Subjective Experiences on Windows Vista
It may be a bit hard to explain or put down in words, but Windows Vista has finally become “livable.” Throughout the beta program, Vista was like alien territory; even with the most experienced beta testers, there was something difficult about sticking to Vista, no matter how dedicated you were, going back to XP always brought some feeling of relief for no tangible reason. Build 5472 was a lot better, but its only with RC1 that most people we’ve talked to are finally just as comfortable in Vista as they are in XP, if not more so.
It’s more than just vibes or karma, it’s something that can only be described as the “completeness” of the entire operating system as a whole. It’s the way that everything fits together, the way Windows Media Player doesn’t disappear when you close Windows Explorer, the way Internet Explorer doesn’t crash when a page takes too long to load, and the way you can be just as productive on Vista as you are on Windows XP or Linux. Vista RC1 brings a host of minor changes that finally turn it from a unfinished product to something actually usable, that doesn’t exude of incompletion and breakage at every moment.
That said, Windows Vista certainly is a lot faster. Technically speaking, it had better be faster than Windows XP, after all, that’s why it’s called an upgrade and not a ‘sidestep’ or alternate Windows path.’ All of the reviews comparing Windows Vista to Windows XP and concluding Well gee, it’s a really big improvement over a 6-year-old OS that never was good in the first place are a bit pitiful. Vista is a new OS for a new era. Everything shipping out now is labeled “next-gen,” and indeed, Windows Vista is a next-gen OS for next-gen computers throughout the new generation.
At the NeoSmart Labs, we have PCs pre-loaded with Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Linux (Fedora Core 5 or 6T2). In the past, most coding projects were preformed on Windows XP and publications were done on Fedora, with Vista only being for testing purposes. But now our team members are more productive on Vista than even Linux – quite an accomplishment. What does “productivity” refer to though?
With Vista RC1, programs install and run faster. On Linux one must install all dependencies first, and with programs like Yum(ex) it isn’t hard, but it certainly is time-consuming. It was faster than setting programs up on XP, but with Vista the entire framework has been given an over-haul. SharpDevelop installs in under 1 minute and AutoCad 2007 in less than 2. That’s fast. With Vista, Windows finally ships with all you need to get going, and indeed besides Office 2007 we haven’t installed anything for the past two days, and we’re still getting along great. Other programs that normally take quite some time to run (like Word 2007, Zoundry Blog Writer, and Outlook 2007) start up instantly, and even Photoshop CS2 loads in under 30 seconds, something that could never be done on these same PCs under XP and run significantly faster than their Linux counterparts like Gimp or Evolution.
But it’s not perfect. Things like Windows Media Center have barely been touched since Beta 1. They’re just as slow and buggy as they were builds ago, except with a couple of new (and unrefined!) features added to the mix. Mad props should go to the Internet Explorer 7 team, but it’s CSS and DIV support is far from perfect. A lot of these things are discussed later on in greater detail, but suffice to say that Windows Vista is still lacking when it comes to standards and supporting them, but it has certainly improved. Windows Vista may boot in under 20 seconds, but it still takes 3 minutes to shutdown.
While Microsoft has made UAC amazingly easy to use and far less obtrusive, and it may no longer take 7 steps to delete a simple shortcut, but certain power-user tools are made much harder to reach, such as viewing available wireless connections or configuring network adapters. It has taken the power out of “administrator” and not because of UAC, but because of a simple lack of proper layout techniques.