Windows Vista December CTP

Okay through it all, I tried to keep in mind that this is after all a beta version of Vista, which is not actually due out until the end of this year. But it was still a terrible experience nonetheless.

I had this ‘great’ opportunity to install and use Windows Vista at work. I was tasked with getting a working system going so we could do some preliminary testing of our software. I had just finished up some general testing with a 64 bit version of WinXP.

Okay so maybe the machine I tested on wasn’t absolutely blazing, but I would hardly call it slow. In fact an Athlon64 3000+, 512MB RAM and integrated nVidia 6100 graphics is probably a bit above the average computer one would get at Future Shop or from Dell. Let’s put it this way, when Vista actually launches at the end of the year, I’m sure we’ll see many boxes comparable to the one I tested on. How did it run on that machine?

Awfully.

I’ll even set aside the crashes that were possibly caused by me getting frustrated and trying to open up too many programs at a time. But even with only Internet Explorer running, my free memory was down to around 150MB. Opening up any more than two or three programs would cause responsiveness to dwindle to the verge of unresponsiveness.

Keep in mind this is with the normal Aero theme. Vista will apparently ship with two visual modes. One is the normal Aero style as I’ve mentioned. The other is much fancier, incorporating window transparencies and whole shebang. Using Aero, Vista looked essentially like a skinned Windows XP with a bunch of new applications Microsoft’s created to keep your computer a little better organized. Oh, you also get a lot of warning notifications, for your enjoyment, of course.

So it’s a tech preview so many all those system messages were okay. But more often than not, all it wanted was for you to allow some program, you clearly just double clicked on, to run. “Do you wish to run this dll as an application”, “Do you with blahblahblah to do blahblahblah”. I’d think most of the people who are using the tech preview are pretty computer literate. After all, it’s only open to Technet and MSDN subscribers currently. (And all you bittorrenters had ought to know what’s going on too.) What scares me more is that this will actually be the way it ships to the mass public. I can only imagine Granny Smith wondering whether the hell she really wants to “run a dll as an application”. And those messages aren’t just for third part stuff either. Oh no. I mean be damned if you want to open up display properties. I’m gonna assault you with some warning messages first. Yes security is important but this is going to scare away many people who don’t know what they’re accepting or denying anyways. (It’s like George Bush justifying spying on citizens with “National Security”. Security is only good to a point.) Usability is key for any operating system. I hardly want to click 5 times just to change my desktop background.

Another gripe I had probably has to do more with the fact that I currently use XP on my main machine. It’s always been said that technology was converging. That means you can get one gadget that takes pictures, plays music and allows you to communicate with others. It means that the PC is moving to the living room and taking over the place of the home theatre. It means you should have to do less to get more out of your operating system. With all that in mind, it’s hard to understand what those Vista developers were thinking. Take this example as case in point. In WinXP, you can right-click on the desktop, select properties, and control basically everything about the overall user interface in one window. Microsoft decided, this time around, it would be fun to split EVERYTHING into separate applications that you can only have access to through the control panel. So to do the same thing as right-clicking and going to properties, I now get to search for 5 different applications in the control panel. What fun.

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