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Running Microsoft Windows Vista (build 5381) on my Tablet PC

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-May-2006 20:52

I have Microsoft Windows Vista running on my desktop, as a second boot option. I wasn’t completely convinced to  have the new OS as my primary boot on the desktop, which I use for my everyday work on Geekzone.

But seeing that soon I will be flying to Singapore for the Windows Vista Lab2, I thought it would be a good time to adopt it as the primary boot, at least in one of my machines.

I have  a Toshiba Portege M205 Tablet PC, with 1GB RAM (up from the original 512MB). This would be a great opportunity to refresh its OS, seeing I am running the same original install, from two years ago.

First I thought I would give the new Windows Vista upgrade option a try. But it didn’t work quite well, thanks to DaemonTools. Even after uninstalling the software there was a piece of driver lurking around and causing problems. I then proceeded with a fresh install. Not before performing a full HDD image backup to my external Maxtor OneTouch 1GB  drive, with Norton Ghost, just in case I needed to restore my Tablet PC.

The fresh install was not a problem. Build 5381 install Vista Ultimate, one of the various SKU planned for this OS, and as the name implies, the top of range, including everything from the home and business editions, plus Tablet PC and Media Center functionalities.



What a terrible rating, right? But remember this is an old hardware, but surprisingly it performs quite fast. Of course I am not gaming or doing anything out of the normal with this Tablet PC.

If you have a Toshiba M200 series Tablet PC I recommend you upgrade the BIOS to version 1.8. The download is small, and it comes with a ISO bootable CD image file, so if you are like me and don’t have a FDD you  can still flash the Tablet PC.

The first boot was a pain, with CPU usage pegged to 100% and not leaving space for anything else. I soon found out about the default video driver being the culprit, and started investigating options. NVIDIA offers a (alpha) video driver for Windows Vista. It works with the Tablet PC, but it won’t offer screen rotation functionality, and the Aero Glass effect works (and it is pretty cool), but leaves a horrible trail on the screen.

Next I tried the original Toshiba video driver. This worked fine, with good performance,  and screen rotation. But no Aero Glass effect.

Anyway, now that I settled with the original driver, I proceeded to install Microsoft Office 2007 Beta and Microsoft OneNote 2007 Beta I decided to have a up-to-date machine, with the latest OS and Office package. Installation was painless and everything worked fine. Indeed I am writing this on Word 2007 as you can see in the screenshot below:



Connecting to my network at home, both wired and wireless, worked well on the first attempt. However, using a cellular connection is not that easy. First I tried using a USB driver  which allowed me to connect my Pocket PC via USB and use it as a CDMA EVDO modem. This didn’t work, even though I was able to add the modem to the system. Weird, the Properties button for this modem in the Control Panel  is greyed out.

If you want to try to install the Pocket PC USB Modem driver, download it from here, unzip the contents to a temporary folder, but do not install it. On your Pocket PC run WMODEM, tap the [START] button and plug it into your computer. When asked for drivers, point to the temporary folder. The driver will be installed, a new USB modem will show up in the Control Panel, but it won't work (or it didn't for me).

Next I tried to use Bluetooth for the data connection. I plugged a USB adapter, and it was immediately recognised. Since I only wanted to use DUN (dial-up network profile) I don’t mind using the  limited Microsoft Bluetooth stack.  The stack was correctly installed , with the serial profile ready to use. But it failed to install the HID profile (used for mouse and keyboard) and the one I really wanted to use, the DUN profile.

It actually installed it, but again the Properties button in the modem applet in Control Panel was greyed out, and trying to create network connection failed .

Ok, it seems I am limited to using Ethernet or Wi-Fi wherever I go, at home, in a café, or Singapore providing it is available of course. This is not a big deal when overseas because I wouldn’t use cellular data roaming , but it reduces my mobility while in the country since I can’t connect via cellular networks (UMTS or CDMA).

I know I can’t complain too much. After all the Toshiba  M200 series is at least two years old, and seeing that it can actually run Aero Glass (the problems are related to the driver, not OS) and run the OS quite smoothly is nice.

Of all Toshiba software for Tablet PC, the only one I found works fine is the Toshiba Tablet PC Button Driver. Everything else will install but not work, or not install at all. Also, an unknown device was found when I first booted. Since I didn’t have anything else plugged into the Tablet PC I can only believe it was the Accelerometer, which does not show in the Device Manager list now, since no driver was available to load.

Other hardware that works well is the built in SD card reader. Windows Vista had no problem using this out-of-the-box.

The installation program correctly detected this as a Tablet PC and installed the appropriate drivers and software including Control Panel applets and an introduction to Tablet PC Ink.

Ink works really well, out of the box. The TIP easily recognised strange characters I entered and the user interface is now extended. It shows where on the screen you  tap with the digitiser pen,  plus the Pen Flicks:



As for security, Windows Vista comes with Windows Defender, and I installed Avast anti-virus. This worked ok, integrating correctly with the Security Center, but causing an annoying authorisation dialog to pop-up in every boot. Currently you can change this behaviour by editing the Security Policies, but I only recommend changing this if you know what you are doing.

Internet Explorer 7 is the default installation, and since it’s a public beta I will not write much about it.
Not much use in trying the Media Center functionality, seeing that I don’t have a high end video card, but I will try this to manage music and photos.  Windows Media Player 11 is installed and worked as expected. It also automatically connected to my server running Windows Media Connect on the same network.

Overall I am impressed with stability, easy to use and speed, even on a two year old Tablet PC. The lack of drivers is a problem though, but these will come with time. And I am now ready for the Vista Lab2.


Other related posts:
Windows 8 Mail app not hyperlinking emails
Are we seeing the death of Windows RT?
Windows 8 Consumer Preview






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Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

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