Checking out Windows Vista RC1

I finally decided to give Vista a whirl. I was not terribly interested in being a beta tester. RC1 sounded a little more up my alley. Recently Microsoft had made it even easier to try out Vista so I downloaded the iso. Despite using their downloader I had to restart the download several times. I guess it would be too much to ask that Microsoft offer the download via bitTorrent.

For my test case I installed Vista as a virtual machine under VMware Server. My laptop has a dual core processor, 80 GB disk drive, and 1 GB of RAM. The virtual machine requirements are pretty hefty, 512 MB RAM and a 16 GB disk drive. I followed the instructions VMware provides for guest operating systems. The special instructions that Vista requries with unpartitioned disk space was amusing. I did not time the installation but Vista appeared to install slightly faster than XP. I did go back and install a sound card to the Vista virtual machine since the Vista virtual machine template did not include one.

I did not really have a formal plan for testing Vista so I decided to try a little web surfing. The first thing I noticed was that I needed to install Flash. It installed without a problem. That got me to thinking. Who am I? After a little searching I found out that I was the “Administrator” but with my own login name. So I created a standard user since I think that is an important Vista feature. Now when I tried to install Trend Micro’s PC-cillian for Vista Beta using my standard user id, it wanted me to enter the Administrator’s password. The is just like the way Linux handles system changes.

For my next trick I decided to add the Vista system to my SBS network. This was a little more complicated since I needed to swap some cables around. My laptop normally connects to the network via its wireless connection which is not part of the SBS network. Sean Daniel provides some very nice instructions on his website on how to join Vista to a SBS network.

The “old” Firewall client installs but the client will generate an occasional application not compatible message. The “new” Firewall client does not install. The SBS Diva provides instructions on getting the “old” Firewall client to work without generating those annoying application is not compatible messages.

So far I have not noticed a performance issue with running Vista as a virtual machine. I did not expect to find a performance issue since it is relatively new laptop. The internal video card does not support the graphics intensive Aero interface but appears to be plenty adequate for everything else. Excluding the graphics index my Vista machine reports a “Windows Experience Index” between 2.9 and 4.1.

Over the next couple of weeks I will start loading on some of my favorite apps to see which ones install and which ones do not. I think installation issues will be the biggest problem I face. I already found out that PDFCreator does not install.

I did read an article on the internet by James Goskin in which the author claims that upgrading to Vista will cost corporations between $3,250 and $5,000 per user. His premise is that the “Aero” interface is the “primary upgrade inducement”. I would think businesses would be far more interested in the security enhancements provided by Vista. For those businesses who use Volume licensing and Software Assurance from Microsoft, the cost issues are considerably less expensive. Like previous operating system upgrades, computers manufactured in the last two years will probably match the hardware requirements just fine for business use.