Our first impressions of Vista - The Good Continued
After a bit of digging, you can find a lot of useful little tools and applications hidden in Vista but they aren't always easy to find. Next up we have the Reliability and Performance Monitor which is like an extended version of the performance monitoring in XP Task Manager. While it doesn't go into extreme detail, it does go into fair detail regarding usage of CPU, Memory, HDD and LAN. The network section is quite particular as you can tell exactly what program is downloading data from the Internet (or LAN) and from what IP address.
While we won't go into detail about the performance improvements Microsoft has said to put into Vista such as SuperFetch and ReadyDrive, one which interested us the most was the Windows ReadyBoost feature. This performance feature is designed to use flash memory (USB drive, flash card or whatever) to boost system performance by using it to store the pagefile / virtual memory or whatever you like to call it. Since flash memory is solid state and always on, it can be accessed quicker than the HDD and will especially come in handy when coming out of hibernation or standby. While it's hard to determine the performance increases from ReadyBoost, we gave it a try with a Crucial USB 2.0 drive and it worked without a problem. This feature will be more useful with people with older systems and not much RAM. Microsoft know Vista is intensive for older systems and it's good to see that they are doing all they can to provide relief for users with aging systems.
As we have already mentioned several times, the higher-end editions of Vista come with the Aero GUI which offers some quite impressive visuals. Included in Vista Ultimate Edition (cannot say about other editions as we haven't tried those) are some nice GUI changes which help to make the whole Vista experience. Besides the transparent windows and menus much of the interface has changed. Instead of boring old mouse cursors you have special cursors which are animated and add to the overall effect.
If you scroll over a closed window in the taskbar, a small window pops up giving you a preview of what is being displayed - yet another funky little visual feature, but will we actually gain much benefit from it? When you try and copy a file to a directory which already has the same file in it, you are prompted by a brand new screen which asks if you want to copy and replace, don't copy or rename the file you are copying to a different name, e.g. Quake4 (2).exe. When you are copying files again we have a new screen which tells us the file copy status including the amount of files, the size and the time remaining but it seems Microsoft still hasn't fixed the time issue as like just about every other version of Windows, the remaining time is not accurate and all over the place. You have a similar type My Computer structure with your folders on the left but it seems more streamlined and yet again Microsoft have done all they could to make it look sexy and they did a fairly good job at it here as well.
There has been a lot of talk about Vista being a resource hog and making computers run slow. While the part about the resource part is partly true - it does use more CPU cycles and memory to spin its wheels but that comes in return of impressive visuals and other new features. Using a high-end system which we tested RC2 on, we had no problems at all - everything was responsive and worked without any issues. Even though it not the final release yet, it was very stable and we had no issues at all - and that's using ALL of the drivers which come in the Vista install. Press in the past has reported Vista as sluggish, they may have been using crappy systems or maybe Microsoft has got their act together in RC2 and improved things.
Now we're finished with the good first impressions, we'll move onto some of the bad first impressions of Vista RC2.