Windows Vista doesn't suck.
Really. Saying it sucks would be too kind. It's a steaming pile of you-know-what.
I got to install and use Vista RC2 today to test how my company's software works under the new OS.
The install process went as expected: the installer asked a bunch of questions, had me accept a license with a bunch of terms I'd never agree with if I was installing this on my home computer, then announce that since I wasn't running XP SP2, it was going to wipe out my existing XP install. No problem there: I've got XP install disks, so I can put things back when I'm done.
What it doesn't mention is that, in addition to wiping out c:\windows, it will also wipe out c:\program files and c:\documents and settings. Fortunately, there's nothing I can't live without on this computer.
So, an hour and three reboots later, Windows is starting the setup wizard. It asks a few questions like my username and password, and what sort of network I'm connecting to. Windows proper then starts up, and it brings up the "welcome center" -- and asks again what sort of network I'm connecting to, this time bringing up the "User Account Control" dialog.
The first thing I do with any new OS is to adjust the preferences.
Those control panels are a mess. Each control panel tab under XP is a control panel now, with one or more long "descriptive" names. They're categorized into ten groups, and any given tab may be in more than one category. It would take me two or three tries to find what I'm looking for, and I still haven't found how to change the mouse acceleration, or get rid of that "your CRT is going bad" drop-shadown around the pointer.
Oh, and that dreaded "Windows registration" stuff? Where Microsoft will degrade your Vista experience until you prove that you've paid the Microsoft tax? It's only by accident that I discovered that Windows hadn't been registered during the install process, and things would have started breaking in three days.
At this point, I'm ready to install and test our software. I click on "Network" to access the fileserver and download the latest installer. It takes Vista a while to locate the fileserver on the network, but at least there's a progress bar that indicates it's doing something. I double-clicked on the fileserver icon, and get prompted for my name and password. I enter them, click "ok", and get told that login failed, check my username and password. The password's fine, but now the username box shows "Junkbox2000\JoeBloggs": Vista has prepended my computer name to my username. As far as I can tell, there's no way to stop Vista from doing this, so I'm locked out of the network.
Further checking of the computer reveals that the old "Documents and Settings" folder is still there, just hidden. Since I can't remember where I stuck the installers, I bring up the search dialog. It takes me three tries to do a full-disk search filename search. The default search is to only search indexed locations, ie. your home directory, with a full-document-text search for the terms you entered. Selecting "search everywhere" from the "location" dropdown doesn't *really* mean everywhere, just those areas that have been indexed. You need to additionally check the "include non-indexed, hidden, and system files" box.
Searching for files by name not only gives you files with the specified name (setup.exe), but also close matches: setup6.0.2.exe, setup6f3.exe, and TGSETUP7.3B5.EXE-063E8B16.pf
So I've found an old installer copy, and I'm finally ready to install. I double-click on it, and immediately get hit by a scary-looking User Account Control dialog: "An unidentified program wants to access your computer". If this is the typical user experience upon installing software on Vista, people will get used to clicking "allow" in that dialog even faster than they got used to clicking "yes, install that spyware" in IE.
At this point, I'm running the latest version of our software, but I need to test the self-update functionality. The easiest way to do this is to open the "current version" file in Notepad and change the version name to that of an older version. I go to save the file, and get the following error message: "Cannot create the C:\Program Files\MySoftware\version.dat" file. Make sure that the file name and path are correct." No hint that the real problem is that I don't have write-access to the file.
I run the updater, expecting it to fail in spectacular fashion. After all, if I don't have permission to write to the application directory, why should a program I'm running? Much to my surprise, it works flawlessly. I suppose this is a hole in Vista's security model, but *I'm* not going to tell Redmond about it.
I try the PDF export functionality of our program, saving the PDF in the same folder as the original file. The "open file" dialog shows everything, while Windows Explorer and the command prompt only shows the original file. Rebooting does not fix this.
Tomorrow I get to test installing from CD. This promises to provide even more fun. After that, I'll try installing and running as a non-admin user.