Hands on: Running Vista on a MacBook Pro

Apple's top-end laptop runs Vista better than a high-end Sony Vaio

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Since installing Vista, I have found that my MacBook Pro runs hot. No doubt Microsoft hasn't worked on power management issues that might affect Apple hardware, which leaves me to wonder whether I'm slowly cooking the motherboard of my laptop. It's not hot enough to fry an egg on the aluminum case, but my laptop is noticeably warmer than when I use Mac OS X. I've also noticed that battery life is substantially reduced. Once again, energy management for Apple hardware is not likely at the top of Microsoft's list. Once Apple writes updated drivers to work with Vista, I'd expect these issues to be addressed.

Given the fact that Vista isn't even due out for a few more months, I might have to wait a while.

I should note that my MacBook Pro's sleep function works as it should. Close the lid, Vista goes to sleep -- and the small LCD light even "breathes" as it should, alternately glowing brighter and then dimming. Open the lid, and Vista's ready to go again almost instantaneously. That's a far cry from the troublesome sleep/hibernation implementation that never seems to work right in XP. And if you're booting from scratch, you'll notice that it takes Vista about twice as long to fire up as Mac OS X. From Mac start-up chime to Windows desktop -- doesn't that sound strange? -- takes 1:01 on my MacBook Pro. OS X is ready to go in less than half that time.

There's been a lot of talk in the past about whether Vista in some way copies features already found in Mac OS X. I can say for sure that using Vista feels awfully familiar, as if XP had been taken to the Apple garage and buffed to a high gloss. There's the sidebar, which uses "gadgets" and functions differently than Apple's dock, which uses "widgets." There's Flip 3D, which appears to be Microsoft's take on Expose (and which I like). There's a "ribbon" screen saver that looks a lot like Apple's "flurry." And then there's the Aqua, I mean Aero interface, with its translucent windows and sparkly glasslike buttons. Apple fans will absolutely note similarities. I'll have more to add about the software side of things in my next look at Vista.

Still, I can say at least this much about Vista: I've had fun using it so far. Yes, Vista is still a work in progress and there are some annoyances that go hand-in-hand with running Windows -- the User Account Control window, for instance, pops up a lot. Why do I have to give an admin OK anytime I want to change the time and date? And what's with the plethora of control panels? By my count, there are 49! But so far there have been no show-stoppers. To paraphrase the praise usually reserved for Apple's Mac OS X, it just works. And on Apple hardware, it just works exceptionally well.

While there will no doubt be untold numbers of comparisons in the months ahead between Vista and Apple's upcoming Mac OS X 10.5, what I'm doing right now -- speeding along with Microsoft's next operating system on an Apple laptop -- would have been unheard of a year ago. Now, it could very well be a glimpse of the future.

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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