With the release of Windows Vista RC2 build 5744, Microsoft hopes the operating system is good enough to hand over to hardware manufacturers by the end of November. But after loading the new OS, we still encountered numerous minor graphical glitches and at least one missing feature, so expect to see at least one more interim build or perhaps even another release candidate soon if Microsoft is to stay on schedule. For a look inside, see our Windows Vista RC2 build 5744 First Take.
If our installation process is any indication, Windows Vista RC2 is not yet ready for prime time. Our initial installation--a clean install on a clean partition on an Acer TravelMate 8200 laptop using a disc provided by Microsoft--took much longer than previous build releases on the same machine. Although many will simply buy a new PC that's preloaded with Windows Vista, the sluggish installation is a step backward for those planning to upgrade.
At this late date, there should be no new features within Windows Vista RC2; however, there are a few new "fit and finish" additions within this release. There's now a Windows Vista Demos package that includes basic videos on how to use e-mail, the Internet, and files and folders (which are handled differently within Windows Vista), as well as how to send items to the printers, secure your PC, and set up user accounts. Here we see how to set up different user accounts on one Windows Vista system; basically, it's no different than with Windows XP, but it's a good primer nonetheless. The videos also come with a transcript if you'd prefer to read rather than view.
With previous Windows Vista builds, we've been able to load our familiar Windows XP applications on Windows Vista with little difficulty. Not true with Windows Vista RC2 build 5744. We use TechSmith Camtasia to create and edit CNET Reviews videos, but unlike with previous builds, within Windows Vista RC2 we were unable to display the playback, making edits impossible. A compatibility dialog box advised us that we needed the flash.ocx file from Adobe Flash, which is not included within Windows Vista, but after installing that, we were still unable to use the video playback.
Missing from Windows Vista RC2 is the Program Compatibility Wizard found in Windows Vista RC1. This wizard helped fool older applications into thinking they were running previous versions of Windows. With Windows Vista RC1, we were able to run a Windows 95 game demo with only 256-bit graphics within Windows Vista with no glitches. It seems odd, given that program compatibility is a major headache for users upgrading to a new OS, that Microsoft would suddenly drop this feature.
We also found that our Windows Vista RC2 Aero graphics system experienced occasional yet annoying glitches. For example, if we search for sample videos, we should see a thumbnail image of the video, yet we didn't always get that result. Again, the flaws apparent in Windows Vista RC2 aren't dramatic, but they're annoying. If we bought a new Windows Vista computer today, we'd be disappointed; if we upgraded, we'd be more than a little frustrated. For a look inside, see our Windows Vista RC2 build 5744 First Take