Over the next few months at the helpdesk, I will be piloting a new way to train our analysts. Instead of showing them specific fixes, I will be going very in depth about the concepts of software and hardware. One of the grey areas has been the upcoming Windows Vista. How will it run? How do you do troubleshooting? Do the same approaches still hold true? I acquired a copy of Windows Vista RC1 and sought to find out:
The install time from booting to DVD to sitting on the desktop was about 40 minutes. This is definitly an area that has painfully needed to be addressed by Microsoft for the last, oh I don’t know, 22 years. It isn’t practical in a business setting to have a machine take 3 hours to be reformatted. Now we can do it in 40 minutes. Of course, this doesn’t include the usual installation of anti-virus software, Microsoft Office, et al. It DOES however, include something that I was very suprised / excited to see. In less than 40 minutes I was sitting on the desktop, with all drivers installed. For the video, this means drivers from nVidia, with full 3D acceleration, not some pissy 2D driver placeholder. Again, something that has needed to be addressed for 22 years.
Well, I started out with the positive statements, so you can’t say that I am a hater. However, this is where the positiveness ends. I have a very strong disagreement with the way that UAC was implemented. When you do administrative actions, you are now prompted for authorization before continuing. This should keep the users (and malacious software) out of the core files. However, this authorization has been reduced to little more than clicking on “Continue” when prompted with this authorization. What is the point? All users are setup with full administrator privileges by default. I hope that you can configure this somewhere, but evenso, the point has been destroyed. Almost no one runs on anything other than the “defaults”, so be readyu for another 6+ years of infected and compromised software. Since it seemed to serve no real purpose (from a security standpoint) it just became a nuisance, as the user was constantly prompted to click “Continue” for EVERYTHING!
Setting up wireless was 20+ minutes of masichism, which confirms my fears that this is another product that was built with features first, and usability second.
Other grips I have are from the lack of responsiveness. Moving windows spiked the CPU to 30% utilization, on a laptop with a 512 MB nVidia Geforce video card. Typing a keyword into a search field in one of the windows caused the computer to lock for almost 5 minutes. My finger was hovering over the power button when the system sprang back to life. In fairness, this is a “release candidate” and futher performance optimisation may be in the works before launch.
From everything that I could see, I can see little insentive to upgrade. Many of the controls come straight out of Windows XP. Much of the flow is exactly the same. The new features that are available to Windows Vista are not exclusive to Vista. Media center, widgets, and IE7 are just a few. One area that I can’t visually see is the addition of virtualization to make buffer-overflow attacks (90% of viruses) “virtually impossible”. We will find out (real fast!) if Vista is virus immune, as it seems to infer.
The really exciting development for things such as WinFS (a metadata-centric file system) with live searching have been scrapped. Windows Vista, came across as a graphically appealing version of Windows XP. Kinda like a new theme. Maybe I am being too harsh, so I will continue to post as I find things that strike me as interesting while working on the beta.
As a Novell spokes-person commented, in the next few years, Microsoft will drop support for Windows XP / Office 2003 and everyone will have to make a decision of whether Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 is worth the $1000 price tag per user, especially in the light of ever bettering alternatives.