So I’ve been using Windows Vista Pre-RC1 over the last few days, attempting to get comfortable in it. It’s much, much more reliable than Beta 2 ever was, but I am still running into really stupid problems with it — and for something that hit Release Candidate 1 on Friday, I shouldn’t be having these problems. First of all, while performance has most certainly improved since the early betas, it still uses almost a gig of RAM from a clean boot. I’m not sure what’s up with that, especially considering Beta 2 after a round of updates actually used less. I installed a few applications and found it sluggish to get around. I even found typing sluggish in some cases. DWM — the subsystem responsible for Aero Glass — seems to really hit performance hard in this particular build, as shutting it off sped a lot of the “moving around” right up. While the animations are smoother, little things like the framerate of the Winamp Classic spectrum analyzer have dropped noticeably. This may be a driver issue — I’ll wait for Release Candidate 1 to be available to the masses and the accompanying nVidia drivers before I make a final call on this, but if these performance problems continue into Release Candidate 1 and beyond, I will entertain many serious doubts about just how many people will leave Aero enabled when they install Vista.
Also, Vista is at the stage where — and I don’t use this term loosely — absolutely stupid behaviors really should be ironed out. There was a random period of a few minutes where, for no reason, MP3s just stopped playing in both Winamp and Media Player. I went and checked a few things, and then they started again. Twenty minutes later I tried to start Photoshop up, and it for some reason complained of a “locked file” and then aborted. I definitely chalk this up to a Vista bug, as I have never seen such behavior in XP. The drivers for my Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-250 are buggier in build 5536 than in Beta 2, as I have lots of issues with video glitching up and the audio skipping badly at times. I’ve got a litany of bug reports heading MS’s way, for sure.
Here’s to hoping Release Candidate 1 — build 5600 — irons some of these glitches out. They have to do it, because Microsoft has built up the expectations that Vista will be the most reliable and sturdy version of Windows yet. If it falters on that point — and I have a real fear that it will — Vista will have a tough time getting adopted. So far, I’m still having problems becoming productive in Vista, and that does not bode well for the OS.