Microsoft’s vision of the future

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By Joshua Duran

By Joshua Duran

Shhh . . .

I had to tell a lie to get the software for this article. Don’t get me wrong, it was just a little one; I told Microsoft that I was a software developer so that I could get a copy of it’s latest operating system.

Windows Vista Beta 2 32-bit (x86) premium edition. Long name I know. Lets just call it Vista.

Side note: beta software, for those of you who don’t already know, is software that is still in development, but has been put out in limited release for development purposes.

Beta quirks aside, Vista is looking to be a solid new OS. I installed Vista on my computer at home to see how it would fare on a computer that isn’t officially “Vista capable.”

Aesthetically, Vista is gorgeous to look at. The windows transparency is a nice touch and the Flip 3D is a dazzling way to navigate between open programs and windows.

Vista also features live taskbar thumbnails as you mouse over the elements in the taskbar.

An awkward change, at first, is the switch to a search based start menu. When you click on the start menu your cursor goes into a search field. After getting used to the new format I found myself finding what I wanted much more quickly.

You simply type the first couple of letters of the application you want and Vista brings up a list of matching programs. Of course, the more letters you enter the smaller the list becomes.

And of course you can always opt for the “classic” menu structure if you find it too hard to transition.

Now I will talk about something near and dear to my heart: video games.

My favorite addition to the standard Windows games is Chess Titan. I enjoy chess and am happy to see a more mentally challenging game added. There are three difficulty levels that allow just about any player to be challenged.

As for the real games; I tried to install my current obsession, City of Heroes, and was disappointed to see that the current version does not display properly. The game runs and I can technically play it, but the game displays as simple polygons.

When I contacted Cryptic Studios, the developers of City of Heroes, they told me that they did not have Vista compatibility and they did not have updated compatibility in development at that time. So it looks like I will have to forgo that gaming experience in Vista until some time in the hopefully near future.

Most of my other software worked well enough. I was able to run Adobe Photoshop CS2, Bryce 5 (a 3D modeling application), Winamp, Microsoft Office XP and several others.

I was unable to run Norton Systemworks 2006 premiere edition. Luckily I was able to get a free copy of Trend-Micro’s PC-cillin beta antivirus with a year of free support.

There are of course some small annoyances but I’ll just attribute them to the beta factor.

Even after installing Winamp and telling Windows to use it as my default player, whenever I downloaded audio or video from the web, Windows Media Player opened.

Beta software can be so much fun to play with.

Microsoft’s Windows Vista is expected to come out in late 2006, but if history is any measure of when a new OS will be released who knows when consumers will actually see it. Microsoft has pushed back the release date several times already.

But when Vista comes out prepare to be wowed, the look and feel is much more fluid and dynamic looking than previous operating systems. And don’t worry about not having a computer that is “Vista capable.” I don’t.

I will be discussing many other aspects of the Vista experience in later articles including my experiences with hardware compatibility in Vista. Media Player 11 is another beta that I will discuss in later articles, along with the new Internet Explorer 7 beta, and Microsoft Office 2007 beta.

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