Windows Vista – Initial thoughts on Beta 1

Yes, ok, it’s been out for a little while now, but I thought it would be nice to add my 2p’s worth.

The good

  •  Virtual folders
    • These are ace – they essentially display the contents of a search pattern you set, so "all pictures" for example. I haven’t yet worked out how to define my own criteria so I’m stuck with the defaults for now.
  • Searching
    • As it’s coupled with the above, you’d expect it to be pretty fast, and it is. When you click once on a file in Explorer, you get a sort of bar at the bottom for you to add metadata to files so that the search works better:
  • Group Policy
    • There appears to be a new group policy option called "pushed printers". Probably not relevant for the home user, but this is the first time us Windows SysAdmins have been given a decent tool for deploying printer settings.


The bad

  • Windows shortcut keys
    • Although they’ve not gone (Windows+E still opens explorer, Windows+R does the run menu), they’ve changed Windows+L to log out instead of lock computer/switch user. Put it back please!
  • Start menu search
    • At the bottom of the start menu is a search box, however it only searches for program names, not the entire computer. It’s confusing and annoying.

The ugly

  • The logon screen
    • Well, it’s radically different. I’d liken it to a KDE (Linux) desktop or Mac OS X. You don’t get any drop down box to pick a domain – you have to type [domain]\[username]. If you don’t specify a domain it assumes a local account.

      You also have to click a button to "switch user" – it shows you the account of the person who last logged on as per normal, however setting the policy "Do not display last user name" has no effect.
  • As Vista is built upon Windows Server 2003 SP1, you would have imagined that they’d finally allowed multiple logins – i.e. one on the console and up to two via remote desktop. Despite the fact that the group policy templates are in for that, and task manager shows the "users" tab in the same way as Server 2003, I’ve not been able to get that to work. It behaves in the same way as XP it seems.