Beta 2. Its a landmark. Its the point where, historically, upcoming Windows releases have been stable and feature-rich enough that testers could use it all day, every day. Sure, there will be some bugs and quirks, but no showstoppers that would make you run the old OS all the time and only pop into the beta for specific tests. This is a critical tipping point for operating systems, because if the people making it and the testers at large cant use it every day, they cant really find all the problems that will crop up for normal users upon release.
Windows Vista just hit the Beta 2 milestone, and its frankly too early for us to confidently say you can use it (on a non-critical machine) all day for all your normal tasks. But there was one thing weve wanted to check for a long time, and had to keep telling ourselves, "its just too early." How well will our games run on Vista? Are there going to be major compatibility problems? Will the performance stink?
We feel that Beta 2 is the appropriate time to start looking at compatibility and performance issues in Vista, and that goes for gaming (one of the big selling points of Vista) as well. So we spent the better part of a week installing a bunch of modern, popular games on the upcoming OS, noting what works and what doesnt, and trying to find some simple workarounds. Has Vista got game yet? Lets find out.
The beta 2 build of Vista performs better than some of the earlier versions, but its still a bit of a performance hog, so we wanted to throw as much machine at it as possible. Besides, when the OS finally ships next year, there will be even more powerful machines available. Our high-end Vista gaming test rig was as follows.