pretty vista

So far, so good in the Windows Vista trial. I’m having trouble getting it to recognize my network hard drive (which was tricky even in Windows XP, for which it is designed), but everything else has been fine. The few Windows XP programs I’ve tried on Vista have run flawlessly. I suppose I’ll try to play a game (like BF2) in a minute. But for now, enjoy some pretty pictures of the new Vista interface:

welcome centerThe new Welcome Center shows noobs some basic information about their computers and provides links to fun things to do, like transfer files and settings or sign up for Windows Live OneCare.

desktopThe new desktop, in all its glory. Icons can be classic or ludicrously oversized tiles. The new Windows Sidebar, to the right, uses “gadgets” to provide more functionality to your desktop. Several useful tools come standard, like a clock and calendar, and more pointless things can be added – like a poker game. When mousing over a minimized window in the taskbar, an active thumbnail pops up displaying the window’s contents. Pretty handy, I suppose.

start menuThe new start menu is quite a bit slicker than that of Windows XP. For one thing, I like the Windows flag on the button better. Recently used programs appear on the left, and that search function at the bottom is quite intuitive. When you click on “Programs,” the menu doesn’t cascade out like in older versions…

start menu expanded…Instead, it simply opens over the recently-used programs, which keeps things much cleaner. New folders, when opened from this menu, simply expand down in the hierarchy, rather than out to the side. Pretty nice.

control panelThe control panel is now a bit nicer. Of course, the classic view is more intuitive, as it was in Windows XP. But they try to lay it out for the layman. All of the original functionality is still there, but it’s just displayed better.

properties boxThe “Properties” dialogue box now shows the file type. I’m pretty sure Windows XP wouldn’t do this, because I remember it frustrating me to see “Image File” or something of the sort displayed instead of “.jpg” or “.bmp.” If you haven’t noticed it yet, look how pretty the semi-transparency of the window is. It distorts the background and acts like glass – hence the “aero” interface name.

save dialogueThe dialogue boxes for opening and saving have changed quite a bit, and I’m still trying to get the hang of it. It looks somewhat complicated, but I imagine it won’t be much trickier than that of Windows XP once I get used to it. That search bar is still there, as it is in every window, and it’s pretty handy.

snipping toolThere’s a new program called “Snipping Tool.” It works like the “Print Screen” key, but it’s quicker and gives you more control. With the program running, you simply drag a box where you want to take the picture. Once you select it, you’re given some options for light editing, and you can save it instantly as any one of several popular image formats. You’re also given the option of sending the image via email, which can be useful…I guess.

internet explorer 7Internet Explorer 7 is here, and it’s pretty solid. It’s very, very similar to Mozilla’s Firefox, as it probably should be. I’ve been using it for a while now and see no reason to download Firefox, which I’m sure is what Microsoft was going for. The tabs, RSS feeds, pop-up blocker, anti-phishing protection, and various plugins all get the job done quite well. One cool feature Firefox doesn’t have (to my knowledge) is the ability to have several homepages. The main one will open, and several other ones can open in tabs simultaneously. Kinda neat.

windows media playerWindows Media Player 11 is here as well, and it runs significantly better on Vista than it did for me on Windows XP. The interface is slightly different as well, with subtle changes made which enhance the readability of the menus. The whole thing is just more responsive though, and when minimized, it can be controlled via the taskbar. This is yet another Microsoft product that has improved enough to be a viable alternative to third-party products. I won’t be downloading another MP3 player, even after all the years of using Winamp. Oh, and it shows pictures and videos too.

mahjongAll the included games have been redesigned. They’re just cooler looking, but now they’ll save when you exit. A new mahjong game is included, but hearts, minesweeper, and solitaire all return, along with quite a few others.

word 2007Word 2007 is also redesigned, but I haven’t had a chance to delve into the new functionality. All I’ve been able to see is that the menus have changed; there are no more “File” or “Edit” menus, though I believe there’s an option to get those back. Instead, there are tabs at the top which each have different options. This layout is probably better, but only time will tell.

media center libraryVista Ultimate encompasses all aspects of Windows computing – in addition to the included Tablet PC software, it has full Media Center software. This makes managing TV, photos, and videos pretty easy. It can be used as an alternative to Windows Media Player, but lacks most of its advanced options. This is just a prettier way of displaying media…

media center playing…As you can see, it’s quite nice. It’s designed for simplicity.

And that’s all I’ve had time for so far.

window color changingAddendum: This is the configuration screen for the window colors and transparency. You can completely disable transparency or change the colors of the windows. It’s going to end up looking like you want it to.

I did get my network drive working, but Battlefield won’t run from my XP partition and I’m too lazy to try to fix it.

15 thoughts on “pretty vista

  1. a lot of it (windows sidebar, search bar in all windows, files expanding along a hierarchy) seem ripped right out of osx. things that i really don’t like.
    this whole “aero” semi-transparency of the window is something i think i wouldn’t like either. ive had programs before that allowed transparent interface windows (re: eq) and i just found them annoying.
    visually its all very clean and modern, and the snipping tool seems really useful or at least entertaining.
    wmp and the open/save dialogues also show a lot of elements that seem like they came from the mac os. also with elements from some popular programs (adobe, anyone?) mixed in.
    did they re-design ie7 from the ground up (ie – no old security vulnerabilities?) or is it just the old code with new security and some extra superficial abilities?
    i never use tabbing on mozilla unless im looking at porn and multiple homepages just seems kinda… pointless.

  2. Well there’s no doubt that much of it is “borrowed” from other sources, but I don’t think that makes it less useful. The searching seems unique though. It’s very quick and handy – you never have to look for anything.
    A lot of it is personal preference, but I don’t really see how anyone could complain about aero. It all works very well – none of the core window is obscured by the transparency of the title and sides.
    I don’t know how much of IE7 is new code, but if you’re referring to any of those features I mentioned as “superficial,” I fail to see that (except perhaps the phishing thing, but that could help noobs). As far as security goes, I know they’ve already found and addressed security flaws in it since they’ve been running betas since before February. Vista pops up a warning whenever anything tries to connect to the Internet, or even when any aspect of your system is about to be changed (or a new program run). You can read some about its security here (a link I’m too lazy to read entirely). I do know that IE7 will be released as a security upgrade for IE6 on XP because of its added security.
    I use tabs all the time. They’re convenient and fast.

  3. Yeah, the multiple home pages sounds pretty cool to me. I visit the same handful of sites every time i get on the internet, but it does seem like it could get annoying if your internet wasnt working and accidentally opened IE and 5 tabs open and all have to 404 before they allow you to close the browser.

    another thing, hearsay (youd have to ask squitty), cant you disable the aero features?

  4. I added a shot of the window configuration screen.

    I had signed up for Beta 2 a month or so ago (don’t recall), but didn’t end up downloading the file before they closed it. I got a key though, so when they opened the pre-RC1 trial (100,000 download limit) I jumped on it and used my key. They should be releasing RC1 soon though, and I suppose anyone can download it (not sure).

  5. This guy came into my work today and told me some crazy shit. He said that one of the CEO’s of Google joined the board of directors at Apple. And he said that the main purpose of this was to create a platform/system independent OS that runs through the internet. Sounds crazy. Dont know how far in the future this is projected, but i am sure it is nearly a decade.

  6. I’ve read several articles about Schmidt joining Apple’s board of directors and none mentioned anything about creating a new OS. That seems like some pretty bold speculation on the part of your customer.

  7. You see. Scooter was very well spoken and apparently noticed the emphasis i put on saying that the guy said some “crazy shit”. And then Bj finds it necessary to chime in with his very ironic statement, pointing out someone else’s ignorance. (misspelled, also.)

  8. i am actually impressed with the computer science department. At first glance, I was pretty sure that the chairman of the CS department was retarded or even a bit handicapped, it turns out he is just a little eccentric in 1 on 1 situations, and is a very good presenter/lecturer.

    Then i have an Indian teacher who is very smart, extremely nice, and a good all around teacher.

    I fucked up with my work schedule and forgot to tell my boss that i was starting school, so i havent gone to one class yet, so i have yet to meet one teacher. We will see how that goes.

    But all my Comp sci teachers have this program called “Camtasia” that records the monitor output and records it to video (and the teacher wears a wireless microphone), so after the teacher updates the website the entire class can be downloaded and watched at leisure. LSUS also provides CS students with practically unlimited internet accessible hard drive space. The networks set up in the lab are very well managed and set up (much better than the ones at tech). The computers (although they dont have better specs) run much faster and smoother. [Wallygator knows what i mean. The computer science labs at tech are balls slow even though they have 2g of ram and 2 physically separate 3.2ghz cpu’s.] The only downside that i have seen thus far is that the computer science department is new and probably doesnt get nearly the funding that Tech’s cs department does, so the classes are not as hands on as choi’s robotics class, and students arent presented with the same opportunities of helping professors with research.

    Not very impressed with my math class. I hate it. Discrete math. And i feel as though the fat woman who teaches the class is constantly talking to us like we are 5 year olds (but a lot of the morons in the class subscribe to it, and sit there, and stare blankly, and nod.)

    all around, the experience could go either way. I dont think that i want to finish my degree at lsus though.

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