eWEEK Labs has been conducting early testing on a pre-beta 1 version of Vista, build 5098, and although a good deal of roughness remains to be smoothed out, the Vista release were running in the Labs promises to make user data easier to organize and consume, while offering administrators some new tools for managing the machines in their care.
Vistas flashiest new feature is Aero Glass, a slick-looking, hardware-accelerated interface, marked mainly by its translucent window decorations.
In order to enable all the eye candy that Aero Glass can offer, we had to swap out our test systems GeForce4 MX 420 card for a beefier GeForce FX 5950 Ultra.
Its nearly impossible to judge performance on an early beta release, but our 2.53GHz Pentium 4-powered test box with 512MB of RAM worked at a good enough clip not to annoy us—for the most part.
Certain parts of Vista took a while to load, such as the systems event viewer, which also tended to black out our test systems wallpaper while loading.
Internet Explorer 7 is one of the more noticeable new faces in Vista Beta 1, and yes, IE now boasts tabbed browsing. IE7 sports a different skin than did IE6, but the two applications are more similar than different.
One change we noticed and appreciated, however, was the addition of a Delete Browsing History option in the browsers Tools menu, which allowed us to erase cookies, browsing history, Web form data, passwords and temporary files with two clicks.
We also liked the sync offline files functionality in Vista Beta 1—we synced a bunch of old stories and research materials to our Vista test box from a Samba share on a Fedora Linux desktop. Once wed synced those files, Vista began indexing them, and we could search through them using Vistas notably improved search dialog.
We encountered some application compatibility issues with Vista: when we installed GIMP to take screenshots, the application wouldnt run, giving us the error message, "gimp-2.2.exe stopped working and must be closed."
On a related point, we were annoyed that we couldnt select and copy those error messages.
This error did, however, give us the opportunity to visit Vistas overhauled event viewer, which now includes many more sorts of logged activities and tools for customizing log views. Stay tuned for a more extensive review of Windows Vista Beta 1 in an upcoming issue of eWEEK.
Senior Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at email@example.com.