Surprising me in the mail last week was the DVD Install Kit for Microsoft’s Windows Vista RC1 Client. I signed up for their beta releases a few months ago, but I wasn’t aware that they keep sending you the subsequent releases. Needless to say I’m not that upset about it.
After testing RC1 out for a few days, I can easily say it’s much better than the Beta 2 release. It has way better driver support, and has much more functionality. I was on the fence about upgrading to something that looked only marginally better than XP, but after messing around with Vista, I’m eager to cross over to the “next-generation” of Windows.
The real gem in Vista is its Aero functionality. DirectX is now continually running in the background. The main thing you will notice is that each window actually blurs the picture that’s behind it, be it the desktop background or an image you’re viewing. This cannot be done fluidly without graphics acceleration, and I have to say it looks really nice. Also, all the default “casual” games that come with Windows, like Solitaire, are all upgraded with Aero in mind. All games have either detailed 3D items or is running with high-res textures and art. And they’ve never looked better.
Beta 2 had a paltry list of programs that worked with it, but many companies have since upgraded their wares to fully work on the new OS. AOL just released AIM 6.0 with full Vista functionality. Program support isn’t perfect, but it’s starting to shape up.
But, because this is a games site, I can’t without good conscience skip that part of my blog. Right now, I haven’t messed around with running my PC games on Vista. None of my games have patches or drivers that work with Vista completely. I ran FEAR in compatability mode, but it ran nearly half as fast as it did on XP. Valve and its Steam client are also not supported on Vista right now. This is to be expected, but it’s definitely disheartening. One thing that worries me is the resource hog that Vista tends to be. I have 1GB of RAM, and 50% of it is used for just Vista. Msoft wants you to have at least 1GB, so expect to have to be using 2GB when running next-gen PC games like EA/Crytek’s Crysis.
There have been reports that DirectX 10 uses a computer’s resources more efficiently when in full use, but that means we need to pony up for a DirectX 10 compatible video card. I’m probably just going to get a new PC rig in a year or two. Msoft actually lets me install RC1 up to ten times, so I may just buy a good laptop soon without any OS installed. That’ll save me a few hundred bucks at least.
All-in-all, my time with Vista has been very pleasant. The MAC-like Gadgets are awesome (some still a bit buggy), and the look is great. Once programs and games start coming out for it, it’s going to be really cooking. It might have taken its sweet time, but the beautiful Vista will soon be upon us.