i-think Twenty-Two

Now with more coherency.

Working with Windows Vista

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After reading an editorial article suggesting Microsoft should dump Vista I felt sorry for the Operating System. I wasn’t fond of it, but I figured my exposure was minimal. So therefore to get an accurate overview of how well Vista actually worked I grabbed the test machine with Vista installed, stuck it under my desk and use it as my primary workstation (using Remote Desktop) to access the Windows XP version.

So far I have been generally happy with it’s stability, but certain things are bugging me.

  • Today I noticed that whilst switching between multiple windows (Windows Explorer and Firefox) the icons would occasionally stick to the wrong program in the task bar. It wouldn’t stay that way for long. Once the program refreshed it’s icon it was fixed, but was still very odd. It was almost reminiscent of the days when running multiple web browsers resulted in websites melting into each other.
  • When Windows Vista is installing software by group policy it doesn’t tell me what it is doing, it merely says “Please Wait”
  • I don’t want users going to the Windows Update site because all updates are managed internally, but when updates are pulled down to Vista PCs, you can only install them by selecting the “Install Updates and Shutdown” option. An icon still pops up telling you to click here to install, you just can’t do anything with it.
  • Why is the default shutdown option “Sleep”? This should be an option at install. (It can be fixed by Control Panel > System and Maintenance Power Options > Edit Plan Settings under “Power buttons and lid”).
  • What is with the hideous colour on the logon screen? I’ll let that pass as personal preference thing, but the whole thing makes me sick
  • Why can’t we use the old style login screen for domain logins?
  • Sometimes a status bar alone just won’t do. When I’m copying files, I want to know how much of the file has been copied so far. Watching this number tick over helps build my confidence.
  • When playing around in Windows Explorer I sometimes accidentally select the DVD drive. If there is no disk in the drive it comes up with the usual message and ejects the drive to insert a disk. This would be handy if I was intending to insert a disk, but makes it much easier to accidentally eject the drive (but only if it is empty).
  • Why isn’t the status bar on the boot screen centred vertically? It looks like something is missing. To be fair, I do like a few things about Vista:

  • I usually have two rows of programs in my task bar because I don’t like the “group task bar items” option. Under Windows XP/2000 the start button took up half the height of the task bar with a blank unusable area beneath it. Now Windows Vista centres the new (and spiffy looking) start button in the middle of the task bar, so there is no horrible empty space.

  • Moving around in Windows Explorer using the breadcrumb trail is a thing of beauty. Especially good for navigating complex directory structures (this is probably my biggest gripe with the Mac OS X Finder). I like to know where I am and Windows Explorer is good at telling me that.
  • Start Search is fantastic. It’s a good thing too, because navigating through the start menu (all programs) is next to impossible, particularly if you are used to having it occupy your whole screen (which I admit isn’t an ideal option). However usually I know what I’m looking for, so after pressing the Windows key and a few letters I’m good to go.
  • I’m generally happy with the look of the user interface. I changed the windows to be blue and I’m quite happy with the look.
  • I like to see the extensions of my files. Yet when renaming files it is normally a pain because I have to retype the extension or adjust the selection to not overwrite the extension (which is way too complicated). In Vista, I select the file, hit F2 and start renaming. It leaves the extension as it was, but I could certainly change it if I wanted to. Smart.
  • We are getting closer to having a New Folder button on the toolbar in Windows Explorer. Why has this not been done? In Windows XP I use Alt + F, W, F to make a new folder, but it’s complex. In Vista, Organize > New Folder. Big improvement. (I still want my button though. Seriously, the open/save dialogs have it, why not Explorer?)
  • Volume Shadow Copies on a desktop machine. Very useful, insanely so.
  • The Reliability and Performance monitor is great for giving real feedback as to exactly how Windows performs over time. No more relying on general feel. The numbers are there and well displayed. So all in all, not a bad experience so far. Software compatibility has been ordinary, but the latest updates tend to fix most problems. Unfortunately the transition to Vista is inevitable (unless some real crazy stuff happens). Better to be ready before it is necessary.