Around the office loads of people have been saying the pretty much same thing... and before the management get nervous this has nothing to with it being "bonus season" right now. It's been "Have you tried the new build" . I haven't noticed this before
Vista is approaching the next major milestone: it's first "Release Candidate". Ordinary Microsoft employees (i.e. those who aren't Vista Developers) , are now running a build which, if it doesn't turn out to be the one to be made available externally is at least very close to it. You can tell this because the Internet explorer team have released their Release Candidate for XP, it's worth paying their blog a visit just for the IE 7 quick reference sheet
The previous builds have had one major problem for me - the Nvidia driver for my Toshiba M3 wasn't up to scratch. Odd behavior included failing to turn the screen back on when the machine came back from sleep - so I had to use hibernate. If IE was open when I hibernated when I went back some pages would "strobe" as I moved the mouse. Both of these things have been fixed. I've known for a long time what a difference drivers make and that drivers cause more windows issues than anything else. I've been living that for the last couple of months - a decent (but still not perfect) driver means this Toshiba doesn't seem "lousy" anymore, Visa feels better.
Then there are some things about Vista itself which are clearly better than 5472 - the July community technology preview build. I'd been running that for 3 weeks and although faster than my previous build, I described the performance as "lumpy" - it would have an unresponsive moment now and then - not to any pattern. That's gone, my 2GHz machine feels like a 2GHz machine. The time from log-on to starting work has been reduced so dramatically that I can only wonder what on earth was happening before. The time to come back from sleep (now that I can use it) is not much different from the time to come back from a screen saver. Overall speed is better: Outlook Web Access explodes onto the screen faster than I've seen it before. Battery use is better - I don't hear the Toshiba audible procesing indicator (fan) half as much which may be part of it.
It's not perfect - I reported a bug: if you delete properties you have set on a picture you can't edit them again - given what I said about using the Index for photography this is a pain. Soon after filing the report I got a flurry of mail from the product group who thought I'd found a variation of something they had fixed - this ended with a remote session for me to verify that their fix works - though I don't know if will be in RC-1. I don't think I would have seen such responsiveness if the team in question had been up to their eyes in bugs.
Postscript. While I was editting the above, Steve posted his entry The latest internal build of Windows Vista is REALLY GOOD he says we seem obsessed with build numbers - I hadn't noticed it before.
Bonus linksAs we get closer to shipping vista we can see the funny side. There's this movie which originated in Microsoft (thanks Steve for the reminder) and this song, which didn't (thanks Scoble)
Tagged as Microsoft Windows Vista