So I installed Vista yesterday on a second machine, mainly because I want to take a closer look at IIS7 and I haven't been able to get LongHorn Server loaded on this same machine due to some partion access problems. Apparently this version of Vista has the same full blown version of IIS7 in it that Server does.
The first thing I noticed is how slow everything is. The installer ran for about 2 hours to get through the install. It seems the bottle necks is disk access. Granted the process didn't prompt at all except for choosing the partition and putting in the registration key but still. This machine has large and fast hard disk that is no problem running XP.
Same with network performance – I copied two largish folders (my Development folder and a utility tools folder) from my laptop. These folders make up maybe 100 megs of data, but it took well over 5 minutes to copy. Ouch. Worse Windows still aborts a file transfer if it runs into a file that is locked or otherwise can't be copied. I had a projects open in VS when I copied files and Windows just stopped – no message, just no files copied and abort in the middle of the copy. Ouch. Call that a nasty bug <g> - you never know what you're missing. But there's a nice flashy animate – woo hoo.
From a usability point of view everything is really, really sluggish too. My machine isn't a speed demon (this is a backup test server machine) but it's a 2.4ghz P4, with 2 gigs and a fast 7200rpm hard disk (but a generic video card). Everything crawls badly. You sit and wait for windows to open, and even while all this slowness is going on there many drawing imperfections like lack of screen refreshes and trailing content. I'm running in the lowly – "your hardware sucks" – video mode. The machine speed ratings are all 6-8 or so, except for the video card which is one with the overall machine rating 1. I don't know what that means (help sure doesn't help), but I think that's not good <g>. So if you don't have a decent video card the machine rating immediately goes to the dump. Anybody have any advice on a decent cheap video card that will work with the advanced Vista video features? I'm not looking to run games on this machine - just trying to get on with work...
Then there are the security dialogs. Ah yes, now we're making progress: Ask users on EVERY program you launch that isn't signed whether they want to elevate permissions. Uh huh, this is going to work REAL WELL. We know how well that worked with unsigned ActiveX controls in Internet Explorer – so well that even Microsoft isn't signing most of its own ActiveX controls. Give too many warnings that are not quite reasonable and people will never read the dialogs and just click them anyway… I know I started doing that in the short use I've had on Vista.
So my goal has been to try to run some existing Web apps under IIS 7 so I ran a configuration utility I use with most of my Web apps to configure the virtual, set permissions etc. It's a small .NET utility and I was unable to run it even with an override. As soon as it accessed the DirectoryServices message store (for IIS Web Site information – which likely won't work anyway) I got a security violation that I couldn't override even as an administrator.
Anyway, the issue is that even if you are logged in as Administrator, you're not getting Adminstrator rights. There's a way to turn this feature off by the way:
Run gpEdit.msc (from the Run box – Windows – R in case you can't find it – I couldn't)
Go to: Computer Configuration | Windows Settings | Security Settings | Local Policies | Security Options
User Account Control: Run all users including Administrators as standard users - Disable
User Account Control: Behavior of the elevation prompt - No Prompt
Log Off and log back on once you've set that
Now you normally don't want to do this but since my primary goal is to check out IIS and related tools I don't want to be clicking this silly dialog every ten seconds.
With this set I was able to run my app, but it failed anyway because IIS 7 doesn't (not yet at least) support the ADSI interfaces for configuration I presume. The focus of the IIS7 configuration will be the WMI interfaces instead - which admittedly look a lot more logical, but of course require reworking of lots of code that has been working since IIS 4.
Back to the security thingy in Vista and Longhorn Server.
Security is good, but you know this kinda shit is just stupid. It's a typical Microsoft knee jerk reaction to a problem they got reamed on. Oh we had problems with security so now lets jank it down so much using a computer is going to be a fucking drag for everybody even if they know what they're doing. Seriously the arrogance of the above setting is pretty amazing. "We know better than you, that when you're logged in as an Adminstrator, you don't really want to be an Adminstrator. Trust us." Riiight.
The solution to this problem is to not automatically make a new user an Administrator in the first place. As a new user that installed the machine I get added to the Administrator group. But I have no Adminstrator rights really. So why put me there in the first place?
I don't get it… Too much security is as bad as no security, as warnings will get ignored or people find ways to elevate their rights to get around the overly tight setup. But I guess this is Microsoft making sure – 'hey we warned you' to cover their ass. I'm not sure but somehow I don't think that Mac users see a security dialog everytime they run an application that might be accessing some system resources.
On an design level I also think that one characteristic of Vista really sticks out - it's freaking UGLY. I know I'm running in scumbag video mode, but the default color scheme is the most bland thing I've ever seen. The form interface is ugly - it just all looks 'cheap'. Everything is really blocky, hogging screen real estate, but the colors of dialogs etc. are all really washed out. Even running in a 'classic' XP blue scheme looks like you're ready to head out to Prozac land. There's very little color in the UI and it all looks really washed out because of all the shading. Remove a little more color and you might as well run in two color mode or black and white - really in shades of grey. From the screen shots of seen of the full on Aero Glass it doesn't look much better in that respect other than things bouncing around and animating everything.
I'm sure there are many improvements under the hood and I see the need for them, but as a first time impression of Vista there's not much there that makes you think - Wow - now this is cool. Somehow after all these years and all the hoopla Microsoft has gone through it seems like a pretty big downer. Then again, XP felt the same way - but it wasn't really a major upgrade to Win2000 either - not as major as Vista's internal changes.
All that said this build is much better than any previous Vista or LongHorn builds which were all but unusable due to sluggish performance. This version is slow but borderline usable. I do tend to think that some of the slowness is due to the graphics card or lack thereof. It's going to take some serious hardware to run Vista and somehow I don't think upgrading to it with anything but the current latest hardware is going to be a fun experience for anyone. I suppose this is nothing much new with OS upgrades...
This brings back memories of Windows 2.x and 3.x which were way ahead of the typical hardware of the day and as a result were dog slow. It also meant that adoption of those took a long time as the computer base slowly changed. I suspect Microsoft is going to spend a lot of time trying to optimize Vista so that it does run better on lowlier machines... we can only hope.
Well onwards and upwards to playing around with IIS 7. This should prove a little more positive of an experience I hope.