Vista Support Sketchy

Upgrading to Vista isn’t something to dive into.

To complete my two Excel book revisions for Excel 2007 on Vista, I’ve had to install Microsoft’s new operating system on a new computer capable of running it. The install wasn’t difficult and the configuration wasn’t hard, either. What is though, however, is getting support for non-Microsoft applications you may need to run on your computer.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t run much software on my PC. I run Microsoft Office and FileMaker Pro, which I write books and articles about. I run a Web browser, primarily to check on the appearance of my sites in a Windows Web browser. But I also run some unusual software, such as Garmin Mapsource (for putting maps on my GPS), Jeppesen Skybound (for updating GPS data on my helicopter’s GPS data card), and Citrix Client (for connecting to the FAA service and managing my OpSpecs).

Microsoft Office 2007 installed without problem on Vista. No surprise there. I haven’t tried installing FileMaker Pro yet. Garmin MapSource installed immediately and, with the TOPO map set, seems to work just fine.

But SkyBound wouldn’t install at all — tech support says they might have a Vista compatible version available in the first quarter of 2007. They claim they were unable to get the Vista beta in advance to work on an upgrade. So if you’re Vista only, you simply cannot use this software. Which is really a pain in the butt, since the database is updated every 28 days, so the software must be used monthly to get your money’s worth.

I asked the Citrix folks if their software would work with Vista. The tech support person said, “I don’t even know what Vista is.” I explained it to her. I told her that come January 30, it’ll be available to the world and that people who like to run the latest and greatest operating system software will be calling and asking the same thing. I told her I’d try installing it, but since I have so much trouble running the software on XP, I really don’t think I’m going to waste a day or two trying to get it to work on Vista. (Of course, it might work perfectly on Vista; I’m just afraid to try.)

Another tech support person I called — I can’t remember who or why — also didn’t know what Vista is. Which makes me wonder whether these people just have real lives that don’t keep them abreast of upcoming developments or if Microsoft is failing miserably at getting people excited about Vista.

My advice: make sure the software you need to run will work with Vista before you upgrade to Vista. And if you have to buy a new computer just to run Vista (as I did) you might want to make sure your software will run on Vista before you make that very large hardware investment. Waiting 3 or 6 months might save you a lot of grief — and a lot of money as hardware prices continue to drop and systems get more powerful.

What do you think?