buckets of RAM), as it seemed this model has the best Linux support.
Since my primary focus is development, I mostly need fast IO on the hard drive, and lots of fast RAM. I actually opted for a less than top-end CPU in order to maximize battery life.
The system arrived with Windows Vista pre-installed. I decided to give it a run before wiping it away and just running Linux.
At first, Vista was just painful.
Startup, shutdown, and hibernate are just painfully slow.
The stupid dialogs that pop whenever you try to do anything are an unbelievable pain in the posterior.
Anyway, a bit of googling later, I managed to configure the system so that is usable.
I installed cywin and all of my normal dev tools and was able to be fairly productive.
Vista is much better than XP if you are constantly moving from one wifi spot to another (XP would just require a reboot after a while).
However, its wifi configuration tools are worse than the simple one used in previous windows.
My opinion of Vista so far:
- out of the box, it completely blows chunks
- once configured it's pretty usable (maybe the best windows yet)
- more stable than previous versions
- slower than any previous version
- eye candy is nice for about a week, then you find yourself killing it
Hibernate (and waking up) is so slow, you might as well shutdown, its faster.
Sleep is unreliable. I put it to "sleep" a few times and tossed in the backpack.
After a while I felt a lot of heat coming out of the pack, it woke up even though it was closed (major suck factor).
Because of this, I can't recommend any good reason to use sleep mode at all (this is obviously a Dell not Microsoft issue).