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Windows Vista Beta 2 Available for Download 444

prostoalex writes "Microsoft Windows Vista Beta 2 is now available for download from Microsoft's official site. If you remember seeing reviews of it already, Microsoft made downloads available to a limited set of customers last month. For PC users that are already running Windows Vista Beta 2, Microsoft put together a list of additional downloads like product guide and feature lists."
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Windows Vista Beta 2 Available for Download

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  • Ooops, Antitrust (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ckwop ( 707653 ) * <> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @08:11AM (#15493543) Homepage

    Okay, go to the "resource centre link", provided here []here for your convenience. What do you notice? I'll give a hint:

    Download the Windows Vista Product Guide

    Available in Microsoft Word format (60 MB) or the new Windows Vista XPS document format (12 MB) . (emph mine)

    Where the hell is the PDF? Aside from the fact that this is really fucking annoying it has some really worrying implications. They're trying to boot out the PDF format, which is nice, open and ubiquitous with their own format - and they're using their monopoly on the desktop operating system market to achieve this.

    Let me be the first to call "Antitrust. Thanks for playing Microsoft! Please give the EU another 600 million euros.

    For me, this little bit of text says it all. There's no PDF, they're pushing their own format that they know nobody uses. This shows that even after multiple multi-million dollar settlements and huge fines from the EU the company has not changed one bit. They seem to be acting much like a heroine addict, in that they're moving from one crime to the next, getting bigger and bigger fines but no matter how much you fine the company it is still pathologically anti-competitive.

    I do have to say that the longer Microsoft remains on this path, and refuses to comply with the law, the more likely that it will meet it's end equally as sticky as the heroine addict. Is it a rule that all big companies go the way of AT&T eventually?


  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @08:12AM (#15493548) Journal
    I am a simple man.

    I don't want an operating system with bells & whistles. I don't want an operating system that looks like it has a glass face or real marble or the most incredible anti-aliased font you've ever seen. What I want is an operating system that works and works efficiently.

    There's no reason to preach to the choir, I have many machines (most of them Linux) that dual boot to many operating systems but you'll always need Windows because it's kind of the 'industry standard' for some people.

    But when I look for an operating system the words 'form','function','marriage' & 'perfect' come to mind but not necessarily in that order. What I mean is, there's a balance I seek such that my hardware isn't stressed just to open a text editor yet the design is simple & friendly to the eye.

    I run Windows XP professional & it works. It works well, which is surprising considering my history with the Windows operating system. It can be cut down to a pretty bare point of functionality and I like it.

    So, Mr. Gates, why should I upgrade to Vista? Your "feature list []" (the same damn thing I've been seeing for the last year) doesn't entice me at all. In fact, it scares me. You know what else scares me? It might not run the games I currently play [] ... and I'm not even sure it will run on my current hardware []. Hell, even IBM [] doesn't seem to want Vista.

    Tons of cash for a bloated operating system? No thanks. I'll settle for Windows XP Professional.
  • by Saven Marek ( 739395 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @08:12AM (#15493551)
    I got to play with this a couple weeks of go, and I think MS is doing alot better than expected. Earlier reviews of vista and longhorn before that rightly criticized it for some really bad issues but they're very cleaned up now, and given them more than six months more to complete it I think they can ship something great out of this. I don't say it will end up changing the dynamics of a desktop in competition with linux as they are now very distinct systems with their own niches, as vista is just more of the same, but it's more of the same made better.
  • Re:Ooops, Antitrust (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) < minus poet> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @08:18AM (#15493584) Homepage
    Technically though it's their website and they can put whatever lame duck format on their they want. I don't think they'll get rid of PDF. Look at WMF it's technically a replacement for Postscript yet people still use that.

    The XPS format will either get opened up or nobody but MSFT websites will use it. Especially since Vista will still run Adobe...

    What you should be questioning is why XPS exists at all. PDF seems to do the job of portable document format just fine being that it renders [or can be rendered] pitch perfect anywhere. Unlike say Word which is a just a crime against professionalism...

  • Re:Ooops, Antitrust (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cliffski ( 65094 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @08:23AM (#15493609) Homepage
    Good. PDFs suck. My system is 99% stable, the only two things that lock it and grind it to a halt are Battlefield 2 crashes and opening a sodding PDF file. The sooner that cludgy file format dies the better.
    Im sick of having to read stuff formatted for print on a computer screen.
  • Re:Ooops, Antitrust (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Evro ( 18923 ) <> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @08:37AM (#15493660) Homepage Journal
    How many printers do you know that ship today or will be out within a year allow you to send a raw PDF file to it and have it print as is without any kind of client spooling and image degradation? XPS lets you do that.

    You make it sound like that's such an awesome feature... who cares? 10 years ago I could drag a PDF to the printer icon in Mac OS and it would print it. Why not just open Acrobat and hit print? I still fail to see how this makes it worthy of a completely new format.
  • Re:Ooops, Antitrust (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GeffDE ( 712146 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @08:43AM (#15493689)
    Before asking badly designed rhetorical questions, maybe you should know a little more about your subject. Mac OS X handles all of their graphics through PDF. That's what it sends to printers, and that's what its windowing layer, Quartz, uses. So maybe XPS does that, but so does PDF. In addition, PDF supplies "options and features" that are "widely applicable to many different levels and applications." I mean, Macrodobe is basing a whole new Flash application type system around PDF. As I said, Mac OS X uses PDF exclusively for displaying any sort of graphical content. So not only is PDF the standard for portable documents it is extremely versatile.
  • Re:Ooops, Antitrust (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DaHat ( 247651 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @08:47AM (#15493701) Homepage
    Apparently you don't know much about print spooling... in short print spoolers tend to play to the lowest common denominator between printers in such a way that images spooled on the desktop end up getting dithered a few times before heading to the printer unless there is some decent software on the system that is designed specially for the printer... and this software isn't always free.

    So... rather than force each printer manufacturer to have to build their own high end interface to the PC, Microsoft builds a standard and allows hardware and software makers to target it... kinda sounds like the evil that is DirectX doesn't it? You know, that evil thing that makes games so incompatible with different hardware and configuring your system a nightmare when you change hardware devices, IRQ's or games? Oh right, that doesn't really exist with DirectX anymore... that's how it was before we had a common standard for such applications.

    You can really summarize the difference and reason for XPS as the difference between analog or digital... say in display devices. In VGA the monitor is told "this pixel is about this color" while in DVI it is told "this pixel is exactly this color". While in both cases it is up to the end device to decide exactly what will be drawn to the screen and how, DVI is at least providing far more detailed (and more abundant) information with which the display can do it's job.

    Which kind of precision would you like to have in your printer?
  • by asphaltjesus ( 978804 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @08:48AM (#15493705)
    If you go to this link: [] You will find, This CNS provision will only apply to companies engaged in the following businesses: Independent Hardware Vendors (IHVs) focusing on printing technologies that consume XPS Documents in printers IHVs focusing on scanning technologies that create XPS Documents with scanners Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) that support the above types of IHVs through the development of Raster Image Processors (RIPs) and drivers You'll then notice there are Microsoft patents involved in the closed standard. Conclusions? 1. Typical OSS project is screwed 2. Closed standard designed to extend and extinguish competitors. (So is PDF in some ways) I'm not saying Adobe is the good guy here, but the print industry has had YEARS of working out the kinks in PDF's. I'm not sure what Microsoft brings to the table.
  • by kooky45 ( 785515 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @08:48AM (#15493709) where was the photograph taken that's shown on the Vista page at []?
  • Re:Point? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RealGrouchy ( 943109 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @08:53AM (#15493740)
    > Actually in both cases you get exactly the same reward - absolutely nothing.

    That's not entirely correct either. With neither a closed-source nor an OSS OS do you *get* any direct profit on the sale of that software. But at least with an OSS one you don't *lose* the hundreds of dollars you spend on it.

    In both cases, you *get* a decently functioning operating system. But your *reward* for purchasing Vista is bugs, viruses, and probably a decent one-way connection to the government/**AA spy agency of your choice.

    If they want to have a closed-source OS, then Microsoft can hire their own monkeys to beta-test it instead of treating its own users and customers like drones.

    - RG>
  • My thoughts... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Critical_ ( 25211 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @09:14AM (#15493873) Homepage
    I was writing a blog entry but figured I'd post it here.

    Although the latest Beta 2 detected all of my hardware except my smartcard reader, I'm not impressed. There are some issues with 802.1x authentication which is quite a large hindrance (especially for corporate customers). Mainly, it does not work in my WPA2-Enterprise (WPA2 + AES + RADIUS) wireless network running at my home. Vista would send the proper authentication information and the Microsoft IAS RADIUS server (running on Win2k3) would grant access (confirmed via logs) but Vista would not grab an IP address. Statically setting an IP also failed to provide network access. I had to pull out an old WEP access point and finally Vista worked wirelessly. Due to WEP's insecurity, I have resorted to having to use the built in gigabit ethernet. Albeit that most of the public doesn't have as an elaborate of a set up at home, but I'm surprised that this is borked in Beta 2.

    USB2 is horribly slow. I connected a USB2 memory stick to copy some files off the system when wireless wasn't working. The new Vista file copy progress dialog displays transfer rate. The fastest it ever got was about 300KB/s! Can you imagine waiting almost 10 minutes to transfer 150 megs locally? I almost went nuts. Again, I acknowledge this is beta software, but is it that hard to get USB Mass Storage drivers to work properly?

    The Aero Glass interface isn't very responsive. Since Windows 95, the mouse pointer in Windows has never been afflicted by pauses when moving the pointer. I'm sure all of us remember these hiccupy movements of the pointer in X Windows in Linux distributions a few years ago, but the Linux community largely solved these problems. I was very surprised when I saw this behavior in Vista Beta 2. I was running the Vista nVidia drivers. I also noticed the screen compositing process pegging the CPU usage to about 30-40% and sometimes it would completely pause for a few seconds before updating the desktop and its windows. I tried XGL on this same system and never dealt with any of the problems. Maybe my Direct X 9-enabled, 128 meg nVidia Quadro FX Go video card may be 2 years old, I'm surprised with the lack of performance. Can Microsoft streamline and optimize this in time for a release? I hope so otherwise I'll be running the basic interface if I ever upgrade.

    Vista Beta 2 is a resource hog. A full install with Office 2007 took nearly 14 gigs of hard drive space. After boot up, Windows commit charge was averageing nearly 750-800megs of RAM on my laptop equipped with 2gigs of RAM. Opening up Firefox with a few tabs, MSN messenger, and playing a DivX AVI in Windows Media Player 11 pushed up the usage to nearly 1.3gigs of RAM. I know any unused RAM is wasted RAM but when a basic Windows hogs that much, it shows that power users will easily have to push 4gigs of RAM if they intend to run Photoshop or a few instances of Office applications.

    The other annoyance is the new non-admin user model. It is completely broken and illogical. Inevitably, those people that get Vista Beta 2 working on their hardware will complain about constantly being bothered to elevate privileges. The end result will either be people disabling the new protection scheme or learning to click without reading-both scenarios are disastrous and will render this protection useless.

    As it stands, Microsoft needs to revamp the model. I want a Control Panel applet that will let me choose the level of incisiveness. Here is my proposal:

    1. Off - If I'm logged in as an Administrator, then it will work as current Windows machines.

    2. Default - The current default settings as shipped in Vista Beta 2. The user would be hand held even while in his/her profile (aka home) directory. Deleting, editing and installing any files would all require the annoying pop-up dialog confirming action.

    3. Limited Power User - Following the Linux model as shown in Red Hat of yesteryear, Ubuntu and others with a modification or two. All system files, installation of software available to the
  • Re:Ooops, Antitrust (Score:5, Interesting)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @09:29AM (#15493954)
    Obviously you can't be a monopoly without being the most successful company in your field, and after establishing a monopoly you can hardly fail to be successful. A company would be foolish not to desire monopoly, which is exactly why the public would be foolish not to actively thwart them. Why, if you're not careful, you could get a company so "successful" their key divisions make 85% profit margins year after year without releasing a new major product for 5 years, which consistently "earns" billions of dollars they won't even return to their own shareholders. Which is fab if you happen to be them, but a drain on the economy as a whole.
  • Seriously? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mike260 ( 224212 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @09:44AM (#15494040)
    If you don't want to run the Beta, fine, don't run it. However, to my mind you lose all rights to complain about misfeatures and bugs if you had an opportunity to find and report them, and didn't.

    Mate, that's the worst idea I've ever heard.
    Essentially, you're saying that the entire QA burden of software development should be carried by the general public, correct? And that bugs that slip through a public beta are somehow no longer grounds for criticism?

    It's kind of like politics; if you can vote and don't, don't expect any sympathy from me if you bitch about the state of your government.

    A better analogy would be a Brit such as myself bitching about the state of your glorious president, when I could have emigrated to the US, applied for citizenship, registered to vote in a swing state and then voted Democrat.

    Anyway, I have solid arguments as to why I don't personally vote, and I bitch and moan about my government with a clear conscience.
  • Re:Software Freedom (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:01AM (#15494133)
    As an individual, you have the freedom to decide what you put on your website.

    As a monopoly convicted of illegal anti-competitive business practices, the rules change!

    If you support free software (and individual freedoms), you have to believe that MS should be allowed to publish *their* documentation in whatever format they choose.

    No you don't. Microsoft should be forced to publish documentation in unencumbered formats, after what it's done. Maybe if it didn't have a history of abusing its monopoly to force its formats on people, it'd be different.

    Remember, by providing documentation in their own format, they are not removing your choice.

    Yeah they are! They're removing your choice to read their documentation without using their software!

  • Re:Ooops, Antitrust (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @11:30AM (#15494852) Journal
    PDF is an open format?

    Yes it is, as much as HTML or .txt.

    Well, not quite. PDF is open in the sense that you can download the spec and implement it without paying royalties or having any additional constraints imposed on you. HTML is open in this sense, but is also open in the sense that it is controlled by a standards body (the w3c) and anyone can propose additions to the spec (which is how we end up with five ways of saying red in CSS, for example). PDF is controlled by Adobe. In my mind, this isn't a bad thing. As long as they keep the spec open and sensible, it is fine, and if they stop then there's nothing stopping someone else forking it.

    Oh, and .txt isn't a standard at all. It is a huge collection of standards. What character encoding do you use? ASCII? EBCDIC? UTF-8/16/32? Mac-Roman? One of the Windows ones? What do you use for line breaks? Carriage Return? Line Feed? Both?

  • Re:Ooops, Antitrust (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 08, 2006 @07:20PM (#15498681)
    Considering that only the most expensive printers understand PostScript, I think it's easy to see why Microsoft didn't choose that format. Another possibility is that they didn't feel like solving the Halting Problem just to figure out how many pages are going to print in a job.

    The only way to do PS correctly is to license it from Adobe, which is why Apple changed from Display PostScript to PDF in their UI, and why only expensive printers use it. As it turns out, XPS is the Windows equivalent of PDF -- it's just a declarative description of what goes on a page, as opposed to a program to run that generates the page (like PostScript).

    So why is XPS better than PDF? Because it's a text-based XML format. You can open it up in a text editor and read it. You can write it by hand or with a Perl script. You can write XSLT to convert it to another format or transform it in certain ways, like n-up printing. PDF is almost useless without a PDF parsing/generating library.

    Another advantage is that XPS is a subset of XAML, so any programs written using WPF (Avalon) will be able to print very easily. Of course, being newer, it has many features that PDF doesn't have, like support for opacity and gradients.


"Now this is a totally brain damaged algorithm. Gag me with a smurfette." -- P. Buhr, Computer Science 354