Vista - it's cool, but
Because the service pack for SQL 2005 is now available (for testing) that lets it run under Vista I thought it was worth trying this new OS out for real.
So far the experience has been very nice. It's stable, it's visually a huge improvement on previous versions and most of the beta niggles that I was worried about have gone away.
The security stuff is annoying, confirming things several times (but I'd prefer that to getting infected or compromised) and some hardware vendors are not on the ball with hardware/driver support yet but I really notice the improvement when I pick up the old WinXP machine.
It is however not perfect. Although the personal niggles are very minor (and probably won't even get on the radar) they're the sort of thing that I keep noticing.... and I wonder how many others do but don't say anything...
- In IE7 why do I now have to type http:// in front of URLs. In IE6 (and IE7 on WinXP) it's assumed. I like that assumption. I'm sure there's a registry fix or a deeply buried property but I want it really obvious (there's annoying dialogues for everything else to confirm how I want it to behave). Even more annoying is that it's not consistent. Sometimes it's fine. Other times it won't play. I'm starting to suspect it's playing tricks on me ;)
- Also in IE7 why does it have to open separate zones (Internet, Trusted etc) in separate windows. Wouldn't tabs be good enough or doing something graphical to the chrome. If I wanted a dozen windows on my desktop I'd not have been one of the millions yelling for tabbed browsing. I'm sure it's something security related but it annoys me
- Why can't I autohide the sidebar. I can make the taskbar do it (and some would argue that the taskbar is more critical) and it bugs me I can't do the same with the sidebar. Also when I'm running dual monitors why can't it be smart enough to go hang out on the second monitor?
- The snipping tool is great. But why does it snip to bitmaps for the clipboard version - it means when I paste it into Word or Windows Live Writer it's not the most efficient format. Sure I can save it and insert in the target but that's too many steps for me!
- Why no DivX/Xvid codecs out of the box? Especially with Ultimate Vista is supposed to make the whole computing experience easier. There's a whole lot of material out there encoded in formats other than WMV (and we're not just talking BitTorrent and Limewire - I have a bunch of family videos re-encoded as Xvid AVIs). Not including it means users have to venture of into scary backwaters to download packages full of all sorts of unknowns... And it's not just video. WMP11 treats a CD ripped via iTunes (as .m4a) as ascond class "other" media not music - which means playlists area real pain to maintain if you were foolish enough to have used anything but MP3 or WMA as music formats (I know that's not a Vista thing specifically but WMP11 was the first of the "Vista" skinned products to ship so in the mind of a large segment of the audience the two are going to be very much linked)
- On the subject of Codecs... in Enterprise a couple of people I've spoke with (myself included) couldn't play commercial DVDs (get an unexplained "out of memory" error!) but upgrading to Ultimate and all was good
- Why can't I upgrade from a lower version to higher. I went from Enterprise to Ultimate but... as there's no update path I had to rebuild my machine :( If a customer want's to pay some $ to upgrade from a pre-install or corporate version to the best and shiniest it would be nice if the option existed and was pain-free. I thought that's what Anytime Upgrade was all about.
- It annoys me there's no Win+ shortcut to hibernate my machine (or to have the old 'prompt' option in power management for when I hit the power button). There are some really useful Win key combinations (I especially like Win + a number) but a simple Hibernate option isn't to be had. I know I can type Ctrl-Alt-Del, alt-s, h but it's clunky. It's actually going to be better when Sony do ship the Vista drivers - hopefully my laptop hotkeys will then work and I can do it with Fn+F12
- Power Management on my Vaio is a bit of a problem. It eats batteries and gives me pretty much no warning when it's about to hibernate. This is possibly also because of the missing Vaio drivers from Sony. I'm still hoping ;) But I still get better life on my new machine that I do on the previous Vaio (with new non-exploding battery) running WinXP.
- I've still not got Visual Studio and SQL Server 2005 running quite happily on Vista but that's probably user error!
By the way, if the start menu bugs you (and I still remember OS/2 Warp and it's LaunchPad fondly) there's a good app called VistaStartMenu to give you a different feel and way to get programs, settngs and functions.I'm growing to like the new start menu (especially the abiity to search for a program by tapping a few characters of it's name - similar to QuickSilver which I love on OSX, and spotlight which was Apples attempt to make something as clever as QuickSilver) .
Performance in Vista with Aero turned on is pretty good. It feels crisper and slicker than WinXP and I'm not alone in that feeling.
I'm sure there's going to be more - after all I've only been using it a couple of days - but the interesting thing is that there are incredibly few major issues... everything is pretty much related to my personal way of interacting with the system (which I've often been told is slightly off the curve!) and comparing it to OSX and a WinXP build I've had several years to tweak and customize.
Oh, and please note.... I'm in no way agreeing with this mob. I, like many others, choose to use Vista. A few cosmetic things aside there is nothing intrinsically wrong with Vista as a tool for my day to day use. Certainly nothing that would make OS X or Ubuntu a logical move.
Update: in what's probably the first of many "tweaking Vista" articles, Chris Pirillo has some very good suggestions.