In a matter of weeks, my experience with a fresh install of Vista has moved into area of usability. The system update process, which remained automated, was less noticeable and better integrated with the operating system.
Windows Update - History
Dialogs that previously requested network information no longer appeared and the entire configuration of our home network was seamless.
A pleasant surprise was the availability of motherboard and graphics drivers from NVIDIA delivered via Windows Update.
Windows Update - GeForce 8800 GTX Drivers
During my first install of Vista, I had to manually acquire drivers for the following devices:
Chipset Drivers: nForce 680i SLI
Graphics Card: GeForce 8800 GTX
Sound Card: Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS
Monitor: Dell 3007 LCD Monitor
Mouse: Logitech MX Laser
Printer: HP Photosmart 1215
A job well done to NVIDIA and Dell for certifying their drivers and integrating them with Windows update. Many users prefer this type of system to deliver automatic driver updates.
Turning to audio support, Creative Labs provides 32-bit and 64-bit drivers for their Audigy 2 ZS, although EAX is no longer supported in games that use DirectSound. Creative's driver availability chart for Vista is located here.
My Logitech MX Laser mouse works fine with Vista's driver, although they lack the extra features Logitech offers in their 32-bit version of Setpoint.
Logitech MX Laser
Hewlett-Packard opted not to provide a Vista driver for their discontinued Photosmart 1215 printer, which debuted some six years ago.
A Rough Start
The initial experience with Vista did not go well as issues developed in the first two titles that were being tested - Age of Empires 3 and Doom 3. Age of Empires 3 ran at its default graphics settings, but a resolution change to 2560x1600 and enabling transparency and 16x AA caused the system to lock. Doom 3 would crash after entering the game a second time, which required a reboot to remedy.
The 100.25 drivers had to be downloaded manually and took noticeably longer to install/uninstall compared to Windows XP. Disk activity also increased on Vista during the install and at times seemed excessive.
Good - after installing the graphics drivers, Vista booted at the native resolution of my LCD monitor.
Not So Good - the graphics driver control panel took 20 to 30 seconds to open.
Not So Good - a 30 second pause before notification is given that enabling SLI will require a reboot.
Not So Good - the system would not "wake-up".
Note that all of the above issues were resolved with the 100.65 driver.