Baines' adventures in the wonderful land of Vista: presented in HI-DEF!

The Vista Sista

Much to my sisters discontentment*, I formatted all of her partitions and installed Vista on her PC.
I tried using PartitionMagic, to merge the two existing partitions (10GB+~150GB) to make room for Vista (15GB). It said no data would be lost, and it would put everything from her second partition in to a folder on her first. That sounded like exactly what I wanted, so I went ahead and did it. Much to my discontentment, it didn't do what it said it would. I now had one fresh partition with no information on it. Oh well, I thought, it's not like my sister had any crucial information that wasn't backed up.
So I proceeded to install Vista on her PC. It died the first time during the "choose which partition to install Vista on" screen.
I thought to myself, "It's a beta". So I restarted the computer and started the install process again. By the way, the install process for Vista is a lot longer than XP, it's on a DVD after all. If you've ever installed a DVD Linux Distro (or a multi-CD version) you'll know what I mean.
The Install died a second time after an hour or so of progress bars (long after the "choose which partition to install Vista on" screen). I crossed my fingers and restarted again.
I guess the Third time was the charm, as it eventually finished the install and booted up fine.

My sisters PC is pretty ordinary. The only thing she really has going for her is my old graphics card, a 9600XT, and even then that's considered fairly low-end by todays standards. Vista has a lot of eyecandy. Any eyecandy is a plus for me, I love me some good lookin' wares, and Vista is the Girlscout selling boxes upon boxes of eyecandy. So it pretty much ran like a dog** on my sisters PC. Vista gave my sister's PC a rating of 1 out of 5. I think logically, it would be nice if Vista optimized the visual preferences depending on your rating, much like some games auto-detect your rig and set various things for optimal gameplay. This didn't happen, atleast not in my sisters case. Vista was shining in all of it's (slow) prettiness. I'd seen screenshots of Vista in action but I never imagined it would look as good as it does.

* I love dictionaries sometimes. "Discontentment", "A restless longing for better circumstances". Hilarity!
** I never really understood that expression. My dogs run like lightning.

Mista Vista

Yesterday I formatted one of my data drives, partitioned it in two, and installed Vista. It went alot better than it did on my sister's PC, installed first time with no errors. However I couldn't run it from within Windows XP. For some reason it wouldn't recognize the DVD, but I could boot from it and install it that way fine. Go figure.

The first thing I noticed was that for dual displays, Mirror was set as the default. Mirror essentially mirrors what's on one screen, on the other. It's a little trippy at first. It was actually quite user friendly, in that it detected my dual-display setup and asked me if I would like to use Extend or Mirror. Extend is what I usually use in XP, it extends your desktop across both monitors. I use a program called Ultramon for XP, that allows an extended taskbar and extended wallpaper. These features are unfortunately not available in Vista by default. I haven't looked around for a Vista compatible Ultramon yet, so I have a repeated wallpaper an no second task bar :(

Unfortunately, the Vista Beta drivers for Creative's SoundBlaster Audigy line doesn't work with my card (SoundBlaster Audigy 2 Value) and thus, I have no sound. The driver installed (after about an hour-long dialogue box saying only "installing..."), rebooted, and failed.

Vista runs quite well on my machine. Not many slow downs, and I actually think it might be smoother than XP. My computer gets a 3 out of 5 rating.

The new start menu structure was strange at first, but is a lot nicer and easier to navigate. I still haven't quite gotten used to it, I click "All Programs" and expect a list to fly out. Now it's nested in the start menu, where it usually lists your most-used programs. It's a lot quicker this way, because you don't need to move your mouse around half the screen trying to look for a certain programs. Personally, I copy shortcuts of my programs and games in to my quick-launch (in nested folders ofcourse), I find it's a lot easier that way.

The "Breadcrumb" system is awesome, and a lot easier to navigate back and forward through your system.

The "Windows Sidebar" is horrible. Slow, and boring. Some people might like it, I've seen various programs that do the same for XP (among other OSesses's'''s'ii (English punctuation at it's finest, people)) and people adore it, no idea why. And that's just my opinion of the concept. The sidebar is just a sidebar, the content is made of "Windows Gadgets" (widgets). Widgets in general never really interested me. I always have a nice shiny desktop with a whole lot of nothing on it, and to clutter it up with "Windows Gadgets" is an offense to my taste. CPU Usage? Who cares, I'm a Windows user. If I open anything it's at 100%, what's the use of a widget that tells me this? A trash bin? When I have one RIGHT THERE on my ACTUAL desktop? The number puzzle is the only redeeming "Gadget", unfortunately if you're doing anything else at all, the tiles you click on don't move, they disappear. They are removed from existance and hurled into Oblivion at a hundred miles an hour, never to see your desktop ever again. Ever. It really makes the game quite impossible, and eventually, quite frustrating.

Speaking of Games, the new Solitaire is sexy as. So is Minesweeper and Spider Solitaire and all those other games that nobody ever really plays, Solitaire is where it's at.
The "Games Explorer" is a new feature of Vista that I quite like. It sits in your start menu along with the Control Panel, My Computer, Network etc. If you watched the Microsoft Press Briefing at E3 this year, you've probably heard all about it. It keeps all of your games in one place. At least shortcuts to them. You can install the actual games where ever you like. Think of it kind of like Steam. Steam is a seperate application from Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike etc. but keeps all of the games in one place, I guess you could call it a Games-Launcher. The Games Explorer is much like this. Any games you install will popup in the Games Explorer as a little game box cover, along with various information like rating, developer and stuff like that. Unfortunately there aren't many games that are compatible with it. My sister plays Sims 2 alot, and that actually did work with it. It sits there in the Games Explorer and auto-downloads various info like the cover art and ratings. I haven't "installed" any games in Vista yet, so I can't say much about my games.
More info here and here
Speaking of games, you'd think with DirectX10 being native to Vista, that games would run a little smoother, alas, quite the opposite. While some games run flawlessly, Counter-Strike: Source and Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, do not, they run at quite low FPS. One of the big selling points of Vista is how gamer-friendly it's supposed to be. There's still over six-months before they release Vista, I hope that's enough time to fine-tune game performance. However, it may also be my driver. I'm using a Vista beta driver, so it may be the cause of some of the problems.

Connecting to a network took about half an hour of poking and proding to do, but I finally did it. Ironically, it's in exactly the same place as in XP, it's just the sidebar is made up of all these crazy colours and gradients that the text doesn't actually stand out. At all. *shifty eyes*

Windows Vista actually has quite a nice UI, and with the glass effect, it doesn't really matter what background you have, it will blend nicely. And it does it quite well. I was quite suprised by this actually. I suppose Microsoft have a track record for making things look pretty before actually making things work. They did quite a good job of that this time.
The Aero (not Oreo, STOP WRITING OREO BAINES!) theme is suprisingly nice, aslong as you have the glass effect going. Once you turn it off the theme is pretty dull and boring.

I know it sounds silly, but I love the new transfer box. It shows a lot more detail and the animation is downright cool.
The box now shows how fast the transfer is going, how many items are being transfered, how many items are left to be transfered, the overall size of all of the items, the size of the items left.
I've noticed that XP really pushes the childish, bubbly look, while Vista has lots of smoothness and, honestly, looks a lot more grown-up.

A few things I've noticed that are SLOW. And by SLOW I mean REALLY. FUCKING. SLOW.
CD/DVD Access. I'm not sure if this is just my DVD Drive playing silly-buggers, but it takes forever to show the items on the DVD and when it finally does, tends to do whatever you tell to do at it's own pace. It took me five minutes just to select everything on the DVD and Right-Click > Copy.
Network. Networking has always been really slow with Windows. So it comes as no surpise here that Vista is just as slow, if not slower.
Windows Photo Gallery also seems to act very slow. Being a native windows program you'd think it would be fast.