But the Obvious!

Archive for September, 2006

Windows Vista Review RC1

Posted by Irus on September 12, 2006

Windows Vista RC1

 

 

 

Having spent considerable time with RC1 I decided to write a review.

 

It discusses in brief where Vista is and the direction it is taking and the marketing surrounding it.

 

TEST MACHINE

 

IBM Thinkpad T42

 

Pentium M 745 1.86 Ghz

ATI Radeon Mobility 9600 64 MB

1 GB RAM

80 GB Hard Disk 5400 RPM

CDRW/DVD Read 24x24x24x/8x

14.1 inch screen

Native Resolution 1400×1050

 

SETUP

 

Clean install Vista: 35 minutes. XP: 20 minutes

Upgrade from Windows XP took around 75 minutes

 

FIRST IMPRESSION

 

Vista greets you with all the bells and whistles enabled and all drivers installed. The welcome centre and sidebar are better disabled to reduce boot times. Incase any driver is missing Microsoft Update comes in handy.

 

For those upgrading their machines from XP the driver up gradation is not as seamless. Bothersome Issues crop up. Broadly speaking hardware compatibility is the best at the moment including Linux and it is only going to get better.

 

A machine rating of 2.0 left me disappointed. The graphics card being the culprit I downloaded the latest drivers from ATI. This pushed up the score to 2.7; Acceptable.

 

PROGRAMS

 

With the drivers worked out let’s see how Vista performed in the software compatibility section. I tried both a clean install/dual boot and eventually an upgrade of my main system. The following table gives a summary of issues encountered in both scenarios

 

What works and what does not.  (Applications installed)

 The image “https://surispace.files.wordpress.com/2007/08/vista.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

As is evident the compatibility under Upgrade is better. The question is should you be running the programs which clean install does not respect? This purely depends on the functionality intact post upgrade e.g. IBM Active Protection. The working of this was rather suspect. It loaded and protected but the control console never showed up.

 

If you are thinking about the compatibility mode then smart thinking but how long can u keep going back to it? Notwithstanding the fact that half the time it fails on you.

 

Eventually the program has to be ditched.  

 

 

TIME TO NOTE NUMBERS

 

With all drivers and programs installed its time to test the system a bit.

 

Taking a look at the Task Manager the RAM usage stood at 450 MB in clean install and page file at 600 MB of total 1500 MB allocated.

 

From a cold boot to a useable desktop it took 120 seconds (clean install) and 90 seconds (upgrade) on average compared to 30 seconds in XP.

 

For Shutdown the figure was at 70 seconds (clean install) and 60 seconds (upgrade) compared to 20 seconds in XP.

 

Yet again the upgrade performs better than Clean Install.

 

IN A FEW HOURS

 

Vista is replete with far more options in a single window (say my computer) than XP. It certainly does not look clearer / simpler as the marketing goes! Rather it looks more complex.

With only a few windows open my 1400×1050 display looked rather crowded.

The UI is a tad gaudy and gets to you in a few hours before you want to get rid of all the weight and move back to windows classic view. Thankfully Windows Basic is not the only option. Microsoft did listen.

The marketing slogan of Clear, Confident and Connected is more applicable to XP SP2 at the moment. Vista makes one lose confidence as soon as glaring UI inconsistencies are encountered e.g. hidden tool bars, back buttons etc. 

 

However as far as ‘Connected’ is concerned Vista performs and the upgraded Network sharing centre is very good. Better than XP here.

 

 

VISTA TO CATER THE AVERAGE JOE

 

To answer this question I went back to XP. It felt cleaner and with 3rd party solutions reasonably secure without being in your face like vista’s User Account Protection and Security Centre.

UAP in its current form will force users to look at hacks to disable it along with Security Centre in favor of less intrusive 3rd party solutions. Running Vista in this crippled form could be the norm unless something drastic happens.

 

So does any OS evolve when it gets a fresh dab of paint, high resolution icons, in your face security and an unthinking UI?

 

Not quite. It is essential that Vista UI be minimalist and elegant in look with intelligent categorization and modular operation rather than every sort of button splattered all over the system.

 

The Start menu now demands more mouse clicks and keyboard taps to find the same program which a few mouse clicks could do previously.

 

Today an application like Calendar is better as a web application rather than integrated in the OS.

 

What Vista could do is to provide a framework for 3rd party software to work on whether it is Calendar or One care. Put the men where it really matters!

 

 

NOTEWORTHY

 

Moving on from what could have been possible.

 

ATI Radeon Mobility 9600 card with 64 MB dedicated RAM was automatically assigned additional 64 MB from the system RAM on shared basis. Smart. This is not replicable on XP.

 

The system runs hotter than XP due to increased access of Hard Disk. Using Ready boost (USB Key to act as temporary RAM) did not make much impact on system temperature.

 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

With 5 years gone since last Windows release, Vista is not very close to its predecessor in terms of either performance or footprint or ‘value for money’ just yet (you will be forced to upgrade your RAM at least or buy a new computer).

 

If at all any marketing slogan goes with it then it is “Pricey or Complicated? It’s all connected”.

 

So what will save Vista? That is the million dollar question. Whether freebies, more marketing, hardware discounts or OEM copies will save the day or not only time will tell.

 

What is clear however, Vista is not something you can recommend to your friends or family blindfolded unlike you could with XP.  

 

In fact as things stand XP is the more intelligent and practical OS of choice and will be for quite sometime to come.

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