Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Windows Vista Build 5231 Reviewed

Well, I have been running Windows Vista Build 5231 since last Monday and I have a few observations. I will basically tie my comments to the screenshots. One thing I will mention is that the dream of a 15-20 minute install is a joke. It took about 65 minutes to install Vista on a box running a P4 2.6Ghz, 1Gb of Ram, with a ATI 9600XT. I think that the install time will come down as we approach the actual release of the software. My hunch is that quite a bit of the install is the hard drive being indexed after the OS is installed. How else could the search function work so quickly right out of the box? Just my 2 cents anyway. If you click on the title link you will be taken to the torrent for downloading this build of Vista. Enjoy everyone! For those from Digg.com, thanks for coming by.

Vista Version

The version information for people who care about this sort of stuff.

New and Improved Start Menu

I don't know how new and improved this is in reality. The structure is almost exactly the same as Windows XP but instead of popping open a list of programs that could take up your entire screen if your still runnning at less then 1024x768 but rather an extended grouping of programs within the structure of the Start Menu. Notice the text box directly above the Start button? It is a search box for just the Start Menu. Start typing and it will guess what your looking for.

Some Interesting Processes in Task Manager

There are quite a few new processes running in the background on Vista. I believe most are related to the new intergrated search feature that is now available from each and every window in Vista.

Vista does P2P

Windows P2P goes by the name of Windows Collaberation in Vista. I could not get this feature to work so I guess they turned it off after talking flak for having it enabled by default in Beta 1.

Windows Calender

Microsoft has now seen fit to include a calender client in Vista which one can share, like Hotmail's calender, or publish, like an Outlook calender, or just use on the computer like Outlook Express. Actually anyone using Outlook Express for email should be forcefully removed from their keyboard and beaten about the head with it.

Windows Digital Gallery

Vista now sports a "Digital Gallery" feature which in my humble opinion is a direct rip-off of Picasa.

The Windows Explorer

Notice the ever-present search box in the upper right corner? Search is everywhere in Vista including the Start Menu as I mentioned above. The sort options have been expanded and the metadata pane has been moved from the lower left side of a typical window in XP to the bottom band of the window in Vista. The new Windows Explorer was fairly intuitive but I can see new users stuggling to adjust, especially if they come to Vista from Windows 2000 or earlier.

TMI: Windows Style

Microsoft has seen fit to include and display metadata everywhere in Vista including the status dialogue when moving an item.

The New My Network Connections

My Network Places has been replaced by the Network Center which includes some diagnostic tools to troubleshoot a network connection and addtional information about your broadband connection.

Some New Games eh?

Finally some new games for network admins to lock down from bored users. The new games are Chess, Shanghai Solitare (a version of Mahjong), and a kids games called Purbie Place. Screenshots below...

Shanghai Solitare

Microsoft's version of Mahjong

Purbie Place

My son, age 4 1/2, liked this game and found it pretty easy to learn, enough said I guess.

A Kinder, Gentler Control Panel

For those who know where to find things, the classic view is still available.

A little something new in User rights.

I don't know if the Authenication Manager will be included in any release of Vista but the Enterprise and Ultimate editions but the idea is kinda neat. AM will allow the system admin to mark a user with standard admin rights or with super-admin rights which are designed to be used by developers.

Tablet Programs

Since the Ultra Edition is a superset of all future Vista versions there are both Tablet PC programs included as well as Media Center.

Media Center

I don't know what if anything has changed in Media Center since the test computer I installed Vista on is not a Media Center machine. Somebody let me know what has changed if you don't mind.

Windows Media Player

This new interface is nice and they have changed some of the terms used by WMP but at this stage it looks like a very early version of WMP11

Media Library Sharing in WMP11

The Basic Library Sharing options are just that basic but....

Advanced Library Sharing in WMP11

One has to wonder what the RIAA might think about WMP11 encouraging users to share their media. It appears that the options will only let you share across a home network but I am sure someone will figure out a way for this to use the Vista P2P and I predict that Microsoft will be sued by the RIAA and removed this feature before Vista is released.


First looks is misleading, but it does look very slick.

Default IE7

As it appears when first launched, the only change I had made at this point was to change the homepage.

IE7 with Favorites Sidebar open

The Favorites Sidebar now contains your subscribed feeds and history as well. The normal menu toolbar is hidden by default.

IE7 with an active RSS feed plus new right-click option

IE7 handled the flash of ESPN right out of the box(as it should) and lights up and beeps when a valid RSS feed is detected on a webpage. As expected the right-click menu now includes the open in a new tab option but if your trying to open a favorite from the sidebar, forget it. You can not open a favorite from the sidebar in a new tab unless the tab is already open and selected.

Adding a new RSS feed

To add a feed, you have to click on the orange RSS button which opens the feed as an xml document in IE7. You then have the option to subscribe by clikcing on the yellow plus sign on the right side of the toolbar above the document.

IE7 Anti-Phishing Filter

IE7 not has a phishing filter that checks whether the website your visiting is the real website or one doctored up to fool people into giving up personal information. In my screenshot that is the real CNN.com, I assure you or IE7 does.

IE7 Quick Tabs

IE7 does have a neat feature called Quick Tabs. The feature can be accessed either through Ctrl+Q or the little four square icon in the upper left corner of the "tab"bar next to the favorites star icon. Of course the more tabs you have open the smaller the previews in the quick tabs screen.

Overall Vista is rather polished for a pre Beta 2 release. I like that Microsoft is going to release an updated build every month for the forseeable future. The drivers for many devices are not available but that should change pretty quickly. The only programs I could not run and that crashed the shell were Google Earth, and Activesync 3.8. I did try to manually update the drivers for my video (ATI 9600XT), my sound (Audigy 2) and my Canon i860 usb printer. I was able to install without problem, Office 2003, Skype (latest version), iTunes 6.0 with QuickTime 7.0 Pro, MSN Messenger 7.5, and Microsoft Anti-spyware beta. I could not find a anti-virus program that would install and run even after AVG ran perfectly in Beta 1. I could not even get Windows OneCare Beta to install, go figure. Well that is the review of Vista for this month, look for a review of next month's build as soon as it becomes available. Remember, the title link goes to a torrent so you can download Vista and enjoy all of it's fun.

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