Windows Vista Beta 2 Review



A fair review written by Paul Thurrott.

My, we've come a long way. Microsoft began planning the successor to Windows XP in May 2001,
four months before it even shipped XP to the public. Then codenamed Longhorn, Windows Vista was
revealed to the public in July 2001. Previously, we had been told that a major Windows release,
dubbed Blackcomb, was to have succeeded XP. Longhorn, at the time, was viewed as a minor, or
interim, Windows version.
Over time, Longhorn grew into a major Windows release. In April 2002, then-Microsoft group vice
president Jim Allchin admitted publicly that Longhorn would slip from its expected 2003 release
to 2004 because of its storage engine requirements and advanced 3D user interface. This new
user interface, Microsoft executives said, would utilize the GPU (graphical processing engine)
found in 3D video cards and provide "smooth desktop animation and new rendering features and
effects." And with great fanfare, in mid-2002, Microsoft started talking about "Palladium," the
next-generation security architecture that would ship as part of Longhorn.

In the intervening years, Longhorn turned into Windows Vista, dropped numerous promised
features, and was delayed several times, damaging Microsoft's credibility. I've railed against
the delays, dropped features, and lackluster progress of the Vista beta numerous times, but
never as famously as in When Vista Fails, part 5 of a review of an interim Vista build from
earlier this year. Some people misunderstood my complaints. To my mind, Microsoft has
under-delivered on Vista in two ways: First, it made promises it will not keep. And second,
there are specific problems in the beta versions of Windows Vista that need to be fixed before
the product is finalized in late 2006. There's little Microsoft can do about the former at this
point, but I expect the company to spend a lot of time on the latter over the next several

So is Windows Vista broken? Is it beyond redemption, a product that is worthy only of your
scorn? Absolutely not. Windows Vista is a major Windows release, and that means there's both
good--such as great new features like Internet Explorer 7, Windows Media Player 11, and Photo
Gallery--and bad--the inevitable learning curve that occurs when Microsoft just changes things,
sometimes for no perceptibly good reason. Windows Vista is both a lot like Windows XP and
completely different. It will beguile you with its translucent, glass-like user interface and
will confuse you when you discover that commonly-accessed options are missing or moved.


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