Playing With Vista
I have been doing work today on the system I installed Windows Vista Beta 2 on. I have been doing various tasks, including setting up a replica of our backup server on a Solaris machine, and reading and replying to emails, and visiting various documentation and news websites. I’ve been working with Putty SSH client on Vista, which works OK, other than the mouse cursor disappears when you mouse-over the Putty window. I also tried to install the win32 GroupWise client, but it isn’t supported on Vista yet, and won’t ship until Vista is officially released. It installs but won’t run. Update: GroupWise also won’t uninstall. Firefox works. I’ve tried using IE, and it seems OK, but it just has a klunky feel to it compared to Firefox.
The other weird thing I’ve noticed is that some websites come up not found in Vista, both in Firefox and IE, even though I can get to them in another machine sitting right next to this one on the network. One that didn’t work was gnome.org. Maybe the Vista network stack is biased against Linux sites (just kidding, it’s probably just some last-minute bugs in the tcpip stack somewhere). Microsoft’s own vistagadgets.com site was one of the ones that wouldn’t work either.
I’ve tried the insta-search thingy (don’t know what it’s called). It searches the desktop files well, but it doesn’t seem to support web browser history. I haven’t played with the multimedia apps yet. I did install iTunes, Acrobat, and flash player, and all seem to work OK, but I can’t test them fully, because sound doesn’t work on this box. It’s a recent IBM ThinkCentre, and the sound worked fine in XP, and it works in SUSE Linux and Ubuntu no problem, so I’m guessing it’s just a driver issue. IBM / Lenovo hasn’t released Vista drivers for this box yet, but it is listed on Lenovo’s site as Vista supported, so presumably before Vista ships there will be a set of drivers for it.
Suprisingly (to me at least, after reading all the steep hardware requriements for Vista) the 3D user interface features work OK on this box. I wasn’t expecting them to. The 3D stuff in SUSE Linux worked fine too, but I was expecting that the on-board Intel graphics chipset wouldn’t support Vista’s Aeroglass interface. It runs fairly smoothly, but I miss the cube-flipping multiple desktops on Linux. There doesn’t seem to be a multiple desktop feature in Vista.
Windows Mail is Outlook renamed, but it does have some better security features enabled by default. Windows Photo gallery is like Picasa lite. Windows Media Centre is the same old same old. It still supports mp3, which is a good thing, but it defaults everything to be windows media formats to get everybody used to the evil idea of DRM in their lives. I’m an iPod user so for me iTunes is where it’s at. iPods aren’t supported in Windows Media Centre. The new IE7 is IE6 with tabs and some kind of third party anti-phishing thing thrown in. It’s good to see them copying some of the good ideas in Firefox. They even have an “extensions” capability, but I doubt there is anywhere near the wealth of useful extensions for it yet that Firefox already has. It’s too early for that. I prefer Firefox.
For some reasn the Start Menu / All Programs thing is an awful non-cascading entirely new and weird self-replacing menu thing. It is extremely klunky. I can’t explain it, you’d have to see it to understand. The run command is buried under Start Menu / All Programs / Accessories. Good thing you can go Winkey-R to get the run dialog box. Explorer is a lot like Gnome’s Nautilus, which is good if you are a Linux user. There is some kind of thing called Windows Collaboration which sounds interesting, that supposedly allows you to share desktops, documents and chat wth other Vista users but I only have the one box so I can’t test it out (read: don’t feel like setting up another Vista box).
I’ve seen enough. It’s still Windows, and for me it is still about the applications I need. As long as they run, the OS doesn’t matter. The built-in applications in Windows are still very light-weight, and there are better free alternatives out there for most stuff. For people who have to use Windows due to some application dependency, Vista might prove more secure and resilient to viruses, trojans, spyware and bot-ware, but for me, I’ll stick to SUSE Linux for now. I’ll give Vista another whirl when it ships next year or whenever.
To the trash with you!