Heres' a hot tip: You are not forced to go to the track you sign up for at the New Day event. If you sign up as a developer, you can still attend the Technology Decision Maker (TDM) track, which is shorter. So if there are any openings left, take them.
Another tip: About 2:30 PM, the TDM track ends, and you can finish your survey and pick up your swag bag.
Final New Day tip: Create a disposable email address to sign up with. Be sure to hit all the booths and have your badge scanned. If you can, preprint some business cards, too, with your disposable email address to enter the drawings. Most booths were having drawings for Microsoft Zune players.
Anyway, the New Day attendee bag includes a "pre-release" version of Vista Ultimate with a valid key. That's what I am running now. I think it is the new equivalent of "not for resale" (NFR). The swag bag includes the Office 2007 license. This gift is actually just the product key; you'll download the install file later, much like the "Power Together" promotion worked (those are beginning to arrive, by the way).
Installing Vista: Before you install Vista, run the Microsoft Upgrade Advisor. If you have a 3.0 or better you should be just fine. Vista will load in 40 minutes (at least it did on mine). I have a Toshiba Satellite M105-S322 and almost everything just worked, except for my fingerprint reader and SD card slot.
Finding Drivers: Finding drivers for my laptop was not easy. Toshiba's support site did not list any drivers for my laptop, and I had a few devices not working (biometrics, SD slot, touchpad scroll). If you are going to install Vista, here's a few suggestions:
- Back everything up (duh).
- Before installing Vista, print our your Device Manager screen from System Properties in Control Panel.
- Visit your computer/laptop manufacturer's web site and look for drivers for Vista. If they don't exist, you can either use the XP drivers (not ideal, but works) or hunt for drivers on similar models.
- Download any BIOS updates for your computer/laptop before installing Vista.
Experience with Vista: I am pretty jaded. After about 30 minutes of using Vista, the Flip 3D thing lost it's novelty. I like the gadget bar, but that was previously available as a 3rd party add-on.
Here's what I do like, though... performance did not suffer (much). The Start Menu integrated search is pretty handy. And, I must admit, everything is prettier. That's about it.
Bottom Line: If you have XP, there's no compelling reason to purchase an upgrade, unless you use a tablet PC. However, Vista is nice, with some networking enhancements. Vista is probably what XP should have been. Get it if it is cheap or free, but I wouldn't rush out to spend money on it just for the eye candy.