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Vista Beta 2 explored

First INQpressions The future of Windows
Fri Jun 09 2006, 16:55
CALL ME A WILD early adopter, a free beta tester or a crazy lunatic, but today I installed Windows Vista Ultimate Beta 2. Here are the highlights.

The installation procedure was leaps and bounds beyond that of Windows XP's. For a second I felt as if I was installing a new version of Linux. Having launched setup I typed in my serial number, fed Windows my SATA RAID driver, selected the required partition and started installing. One reboot later everything seemed to be going OK until I was asked to type-in a user name.

Tap, tap, tap, my trusty USB Mac keyboard (yes, I use a Mac keyboard on my PC) didn't respond. Just as I was about to curse Microsoft, Asus and Apple I realised that my USB mouse was still OK. I used it to call-up accessibility options and place a virtual keyboard on my screen. That actually worked pretty well as I managed to finish my installation.


Having booted into Vista, which installed a driver for my keyboard and "miraculously" made it work, for the first time, I decided to get some lunch and left my computer by itself. When I came back I saw Vista asking for trouble. The poor little thing was trying to go into hibernation or, maybe it was, sleep mode. I tried to wake it up but it crashed into a familiar blue screen. Some things never change. Reboot.

The new Control Panel looked very much like the old Control Panel except there were a lot more icons and most of them looked very nice. A few icons were new like Network Map, BitLocker Drive Encryption and Performance and Ratings Tools. Of course some Administrative Tools icons still looked atrocious.

I got Vista to benchmark my computer. My PC is an Athlon 64 3500+ with 768MB DDR Ram, Radeon 9800 Pro w/ 256 MB and a 300 GB SATA HDD. It scored a juicy 2. I guess that Aero interface is really something.

Speaking of Aero, it ran pretty nicely even if there was nothing stunning about it. Winkey-tabbing - the new 3D kind, however, wasn't great. It looked nice but I couldn't switch between apps fast enough. You may still like it though.


Each time I clicked on things, such as "Add Hardware" or "Device Management", Vista asked something to the effect of, "Are you sure you want to do this?" Microsoft thinks it will prevent unauthorized access to sensitive areas. But does it have to be so intrusive? Turn off.

On a very superficial level Vista feels like Windows XP SP2 in a fancy suit. I really do hope that it is much more than that though. I know that I'll be using it when it comes out, especially, given the fact that DirectX10 is now coupled with it.

I just hope that there is something in it beyond a fancy face-lift, a couple of new life-style applications and attempts at better security.

Whatever criticisms it may face the new Aero interface doesn't look too bad.
Some new games are pretty swell.
Windows Defender, Collaboration and Photo Gallery are pretty cool.

3D tabbing looks fancy but is too slow for me.
Vista gets my computer hot and not in a good way either.
Not as fast as Windows XP but that is understandable given Aero and the fact that it is still in Beta.

Don't care for
Some people will go crazy for the sidebar and gadgets but I couldn't care less.
The new Start Menu doesn't set my world on fire. And what's with the round start button?
The 'Welcome Center'. ?


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