Today I installed Windows Vista RC2 on an old HP Pavilion laptop that needed rebuilding. Being the gear magnet I am, I love just about anything technology related that’s new. This includes new software and OSs. I was impressed with how smoothly the Vista install went, getting me from initial install screen to the brand new desktop in what seemed like an unusually quick fashion, despite the 2 year old HP.
The new interface felt fresh and it was apparent Microsoft spent quite a bit of time trying to make the user experience from the get-go a positive one. There was enough similarity to the placement of things in the menus and overall system to move around without too much trouble. They have made some pretty big changes overall, though, so it will definitely take some getting used to.
After spending a couple of hours on the system, half of this trying to load a device driver for the built in audio card, here are my immediate thoughts in no particular order:
I Like: Updated Start Menu
I like the built in search field and the consolidated view of the quick links to Control Panel, Recent Items, My Documents, etc. Also refreshing is the single column list view of Programs. Some may hate this. I personally always seem to have problems with the real life functionality of the multi-column program view.
I Like: Windows Explorer View
This may take some getting used to, but I like the Favorite Links and Burn options built into the view. The new layout for the folder and expanded views also appears to have potential for making this view more useful and efficient.
I Like: Windows Sidebar
What can I say. I love gadgets. I know we’ve had this in several different formats on both the Mac and PC for several years now, but I’m happy to see it included in the base OS. Just like I was happy to see Apple include Widgets in OS 10.4.
I Don’t Like: Cheesy Icons
At first glance, they seemed kind of cool. After two hours of staring at them, they look dorky and too big. I’m sure the size can be reduced, but Microsoft could have taken a big step towards efficient use of space and usability. Instead they gave us some corny icons that appear to cater more towards my aging parents than the younger audience that will tend to embrace this Windows upgrade anytime this decade.
I’m Unsure: Windows Calendar and Windows Mail
I guess it’s nice they’re including these two key applications in the base OS (even thought Mail appears to just be a repackaged version of Outlook Express), but part of me doesn’t like the fact that they’re ripping off what Apple has included for years. Maybe it should be a compliment to Apple’s ingenuity and thoughtful planning that Microsoft has decided to follow suit. I’m on the fence on the inclusion of these apps, probably for personal reasons more than anything.