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My fear is that nobody, wheter Adobe nor Microsoft, will give any damn about your problem. Technology and development are moving forward, cash need to be constantly made.
Nobody will give anything about your 6.5. and Vista. Install Win 2000 or XP then you're good to go, or upgrade Ae and hope that it will run on your Vista machine flawlessly after you install it. If you have problems, call customer service or support, wait 30 Minutes till someone in India is picking you call or probably you'll be "accidentaly" kicked out of line, then call again...
personally i often DO regret working in this video-business, i've never felt so much dependent on anything as i do from software.
Huh? Sorry, fybs, you are fundamentally wrong about the matter. How should Adobe provide support for a product running on an operating system that didn't even exist back then? Do you really expect someone would continually keep patching up old software (for free) just so you can keep your money? 6.5 is now 4 versions back and, with all due respect, the notion of expecting it to run without flaws on Vista is just silly. Even the knowledge base clearly states a number of "known issues" with panel drawing, foreign language support and media format support already... You can dance around the matter as much as you want, but eventually upgrading to at least CS3 will be inevitable, like it or not. But then I guess you'll just go off a second time, 'cos - god forbid - Adobe are complete morons and your outdated 6.5 is no longer entitled for upgrades and you'd have to buy a full new license. Though, upon closer inspection, that should be no problem, now that you have been able to save the money by not upgrading for years. Well, whatever...
Yes, I must mention that AE 6.5 was released in 2004. Despite 5 years passing by, Adobe will still only charge you the standard upgrade price if you want to move to CS4, which is a fairly reasonable stance for any software company.
The simple reality about using old software is that it requires old operating systems. I have a particular job that requires version 1.5 of Apple's DVD Studio Pro. (Apple removed a particular feature in Version 2.) For that reason, I keep an old G4 Mac with OS 10.3 (10.5 is the current version) just so I have a working version of the software when I need it.
If software vendors had to offer backward compatibility to all their new releases, the releases would be slower and less reliable. Also, don't forget that all the third-party products associated with AE (plugins, formats and codecs, utilities) help drive changes to AE itself as they push the limits of what new OSs and hardware can provide.
Perhaps an option for you might be to create a second partition on your new system, and dual-boot XP when you need After Effects. It's no different to me using Windows on my Macs if I need access to Windows software for some reason.