Windows Vista RC1

Years and years in the making, Vista finally arrives on the scene. For more details than you care about, head over to “Paul Thurrot’s Winsupersite”:http://www.winsupersite.com and of course read the “Wikipedia article on windows vista”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Vista – but for a quick overview from a user’s perspective read on.

Now, there are a ton of changes under the hood, but frankly speaking, I really don’t care anymore. What I want is consistent performance, and a easier way to actually use the damn computer. Windows XP had a annoying habbit of slowing down over time[1], so my only key test for Vista is whether or not it survive on the internet without catching all the dieseases that XP was prone to. Oh, and it should be at least as fast as XP on the same pc.

Vista RC1 will not time out until the end of May 2007, and that Microsoft will support RC1 with hot-fixes and security patches through the RTM (release to manufacturing) of Windows Vista, currently slated for the second half of October 2006. Which means that you essentially get to use Vista for free till May 07, by which time Vista should have hit the discount bin. Heck, hell might freeze over and Microsft just might come out with more reasonable prices for the “third world”.


While I prefer “Ubuntu Linux”:http://www.ubuntu.com/, there are some applications which just aren’t there on Linux yet – the most important being a digital video editor, somewhere along the lines of Adobe Premiere.

There are only two editions of Vista any computer geek is going to get: “Windows Vista Ultimate”:http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/editions/ultimate.mspx or “Windows Vista Home Premium”:http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/editions/home_premium.mspx. The ultimate edition is a gobsmacking 399 US dollars, or over *24,000 rupees,* while the slightly cheaper option, the premium home edition is 239 US dollars, or over 14,500 rupees! Considering one needs a new pc to run Vista properly, it’s cheaper to just buy a “mac”:http://apple.com instead, or switch over to Linux. This review hasn’t even started yet, but the high prices mean I’ve already decided I’m not going to be purchasing Vista. I do have a couple of programs running on windows, but that PC is going to stick with Windows XP SP2 till such time those programs run on Ubuntu Linux.

Millions of people go gaga over Mac OS X’s shiny interface, and and from the reviews around the internet, Microsoft has finally one-upped Apple in the oh-so-shiny department. But both Apple and Microsoft take a back seat to this: _(warning: the video might make you seasick)_

Much of the major advances in Vista are useless – for example, Vista comes with a much improved photo management system. It’s evident that countless manhours have been poured into it, and it does work well. But, and this is the big but, Picasa works even better, and it continues to get better. In some aspects, like uploading photos to the web, Picasa is head and shoulders above Windows Photo Gallery. Overall Picasa is better, and it’s “available for Linux”:http://picasa.google.com/linux and WinXP.

Anyways, on to the actual review: I have a pretty standard AMD dual core pc, which runs WinXP just fine, and should have run Vista well. I put in a new hard drive just for Vista, booted from the installation DVD, and installed away. The installation seemed to chug away just fine, pretty speedy in fact, but ended up in a black screen with a cursor blinking away. Perhaps this was the new super duper interface Microsoft had been promising all those years? I read a magazine, and then finally rebooted the computer. Vista tried to boot, but couldn’t make it all the way. I gave it a couple more tries, all with the same result! I ended up giving away the Vista DVD to a friend – mayhaps he’ll have better luck with it than me. Despite some of the glowing reviews on the net, “Vista is still a mess”:http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=34268. It’s a good thing I had already decided not to purchase it even before trying to install RC1.

Vista integrates media center features for those looking to connect their pc to a tv, but “MythTv”:http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page blows it away in every respect. It takes a bit more work to get it up and running, but the end product works better, and keeps working once setup.

*Final words:* If you’re not doing professional video editing, then it’s time to switch over to Linux. If you need to edit video, then XP remains the best option for windows based programs, and of course there is “Final Cut Pro”:http://www.apple.com/finalcutstudio/finalcutpro/ on the Mac. Hell, in all cases Vista just doesn’t enter the picture.

Most computer users in Pakistan pirate both the OS and the apps they use, so the price being no matter they’ll keep pirating away, so reviews and what not are pretty useless for them. Ironically, that will lead to Pakistan having a faster switch over to Vista than in countries where people have to actually buy the operating system.

h4. Warning – don’t use Vista if you’re not computer savvy

bq. “If a legitimate copy is not bought within 30 days, the system will curtail functionality much further by restricting users to just the Web browser for an hour at a time, said Thomas Lindeman, Microsoft senior product manager.”

“Such fun”:http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2006/oct06/10-04SoftwareProtection.mspx. The “Slashdot tagline”:http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/10/04/1959238 puts it best: _only-os-that-comes-with-crutches. _ This being Pakistan, even people who buy legitimate copies of Vista will end up with a dead pc as their license key will be stolen sooner or later.

h4. Nov 11, 2006: Microsoft finalized Windows Vista and released the product to manufacturing

I still haven’t installed the damn thing. Here’s a “review of Vista for those still interested”:http://www.winsupersite.com/reviews/winvista.asp. It’s the first time I haven’t tried out a new Microsoft OS since the dark old days of DOS. How the mighty have fallen – people stood in lines for all the last major Windows releases, but this one is a complete non-event.

h4. them links

* “Paul Thurrot’s Winsupersite”:http://www.winsupersite.com :: This guy is really obsessed with all things Microsoft.

* “A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection”:http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/vista_cost.txt

h4. footnotes

fn1. Every installation of Windows naturally degrades along a logarithmic curve until it becomes annoying, then unbearable, then unusable. “diveintomark”:http://diveintomark.org/archives/2003/08/04/xp

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6 Comments

  1. I will probably get Vista key from uni’s MSDN:AA program. I doubt I will be using it much until I get used to it. Till that time, I will probably use a VM to run it.

    With the trend to reinstall windows whenever something happens, people would just reinstall the OS when it starts giving activation prompts when and if the key is caught.

  2. BTW, has anybody really installed the final commercial release of MS Windows Vista, especially the Professional version? Would appreciate feedback from hardware requirements perspective – will a normal P-IV be able to withstand Vista’s load?

  3. Hi. i want to know if there are any “official” retail vendors for original software here in karachi. that is, can i get my hands on an original copy of windows vista here in karachi? i have never heard of any such retailers here in karachi that deal in original/packaged software.

    thanks.

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