How can Windows Vista beat the pants off Mac OS X? Itâ€™s not really that difficult to be quite honest, seeing as youâ€™ve got a platform which supports over 90% of all applications out there, and the fact that you donâ€™t now need a specific computer to run Vista on.
Iâ€™ll grant the fact that Apple has created the â€œBoot Campâ€ software which enables Mac hardware users to split the hard drive in half and stick Windows XP on it â€“ thatâ€™s a good move from Apple, but even still, if I was to buy a Mac, I wouldnâ€™t even bother with OS X because itâ€™s complicated to use and simply, it doesnâ€™t support half the file types out there in the world.
I saw this video some time ago (Iâ€™ll try and dig it out from my vast storage server) of a bloke who hates the Mac OS X system so much that he deliberately recorded and edited everything you could seeâ€¦ on a Mac. But Iâ€™m not here to talk about the Mac as much; Iâ€™m here to talk about Vista and whatâ€™s new in the latest build. I’ll start with whatever I think of first, and carry on working my way through.
Wow… compared to Windows XP, has anyone realised how fast this is? You can search for anything and it’ll pop up a whole load of results within the first few seconds of it searching. Granted that the SearchIndexer.exe application crashes sometimes, but regardless of that it’s really smooth.
You can save your searches, you can modify the search to a whole load of different subsections including specific size ranges, data ranges and modified/created dates. You may think that’s standard, but it’s easier to search, it’s faster to search and it takes the hassle and pain out of searching, something which had to be fixed ever since Windows 2000 Professional hit the shelves over half a decade ago.
Windows Internet Explorer 7
Nothing much has changed in this build from the previous build of Vista, even the public-Beta 2 preview that was released to Windows XP, there’s very little difference. What I did notice, is that in the About box, it now says “Windows Internet Explorer 7+” whatever that means… but it obviously means that something’s coming after 7…
PNG transparency still works a treat, and it seems much smoother with the user interface. The Glass area’s haven’t changed, but the entire application seems more streamlined. You have a strip of toolbar options which can be played with instead of having a chunky Classic menu (which can be viewed at any time by pressing Alt on the keyboard). There are even more icons and minor changes – especially with the Feeds icon and the Favourites area of IE7. As expected, the favourites you store still link in with the Sidebar gadgets… of which reminds me…
Windows Sidebar (ahhhhhh :))
You’ve got to love the Sidebar. I missed it when it left after 4053 Alpha builds, but am so glad that it’s back and better than ever. We see even more Gadgets making an appearance in this build, such as the Stock Checker which enables you to check stock quotes. You have the option of even more skins for the clock (and some rather funky looking futuristic ones), a calculatopr has been added, sticky notes enabling you to leave a note on the desktop, but two especially cool Gadgets. The CPU Meter and the Weather Gadget – the CPU one you can probably work out for yourself, but it measures what the Performance tab in the Task Manager shows you, and the Weather Gadget lets you type in your local city and have a visually rich graphic showing you the weather. If it’s sunny in that area, it’ll tell you. If it’s snowing or raining, or even cloudy, it’ll tell you. Even if it’s nighttime, it’ll tell you! It’s absolutely great – now I don’t even need to step outside the house to see what the weather’s like!
I’ll say this though – back to the original title of this entry – placing all the Gadgets on the desktop really can make it look like the Dashboard on Mac OS X, but it looks so much better and the content is much richer. Windows 1, Mac OS X 0.
UAP (User Account Protection)
Not a huge amount of change you may notice, except for the background dimming whilst a UAP dialog asking for authentication appears, but a lot has improved. It prevents standard users from creating silly mistakes that can harm the operating system, but really does it’s job.
I tried removing registry entries, playing around with system settings and that kinda thing whilst logged in as a standard user. I really couldn’t do it without entering in my administrators password. We’ll end up seeing a lot more improvements coming to UAP over the next few builds, because some critisise it saying it doesn’t implement the UX (user experience) guidelines because there are so many dialog boxes, but before you know it, I’m sure it’ll appear much more appealing to users.
This build installs in less than an hour, almost guaranteed. I’ve installed it now on 3 machines at home, with WinSAT Ratings of 2 to 4, including one on Virtual Server 2005 R2 and they all complete within the hour. The general view of the installation is much easier to understand what happens, because it breaks it down in about 10 or so seperate categories all counting up what’s happened. Before you know it, the installation’s been copied and expanded etc. and the time goes by quicker because you’re being updated about the installation much more regularly.
We’ll see staged and unstaged installations being rolled into Vista, enabling system administrators to have a whole load of computers running exactly the same because they’re from the same installation package which is useful for corporate networks and school systems.
As a “colleague” of mine in the newsgroups said, Aero Glass does need a little work on it, seeing as it’s difficult to tell whether a window is active or inactive. I agree – the only difference I see is brightness and cloudyness of the window.
Nevertheless, a good example for a “full Glass demo” would be to “Add Gadgets” to the Windows Sidebar, stick a nice wallpaper on such as the palm-tree wallpaper in the “Vistas” category, then apply and move around the Add Gadgets window. Pay special attention to the diagonal lines, also known as “Glass refraction”. You can see the shadows and blending behind them, you can see the transparency but you must understand the complexity of the whole thing. Each pixel is updated every refresh rate, so if you played a video behind the Glass enabled window, you’d see the whole thing blur and refract.
What people may see as a gimick or a bit of eye-candy, I see as a technology as something beautiful. It really is like a set of glasses or spectacles, that’s probably the best way to describe it being a glasses wearer myself.
Finally for now, the fine details that are there. The icons have nearly all but been updated to brand new icons. There are brand new wallpapers in there (of which may stick for the public beta, we just don’t know yet) and the animations that are present in the dialog boxes when you copy, move or delete files – it’s all there just the smallest of details.
Windows Mail, the sometimes critically acclaimed new version of Outlook Express ships with the new operating system. Some people don’t like it, I for one am still getting used to it. However with it comes advanced searching of emails in the content bar at the top. You can type in and click andthere you have any email you search for. It also has integrated public newsgroup support so instead of having to configure it, you can access them instantly.
With newsgroups in mind, the MVP support people will have it much easier to select out nominated MVP’s also. With newsgroup post rating, you can rate a post on how useful it is, giving the user extra points or negative points depending on your opinion of the post. This helps other users pick out genuine helpers and also dull out the ones that spam.
Explorer has come along a long way since Windows XP. You still have the ability to search straight away from the folder your in. You have favourite links down the left hand side which enables you go straight to places where you might need to go in a hurry.
You have different panes such as the navigation pane and task pane which run seamlessly with the display enabling you to perform functions with your files with a touch of a button and not need to click through multiple displays. Not to mention, the views menu, enabling you full control of the view of your files. Yeh you’ve got the standard settings such as “list” or “large icons” and “small icons” but with the new slider menu, you can set custom views with your files and folders enabling you an in-between setting which many users have been wanting for some time.
The firewall has been advanced and set to “on” by default, and also had bugs that were present in Windows XP fixed. Windows Defender (previously known as AntiSpyware) has been integrated as part of the system, and set so it runs all the time but as part of the svchost.exe (the Generic Host for Win32 Services) so it runs in the background. The Security Center has had a bit of a facelift and enables you to customise the settings a lot more. Such things as UAP, it will alert you whether it’s running or not, but doesn’t let you change whether it’s on or not as this is part of the user protection again.
If anyone can think of anything else to add to this, leave a comment. But although there isn’t a huge comparison to Mac OS X in this entry, I still think that overall if you read again, these features totally outnumber what’s there in Mac OS X in my honest opinion.
Slate me if you will, but that’s my opinion from a technological professional.