Happy Belated Birthday to me

So, for my birthday last week, Microsoft finally let me snag the ISO for the Vista Beta 2 DVD. I installed it yesterday afternoon on my only Windows machine at home (my gaming rig), and spent about a half-hour or so tinkering. While it does show the signs of still being several months away from release, it does look rather promising. To be completely truthful – its a ‘true to the core’ Microsoft product – too much bloat. I remember when I made the switch to XP – it was a little different, but for someone even just a little familiar with Windows, it wasn’t a very difficult transistion. If nothing much changes, Vista not be such a simple transition – not for a power user like me, and especially not for Joe User at home.

Those observations aside, its very, very pretty. “Slick as snot” as some might say. Once I got my video drivers updated at got Aero turned on, I was blown away by the eye-candy. From some of the reviews I’ve seen, I was under the impression that you could tilt windows in 3-D fashion – but apparently, thats not the case – all you can do is use WindowsKey+Tab instead of Alt+Tab when switching between apps and you get angled windows to flip through. That was disappointing. The sidebar on the desktop is nice, but they definitely need more widgets included by default to make the average user care. The clock is the only one I kept, and thats only because I had zero use for the the RSS one and the other one I’ve already forgotten what was. How about modules for the new Calendar and address book applications? Maybe a to-do list one? I can think of plenty of uses for the nifty Sidebar – none of which MS has included yet. Seems like I recall them having a gallery of widgets online somewhere, but if they don’t include some of them locally, they’re gonna miss the boat – no one wants to hunt things like that down.

The new security features really get in the way of productivity. It’s one thing to be pro-active and try to keep my Windows secure, but its another thing to stop me from being able to work. It seems that even relatively simple (to me anyway) thing can trigger the security systems to pop-up and ask if you really want to allow it. The desktop dimming and bringing focus that window is a very nice touch though.

So far, the I can think of only two compelling reasons I’ve seen to make me want to switch. Number one is not even a front-end thing – its the deployment aspect of Vista that I’ve read about. The preinstall routine is said to have been greatly improved. To simplify the process, you basically install Vista onto one machine, patch it up with Windows Updates, install and patch all of your necessary applications, tweak the OS to your liking, and image it. Once you have that installations’ image, you should never have to reimage again. The single install image should work on ANY hardware configuration. Windows 2000 and XP were a nightmare to try and maintain images for, and as such, at work, I rarely use imaging as a means of deploying/redeploying machines. The second reason I’d switch is for the updated version of classic Windows apps like Solitaire and Freecell. Both of these games have received some UI love and gone animated and even gotten some new card-back designs. Rock on Microsoft! *insert eyeroll here*

As it stand now though, I’d never switch my parents or even very many of my co-workers to Vista. But all in all, it looks solid, and I hope that Microsoft will also include a “Windows XP” theme for Vista in order to mimick the look and functionality of XP, but with the roots and security of Vista. That will make the transition easier for us all, both on the user end, as well as the help desk/IT department end. If I can get a DVD-ROM in my machine here at the office, I may try a full out switch to Vista on that machine and really give it a run through over the next few months.