I took the plunge yesterday and installed Vista RC1. My goal was to see if I could switch to it as my primary OS. I had played with previous beta releases, but gave up on them quickly as they became too difficult to test. After hours of loading the latest release and the applications I use everyday and subseqently trying various combinations of activities, I concluded that while it has come far and is a very good step up from XP, it’s not ready for prime time yet.
First, installation was a snap. Completely unattended and when I came back ALL the drivers for my hardware had been found and loaded. Others may not have such luck, but it’s not like I’m running totally run of the mill equipment. Vista even found audio and video driverrs for an old television tuner that I have in my machine. Easy installation continued when I loaded up the latest beta of Office 2007, too. A few clicks and I was up and running (OK, after some install time, of course). Obviously, Office worked great with Vista. Something I can’t say for all applications.
I next tried to install Directory Opus, my can’t-do-without file manager and Explorer replacement. Pictures and icons might be good for some, but I’m so used to thinking about directory structures as trees, there’s nothin’ like a good textual file manager. It wouldn’t install. It seems others have gotten it to work, but not without some registry hacking that I’m not willing to do right now.
Next, I tried to copy saved files from a USB memory stick (Corsair Flash Voyager). I backup all critical files on my system to a USB stick. When I tried to restore them to the new Vista installation, Vista didn’t want to work with the encryption program needed to read the data from the device (the standrad Corsair encrytion program). All kinds of installation problems. Some of these were attributed to InstallShield, but after applying InstallShield’s patch, nada – still couldn’t get the encryption program running and, therefore, couldn’t read the data.
So now I didn’t have the data I needed and I was missing my favorite way to see that data. All with workarounds, of course. I copied the files from XP (on the same dual-boot machine in another partition) to my server then down to the new Vista partition – all requiring several re-boots of the machine they shared. Using the built-in Explorer, I saw the files and could manipulate them.
Testing an even higher hurdle, I installed several audio and video editing programs next. Happily, they all installed. Several refused to run or gave spurious errors while trying to run. I spent some time playing with compatibility modes, but that didn’t seem to change anything. Some worked. Others didn’t.
My last test was with the installation of the latest release of the ACDsee Photo Manager, my favorite photo organizing software. I had several hiccups during the installation, but it did install. Once installed, though, it ran pretty slowly. I’m not sure if that was because certain components didn’t load correctly, or there is still a ton of debug code in RC1 that’s slowing it down. There were other functions, outside of ACDsee, that also seemed slow to me during my testing.
I’m afraid that after those strikes, I lost my ambition to keep throwing more applications at it. I was impressed with the look and feel (blown away at points, actually) and the way a lot of the built-in functions of the OS worked seemlessly. Graphically, it looks fantastic. I think a lot of what is under the covers is more intuitive and readily accessible for those who are interested in playing or manipulating. It’s easy to see options and functions taken direclty from UNIX and MAC OS – selectively chosen features that work nicely in the Windows context. Even though my tests showed me that it’s not ready to leave Microsoft’s hands, my playing has turned up my interest in the release of Vista a notch. I think there’s a lot to look forward to in the new OS.