Microsoft have released the public beta of WIndows Vista, the much delayed successor to XP. As such, being mad, I downloaded and installed it. Of course I didn’t want to break my games machine, so I installed in over the XP installation on my MacBook Pro. Luckily my important data wasn’t summarily wiped, so I now have a working dual-boot system with Vista.

Installation is a bit odd and documented on a Microsoft blog… you have to delete a mystery partition and do a repair after the first reboot to fix the MBR. Then Windows Update will find the WiFi drivers, the XP sound drivers work and your guess is as good as mine as to what the remaining unknown devices represent.

It does look a lot better than I had expected. It does go over the top in eye-candy, favouring looks over usability. For instance, the transparent window backgrounds are sometimes distractingly transparent. And the window fade in animation is neat at first, but fast becomes annoying. It’s fast and very smooth for a beta, but then I do have a Core Duo and a 256Mb X1600. But first impressions are that it will certainly make Windows a much more pleasant place to be. And the new mine-sweeper is very nice.

Other annoyances, from the 15 minutes I’ve spent playing post-setup:

  • It’s still very US centric. Despite selected the UK settings on the first setup dialogue, each later step assumed I was in the US. Come on, give us some sensible defaults!
  • The loading screen has no text, just a progress bar.
  • First startup I suffered a black screen for 3 minutes, a reboot then another black screen, followed by a desktop. Subsequently there have been no repeats of this, so I presume they just left the progress bar out…?
  • The currency widget does not make it easy to change currencies.

Of course one wonders if Mac OS X Leopard will steal its thunder come August…