Speaking of compatibility, our Build 5308 testing was another opportunity to check whether Vista would run GIMP, a popular open-source graphics application with which we prepare many of our screen shotsand which we hadnt been able to run on any Vista build wed tested. During our December CTP build testing, Vistas diagnostic tools notified us, through Microsofts Online Crash Analysis service, that "an analyst at Microsoft has investigated this problem and determined that an unknown error occurred in GIMP." While it was promising to picture crash analysts reacting to the error data wed chosen to send to Microsoft, a report of an unknown error in an application that runs just fine in Windows XP had left us wanting.Were pleased to report that the incompatibility we experienced has been cleared, and GIMP now runs quite happily under Build 5308. With Build 5308, we also got our first chance to test Vistas BitLocker volume encryption facility. We managed to encrypt our test systems hard drive without trouble, but we ran into a snag when we rebooted the system. Wed chosen to store our encryption key on a USB key chain device, but Vista didnt recognize that device at boot time. Instead, we had to type in the lengthy key.
Microsoft has highlighted deployment improvements among the notable additions in this build, but we were disappointed that we werent able to upgrade directly from the previous CTP build wed been running.
We did, however, note the presence of a settings migration tool; we were able to use it to transfer application settings, files and favorites from one of our Windows XP test machines to our Vista CTP box.
We also noted a speedup in installation time: It took 40 minutes to install this CTP build, compared with more than 60 minutes to install previous builds. We expect to see this time further trimmed in the builds leading up to Vistas release.
This latest Vista build is also the first to include the systems new Sidebar feature, which had appearedback in 2003in our very first peek at what would eventually be Vista. The Sidebar is more or less a "lite" version of Mac OS Xs Dashboard, lacking Dashboards capacity for spreading out over the whole screen.
Apart from a promising-looking RSS reader applet, there arent many interesting things to do with the Sidebar. Potential Sidebar applet developers, were standing by, waiting to be wowed.
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