So, as you must have read by now, last week we released a trinity of beta 2 products. Windows Server "Longhorn", Windows Vista (formerly Longhorn client) and Office 2007.

I expected build 5381 of Vista to be the Beta 2 release, and after a couple of weeks on it, found it good enough for me but not ready for the world in general - much as you'd expect about 5 months from release. The actual beta 2 build is 5384 and, as Steve explained, you can't upgrade to 5384 from earlier builds. I figured this was the time to try out the Windows easy transfer wizard,

Installing Vista needs less input from the user than previous versions of Windows and installing from the network took an hour or so. And was trouble free, with one exception... Only one part of my experience with Vista and this Toshiba Tecra M3 has been nasty and that’s the area of the display adapter and its drivers. I'll make another post about that soon. When I completed the installation, Vista said it was running on Standard VGA (if you can call 1400x1050 resolution and 16 bit colour "standard") That means no "Glass", not the end of the world, but a Vista demo isn't the same without it.

I used Windows Update to get a new nVidia driver and all seemed well. Still no glass. I've pointed out the performance feature of Vista in most of my demos - as Dirty Harry might have put it "A system’s got to know its limitations" - and if Vista thinks the hardware can’t run glass, it’s turned off with no way to turn it on. As Steve also explained you need to re-run the performance test, which I did. Still no glass. The more I thought about it the more the driver seemed wrong. I looked a bit harder - dated 2005 and no "WDDM" in the name. Thanks Windows Update for giving me the XP driver for the nVidia card! Eventually I got the right nVidia driver to install (supplied with Vista and named "NVIDIA GeForce Go 6200 TE 64M / 6600 TE 128M (Microsoft Corporation - WDDM)"), and after running the performance test again and - full glass ! Moral of the story CHECK THE DRIVERS WINDOWS UPDATE SERVES UP

Vista behaves strangely with my PCMCIA SmartCard reader - it doesn't recognise it when it does a scan for hardware, but it is OK when the card plug in on its own. So I reported that.

5384 recognises the machines built in SD memory slot, which needed a Toshiba component to be installed in 5381, but I still needed Toshiba's drivers for the TPM module and Infra Red to complete the hardware set-up for the basic machine.

Windows update served up (XP)drivers for my USB webcam (again 5381 couldn't do that), and for my USB to RS232 adapter (I need a serial connection windows detects the circuitry, but the Toshiba has no socket). My Smartphone was detected OK and drivers installed (although the sync components for Vista are still unfinished: Vista detects the phone as an Infra-Red modem too). It was the same story when I plugged in my C-Media USB headphones The drivers for my Digital TV stick installed off the CD and work with Media Centre so I did a quick check that I could get TV in Vista Media Centre (I could). Last to go on were the drivers for my older digital camera (which I now use in a diving housing). My presentation clicker installed as a standard Human Interface Device, and all the standard USB storage drives I tried were trouble free.

So that was 100% of my hardware working, 2 major quirks (graphics and smart card), 3 XP drivers auto Installed sound card, USB-Serial and Web Cam, plus 4 Manual (XP) driver installations (InfraRed, TV, diving camera, and TPM module)   

Time turn to my attention to the software. We use VPN quarantine services, so I had to configure that, though at the time of writing I haven’t tested it. First to install was our internal package of Windows Messenger 5.1 and Office Communicator. Office 2007 shouldn't need Messenger but RTC integration appears to break without it.

After that Office 2007 goes on, which is pretty trouble free. I've found that the Groove Add-in for Internet Explorer triggers a warning from IE whenever it starts, so I've disabled that. One of the Office web sites has Shockwave Flash on it so I let that install. My experience bears out the statement of Web Usability Guru Jakob Nielsen that most flash users meet is BAD FLASH , installing and disabling it means I don't get prompted to install it again and again. Every now and then I find something worth having it for, like conference calls in Microsoft which I found at Jason Langridge's blog

Office goes on as multiple parts "Professional", then One-Note, Visio and Groove. And Map Point (2004) which I'm (literally) lost without. Virtual Server has some problems with the version of IIS in Vista, and rather than try to implement the workaround, I put Virtual PC on instead

After that I added MindGenius and the software for my Suunto Dive computer - which was the reason I needed a serial port. I prefer the version 1.6 software to the newer 2.x but the old software works just fine. On build 5381 it failed during installation but it was fine on 5384. Despite the small increment in the build number quite a lot seems to have been tweaked. There are a couple of common file types which I want to be able to read, one is Apple MOV for videos. The standalone QuickTime installation point seems to be hard to find, as if Apple want everyone to get itunes. The other was PDF which, Jakob Nielsen doesn't like any more than he likes flash, but it's hard to do without, so it's off to Adobe's web site for Reader 7 for XP. Between doing the installation and writing up, Adobe made some changes ...

At this point I felt ready to bring my data back - a minor mistake was I forgot to remove the version of Windows that the 5384 installation had backed up, so the Windows easy transfer wizard, ran out of disk space. A second attempt worked well – although it lost my Outlook 2007 cache files and signatures.

With all the business software on I moved on to Capture one - which processes RAW files from my digital SLR Camera. Capture one ‘s installation fails because Vista reports that it is Windows version 6: Vista captures this, and runs setup in a compatibility mode which works beautifully. This will help a lot of applications. Capture one tries to create a thumb nail cache by writing to its own Program files folder, which falls foul of Vista's User Account Control, but it is the work of a moment to move it.

Next was Microsoft Digital Image suite which has a some features I like, and Paint Shop Pro (the ancient 5.03 which I still prefer for retouching), plus Advanced batch converter which I use to insert copyright text, bulk re-size and add borders to make all my web images square (a cheat but it makes page layouts SO much easier). I got it initially because it's the only tool I've found which will do bulk cropping which I use for some photo stitching jobs. Last of the photo tools for now is the Exifutils suite which lets me the data embedded in the images. The last thing I tried was the Panorama software I have been using for years: it's a bit of a lash up but I like it. Sadly, it really didn't want anything to do with Windows Vista, it's copy protection software actually triggers a message from the OS saying it has known problems, it also installs something called "metamail" which includes an Add-in which crashes IE. The name of the software, ironically is PhotoVista. Looks like I’ll be doing easy Panos in Digital Image suite, and difficult ones in PTGUI

With everything complete it was time to run a de-frag and Install Microsoft’s standard Anti-virus software and do a full scan.  

So the Complete list is

Business productivity

  • Office Pro 2007 (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, Access + Document Imaging and Picture Manager)
  • Office Visio 2007
  • Office One Note 2007
  • Office Grove 2007
  • Office Communicator 2005 (with Windows messenger 5.1)
  • Map Point Europe 2004
  • Mind Genius 2.4
  • Anti Virus

Web Content access

  • Macromedia Flash 8
  • Apple Quick Time 7.1
  • Adobe Acrobat 7.0.8

Non-work

  • Suunto Dive manager 1.6
  • Capture One 3.7.1
  • Paintshop pro 5
  • Advanced Batch converter 3.9
  • Exifutils 2.7
  • Microsoft Digital Image suite