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View Full Version : Windows Vista 32-bit Ultimate OEM - First Impressions


Monolyth
01-25-07, 03:09 PM
So...Last night I received my brand spanking new copy of Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit OEM. Eager to test out the new OS, I grabbed the free GParted live cd to repartition my primary hard drive as 2-32GB parts to support dual-booting. Which was very easy.

Installation
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Easiest install of a Windows OS ever, enter some info and let it go, it detected my network properly and even downloaded the updates from the install so that my system was using the 'latest & greatest' already, very cool.


First Boot
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I was worried about my HDTV not working with Vista until I installed drivers, but no problems there, Vista set itself to 1280x720p by default (at least it wasn't on 720i). It let me setup my user and presented me with the standard 'start screen' which was quite familiar from having used Windows Servers in the past. It ran some performance tests on my system to find out what 'features' to enable out of the box, which I think is a great idea, no need to tax my system for something it can't do, especially if it hasn't got the right drivers (ie. no Video/Audio).


Installing Drivers
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Drivers seemed to go off without much problem despite both my nVidia (100.30) and X-Fi being beta's and no WHQL certification. After a couple reboots I then re-reran the performance analysis tool and after running it, WHOOSH my video went from a 1.0 to a 5.9/5.9 and then the Vista 'bling bling' was enabled.


The Vista Experience
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So now begins working with the OS, that is, clicking around in hopes of finding something vaguely familiar. This would be my first 'problem' with the new OS. Everything has been categorized, moved or had a name change to make it 'easier to understand'. Clicking on the 'Windows' Menu gives me my primary apps + a little button below to access other applications (similar to the "Programs" Menu from XP. While this was not hard to do, it was different and thus required a change in thinking that had been established since the early 95 days.

Attempting to setup hardware items presented an issue as the Control was completely reworked into a more 'user friendly' appearance, doing what any experienced user does, I quickly changed it back to classic view, viewed by details and moved on. One thing about the new control panel, there's ALOT, and I mean ALOT of stuff on there. But most use the old naming structure so it is easy to find what you are looking for. Be prepared though, many submenu's are completely different, setting up the audio has changed from the older 'combo box' interfaces to an icon base which I actually find more appealing.

Enter the UAC...every time I wanted to do something, the bloody UAC would kick in asking me if I really wanted to do something...Now I do enjoy the 'sudo'esk feel of the temporary admin-mode for changing critical settings, but the UAC was out of control, every time I wanted to do something it would ask me about it, very quickly I went through the control panel and disabled UAC, PHEW! Thank the maker!

Windows Explorer: We all use it, love it and hate it. And while the changes are not necessarily drastic there are some things I could do without...The 'favorites' list for example, while it's nice that it thinks it knows where I like to go, but honestly I would much rather be able to see the folder list in a larger pane.

Media Folders: Here's a nice thing, Vista is smart enough to detect 'media' folders and automatically change your folder view style accordingly, my digital pictures folder for example gave me small thumbnail views, and any subfolders I saw mini-samples of the images within that folder, pretty slick if you ask me.

Easily set file-type defaults: This is a big one for me, since I like to enjoy media from various sources I typically have at least 3-4 different media players installed on my machine which of course all want to steal file-type associations from one another. Well no longer. I can now go through a windows tool to 'easily' force a file type to open in an application of my choosing. This is a huge change from the cumbersome file-type association used in previous windows versions.

Glass effect: Is very cool, and being able to change the color and the opacity level makes it even better, I can't say much else about it...it's cool...yeah...

Windows Tab: Wow this is REALLY COOL! This has become my new alt-tab (windows key + tab). Flipping through the pages gives me a 'real-time' view of what is going on in that app even if the application is doing something in the background. For a real test I put in a DVD and started watching in WMP, hitting my tabbing did not affect play at all and it was awesome to see the movie play as I cycled through my running applications. Also hovering over an application in the task-bar gives you a mini-view of the content of that app, again another wow item.

Searching: The search interface is available right off the bat giving you fast results on a search. And searching my network it even quickly found files on my File Server running XP, niiice. :)

Windows Update: Is now an application, no longer do you go to a web-page and have it do the query, it is all right there, pretty handy, of course I turned off auto-updates and forced simple notifications.

Speech recognition: While my 'shotgun' USB mic is rather old, it worked anyway and gave some nice results, however be sure to train it for a nice long while to ensure good results. This could be a real nice feature especially when writing extremely long forum posts like this one. :)

Gaming: Having dual-booted (and my games installed on a separate partition) I decided I would give World of Warcraft a try. The game ran just fine with no apparent glitches. The only issue I might have seen a very minute reduction in performance, I would need to do further testing to ensure this, but as WoW is an ever-changing environment it is difficult to benchmark. Needless to say the game ran just fine on the 100.30 drivers. That is until I got a BSOD! DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here's what anti-Vista people are going to say, "OMG BSOD, the OS is crap!". To which I say this, that is a very uninformed criticism, lets look at a few things here. By running WoW I was running 2 beta drivers, 1. 100.30 drivers from nVidia, and 2. Beta X-Fi drivers. Now in the hours and hours I spent in Vista not once did I experience any stability issues, no lock-ups, no crashing, nada. This is not a flaw with Microsoft, it is just that the drivers are very beta.

Performance: Gaming performance was good, but overall system performance was much better then I expected, in fact way better. There were zero delays in doing anything and with Vista's improved dynamic TCP stack; surfing felt much smoother and single-source downloads flew.

Sidebar: Very cool little thing to have, I've added weather, calendar, and a mini-notepad thus far. The windows gadget website has ALOT more though, and since they seem to allow others to post there I'm sure the sky is the limit.


Misc Items: An interesting tidbit here, upon poking around in msconfig, I noticed that the nVidia drivers upon launch were set as something like "Windows 2000 compatibility" something or other (@ work right now so I can't be sure what it said). But I found that strange.


Overall Impression
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I think once people get past the changes in location on items they will be quite comfortable with Vista. As I said before working in Vista, I had zero lockups, the BSOD I had was while running a 3D application with beta audio/video drivers. Watched a few movies and did some web surfing. Installed most of my favorite apps with no problems at all.

UAC really needs to only enable when dealing with noob users (ie. give us a configuration box after the first startup and 'recommend' UAC as on for most users and then of course expert users can turn it off. This saves many many many many extra clicks on the most simplest of tasks.

We'll see in the coming months how the driver and software support progresses at that time I'll revisit my views on Vista and we'll see just where it all stands.

Athena
01-25-07, 03:21 PM
Hey what are you doing here? Now I am thinking of getting Vista now instead of next year. Grrr on you . Grrr ^_-

einstein_314
01-25-07, 04:52 PM
Nice write up there Monolyth!

Monolyth
01-25-07, 04:56 PM
Hey what are you doing here? Now I am thinking of getting Vista now instead of next year. Grrr on you . Grrr ^_-

Just doing a quick write-up! "Runs away in terror." :surrender

Tonight I will add some screen shot loving to it. :)

Alaa
01-25-07, 06:17 PM
Nice. Thanks for the tips.

RAY16
01-25-07, 06:28 PM
My thoughts on Vista pretty much mirror Monolyth's. It's not a revolution, but it's a welcomed improvement. I'm rather enjoying it, and I'm sure I'll enjoy it more once the drivers for various components are more mature.

HYBRID
01-25-07, 09:15 PM
Very nice read thanks.
I think i will install Vista this weekend instead of after Nvidia releases non beta drivers.

Xion X2
01-25-07, 09:31 PM
Great rundown, Monolyth! Thanks a mil! And yeah, some screenshots would be fantastic. :)

XP_GUN
01-25-07, 09:54 PM
^ I agree (w/opics)

evilchris
01-25-07, 10:28 PM
http://www.evilchris.net/images/vista.jpg

http://www.evilchris.net/images/perf.jpg

http://www.evilchris.net/images/cp.jpg

http://www.evilchris.net/images/rlp.jpg

RAY16
01-25-07, 10:47 PM
I'd like to note that while Flip 3D is eye candy, it's also pretty damn useful.

Monolyth
01-26-07, 11:17 AM
I'd like to note that while Flip 3D is eye candy, it's also pretty damn useful.

Very useful, it even handles 'dialog' boxes that were previously unaccessible using Alt-Tab which if they are not modal dialog boxes they may not necessarily always be 'on top'. I hated losing a dialog box.

And as evilchris posted (which I found last night) the task manager is amazing, great stats on there, and also finding out what exactly is running under a given process (svchost.exe) is no longer a chore, just click "go to process(es)" and it will highlight all the actual services running under that process. Very handy when disabling services I didn't need/want (ie. Tablet PC...yeah okay).

I apologize for not getting my pics up last night, I was errr...ummm...yeah...under the spell of WoW Questing. Thanks evilchris for posting some! I played till 2am and then tragedy once again struck...BSOD. /cry

But other then that one BSOD everything else was stable. I also think this is the first time I've actually begun submitting crash reports to Microsoft. I think it is very important to do so simply because the more reports they get the more they can do to work with 3rd party vendors to fix the problem (and the sooner my experience is more stable). I also LOVE the new "Check for Solution" feature, not only does it let you check for a solution to the problems; but each report you submit gives you a tracking interface to see if that particular problem has been resolved, etc. Very cool indeed.

I took some snapshots and got more familiar with the windows image library (which is pretty neat) nearly makes apps like ACDSee obsolete. The one issue I have with it is that it gives no options (that I've found) to save the file in higher quality, which I usually prefer not to see artifacts in my jpg images.

For FireFox users, everything works fine, but it took me I think about 3-4 tries before FireFox became the default 'Internet' application, and while MS provides a 'set default applications' tool, it did not display FireFox on the list.

Vapor Trail
01-26-07, 10:47 PM
Anyone care to comment on printer driver support?

I tried Beta one and two and neither supported my printer. I now have a new HP printer and they don't seem to have drivers out for
Vista yet either. :(

edit: check that!!! HP does have a basic print and scan driver out as of 1/24/07. Hey things are starting to look better!