A flood of reviews about Windows Vista have spread to the far reaches of the internet mostly detailing new features that are included in Windows Vista and how this is a great or terrible new Operating System from Microsoft.
As soon as Apple released bootcamp 1.2 I quickly grabbed it, a copy of Windows Vista Premium Home edition and then spent some time installing Vista onto my iMac. I wanted to see not only how realistic some of these reviews about the system were but how it ran for a normal average user.
Having originally participated in the public beta for Vista I was surprised at how much had improved in the OS by the time they released it publicly. Applications actually worked as expected and often ran faster and more stable than what I had experienced before. Not only that, many applications seem to work better than they do on XP.
I must admit that while many features have improved since the original Beta or even improved on the stable system that has become Windows XP, I quickly turned off User Access Controls (UAC) that constantly warned me of anything my system was doing. My friend said it best when describing UAC:
It's like forcing me to make a 25 character password, upper case, lower case, numbers, and special characters to sign into my hotmail account.Yes it is that bad and often pointless.
My iMac was rated a 4.5 out of 5 by Vista's custom analytic tool that will rate your hardware and how optimal it is for the Operating System. Booting up the system is as fast as ever but it still gets beat my OS X. Shutting down seems to take Vista a lifetime.
Standard applications that people will use everyday perform great. They open quickly, shut quickly, rarely lock up, and don't crash as often as they do in XP. Getting to your files and applications is also easier.
Although the integrated search could be more powerful, it does make it easier to find the applications you're using for. I know that with XP many users quickly switch the start menu back to windows classic mode. You won't need to do this with Vista as you'll never use the navigation tree to find an application. Click start, type in Word, hit enter, and Microsoft Word 2007 will quickly open. It really makes it easy and quick to find and launch the files or applications you're looking for. The location of the search is what makes it so useful. In contrast, I believe spotlight for OSX is underused because it is located poorly. Most users go to finder or their Hard Drive to find files. If Spotlight was somehow better located and available in these locations I believe people will use it as often as I expect normal Vista users to use the built in search feature.
ReadyBoost is a built in feature to Windows Vista that allows users to use USB based flash memory to increase the performance of their system by caching portions of their hard drive for quick easy reference. by the Operating System. I will never be able to say enough about this feature. It is the best thing that Microsoft has done with Windows Vista. With USB based flash memory readily available to every user, Microsoft has provided users a way to increase their systems performance without having to use a screwdriver or install anything complicated.
Insert your flash memory, set it to be used with ReadyBoost and you'll quickly notice how much faster your applications open, close, and perform. Additionally finding files and saving items to the Hard Drive takes that much less time. Its like giving your Computer a dose of caffeine followed up with a shot of steroids.
I hope Apple and Linux developers quickly follow the lead with this Microsoft idea and implement it into their own Operating Systems.
Windows Vista is an improvement on what Windows XP does well. The UAC is intrusive but can easily be turned off by the user. While some people feel Vista has under performed I would say that most of the areas it is lacking are with features or ideas previous versions of Windows has not provided. The system for typical users is improved upon and I expect Windows to make right what is lacking through feature updates. If they can get ReadyBoost right there is still hope for Windows!