Microsoft has released Beta 2 of Vista, its next-generation operating system, this week.
PC magazine has a special report and a slide show of 46 images of the new features that are visible in Beta 2. Vista enables a sidebar — like the Google desktop search sidebar — by default and allows users to include new gadgets. The slideshow shows all the Vista gadgets currently available. The new Internet Explorer 7 has tabbed browsing and allows users to pick up web feeds from sites that publish them. There's also a Feed Watcher gadget that functions like a web feeds aggregator. And search seems to be highly integrated into the OS (wonder how Google will react to this).
Some impressions based on the slide show:
- The Vista's interface is in some ways similar to Apple's OS X.
- Many of the features have already been introduced by other players for their various applications or operating systems — Opera, Firefox, Apple OS X, Google — Vista has just integrated them into Windows.
- While MS claims that Vista can run on most systems, one would have to upgrade to better hardware to get the best out of the operating system. Vista needs a graphics card with 256MB of graphics memory to enable the "Aero mode" which displays a 3D view of the various windows.
- And there's always the two big MS bugbears: security and bugs — how well "Windows Defender" in the new OS handles these remains to be seen.