Well, it's been 12 hours since Microsoft released the largest slew of beta bits it has ever churned out, and the dust is still settlling. But I've been running 5381 as my sole OS since it was released last week, and I definitely have some observations.
The news of two weekends ago was that Microsoft was paying bonuses for finding bugs in Windows over the Mother's Day weekend. At that time, I observed it was a hail-mary effort to make Beta 2 as pain free to consumers as possible. Yeah, that's my "I snort the Kool-aid every morning at breakfast" way of saying that 5381 was a dog, and MS needed to fix it or get beaten up like an ex-CTU agent. While I can't confirm anything, 5384.4 was built on the 18th of May (last Thursday) at 2:55pm... 4 days after that weekend bug bash. From what I have seen so far, this build could very well be the result of those efforts. It's not without problems, but compared to what it could have been... it's much better that I expected.
Performance in 5384 has been fantastic. One of my bigger beefs with 5381 was the way the desktop presented itself on bootup. The desktop would already be visible for several seconds before the "Windows Start" sound would appear. Now, the "Preparing your Desktop" screen stays visible until my desktop is almost completely loaded... which is a much better experience. Performance is improved everywhere. IE7 ditched that REALLY FREAKIN ANNOYING flicker that made me want to punch my screen...which was really nice for my anger management classes. Creates far less homework for me.
I've had a tablet for almost a year now, and I hardly ever use it to write with. Why? Because handwriting recognition on XP was too hamstrung by the combination of a poor correcting experience and bad OOB handwriting recognition. Vista's tablet functionality changes all that. The last post I made was my first time using the TIP in this build, and I only had to make 3 corrections. And the recognition is lightning fast. I'll definitely be using that more often.
Office 2007 Beta 2
Aside from the very visible mistake of selecting a third party to build the download system (especially when you have 2 perfectly capable ones already), Office 2007 is about as solid a beta as you can get. Even though past releases have been built under the Cone of Silence, Steven Sinofsky has opened up the team and done an outstanding job in this version. I'm already looking forward to seeing what Steven does with the Windows team for Vienna.
Outlook 2007 Beta 2
WOW. This is the first time I can use the words "Outlook" and "performance" in a sentance that isn't derrogatory. Outlook in Beta 1 was so bad I didn't even use it... I stuck with 2003. The Technical Refresh was more stable, if still really slow. I have a 350MB OST file and a 1.1GB archive file, and Outlook has never opened faster. I was completely dumbfounded. It takes less than two seconds to open Outlook, complete with a fully-loaded Preview Pane. If the next 4 months are going to focus on stabilization and performance, I don't know what they're going to be working on.
The Bad Stuff
There's a lot more I like, but it's late and I have ranting to do. Just to prove I'm done snorting Kool-aid lines for the day, here's the stuff I don't like thus far:
- Heat - Forget chemical castration for sex offenders. Most of these guys are hooked on internet porn anyways... just give them a laptop with a free net connection and a souped up graphics card running Windows Aero. Use sensors and that new FlexGo system to make sure they can only use the laptop when it's in their lap. After their nuts melt to their legs, they won't be able to do bad things to people anymore. The heat problem is so bad, I'm seriously considering modding my Toshiba Tablet Dock II for liquid cooling and/or fans.
- Downloads/Connect - Connect still sucks. I'm sorry guys, I really wish I could be more constructive for you, but after a year of this, I can't. I mean, you can't even sort the downloads list so the newest ones are on top. It's like 4 additional letters in a SQL statement. I'm seriously considering writing a better one myself using ASP.NET 2.0 and Atlas and documenting what it takes. Microsoft has a whole web development division, and they're re-inventing the wheel on the Windows side of the house every time they want a website. Fortunately, the builds were all up on MSDN at the same time, and their servers can handle the load. If I had downloaded from connect, it would have taken me 8 hours. MSDN had Vista bits in my hand in 90 minutes. Oh yeah, and what the hell ever happened to Avalanche?
- Multiple Monitors - Really, guys... how tough is it to extend the taskbar across both screens? I mean... come on. I was at a new potential employer's office over the weekend, and several people have 3 or 4 monitors. If I had to traverse 2 screens with my mouse to get to the Start Menu, I'd jab my eye out with my tablet stylus.
- Heat - Did I mention Vista makes my laptop scalding hot yet?
- Compatibility - Nero, .NET Framework 1.1, Virtual CD Control Panel, device drivers.... all DOA. Someone's gotta step up to the plate here...
- Toshiba/Nvidia - WTF? Are you gonna just sit there and let ATI walk all over you? Or are you going to get off your collective butts and update your drivers for the next major Windows release? Do you need some kind of written invitation? Here, I'll make it for you: You are cordially invited to make sure that the thousands of people testing Vista on your crap might spend their money on you again. Don't worry though, my wallet will be avoiding you like you've got Bird Flu.
- Disk Space - 8GB? I sure hope MS plans on scaling that down a bit for RTM. I know there are several directories that are duplicates. WIM is cool and all, but if I don't install a feature, why should it be sitting on my hard drive?
- Battery Life - Windows Vista and Aero chew through my battery life like Veruca Salt in a gumball store. I get 90 minutes, if that. Where's a fuel cell battery when you need one?
- Heat - if I put a pot of water on my laptop, I could cook spaghetti. And if I put it in my lap, the meatballs would be cooked at the same time. Man, Windows Vista really does make life easier!
There it is... my thoughts so far. I'll have more observations as I outfit the rest of my family with the new betas this week. Happy testing!