I’ve been using Vista as a development machine for a few weeks now. I think it’s prettier than XP. Other than that and the appeal of using “the latest and greatest”, I haven’t enjoyed it.
Some notes so far:
- Searching. The search never seemed to find any of the files I was looking for. I eventually discovered that it wasn’t really searching everything on my hard drive, only areas that were indexed. So, I added C: to the index so it would find everything. Now it actually finds things, but the search results page is amazingly distracting. There are filters and options littered everywhere! It makes the Mac’s mediocre Spotlight look like a marvel of modern usability.
- The command line. It really is amazing. This thing has not evolved in a decade. Copy and paste is still incredibly awkward and broken. Oh, and who needs tools like grep when you have that awesome search?
- Sharing. This was one area where Windows beat the pants of the Mac for as long as I can remember. Sharing in Windows was so much easier. Vista took sharing a step backwards. After sharing a folder (which you can only do after navigating through the various control panel options which allow you to do so) the dialog box says “please wait a few minutes while your folder is shared.” Yup, that’s right, minutes. It used to be near instantaneous. Those were the days.
- UAC. I’ve heard so much about this, but it really was a site to behold. It makes Windows feel like KDE on Linux. Sometimes to edit a file (ex. your hosts file) you’ll have to literally fire up Notepad as an administrator and open the file that way in order to be able to save it. If you happened to open it by double-clicking it from a non-administrator Explorer window, you won’t be able to (and to my knowledge, you can’t in-place switch to a user mode and have to close and re-open notepad a different way). This is part of what used to give Linux such a bad rep for desktop apps. It felt so primitive – like a GUI slapped atop a system that was developed by other people (which, in Linux, is exactly how it is). Windows has now regressed to that point. Thankfully you can disable it.
- The Sidebar. I tried to like it. I like the idea. It should be useful. I found it hovered somewhere between “useless” and “distracting.” I disabled it. When I was a Linux user, I used GKrellM on Linux and really liked it, but when I tried to move to something more Gadget-like (SuperKaramba) I found it distracting. I’m currently happiest with tiny menubar meters in the Mac (in particular iStat Menus) and calling up the Dashboard if I really want to interact with a more serious widget (usually the calculator).
The good things:
- Terminal Services (Remote Desktop) is quite good. Better and faster than any equivalents I’ve seen on any other OS’s (although, in fairness, it was also good in XP).
- The font rendering is appealing to me. I don’t know much about it, but I notice that it’s different from XP and I like it.
Luckily in my case I’m not attaching a bunch of peripherals to it… that apparently has been people’s biggest source of agony. I’ve had no such issues (aside from Vista warning me that my graphics and sound card drivers, which seem to work fine, have problems). I almost wanted to come away saying “well I’m sure it’s a great OS for most people who surf the web, do some word processing, and check e-mail” until I realized what a low bar that is. So, my current conclusion isn’t that it’s bad, just that it’s not very good.