Monday, June 12, 2006

Noteworthy items of the day

I honestly feel like they have worked out a lot of back-end issues at this point and have gotten down to some serious user interface engineering. Here are a few highlights of my experiences so far today.

– Firstly the all-too-obviously-named “start” button has appropriately been trashed for a more simple and elegant Windows icon. As such it takes up a little less space, making the quick tray to the right of it a little more worthwhile to have by freeing up some taskbar space. Also, the icons in the system tray by the clock now stack into two rows instead of one. I guess they have decided to actually do something about all the clutter that tended to happen with XP.

– The most notable change is the addition of “gadget” tray along the right side of the desktop. Sort of like the bottom bar on the Mac but by default it is not always on top (a good thing). It initially contains a clock, a news ticker and a small frame that cycles through you’re My Pictures folder. I added in a performance meter and a whiteboard (useless...just for fun). The gadgets seem easily programmable; there is some potential there. Still, I do fear that the Sidebar, as it is called, may quickly become a useless feature that I will never look it, namely because the only time I ever look at the desktop is when I start the computer. Conclusion - it’s cute, but I am unconvinced.

– The start menu has been cleaned up and a new navigation system has been implemented that I find much better suited to the space. Instead of what you are used to – having to hover the mouse over a narrow space in order to expand the folder off to the right so that it overlaps the desktop – they have replaced it so that when you click on the “All Programs” button, rather than expand it to the right, the area above it changes into a navigate-able ‘folder’. Would you were to click on a folder in there, the menu would then change into that folder. This new method is much more clean and organized. I’m not sure that my description does it justice so I have provided pictures.

– Getting the computer set up and established on the office network was a breeze, and the tools are much less confusing and easier to use than the sometimes endless stream of windows that XP would throw at you. Veterans of XP will find easy to grasp equivalents of the old tools in Vista, and n00bs will be able to do most stuff without any assistance. Help is also much more nicely integrated into the system, though obviously I only looked at it to see what its like. ;)

– One last thing that’s kind of neat: if you hover over a program in the taskbar a little window pops up above it showing you what the program looks like. Picture provided.

– This is all for now. More to come throughout the week on the new IE, the new file navigation system, and the new office (very different from what you are used to).

– Oh and if anyone reads this, just post a reply so that I know there’s somebody out there. All I need is an audience of one.

EDIT: I'm having trouble posting my screen caps... I will post them when I get home.

First Impressions

The interface is much tighter. They have foregone the blue-dominated color scheme for something that looks much more professional and much less “child-like”. When my gaze moves from the taskbar on Vista to the taskbar on XP I actually get a little shudder (have two computers here, one running the old and one running the new). The old color scheme was definately not suited to a workplace, but even at home it made me feel like I was playing with a toy. The new color scheme is comprised of grays and blacks… It has a very clean and smooth look to it.

My gut reaction is that the new OS seems to be geared more to ‘getting the job done’ in the most efficient way possible. Meanwhile, the old OS looks like it was trying to woo customers with pretty pictures that didn’t actually do anything, and at the same time making actually configuring the OS a real pain in the ass. This OS looks more ‘customizable’, possibly throwing a bone to linux users? I hope I am not dissappointed.

First Post!

Hi Everyone,

I was recently hired by a company here in Vancouver to test their database on the new Microsoft Windows "Vista" OS beta that was released a few days ago. I will also be using the beta of Office 2007 since the database is written in Access, so I will get a chance to play with that too.

At the end of each day I plan on writing a short blurb about the new system so that the world can get a picture of what their future will hold.

A bit about me - I am an experienced computer user. I have owned a computer since the age of 12, I have used the internet since it was text only, and I have worked at various places as a programmer, network assitant and quality assurance tester over the past 7 years. I am currently a law student and generally only use my computer casually, so I hope to give you all a good picture on the "use-ability" of the new OS, especially as compared to the XP system.

Intial review to come soon, stay tuned.

John R.