Windows Vista RC2 build 5744 will more than likely end up being the final testing build of the new OS released to the public by the folks at Redmond before Vista hits shop shelves sometime very soon. Microsoft right now would be actively finishes up the final touches - fixing whatever bugs beta testers and engineers discovered, tweaking performance, trying to reduce the HDD space required and a multitude of other requirements I don't even want to have to begin to try and think about.
From the word go, we were impressed with the latest build of Windows Vista. Installation has been vastly improved over XP with the ability to install RAID controller drivers by means other than just a floppy disk drive. The Windows Aero interface is really quite spectacular for the first time and everything in Vista looks pretty damn fine. The most amazing feature for us was the 3D flipping technique which is going to amaze most people at first but there are many other subtle yet impressive GUI improvements which add to the whole overall revamp of the OS. Besides the visual changes, there are a bunch of new features to play around with and a bunch of performance and security enhanced hidden under the hood.
The fact that we didn't need to install any drivers whatsoever was a really bright note for us. This is a good sign that if you're running a fairly modern system, you shouldn't have any issues with drivers as long as you're running standard components.
Of course though, not everything can be perfect and Microsoft ought to dig their faces in the dirt when it comes to UAC - the idea is good and about time but the execution is truly horrid. As mentioned, we'll have a guide up online soon which explains how to avoid the endless bombardment of the security dialog warnings.
As far as performance goes, it's pretty much what we expected. Windows XP SP2 is consistently faster than the latest build of Vista although we would have expected Vista to lag behind a little further. This is for the reason that while Vista seems like just a revamp of XP, it is a new OS and there are separate drivers for it and they are only new and nowhere near as matured as XP drivers, which have been around for years. When and after Vista is finally released, hardware companies will come out with Vista drivers and it's almost a dead-set conclusion that those drivers will offer performance improvements and stability updates for Vista and take performance up to the level of XP and possibly higher.
We're left with quite a sweet taste in our mouths from Vista. Sure, UAC sucks big time but once that's taken care and out of the way of our eyes, it's really quite a nice OS. It works well and looks good but just make sure your system is up to the task of the hardware requirements of the various versions of Windows Vista.