Since Microsoft was freely giving away Beta 2 copies of Windows Vista a couple of weeks ago, I decided to pick up a copy of the 32bit and 64bit DVDs. They are actually not hard to get. You just needed to answers a few questions from their quiz and wait a week or two for them to ship it.
So what kind of experience can we expect to see within the first few minutes of running vista? We're going to take a look and see how Vista visually shapes up to a first time user.
System requirements for Vista workstation is:
- Processor: 1 gigahertz
- Memory: 256 megabytes
- Hard drive: 10 gigabytes
- Network capability
I threw it on my rack mounted PC that I have had around for a while. It was in need of a refreshed OS, so I figured I would take Vista for a quick spin and point out some of the things I noticed. In particular, I was interested in the eye candy, speed issues and/or lack of back message support.
System that it was installed on is:
- Intel P4 2.4B processor
- Geforce 5200 video card
- 40 gig HD
- 1 x 256M DDR RAM & 1 x 512 DDR RAM
When they said you needed 10 gigabytes of hard drive space they were not kidding. With out downloading anything or adding any new drivers, it was close to 10 gigabytes of space. Next I had it download the 14 patches that were out for Vista already. That works as well as the old Windows XP updater, it downloads, updates and reboots the system for you. There is less interaction with users now during the installing. I went with the simple and quickest way to install everything, which I gather would be what the standard non-technical user would do. The entire install took about an hour to do, this includes the time needed to format the drive and to get the latest patches.
Let's get started with the screenshots. The Start menu is close to the same but they have removed the "My" tags in front of everything plus moved a few other options around. They also added the search at the bottom instead of the option on the right hand side like in XP. Some of the other little changes I noticed at first were the power button and little lock for shutting down the pc or locking it. The start button is not a boring green with the logo and the word 'Start', It has been updated to look more like a button and it just has the Windows logo in the center.
They have added to the number of visual effects that Windows now starts off with and kept a lot of the old ones like fading helping text in and out. The Beta comes with Windows Sidebar installed. I had to remove the slide show as I though that was too much and why would anyone want to see a slide show of the desktop pictures. There is also a wall clock and RSS feed app that you can configure to get news.
Another visual effect they have added is the ability to 'peek' or preview a minimized application. This might be something usefull for me as I tend to get a lot of programs running at work and at home. Then I am hunting for one through the mess I have created by minimizing and maximizing constantly. I still need to see what happens when I get a mess created and if they stacked the task bar when you get X amount of one application running like IE.
The outer edges of applications now have a frosted glass window look. There's a transparency that blurs out the application / images behind them about 50%.
The security alerts are a plus to make people think before they do something that can affect the system. However, after the third notification popped up, I was putting on my to-do list to find the options to lower the nagging. If this was going on my parents system, then that'd be a different story. For most intermediate to advanced users, this will probably annoy you to no end.
With all of the updates going, it updated IE as well to IE7. From the start they moved things around again on this too. The menu bar is more defined and has been given the minimal look.
The star is the list of your favorites and the plus sign is to add the current to your favorite list.
On the other side of the screen you have all of the other buttons that take you Home, RSS feed, print and to configure IE.
At a quick glance of Windows Vista it looks like a graphically enhanced version of Windows XP. Taking some of the things that people do with Windowblinds and other applications and embed their version into Windows. Some of the things will have to be searched out and turned down inside of Vista like the annoying security nags. Again this is my quick visual review of Windows Vista and I have not spent more than a few minutes poking around and getting the system setup. I'm sure once this has gone gold and is ready for the masses, a lot of the options will probably be tweaked to suit the home user.