Windows Vista and Office 2007 Public Beta
I installed the Vista and Office betas over the last weekend. I have to say that I am impressed by both Office and Vista. Vista is especially impressive in that it feels more secure, via all of the dialog boxes that pop-up when anything happens to modify the OS, and that it maintains decent performance on my Pentium D 2.8 GHz.
The Office beta while impressive, bothers me on price. I suppose that the Vista price should bother me too, but I feel less concerned about the cost of Vista than I am about office. Also, since I am not a “productivity suite power user” I probably percieve less value overall in the suite. For years, I've always thought that Open Office was more than enough for most if not all users. I had been using Office 2000 before that, I upgraded to OO this or last year.
The most important change to Office, while this is debatable, is in my opinion the introduction of the ribbon menu. At first I thought it was a ridiculous waste of space, but once I started to use it, I found that it was really intutive and that Office was set up right out of the box to do pretty much everything that I wanted in the way that I wanted. I was pretty lost for a while though, looking for the “file” menu which was hidden under the four squares in a circle in the upper left. Internet Explorer 7+ for Vista has the same problem. I spent about 10 minutes trying to figure out how to search within the page, until I noticed that I could change the orientation of the web search box in the upper right to “within page.” Stuff like that will frustrate most users, and it did frustrate me. Once I figured it out though, I was pretty happy with it.
I'd probably pay $99 for Office 2007, but obviously the huge version that I demoed will cost $599 for the complete version, and $299 for the upgrade which is ridiculous, no matter how nice the interface is.
Vista, gave me concerns when I tried to perform the update. I did the pre-test which said that I should have a pretty good Vista experience. I tried uninstalling my McAfee antivirus software, but it kept failing on uninstall (Vista said I had to before continuing). I had to manually remove it, including editing registry keys and rebooting until I could delete all the files, and there was no trace of McAfee anything on my system. It is a shame that Dell packages that crap with their systems. OneCare has to be better, I know the package that I use, Trend PcCillin is way better.
Anyway, after I got it uninstalled, Vista failed to upgrade my machine. I started the upgrade and went to dinner. When I came back it was sort of hung up. I powered down and powered back up, but Vista said that my install failed. Now for the cool part. My system wasn't hosed! It said that it was sorry that the upgrade failed, and that it was going to restore my system to its earlier state. It did and it worked. I decided next to install it on my extra hard drive, and that install was quick and painless. When I rebooted I have to say I was impressed with the interface. It was fairly fast and very good looking. The start menu is much better, and everything was solid, except that there were no drivers for my scanner or webcam, which was to be expected. The windows backup service is really cool, and is an excellent addition to the OS which will probably make me spring for Ultimate Edition. I installed iTunes which went in perfectly and Vista had no problems detecting my iPod or anything like that and most of my peripherals worked fine. Almost all of my software worked with it except for that stupid antivirus program.
What I have criticisms about is how slow the slickness of the UI made the system feel. It just didn't feel as crisp as XP. Of course you can change the UI so that it works pretty much like windows 2003, and it is fast, but that is not the problem, nor was my hardware the issue, although it did grab 1.1 GB of my 2 GB of RAM. I'd probably like to have 4 GB to run it well. I'd liken the issue to the speed of the sheet rollout in OS X. It just made the system feel slow. Hopefully there will be a 3rd party application to speed this up.
Another criticism that I have is the way Vista started going mad indexing my hard drive on boot. Once the UI was up, my drives went insane and it was indexing at full bore. It didn't even tell me what was going on. Once it was finished, the search functionality was at least as good as Spotlight, and probably better, although I didn't really push that so hard.
All-in-all I think that Vista is a definate must have, and Office is a nice to have. If I spent all day in Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook, I'd probably buy it. But for me Open Office is more than enough and since I am an OS junkie, I will be getting Vista. As I play with it I'll talk more about it.