Vista Beta 2

I downloaded the public Windows Vista Beta 2 and gave it a try on my year old Athlon 64 desktop. I thought finally I would get to use my CPU to its full potential. It should be pretty fast. It was not. I am sure it is partly due to a lot of debugging code still in the beta, but I was surprised.

So far I was not able to try out the Areo Glass interface but the default theme was pretty anyway. My video card rates a 1 on Windows’ System Performance Rating even though it is a Nvida GeForce4 MX 4000 I bought last summer. It doesn’t support something that the Areo interface needs so gets a 1. For 2D graphics, they give the card a 2.0. The rest of my components are 3.3 or above yet my overall system gets a 1. That really adds up. It seems that the max number is a 5.9, but as faster hardware is released, the max number will go up.

I am not the only one unhappy about low overall scores. Computer manufacturers don’t like the idea of customers seeing how bad their brand new $400 system rate. Integrated graphics and slow components are not going to rate well. And guess what $400 systems are made of.

It seems like everything in Windows is moved just for the sake of moving it. Things might be more discoverable through menus and related topics, but things are not easier to reach. Getting to Classic Control Panel is not as easy as it used to be either. And the User Account Controls thing does come up way too often for the most stupid reasons.

Does anyone want to guess where the Undo file operation option went or how about Folder Options? Remember there is no menu bar anymore in Explorer. I gave up and went to Control Panel to get to Folder Options. Eventually I discovered both were under the Organize button along with Copy, Cut and Paste. Who do those options have to do with organizing?

There is no more Display option in even Classic Control Panel, it and a bunch of other stuff now make up Personalization. I would never have found it had it not been for the icon being very similar to XP’s Display. Even right clicking on the Desktop gives you this Personalization menu. Under it though, the first option is to the regular Display panel.

There is still no Internet Explorer icon on the desktop (as in XP with the new style Start Menu) and until I first ran IE, it wasn’t in the Quick Launch area either. Yet, we still have the Recycle Bin at the top of the desktop. Which do you use more, the internet or the recycle bin?

You can still get the Classic Start Menu which as in XP, puts more icons on your desktop. Using it, I now get Computer (renamed My Computer), Control Panel (why on the desktop?), my name (this is the root of my user folder rather than My Documents which does not get a desktop icon), Network (renamed My Network Places), and finally the Internet Explorer icon. Now I have 8 icons on my desktop, taking up 80% of my vertical desktop space which is set at a tiny 1280×1024 resolution.

It would be nice if they could combine the classic style Start Menu with some of the search features of the new Start Menu. But is it really a start menu anymore if it doesn’t say start? In the default theme, it is just a Windows logo. How are we supposed to tell people click on the start button? What do we call it now? Windows logo button? If we are helping people out that need help finding the start menu, it is hard to predict whether they will even recognize the Windows logo.

I also found that when you shutdown from the Start Menu (which is identified only by a power off symbol) you go into sleep mode rather than power off. When I turn something off I like it off. Of course, it gets worse, the machine appears to try to power down to sleep level, but once it gets there, it instantly wakes up. And how can it get worse? My wireless mouse is not recognized when it wakes up. A popup balloon says a USB device is not recognized. Of course, pulling out the wireless receiver and reinserting it makes the mouse work fine again.

I then went hunting for the way to make that button really shut down my computer. It was a long hunt. I don’t remember where I eventually found it, but it was under a deeply buried button named advanced something. Shortly after that I realized, by clicking the side arrow next to the Shutdown and Logout buttons, I could choose from all the usual options. But still is sleep a good default choice? Hopefully that is not the default on laptops. You need to conserve all the power you can on a laptop.

I was also impressed to discover that by default you are running 32 bit Internet Explorer. I had read that the 32 bit version was left for compatibility with older plugins and maybe embedding but didn’t remember it was the default. Why should I have to specifically go hunting for the 64 bit one? If you start IE from the Quick Launch or where it is listed at the top of the the new Start Menu, you get the 32 bit version. And there is no sign of IE 64 bit unless you look under All Programs. Only under the Classic Start Menu is it easily visible right next to the 32 bit version. But what normal person is going to understand the difference? They both look the same.

Notepad had a major upgrade, it now has an optional status bar showing Line and Column numbers. Wow. You can’t get better than that. Well, I guess you could, but it would require a tiny bit of effort and then you would put out of business all the notepad replacement programs. We know how MS doesn’t ever want to put other companies out of business.

They got rid of my favorite mouse cursors, the animated hourglass ones. I hope they will come back with the final release.

I wanted to see what some files looked like in Vista so I went to my XP Documents and Settings folder. I don’t remember what it said, but I wasn’t allowed in at first. It offered to do something and stupidly I said ok. I have no idea what it was doing, but now I can access my XP documents. I worried it was screwing up my file permissions and I wouldn’t be able to log into that account in XP anymore. Turns out whatever was happening didn’t cause a problem that I have found yet. My username and password for both XP and Vista are the same so maybe that had something to do with not screwing everything up.

It took me about an hour to install it which wasn’t bad for taking up most of an entire DVD. I have really wanted to give it a try for a long time now so it was worth the wait. I knew there were going to be things I didn’t like in Vista. There usually are in new versions of Windows. But I didn’t think it was going to be this much. I no longer think I will be an early adopter when it is finally released. Eventually I will give in of course (since I can’t stand using Linux as a desktop system). It was pretty and fun to try but that is about it. I am sure the speed will be greatly improved by the time it is released, but that was the least of what annoyed me.

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  1. on September 3, 2006 at 7:34 pm