Micrsoft has launched both the formal name for Windows Longhorn as well as Windows Vista Beta 1 iteself. Of course, this is probably only news to folks living in caves (who wouldn't be reading this blog entry anyway)! This is an interesting beta, in that the version I tested was downloaded from MSDN, and not from a private beta programme. So far as I can tell, there is no NDA on this version.
I started the MSDN download on Wednesday evening, but the hotel's wireless connection was pretty poor. After a day in the office (using every bit of bandwidth I could get), I finally completed the download. So it was time to install.
The first thing I found out: Vista is big, VERY big. While we can excuse a bit of debug code during a beta, the DVD image is 2.42 GB - that's right, nearly 4 times the size of XP! No wonder it took getting for 24 hours to download! But that size makes for some other problems - like for example, the fact that VPC doesn't support mounting ISO images this large. While it would be both cynical and accurate to point out that VMware Workstation does support DVD images of this size, I did not have VMware on my laptop to that was out of the question, and so was direcly loading it into VPC. But there was always Plan B - and this worked a treat. I used Daemon tools to mount the DVD ISO image to an H: drive on my host, which VPC then happily accepted.
The install into the VM took several hours on Thursday night - but by early Friday morning I had a Vista VM and was able to start exploring. While it was great for looing around, the VM was slow, and the graphics not great - the Trio card VPC emulates is not overly feature rich, and the emulation going on does hit perf a bit. But it was good enough to see that Vista is both new and familiar. Many of the same things are in the same places, but there area bunch of new features too, along with a new look UI.
The only answer was to install it fully on the laptop. Several hours of moving files around on my D: drive to make enough space, burning a DVD, etc. I left a bunch of large copy commands running (making even more space) and left the installation to Saturday morning. The installation itself went pretty smooth - around 45 minutes or so. After the final reboot, Vista came up and started running an installation programme for legacy drivers (about which more on another day!). This hung the laptop toally - I have to reboot, after which I could manually run the legacy driver installation. It looked ok, nice new background screen, new ions, but at the same time the familiar XP desktop with start bar, etc.
But once rebooted came the fun - getting drivers for the hardware. The video driver picked by the legacy installer simply does not work - the PC rebooted back into 4-bit colour. This was solved by using the built-in VGA adapter but this does not support very high resolution (1024x768) which looks suboptimal on the laptop. The driver found found for the Ethernet nic also failed to install, although the wireless card works OK(albetit slower at 11mbps than the nic at 100!).
The Dell modem driver fails to install initially - with the error that it will only run on XP and 2000. When I changed the modem driver to run in Windows XP compatibility mode, it runs, but fails to find any hardware. The mobile chipset upgrade also fails.
Running the Broadcom NIC setup utility to get the NIC drivers installed, the setup complains that the drivers are not Authenticode signed. The error message states that drivers MUST be authenticode signed in order to work in Longhorn RTM (this is going to cause a lot of issues early on!). After Clicking OK the install program just dies. Trying to manually install this nic (using Device Manager fails too.
I use Etrust AV - after installing it, Longhorn says that there is no AV program loaded, although Etrust looks installed! Given how slow the Wlan card is, I'll be leaving more software installs (generally performed across the network) for another session.