Windows Vista Retail – First Impressions

vistabox.jpgAs a Windows user I have been around since the Windows 3.1 days, which ran on top of good old DOS. I progressed steadily to Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Millennium, Windows XP, Windows XP Media Center Edition and now Windows Vista Home Premium (32bit version) which arrived today.

So much has been written about this operating system for the past few years that my mind is literally full of nonsense. There have been so many contradictory previews, guides and other articles, I decided the only way I could work out if Windows Vista was worth the upgrade was to actually purchase it and try it for myself (costly experiment!). I had learnt enough to know that I was excited about Vista, but whether it was a worthy successor to XP, only tinkering with the new features could help this quest of mine.

My main concern was that my PC is aging gracefully with specifications far behind what gaming rigs are at nowadays. Luckily my PC is primarily for work and much older PC gaming (point and click adventures etc), so here are a few specs before I begin my first impressions of Windows Vista:

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4, 3.0ghz Hyper Threading compatible
  • Graphics card: NVIDIA Geforce 5900 XT AGP
  • Sound card: Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2
  • Memory: 2gb
  • Hard Drive: Two hard drives totalling 460gb (1x SATA, 1x IDE)

Installation

I always prefer to run a fresh install of Windows rather than upgrading over an existing one to get rid of all the clutter. Booting from the DVD-ROM, the setup process began smoothly allowing me to select which partition I was installing to and whether I wanted to format the drive first. Installation was surprisingly quick and the interface right from the start has a very basic Vista feel making it all very pleasing.

Drivers

NVIDIA currently haven’t released any drivers for my graphics card, but the ones that are built into Vista do allow for all the new Aero glass effects. Creative have released some very early beta drivers for my Audigy 2, but they are incredibly basic and don’t allow me to alter bass, treble and other settings yet. For a new operating system though, everything is running very well.

Interface

Windows VistaPeople seem to either love or hate the new Aero Glass effect, but I am firmly in the position of loving it at this point in time. Some applications do look a little out of place, especially rather bizarrely Windows Live Messenger, which sticks out ridiculously! Windows Explorer has a lot of much needed enhancements such as breadcrumb navigation, but will take some time to get used to.

The 3D acceleration is really noticeable when moving Windows around the screen, minimising, previewing content from the taskbar and loading applications. I wasn’t sure how this would help at first, but trust me the features that are making use of the 3D aspects are superb.

Compatibility

I have been loading many of my old programs onto Windows Vista and so far only one has had a little bit of a wobble. Skype, Windows Live Messenger, Firefox, Natural Reader, Klipfolio, MIRC and Winamp have all installed without any hiccups. Even my very old Cakewalk Express Gold version 6 works without any problems whatsoever!

Speed

Reading some of the articles on the Internet led me to believe that Vista was going to be slower than XP, but at the moment I am seeing the complete reverse. I actually re-installed my Windows XP operating system for compatibility on another hard drive on the same computer and noticed it was still struggling at times, but Vista just laughs at everything and loads up the software virtually instantly. I won’t be trying any gaming applications until NVIDIA release some proper drivers for my Geforce class, but at this point I have very high hopes!

Conclusion

Windows Vista has totally impressed me with its quickness, compatibility, security and design. I have always been a fan of Windows XP, but Windows Vista really has moved things along nicely. This new software is far more than just Aero Glass effects and really builds on what Microsoft has learnt from previous versions.

Now I sit in anticipation waiting for Live! Anywhere, when the Xbox 360 features of Xbox Live make their way onto Windows Vista… Sweet!

James Woodcock

Freelance Journalist, Author, Blogger & Podcaster specialising in gaming and technology.

Ever since he experienced the first controllable pixel movement on the television screen, he has been entranced by the possibilities and rewarding entertainment value generated from these metal and plastic boxes of delight. Writing hundreds of articles including commentary and reviews on various gaming platforms, while also interviewing well known industry figures for popular online publications.

  • young

    Can’t wait to run this bad boy on my Core 2 Duo!

  • slam

    I’m at uni, so I have a laptop win XP, I doubt I will bother getting vista anytime soon.

  • Steevn

    I’ve been watching this since Windows XP was released. All of the various Alphas and Betas’ have been nice but he official release is the sweetest software yet. Grown AMAZINGLY efficient.
    Affordability is another matter, but if you can…DO
    Of course I thought Windows 311 was AMAZING for it’s time too. After DOS only.
    21 years of this and the adventure just doesn’t end!!!