First encounter with Vista

We were out seeing friends on Saturday night, and during the evening they mentioned that they’d downloaded the DVD of the Windows Vista beta – would I like to see it? I’ve been following the saga of Vista for a long time, and I’ve seen hundreds of screenshots by now – but I’d never seen it running. So, I interrupted the socialising to go and have a play with this wonder of technology.

I should mention that although I’m skeptical of MS-hype, and generally don’t have favourable feelings towards their products, I’ve been becoming increasingly intrigued by what Vista was rumoured to have to offer. In particular, who doesn’t like eye candy? 🙂

Hmm. Well, the eye candy (and OS overall) are not so impressive when it is running in Microsoft Virtual Server, thinking it has a basic graphics card. I mean wow, it was SLOOOOW. On the other hand, I could forgive that, since it was a virtual machine. Naturally the high-end Aero graphics stuff was all switched off, since the virtual machine wasn’t exposing the features of the card in the host machine.

Based on 20 minutes playing, I think my overall impressions can be summarised as follows:

  • Not much new. The shell is pretty similar to XP.
  • … except, everything has moved around. Trying to get to various computer properties seemed to involve going through different dialogs. Time to re-learn where all the settings can be found.
  • All very grey. Which is a bit dull, really.
  • Documents and Settings has become Users (I think, from memory). The root of the C drive now just has Windows, Users, and Program Files.
  • Every time we wanted to do anything like, ooo, look at the event log or examine the system properties, we were prompted to allow access to this program – this is the MS approach to increased security, I believe – it got very old, very quickly.
  • Solution to the amusing problem of having an item called Shut Down on a menu accessed via a button labelled Start? Don’t label it Start anymore, bung a Windows logo there instead….
  • Including Media Center (this was the Ultimate version) is quite nice. I suspect that everyone will be buying Ultimate, I mean, why not get everything bundled in if you can?

Obviously I could download and install the beta for myself, but it does seem a bit of a hassle and I’m perfectly happy with the Linux experience on my main machines at home. So this was a good way for me to be able to play with it without contaminating my own machines or wasting my broadband connection.

What is really new, though? Why, fundamentally, would I want to spend £150 on an upgrade? (I’m guessing at prices, here, can’t be bothered to go look it up). We have the same basic user interface; the same way of organising files, folders, etc.. The MS hype pages do a reasonable job of explaining some of the new features, and encouraging me to get inexplicably excited, but I have to ask myself why I’d bother. I’m far more interested in the next (and free) version of my favourite Linux distribution – and I’ve not even been tracking those too closely, since the one I have does everything I want, already.

More on Paul Thurrott’s Windows Supersite, which I’ve been following for many years. He’s looked at a newer build than the one I played with, and he’s also got much more in-depth reviews of the various features which I didn’t stop to look at.

What do my readers you think? Anyone else played with Vista yet?

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