On my daily run through digg, I spotted that the Windows Vista RC2 was now available to everyone (formerly it was available only to folks who signed up for the beta testing program.) I remembered that it was easy enough to get the installer, but you needed to have an install key to keep it running for more than 15 days. A few posts down on the dig page, some one provided a link that got you an install key with your live.com id (aka your Windows Passport.)
So, I figured what the hay, lets see what all the fuss is about. A mere half hour later, 3.2Gb iso file was downloaded. I think it took longer to burn to dvd on my ancient 2.4X writer than it took to download. After clearing my pc activity for a few hours with the wife (being that its the print/scan/copier for our network) I swapped out my windows xp drive and put in a random 20Gb drive I keep for messing around with new operating systems. So, I put the freshly burned installer disk in the drive and booted back up.
After about 10 minutes of random copying and status messages, it asked me for the install key and which drive it should put vista on. Have to say the partition manager interface was pretty nice. I quickly nuked the FC5 install formerly on the drive and created a new partition with zero head scratching. After that it said we’ve got enough details for now, and went on about its way installing.
About 45 minutes and a few rebates later, it asked me a few more questions (where will this machine be used? home/work, and my login account info) and then did a performance test. I guess this where they try to figure out just home much eyecandy your hardware can handle. A few more minutes of harddrive griding and a few screen blinks and blanks later, I’m at the Vista login screen.
It managed to get my video set up pretty much correct. Hmm, the audio doesn’t seem to be working. Wait a tick, there it goes. Internet seems to work. Windows networking doesn’t see the rest of my network. Doh, wrong workgroup. After hunting around in the control panel (why to they regroup all the applets with every release? argh…) So I eventually change the workgroup name. The network config stuff looks about the same as XP to me (so much for that complete rewrite?). I click off to save my change and… of course, get the prompt to restart. Geez, I can change my network config until the cows come home in FC5 and never have to reboot.
The only reason I wanted to connect to my network is so I’d have some music and pictures to check out all these fancy new explorer views for this kind of stuff. Man, network browsing is pretty sloooow. Hmm, lets play some mp3’s in the new media player. After taking about 30 seconds to spin up WMP tries to play something. Its having all sorts of problems. Its all distorted and skippy. It appears not be getting enough CPU time. Strange, all that’s running is WMP and 1 explorer window. Enough of that.
The new interface stuff is just OK. Nothing that I’d say was jaw dropping (like XGL). The way new windows fade into view is kinda nice. Translucent window edges? Nothing to write home about. The new start menu? A lot nicer than XP. Global search? Hmm, not much to really search on but seemed kinda slow.
Slow was pretty much my general impression. Granted I’m puttering along on a 2 year old machine (2.8Ghz, 1Gb, Nvidia FX5200 128Mb graphics), but it still seems like things could be faster. I poked around for a while trying to find a config area to tweak which Aero effects are turned on off to see if I could find something workable, but gave up after 10 minutes. I’m sure its probably in there, but I’ve had enough for now. Pretty much the whole time I was in Vista my CPU was locked in at 100% and the harddrive was buzzing about 2x as much as it normally does with XP.
As a glutton for punishment, I tried to fire up the Media Center on the office chance it might recognize my cheapo tuner card. After 30 minutes in the MC setup wizard, and failures in the channel scanner and program info downloads, I figured that getting that work wasn’t gonna happen. That and the test videos for configuring video options looked more like a power point presentation (flip flip flip) than a video at full screen on my hardware.
So after my little experiment, I bid Vista a good bye and good luck, swamped my harddrives back to XP land. Its not as fancy, its stable enough for me, and its whole lot more snappy. Back to my short term plan… convert my existing windows boxes to FC5 (or FC6?) and my longer term plan… to get a Mac.