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Windows Vista

Well I thought I would take a look at the new Microsoft operating system ‘Vista’ since it became available for public download last week, so here are my first impressions!

Firstly the download and installation is a PAIN! The ISO weights in at a collosal 3.5GB! So any older PC is out of the running already unless it has a DVD drive….

The PC I am installing onto is a Sempron 2800+ with 1GB or RAM, so not too shabby, the installation took an awful 55 Minutes to install (compare this to 10 Mins for the latest Ubuntu release), this is most likely due to it having to copy 3GB of files from the DVD and then decompress them. The installation included way too many reboots (4 in total I think it was) and asking of questions that had already been answered, for example you are asked your country/keyboard/time-date settings during the install, and then again when the install is over.

I’m not exactly a Microsoft fan, never have been really, as you will probably notice in this article, but the one thing i’ll say is it does look very slick (and I imagine it would look slicker if i was using a better graphics card) the installation was quite easy to follow (although way too long) and the display system looks ace from what i’ve seen, the applications seem quite easy to find, but that’s about where the compliments stop.

First thing I notice (apart from the 1minute boot time) is the default installed size of the OS, 7.4GB! No I am not having a laugh! Thats nearly Seven and a Half Gigabytes! If that wasn’t hard enough to believe i’m really struggling to figure out where all the data goes, I hardly find a wealth of software in the Start Menu.. Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, Windows Mail, Windows Defender, Windows Photo Gallery, Windows DVD Maker (can you spot the re-occuring theme in the naming?) and that’s about it! No office suite or any other tools!

The Start Menu seems very confusing at first, took me a while to notice the ‘All Programs’ Button right at the bottom, and I looked even more confused when I saw the lack of software installed, and given that this is the ‘Vista Ultimate Edition’ (way too many ‘Editions’) I would expect a lot more from the default install!

It also seems very bad with system resources, sitting on the desktop doing nothing amazingly uses 500MB of my 1GB of RAM. Also, IE7 crashed while viewing an RSS feed, which doesn’t fill me with confidence about the system stability.

Another thing is the loadings and warnings, almost everytime you click something you get a warning box asking you if it was indeed ‘You’ who clicked it, everything you click in the control panel causes this to display, which is going to annoy the hell out of me as it takes a double click and then another single click to open the control panel settings! For example, after the OS install I was prompted with a networking screen and asked if I wanted to connect to my network. I clicked ‘OK’ and then was asked if it was indeed me who had clicked OK to the previous message… Which in my opinion is totally unacceptable, end users are going to love getting double-prompted for everything they do, and I can imagine any novice or pensioner will probably throw in the towel. Especially when you consider how much crap software (30 day AV/Firewall trials etc..) your average ‘PC World’ are going to bundle with it, there’s going to be a flood of warnings everytime you do anything!

Same for the loading bars, they appear everywhere and in places you never thought you would see them, the first time I saw one was double clicking on the control panel, the address bar then gained a green loading bar that scrolled accross for about 20 seconds before my control panel options (about 40 of them! each as confusing as the next!) appeared.

Network drives also seem a problem for Vista, none showed up on my network and the only way to map one was to know the //server/share name yourself. It also wrongly detected my Ubuntu Shared drive as NTFS rather than FAT32.

I can see users loving the ‘Sidebar’. The gallery, timer and RSS widgets all look nice, although I can also see advertising companies loving it too, and I imagine such companies racing to write the most annoying widgets they can, filling the sidebar up with adverts and other viagra / dating / smiley-central crap… and that’s not even mentioning that the whole widgets idea is a complete rip off from Apple.

There’s so many little annoyances I’m having trouble listing them all, like to create a shortcut on the desktop you have to right click and do “New | Shortcut” as usual then locate the .exe file yourself through an unneccesarily confusing browse window. Also the lack of the top menu bar is VERY annoying, that’s right, no File/Edit/View, not in the explorer, not in Internet Explorer, it can be turned on, but not without difficulty! I’m really struggling to figure out the thinking behind that one!

So far I am failing to see the value for money in the ‘Vista Ultimate Edition’ so I suggest if you have to install Vista at all, get the Home Basic version! I also see the same attitude of ‘You put your stuff where we tell you!’ is still as (if not more) prevelent in Vista as it was in XP.

I really hope M$ can pull their finger out and make some serious changes to this before release as my first impressions are lets say ‘Not Good’….

Jonathan

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