We've been very busy over the past few months so I've had to put the blogging on hold for a while. But now that we're back from vacation I decided to deploy the Dell Vista Upgrade Kit that arrived the second week in June - 7 months after we ordered the Dell machine.
The "Kit" comprise four items: a Vista Upgrade Assistant DVD, a Vista Operating System DVD, a Vista Certificate of Authenticity and an Instruction Pamphlet. First off you insert the Vista Upgrade Assistant DVD whose function is to check the comaptibility of the existing hardware and software on your PC and remove or upgrade what isn't compatible with Vista. When we inserted this disc and clicked Next to perform the check we were told that "The item listed below is not compatible with Vista" and that the upgrade could not proceed. The item in question was the operating system which was showing as NA. So at the very first hurdle we fell down.
Contact was made with Dell support who initially told us that the Upgrade Assistant DVD was not needed for upgrading the OS and to just proceed with the Vista Operating System CD. When I pointed out that this was exactly the opposite of what the Instruction Pamphlet recommended and that the Upgrade Assistant DVD updated the Bios as well as software with known compatibility issues the Dell support person changed tack and offered that the DVD was probably defective and he would send out another one. Now we just happened to have a second upgrade kit in the workshop which was ordered for a customer and we had tried with the Upgrade Assistant DVD from that kit, to no avail. When I put his to the support person he said that he would have to talk to his supervisor and get back to me.
Four hours later he called back with the recommendation that I expected from him - reinstall your original OS and then try the upgrade process. In other words, they didn't know exactly what the problem was but hoped that a clean install of XP would make it go away. And it did. Now remember, our PC was only 7 months old and had a minimum of additional software installed on it. In fact, most of the installed software was either Dell-supplied or Windows updates. So it wasn't that big a deal for us to do a clean reinstall. However, the upgrade was originally sold on the basis that you could happily use your PC until the upgrade was available, install it and, presto, you now had all your old software working on a Vista platform. Imagine if you had installed a serious amount of software such as Microsoft Office, payroll and accounting packages, utilities, photo management, music management, video editing etc. etc. I would be seriously bummed if Dell support could only offer the "reinstall the original OS" solution, leaving me with the task of rebuilding the PC post-Vista.
Moving along, we did the clean reinstall after which the Upgrade Assistant DVD seemed to be working fine. It proposed updating the Bios and a number of Dell-installed pieces of software. It also removed Roxio and other software which was incompatible with the upgrade process, promising to reinstall them when Vista was in place. After about 30 minutes and a number of reboots it was ready for the Vista OS upgrade disc. Vista took about 70 minutes to install and after rebooting we were back to the Vista Upgrade Assistant, which was good to its promise and began reinstalling the software it had previously removed.
After about two hours we had a Vista Business Edition OS in place and we were ready to install a wireless network card to get Windows updates. Apart from the inital problem with the Upgrade Assistant DVD the upgrade process was reasonably smooth, if somewhat tedious. If at any point in the future we need to reinstall Vista we are faced with reinstalling XP and repeating the upgrade process all over again. If we knew this at the time of ordering the PC we would have waited until the PCs were shipping with Vista. We would have had Vista 4 months sooner and no upgrade hassles. Not one of Dell's better ideas.