I've resisted doing anything very much with Windows Vista until now, but eventually reality catches up with fantasy, so I finally decided it was time to get going. So, I've now got Windows Vista UItimate running here on a laptop (a Dell XPS1530), and over the next few weeks will be taking a bit of time to familiarize myself with its ins and outs.
First impressions usually don't really mean too much - the most I'd usually say about them is that they're a useful indicator of the things you *liked* in previous versions of the OS. In this case, there are a few first impressions that come to mind.
- Vista seems to want to connect to the Net for *everything*. My Dell came with a TV tuner card, and Windows even wants to connect to the Net before I can use that. Now, I accept that the Net is pretty much omnipresent now, but even so, there are still going to be plenty of times when you want to use a laptop disconnected.
- UAC... Well, I guess that about says it all. I've used this machine for probably three hours so far, and I'm already SO frustrated with the unending UAC prompts that I'm going to turn them off. This is a case of Microsoft getting an important feature so totally wrong that I don't even know why they bothered.
- The Windows "sidebar"... I've thought and thought, and I just can't see what use it has. None of the gadgets that comes with the system really seems to have any point to me at all, and I struggle to imagine anything that I would want there. It looks to me like a feature looking for a justification... But of course, other people's mileage may vary.
- The arbitrary changes to the "Start" menu - in particular the ugly new "programs" menu with its odd scrollbar and strange positioning - these seem like changes that will only serve to frustrate and annoy users used to the way XP worked. Of course, many times you think this, then a few months later (after you've become used to the new approach) you wonder how you ever lived without it... But I don't think this will be one of those cases.
- The arbitrary changes to where everything is really annoy me - control panels are changed, things have been moved, simple tasks have become enormously difficult (for example, I actually had to open the machine up by removing two torx screws to find the WLAN card's MAC address so I could tell my WLAN about it - something that was a simple right-click under XP).
- I don't know if I'm ever going to get used to the new Window close/minimize/maximize controls - they just look as though someone has positioned them carelessly during window layout, the way they are (for those few of you who might not have encountered Vista yet, these controls are now half the height of the caption bar and anchored to the top edge of the bar - they look really out of place to me).
- The look of the system is quite slick, but doesn't really seem complete to me somehow... I can't quite put my finger on it yet, but I think possibly it seems a little "over-stylized" to me - it seems kind of "busy". I'm sure I'll get used to that, though.
As an aside, the XPS1530 is a pretty cool piece of kit - slim and light, attractive to look at, yet still with everything you could ever want on board. I'd have no problems recommending it, regardless of what I end up thinking of Vista.
As I use the system more and develop clearer feelings about the issues, I may write more here on the subject.
-- David --