On Thursday I managed to, um, locate, yeah that’s it, locate a copy of Windows Vista Beta 2, which has just been released out for people to have a look with. I had initially been relatively excited about Vista (when it was still known as Longhorn) because of some of the cool features that were being worked on: WinFS being the main thing, with some of the Avalon stuff and general improvements looking to be pretty good.
I format the C Drive (which I needed to do anyway because my XP install was almost a year old), fire up the setup program. It all runs relatively smoothly, a faster process than XP, and seemingly without any of the legacy DOS stuff that managed to hang around in some of the earlier versions.
Once I’m up and running I start to have a poke around, and I notice some of the differences from XP (the new Aero shell the most obvious): A whacked out Control Panel with all of the functionality spread out into what seems like 500 different, non-logically divided up places. I tried, without success, to change the location of my “Documents” Folder so it wasn’t on the C: drive; I struggled to find the way to set the properties on my network card; I managed to find where to change some of my display settings (to no avail, I had to download some new drivers from nVidia to make my GeForce FX 5950 Ultra perform with some responsiveness, let alone verve and moxy!).
It seems that MS have become so paranoid about security that they have decided to make it almost impossible to do anything on your computer without the annoying UAC dialog popping up. This window stops all other processes from running on the computer (which, for someone who uses Synergy to share a keyboard and mouse between their Mac and PC, is astonishingly annoying) until you give permission for the process to continue. And just about every function in the Control Panel requires this action before it will change any setting.
Now, I’m all for Windows to become more secure, but why couldn’t they have copied something from Apple on this one? In MacOSX there’s a little padlock on the control panel that lets you lock the settings down, and you can only change something if you click on this and enter your password. Simple and elegant, and it doesn’t take control of all of the operating programs on the computer while waiting for feedback.
After wasting a lot of time mucking around with all of this stuff, I thought I’d see what this baby could do. And the answer seems to be not much. I played (or at least tried to) and XVid movie, and it was awful: jumpy, jerky, interlaced. Now, I have a fairly powerful machine and it shouldn’t be doing stuff like that, beta or no.
I realise that it’s a beta and all, and that in the next 6 months until it’s released, there’s every chance that a lot of this stuff will change, but on first take I’m just convinced that my move to MacOSX was the right decision.
Oh, and I trashed the Vista install and put Windows 2000 back on the machine. Sigh.