Beta Testing…

[Post migrated from LiveJournal]

MOOD:  okay

Over the last weekend, I loaded on Windows Vista on my Dad’s machine…

Windows Vista

The initial impressions are a bit mixed:

  1. Installation of Windows is definitely a much easier experience
  2. The installation process no longer has any blue-screen DOS-type interface – it’s all done within a nice GUI – I wouldn’t mind using the wallpaper..
  3. First time use: the windows interface is definitely more graphical, which also means it is more intensive and demanding on hardware resources.
  4. Windows Explorer/navigation is more sophisticated – the top menu items are reorganised and slightly more intuitive to the regular actions performed.
  5. Start menu bar – retains the familiar features, with some additional features, such as which icons on the right to permanently display
  6. Additional security – file/administrator access: when installing programs/deleting files, a new “Admin-type” popup will appear – warning that the action will affect the system.

This change has its benefits and disadvantages. For example – the additional security makes it better for end-users who will now know for sure – don’t mess around!

On the other hand, deleting some files took forever… What would have been a 2-second job in Windows XP was like a minute… again, this is partly because when you move/copy/delete files, the message box which displays the action progress adds so much more information/detail into it…

In fairness, while the Upgrade Analyser/Wizard did not raise the hardware configuration as a potential issue for running Windows Vista, this computer is a little dated…
It’s a Pentium 4, 2.8GHz; 512Mb RAM; 120GB HDD – IDE, 7200rpm; 32Mb ATI graphics card.

The installation discs are DVDs – in order to install Windows (and Office) on the machine – I had to spend about 30min swapping over CD and DVD units between the machines. So, now both machines can read DVDs – only my machine can burn them.

Office 2007

Office 2007 can run on Windows XP!
Integration of Office and Windows Vista has certain implications. The major implication (as I worked out) is that you cannot use a networked PST file to store the main address book on a Windows Vista machine.

Say again?
Ok – the set-up for our home network is that my machine is a file server. All documents are stored on the data drive of my machine. My Dad has a local account on this machine – fairly straightforward.

When I use my machine, my Dad has the ability to use his own machine. On his machine, his My Documents points to my computer – thus sharing the same My Documents files (including email). In this way, my Dad can access his emails from either machine. If I’m not using my machine, he can use it. Of course, in order for my Dad’s emails to work on his machine, my machine needs to be on – this issue is neutralised by the fact that he only uses his machine because he cannot use mine!

Now that this has been explained – put simply – this same set-up cannot be achieved 100% using Windows Vista/Office 2007… =(
The cause I believe is with Windows Vista – they have reorganised the set-up of the Documents & Settings arena.
On the desktop – instead of the shortcut/link pointing to “My Documents” – it launches a User folder, under which you have several system folders:
1. Contacts
2. Documents
3. Music
4. Videos

Under the default settings, your Outlook contact list will also act as the Address Book, which will in turn link into this first folder – so that you can access your contacts directly from the desktop, instead of via Outlook. Nice idea, but I cannot seem to make the Outlook contact list (stored on the other machine) an address book… [which would make sense, as Windows Vista would want to store it on the Vista-configured machine…]

Office 2007 as a whole also revamps the menu system we have been accustomed to over the last 8-9 years. Replacing the traditional File, Edit, View, Tools is now a series of “logical groupings”, which categorise the common commands/functions. It is DIFFERENT. Good or bad? Well, in fairness, it’s just a matter of getting used to it.

So far, my own software (the one I have developed for my Small-Business client using Visual Basic.NET) is compatible with Windows XP/Office 2007.
I’m about to test the software out with Windows Vista/Office 2007… results will also be posted!

The Verdict

Unless you really need some of the features that Windows Vista trumpets, there is absolutely no need to rush out and buy Windows Vista. I suspect the majority of improvements are more business-centric than personal/consumer-centric. Also, make sure that if you do want Windows Vista you have a current-generation PC – ie Pentium 4/3.0GHz, a SATA/SATA2 Hard drive, 1GB of RAM. I suspect my machine will handle Windows Vista much better than my Dad’s machine – but I’m not prepared to make that move just yet…

Can’t wait to beta test some of the Microsoft Games!!!