[opendtv] First look: Windows Vista RC2

  • From: "Manfredi, Albert E" <albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 11 Oct 2006 11:02:14 -0400

I wonder how much of the new look will come with installation of IE 7.0
in WinXP machines.


First look: Windows Vista RC2

Alexander Wolfe
(10/09/2006 6:00 PM EDT)
URL: http://www.eetimes.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=193200068

With Vista Release Candidate 2 -- likely the final "official" interim
version of the operating system before Microsoft releases it to
manufacturing in the next month -- the folks in Redmond have pulled
together a product which simultaneously teases, vexes, and impresses the
prospective user.

Since this is Microsoft we're talking about, let's take those out of
order. The biggest annoyances with RC2 involved installation issues.
Despite assurances to the contrary, I wasn't able to upgrade to RC2 from
the previous Vista Beta version I had on my test machine. Instead, I had
to do a fresh, full re-install. (Interestingly, while RC2 put up a
message threatening to wipe my disk clean, that's not what it in fact
did; a look at Windows Explorer revealed a directory called
"Windows.old," where it had placed the earlier build.)

Vista's Flip 3D feature lets you stack up your open windows in a kind of
flip-picture view in the middle of the screen, and scroll through them
with the mouse to go back and forth among apps.
Click image to enlarge and to launch image gallery.

You'd expect Microsoft to have focused on squeezing out all the
stumbling blocks to a smooth installation. After all, isn't one of
Windows' big selling points its purported easy installation as compared
to Linux? Pretty clearly, that no longer obtains, especially given the
fact that many Linux distributions aren't as driver-deficient as in the
past. On the other hand, after the initial crop of users upgrading from
XP, most Vista users won't be installing the OS themselves -- they'll be
getting a pre-install on a new PC.

With RC2 ready to roll, I was afraid I'd run into some of the issues
which have challenged other beta testers. Chief among those has
apparently been a problem getting some systems to switch on Vista's Aero
interface. Aero is Vista's premium GUI, creating a screen with
see-through, 3-D-like elements. In earlier betas, Aero would only kick
in if your PC was outfitted with a graphics card carrying at least 128
MB of video memory.

Following criticism of this rather onerous video-memory requirement,
there was some talk of Microsoft scaling that back to 64 MB. Perhaps
that's gone out the window, because the message traffic on Microsoft's
Aero forum indicated that some users having problems had 512-MB video
cards. (Microsoft seems to be aware of the issue, and there is a

One final piece of collateral information indicating that Vista is going
require heavier duty graphics than do today's PCs if it is to shine is
provided in RC2's Windows Experience Index. That's the hardware
assessment tool previously known as the Windows System Performance
rating, or WinSPR. The experience index continues to use graphics as the
gating factor. My test PC was equipped with a 3.2-GHz dual-core Pentium
940, which got it a subscore of 4.8 on the processor portion of the
test. However, my 256-MB graphics card rated only a 3.1. That limited
the final score to 3.1, since the final rating is determined by the
lowest subscore.

Fortunately, my 256-MB graphics card ran Aero just fine. Which brings me
to the "impresses" part of this review. Vista's GUI continues to
improve. It certainly is pretty. More importantly, when one compares RC2
to RC1 and previous betas, Microsoft is clearly making intelligent
tweaks to the interface. There's a subjective sense that the UI has
settled down, and that changes to color, shape, transparency, and
position have been done from a solid human-factors perspective rather
than by some programmer run amok.

On the function front, Microsoft has improved the control-panel settings
used to select UI color. It also appears to have moved the selection of
Aero options ("glass" or "classic") one level down, which is intelligent
because it's something you don't want uninitiated users playing with.

Now for the "tease" I mentioned up top. RC2 continues Vista's tactic of
offering the kind of glitz that Microsoft must be hoping will convince
home users to upgrade. Consider Vista's Gadgets, the great-looking
little applets that reside on the right side of your desktop. (So what
if the feature was borrowed from Apple?) Microsoft has been criticized
for a paucity of gadgets; with early builds there were only 10. Now, a
Gadgets Web site has upped that number to 54. Sure, we're got the UK
Weather Track, but it's clear that Microsoft is intent on building up
its portfolio of cool accessories.

Other apps obviously designed with eye-candy appeal in mind include
Vista's Windows DVD Maker and the new Mail system, which replaces
Outlook. In terms of functionality, I was most impressed with the
Network and Sharing Center, a feature intended to smooth connecting to
the Internet (this was also in RC1).

On the negative side, the Security Account Controls designed to make
Vista more resistant than XP to viruses and malware are still more
obtrusive than they need to be.

Vista's Media Center features, which I liked in my review of Beta 2,
still have a clunky feel. Design-wise, I didn't like the fact that Media
Center seems to "take over" my PC by going to a full screen. That's a
counter-intuitive comment, since it makes sense for a movie and music
interface to go wide. But that's not what you want with software that
feels less than rock-solid. Since Vista is nothing if not a Trojan Horse
through which Microsoft hopes to take over the living room, one would
expect that the Media Center would be glitch-free.

Performance-wise, RC2 looks and feels good and marks a continued
progression from RC1. (I had only one unexplained reboot!)

The bottom line is that, with RC2, Vista is increasingly looking like a
smart combination of heavy duty functionality sure to be welcomed by
corporate users and an increasingly good-looking presentation (read:
Aero) that'll appeal to consumers.

All material on this site Copyright 2006 CMP Media LLC. All rights
You can UNSUBSCRIBE from the OpenDTV list in two ways:

- Using the UNSUBSCRIBE command in your user configuration settings at 

- By sending a message to: opendtv-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word 
unsubscribe in the subject line.

Other related posts: