Windows Vista Review

After reading about Windows Vista for the last two years, I finally decided to check it out in the latest beta release. After a 3.2 GB download (luckily I have 3MB DSL), I burned it to dvd and fired up one of my test boxes. At first blush, I was impressed with the installer as it only immediately asked me for the activation key and how I would like to format my drive. The installer looks much cleaner than those of past M$ OS’s however, the GUI reminded me of any number of Linux distro’s.

After almost an hour the install was complete and I just needed to add a username to the system to begin interaction. At first, I was pretty impressed with the very clean looking desktop, codenamed “aero”, but very quickly I realized that interacting with this OS is a bit daunting. I will get to that part later, but two things I noticed right away need mentioning. First, Vista did not recognize my NIC, a 3com 3c905c card which I thought very odd, however, after loading the XP drivers for the controller, it seemed to work great after that. The second thing I noticed was the ridiculously enormous size of the OS. A clean, native install without any applications was 6.5GB.

Yes, you read that right, more than quadruple the size of XP, which we all thought was bloatware. Now, given that this beta version is the “Vista Ultimate” release and has the equivalent of media center pc integrated into it, I can forgive M$ for the bloat. I then started to think, with all this bloat, why then, could they not add the proper NIC drivers? After all, a 3c905c card is pretty darn common! With the bloat in mind, let’s move on.

As I stated earlier the interaction with the OS is pretty daunting. For example, when I open any .mmc (which is pretty much any application that interacts with the OS), the screen fades to almost black and gives me a nice little prompt that says “User access control has prevented access to:” and then gives you the name of the OS level program you are wishing to open. “Press continue” to continue to open the program. This behavior can be changed for both the administrator and normal system users, however, editing the local security policy is not something that my mother would feel comfortable doing, nor would your mother–get my point?

This is not a less-technically inclined OS in my opinion and Microsoft seems to have missed the boat on this one. By the way, the boat is more like a ship, hard to miss! Anyway, as I moved in and out of menus I noticed another thing that has changed that just is more of a nuisance than anything else. The “run” command, which all of us adminstrators use constantly, has been pushed to “all programs>accessories>run”, so instead of a quick easy click of the start button, then run, I have two extra clicks. This of course can be changed, but is just an immediate nuisance.

Sadly, my initial feelings about this operating system is that it is just a bad copy of the Macintosh. All the neat little window animations, MAC has had for some time. I don’t use a MAC at all, but what I have seen or interacted with at work leaves little doubt as to who M$ was trying to copy. Oh, that’s right, my mistake–M$ is the leader for operating systems–more like the follower of other branded innovations! Don’t get me started.

My final notes on this is that of contemplating how Vista would ever fit well into a business organization. Granted, they now have the WIM imaging system to ease mass desktop deployement, but how can IT folks justify the upgrade? What does Vista really give companies that would increase ROI?

As I “play” more with this release, I will keep an open mind and continue to look for the added benefit. I will post here my findings as I move along the process…

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