By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2006-03-06 Print this article Print

With the recent release of the latest Windows Vista Community Technology Preview, which Microsoft has labeled "feature-complete," our view of the Windows-to-be is beginning to snap into focus.

eWEEK Labs tested the new CTP code, Build 5308, and found that Vista has outgrown much of the unresponsiveness and unpredictability that marked previous test builds.

This CTP release will be distributed to testers in the Windows Vista Technical Beta Program and will be available for download to MSDN and TechNet subscribers.

We recommend that organizations contemplating an early move to Vista—which is set to ship this fall—install Build 5308 on a test system and begin checking vital applications for compatibility.

We tested the new CTP code on the same box on which weve tested previous Vista builds—a 2.53GHz Pentium IV-powered desktop with 512MB of RAM. We also stuck with the beefy Nvidia GeForce FX 5950 Ultra graphics card weve used in previous tests, and it again delivered all the shininess and drop-shadowed goodness that Vistas Aero Glass user interface has to offer.

Click here to read more about the enterprise Vista CTP release. We were able to drop down to the translucence-free Aero and Windows 2000-like "classic" UI modes, both of which worked just as well, if not as stylishly, as Aero Glass and neither of which require a gaming-class video card.

One of the most promising new features of Windows Vista is its long-overdue support for enabling regular Windows users to run without the administrative rights—and without the security vulnerability that blanket administrative permission is heir to. Since our review of Beta 1 of Vista, the systems rights-control mechanisms have grown considerably smoother: Pretty much any administrative activity we engaged in prompted authentication requests, which brings Windows at least up to par with Apple Computers Mac OS X and Linux in this regard.

Whats more, we were pleased to note that, in some ways, this latest Vista build improves on the account control mechanisms weve seen in Mac OS X and some Linux distributions by not only providing a means for regular users to gain elevated rights but also enabling regular users to carry out some common tasks on their own.

For example, while running Vista as a user with limited rights, we were able to change our time zone and carry out certain software installation tasks. Most operations that required administrative rights appeared in Vistas interface with the Windows security shield logo beside them to denote the required rights.

Vistas new account control schemes offer the promise of avoiding the hassle of managing both limited and admin credentials for power users, but, in many cases, these new schemes will require Windows application developers to adjust their wares to maintain compatibility.

Next Page: Still waiting to be wowed.

As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at jbrooks@eweek.com.

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