As a technical analyst and general computer busybody I tend to get a chance to play with Microsoft’s operating systems as they come out. I recieved upgrade versions of Windows ME and Windows XP from Microsoft sales representatives while working retail, and now I’m using Windows Vista at work to test our software.
Let’s get this over with since, sadly, it’s the short bit and not without reservations. Vista is more secure than previous Windows, given that applications appear to be unable to launch without explicit permission. The shutdown feature is quick – like you’d expect it to be (unlike XP). Booting Vista seemed to be reasonably quick – XP takes a long time, but then again so does Linux. I say reasonably quick because on a clean install, XP boots quite quickly too but I didn’t have such a thing handy to compare.
As a long-time programmer of Windows I can see where Microsoft was coming from with some of their changes. In their developer documentation they inform you that your code should not write to the application’s install directory but rather to use the system registry or local user folders. However, doing so was not forced by the operating system (as it would be on a true multi-user system) and many applications totally ignored this advice. Microsoft’s solution was to virtualize this behaviour. Application installers put the program in one location, but Windows intercedes on file-access done by the application and redirects to a local user folder. So, it’s partially backwards compatible, partially not and either way is an ugly kludge.