I mentioned in my other post that our central desktop support team wants to move the organization to Vista. I volunteered to be a "tester" for the new Vista image. So on Wednesday, April 15, our desktop support folks "upgraded" my laptop from Windows XP Professional to Windows Vista Enterprise.
This was supposed to be a fairly painless install experience, and I suppose it was (all things considering.) The support guy started loading the image at about 3:15PM. The install process completed at about 5:45PM. I didn't stick around the whole time (it was an automated install) but I was there for about the last hour or so.
In that final hour, I watched Windows reboot itself no less than 5 times. Watching the progress meter, I could see that each reboot occurred after a major software component had been installed (Office, etc.) I'd almost forgotten that Windows needs to reboot for system changes or software installations to take effect.
After the installation was finished, I still wasn't done. Vista doesn't encrypt the contents of the hard drive until after the system is installed. This took about 6 hours. So for most of the work day on Thursday, I suffered very poor performance.
Let's compare to Linux:
Whenever I've installed Linux, I have always backed up my data, and re-installed from scratch, not an "upgrade" in place. I prefer to install pretty much everything: OpenOffice, GIMP, etc, including Firefox and Email. Fedora 9 and Fedora 10 installed in about an hour, including performing whole-disk encryption. (In Fedora 8 and previous distributions, whole-disk encryption wasn't possible, so I would reserve most of the disk for the /home filesystem, and encrypt only that partition. These manual steps added maybe 15-20 minutes.)
So that's about 1 hour to install a complete Linux system, including encryption.
And about 2.5 hours to install Windows Vista, including applications, plus another 6 hours to encrypt the data. That's a rough total of about 8.5 hours for a complete Vista system, including encryption.
Granted, the Vista system was "usable" after those first 2.5 hours - but only barely.
I'd say the Linux install process wins here, hands down. People sometimes complain that reviewers focus too much on installing Linux and don't spend enough time with the applications. But I'd like to point out the installation process on Windows definitely bites in comparison to anything on Linux. And that's with the latest version of Windows and the latest version of (Fedora) Linux, so I'm making an apples-to-apples comparison here.