Why I might dump Windows 7 and reinstall Vista

I love Windows 7, it’s speedy, nippy and far more usable than Vista ever was.  That last dog of an OS was slow, clunky and deserved all the hatred that was thrown at it.  But I still might ditch Windows 7 and reinstall Vista, at least on my home theatre PC.

I’ve had a PC sitting under my TV since 2003.  In that time I’ve not had any other set-top-boxes, not a Sky box or even a DVD player… nothing.  I’ve used these various PCs, each running different guises of Windows Media Centre for everything from watching and recording TV to playing music and streaming video from a pair of NAS boxes (formerly a custom server until 2007) that I keep elsewhere in the house.

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It’s a good set-up that has always worked well for me.  It means that I have been able to store all my CDs and DVDs and have not had to hunt for a disc or open an empty box in over six years.  Finding and selecting media to play in this completely digital home is quick and simple, especially if I start watching something and then change my mind.  On top of all this my house is much less cluttered as I don’t need shelves everywhere with boxes and cases on them.

Media Centre has been a bit of a mixed bag though.  When I first went completely digital the early Windows XP edition of Media Centre was all that was available, and it was useless.  Barely a day went by without a crash or four and reinstalls were the order of the day.

By the time Vista came along all the problems had been sorted and my current HTPC, a hardback book sized Acer has run both Vista and Windows 7, and in the last two years has needed to have maintenance tasks run on it, or to be restored from a backup about twice.

But Windows 7 Media Centre simply isn’t as good as it’s former brother.  In simple operations such as calling up the electronic programme guide or streaming video from a NAS box it’s sluggish, often taking a good while to cooperate when Vista Media Centre on the same hardware would spring into life almost immediately.

I’ve found this frustrating, as have my friends who were used to the speedy system I’ve had for the last three years.  Now I’m finding myself asking the seemingly impossible question of “shall I go back to Vista because it’s better than Windows 7”.

This is the one thing I never thought I would say but alas it’s true.  I’ve run many diagnostics on the system in the last six months and it’s not an issue with anything other than the OS itself.

This isn’t to say I’m disappointed.  Windows 7 is, as I’ve said, considerably better than Vista in every other area but for a single-function machine that just sits under my TV to provide me with entertainment, Vista’s still miles ahead.

There’s also the question of whether the Media Centre software in Windows 7 is better than the one that shipped with Vista.  This would potentially make me stick with the Windows 7 install, but it’s not that much better to be honest.  Many beta-testers, of which I was one, were expecting some significant changes to Media Centre with Windows 7 but they just never appeared.  What shipped was heavily criticised by many people as being a half-way-house between the old and the new.

So will I revert to Vista?  The jury’s still out on that one but nothing can be ruled out at this stage.

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15 Responses to Why I might dump Windows 7 and reinstall Vista

  1. Simon January 18, 2010 at 11:49 am #

    Well I am glad I am not the only one. I too have found the W7 media centre very sluggish and am not too keen on the revised interface either, once it does load up. It does have it’s advantages though – think it will play a wider variety of formats than Vista (I might stand to be corrected there though). I agree of course that W7 is superior in just about every other respect though so I shall be sticking with it!

    • Harry January 22, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

      the win7 op system suckes not as user friendly the curser is eratic trys to jump around to access the dvd drive it takes its sweet time I tried to do a dvd back up and the drive just spun and did nothing finnely had to shut it down and reboot before it would spit out the empty dvd that it didn’t writ to this win7 suckes give me back my good old win xp

  2. Everton Blair January 18, 2010 at 12:56 pm #

    I have to disagree Mike – I think the improvements in W7MC Vs VMC are as great as between W7 and Vista. I’ve had no performance issues with W7MC, and one area that is vastly improved is large library updating (although I might be benefiting from WHS PowerPack 3) – with Vista my library never seemed to upddate, whereas W7MC updates nearly as soon as I add new files to my WHS.

    What TV card/drivers are you using as the fault may lie there and I’m 99% certain I’ve seen posts from other W7MC users who have had to change their TV cards.

  3. Anonymous January 18, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    Hi Everton, One of the problems that many HTPC owners face, myself included, is the machines themselves are bespoke small units. Mine is the size of a hardback book and sadly isn’t upgradable bar swapping out a memory card. This is because so many have bespoke components, and certainly my TV tuner and motherboard-based HDMI graphics fall into that category.

    But then there’s also the issue of hardware support. My own HTPC is less than two years old and so you would expect the driver support to still be there, especially from a major PC manufacturer.

    Finally, the user experience is going the vary greatly from one person to the next. I can’t see how something such as a slow loading EPG could be anything other than the way in which Media Centre generally interacts with the hardware. It simply falls, in this case to the fact that something in Vista Media Centre operated with the hardware in a more efficient manner. This is no surprise as Vista and Windows 7 are very different under the hood.

    The article, at least the point I wanted to make, is that there are occasions, especially with a PC dedicated to a single task, when there can be something as small as a single issue that can make even the fastest operating system seem worse than the slowest. :)

    • Everton Blair January 19, 2010 at 5:35 am #

      I have 4 bespoke Media centers Mike and tv card manufacturers are notorious for providing crap drivers!

  4. Omoronovo January 19, 2010 at 2:17 am #

    Doesn’t look like anyone has posted to tell you to simply copy the vista media centre binaries onto your windows 7 box and get the best of both worlds.

  5. Daniel D. January 19, 2010 at 4:35 am #

    Have you ever tried some other media center software than the one that comes with Windows?
    In the last few weeks I’ve tried some (among others XBMC and W7MC). XBMC was the one I liked most and I used it ’till my display let me down (I wanted it to be more like a jukebox).
    Yes, I know the idea: why try something else when it comes preinstalled and in works [almost] fine. But… just give it a try! You might like it!
    Good luck!

  6. Anonymous January 19, 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    Maybe wait with downgrading and give this tuner a try if you are a serious htpc user.
    http://www.cetoncorp.com/

  7. Theo January 19, 2010 at 5:29 pm #

    Media Center in Windows 7 is very slow when play music or ad to library …
    I downgraded to Windows Vista ….

  8. Gabriel Ortiz January 19, 2010 at 8:55 pm #

    Mike, I had this same problem. The loading and streaming for video and even music files was slow, and it was very very annoying, so I truly understand your frustration. I went on to use XBMC, which is a hell of a media center. It was very fast and worked for me. However, I really missed the windows media center, and went on to fix the problem. guess what the problem was? I had to upgrade my TV cards, update windows through windows update, and reinstall Windows Media Center with the NAS boxes connected. I still don’t know what was SPECIFICALLY wrong with W7MC, sort of like when you’re sick and you take 3 types of pills and don’t know which one actually worked, but what I can say is that you should wait. Wait for the W7 SP1, make sure EVERYTHING is updated, and try reinstalling the media center. Also upgrade your TV cards and go to the NAS boxes’ manufacturer’s website to check for any issues, sometimes it’s the NAS boxes and sometimes you might have a hidden program eating up your bandwidth. Downgrading is not an option, a lot can go wrong when you do that and I think you might be overreacting too. =)

  9. Anonymous January 19, 2010 at 9:00 pm #

    I cant even get homegroup or media center working so I just use plain old network from Vista/XP

    • Gabriel Ortiz January 19, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

      Yeah, that’s just you. My homegroup is working perfectly and media center is great. You are probably not setting it up right. Remember homegroup is just between Windows 7 computers.

  10. Yatti420 January 20, 2010 at 4:40 pm #

    This is why I keep my original xbox around with XBMC on it of-course.. On a side note if you are that frustrated with any version of media center give xbmc a try on the computer..

  11. Davesv2 April 23, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    my windows 7 media pc was very slow at navigating the menu’s so i am going back to vista

  12. Ander January 23, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

    I’m just taking a wild guess here, but: Is it possible you guys need to get out a bit more?

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