Windows Vista RC1 review

Hello blind community! This is Tomi, or, Thomas Geczy with another Vista Review, this time on RC 1/rtm. As promised. Background: On september 2006, Microsoft released a new vista build to the world and called it rc 1. Which stands for Release candidate 1. Microsoft stated that it will support the rc build with updates and fixes through Windows Update until may 2007. So, I thought, why not get my hands on a dvd? On october 1, 2006, I purchased a vista rc 1 dvd directly from Microsoft for 5 dollars. It was told that the product would ship in two weeks, it I was very sad but hoped that it would come before that time. And it did. Today, As we were looking through the mail, the vista dvd came. It was neatly packaged. And I began to work and install Vista right away, folks.
Note: This review has updated several times. Microsoft Relased the rtm (release to manufacturing) version of Vista on november 8, 2006. I have tested out rtm, and did not see a big difference between rc1. I will include some minor differences between the builds (5600/6000) as the review goes on.

system info:

Ram: 1 gb
cpu: intel core duo t2500 running at 2 ghz
screen: ati mobility radian x1400, 256 mb ram.
bluetooth included? yes.
harddrive: 80 gb
sound: high definition audio. So, let’s begin this very long review and see what has changed since beta 2!
It is the same, pop in dvd, install now, next, go online to get the updates, enter product key, agree to the license, and click the upgrade button. Uninstall programs that are listed in the incompatible programs list. Wait 10 minutes until the set up copies the dvd contents on your system ( really, Microsoft, why do you do this?)
By the way, when I installed the rtm build, the “incompatible programs list” was empty. Yes. All my software work with Vista rtm. In rc1, I had like 14 items in this list. This prooves that the guys at Microsoft have been working hard on compatibility.
Install took about 30 minutes, a very big decrease from the one hour or so it took for beta 2.

changes at first sound:

When you start windows, you hear the windows xp start up theme (if you have the rtm build, they’ve actually added a new vista sound scheme). But then, you start narrator, you will notice that a log on to user window pops up. Here you just press enter on the username you want to log on to or just type your password.
To start the “ease of access center”, press windows u. Notice that The logon window has signifacantly changed. If you close the ease of access center window, a button called “ease of access” appears in the logon window which starts it up again.
Those pesky ” windows security ” windows are now gone at start – up. Yes, that was one thing I hated and beta 2 because they made narrator ” crash ” . Thanks, Microsoft, credits to you!
JAWS and windows vista:
Sad news for you. Jaws 7.1/8.0 still does not work with Vista. It generates an error report (only if you performed an upgrade). If you do a custom install though, JAWS works with Vista (if you have an xp display driver model). If you’re display uses vddm (vista display driver model), then an “jaws video intercepting” window will appear. You can click “install video intercepting” as many times as you want, but you will get a general error message stating that intercepting could not be installed. Just as in Beta 2. But the good part is that if you did perform an upgrade, you can use the runtime jaws, in \ program files \ freedom scientific \ runtime jaws \ 7.10(or 8.0, if you have it)\jfw.exe. That’s great! Ok, it runs in 40 minutes, but so what? Though I cannot use the JAWS cursor or virtual viewer do to the fact the JFW does not load video intercepting. But it is still good with Vista, nice and fast.


Ok, finally, I was able to run Purble place. In this game, on the easy dificulty, you have to make a person ( by selecting eyes, nose, and mouth ) , the hard difficulty you have to mao cakes ( it’s called comfie cakes ) or the medium difficulty ( called purrble pairs ) you have to match cards, like in a memory game.
Microsoft now put in sounds so that the blind may know if you have matched a card or failed. Nice. Jaws reads the columns and rows still. Right arrow to move to a column and down to move to a row..
Simple as that.
A new game, ink ball is where you hav to stop balls from
entering a hole. It is not accessible with jaws, of course since
the balls are different color.
Spider solitaire works, too. I just don’t know how to play it.
Troopanum 2: This game, works games, works too. I did not notice
any more clear sound / or sound effects that are unusual.
I have posted a “vista game compatibility list”, where I list a list of working/not working games. If you’re a game developer, I recommend you look at this.

Windows calendar:

This application does not work. When I open
it, I get into weird edit boxes that I cannot figure out.
It’s supposed to be a way to create/modify appointments. Each user can have his/her own appointment list and can manage them individually.

Windows mail:

Just as usual, Windows mail works fine. It is
great. Well not really, it’s just like an enhanced version of
outlook express with junkmail filters, and domain blocking (you can block all mail coming from any domain, e.g: .com). A list of domain endings are in the outlook options. Ahem, windows mail options, I mean. It uses the same exact
interface as outlook.

Internet explorer:

Works fine with Jaws ( even the runtime ) . It’s the same version as what you can download for xp, but includes protected mode, which supposed to protect you from active-x controls that can harm you’re system. If you turn this mode off, you get a stupid information bar message stating that “protected mode is turned off” and recommending you to turn it on again.

windows media player 11:

works ok. Some of the buttons need
labeling. Now, it does not take 100 minutes for me to set it up.
Wmp’s interface is almost like wmp 10’s is. Curiously, wmp cannot sync with Microsoft’s Zune mp3 player, which is sad. (as my friend said, it seems as though microsoft is contridicting they’re own self.”. Nor can it sync with Apple’s Ipod. This no doubt, will lead people to switching to ITunes. Wmp includes some music stores, which you have the option of setting up right away.

Windows Media center:

Windows media center allows you to record live tv using a tv tuner card. It also allows you to play dvd movies. if you own an Xbox, you can stream audio to the xbox, and it’ll be played from it. This is done with Media center.
3 sample recorded tv movie clippings come with vista:
opolo 13
Jewls of the Caribian
Media center is easy to control. When you start it up, you are asked for expressed or custom setup. Once you click finished, you are taken to the main mc window, where you can watch recorded tv, or live tv. You use you’re arrows to move between these buttons. if you click recorded tv, a list box appears with a list of recorded tvs. With the left and right arrows;;, move through the box. Press enter on a movie, and there will bbe a play button,, or restart / resume button if you have been playing a show allready.

Bluetooth file transfer wizard:

This nice little application
allows you to send file with bluetooth. Although I could not use
it to send a file to my braillenote, it is easy to use. Well it seems to be.

Windows Contacts:

this is supposed to be a replacement for the
windows address list. Well just so you know, it is not
compatible with JAWS. I get into the list of contacts, but
cannot move through them. Weird. Also, their’s no menu bar.

Windows Meeting Space:

This program, also called Windows
Collaboration, replaces net meeting. You can set up meetings or
join new existing ones. I start this program, click yes,
continue setting of Windows meeting space, but then jaws doesn’t
say anything, but remains silent. Later I found out that this
is because of User Account control. The program itself is
compatible with JAWS and uses buttons. So no work there for FS
and MS. Well not much.

Control panel:

As I mentioned, Microsoft remade control panel by
including common tasks in to it. A few bugs here and there
still. Like, there is something called ” explorer web view paine
” in which the links like Switch to Classic view are. Using the
left and right arrows you can click these links. Classic view is
still out there. I prefer this rather than the xp style link
panel. Control panel includes 58 items. You can configure bit locker (a drive incription utility that uses the tpm chip of you’re computer if you have one (trusted platform module)). Tpm is a new technology that “monitors” you’re hardware and notifies you if the hardware has changed. You can incript you’re hard-drive with a password that’s actually stored in the chip itself.
It also includes icons for windows sideshow, a new hardware device that’s going to hit the market soon (some devices do support sideshow). This is a display, very small, that you can connect to you’re pc. If you want a display that is as big as a laptops, and don’t want to connect a huge monitor, you can use sideshow. Cellphones would also work with this feature, though the screen would be very small.
Microsoft has also remade the network connections into a new center, called “network and sharing center”. This center is you’re one-stop place to configure wireless / wired networks, and a new connection. You also have the option to configure a wireless router. Microsoft has also enhanced it’s windows diagnostics tool, which in xp can diagnose connections problems. Now, in vista, windows even displays what could be going wrong. For instance, if you’re wired network is not working, windows says “you’re router or network hub may be preventing you from connecting to the internet”. Each issue has it’s own button, and pressing space on this button brings help and support, displaying step-by-step instructions in solving that problem.
There’s also a mobility center in control panel. This can also be accessed from the start menu (programs/accessories/system tools). If you own a laptop, here you can turn off wireless networking, change you’re computer’s volume, and turn on presentation mode.
The power options has also changed, with new power plans (ballenced is one of them). Wen you open up power options, you get into a link-like window. You can either change what the power buttons do, change power settings, or changed advanced settings. You can now change the display brightness of you’re laptop for you’re current power plan. This allows you to save you’re batterry.
Security center didn’t change, though now the antivirus protection button has been renamed to “malware protection”, giving it a more general look. If you have more then one security problem with you’re system, instead of displaying one systray icon for each problem, windows simply says “there are multiple security issues with you’re computer. Click here to solve them”. So it removes clutter.
You can also configure windows sideBar (a quick way to display useful information on you’re taskbar, which is not compatible with jaws), add new gadgets to it, or change what gadgets display in the sidebar pane of the taskbar.

User account control ( UAC ) :

This was called user account
protection in previous builds. Unfortunately, JAWS does not work
with UAC windows and acts as though it was frozen. You need to
hit tab twice and press space. The application you want will
open after this, however jaws will act as though it was reading
continuously. It will not cut off speech if you press tab or
something. Great. Just move slowly among the buttons. And do
not hit tab like 1000 times or else you will fall asleep on JAWS
repeating itself.
With narrator, the program can’t even handle applications started in uacc. It just won’t speak that application. If you quit the app, narrator comes back by saying “initalizing narrator”.

Disk defragmenter:

This program has been totally remade. It has
a different user interface. Now, you can schedule a
defragmmentation for a day. Just hit defragment now and all
partitions will be defragmented. So, disk defragmenter doesn’t list the drives you have (if it does, jfw doesn’t read it.). You just have to defragment everything. Now, I can’t use disk defragmenter to find out how many gbs are free on my c drive and how many percent remains. That’s sad, as this was the quickest way for me to do that. I’ll certainly miss the xp view of defragmenter.

Help and support, a simpler way to get help:

The help and support
center has also been remade, now featuring a new html based
interface. Now you can just select a topic, like security from a
list of links. Once you clicked on the link, just select the
subtopic, and a page with the information will appear, or more
subtopic list will come up. Just makes things better since you
do not have to search for 10 minutes. Though this option is
still out there.

windows explorer:

In deed, Microsoft did remake explorer. No
longer do weird progress bars come up to index the folder, and no
longer do you have to tab into the folder view. It’s all like in
xp. Well beside two things: The search edit box is integrated
into your explorer window. All the common outline buttons are
gone and are replaced with a web view paine which you can move through with your left / right arrows.

Turning off Uac:

After 2 hours of looking for it, I have found
how to turn off user account control. It’s under user accounts in
the control panel. No longer does JAWS act weird in disk
defragmenter and other apps that need permission once this annoying thing is off.

compatibility with other programs:

As I mentioned, Vista works
great with Troopanum. It also works with Klango and Haunted
Factory, shades of Doom, and probably most other games.
Microsoft made a great effort in making Vista as compatible as
can be. Norton Antivirus 2006 installs ok, but does not have any
auto protect feature + the main NAV window freezes. So, I do not
have antivirus.
If you run a program that only works with xp, an compatibility window comes up, with a button called run program.
If you got rc1, beware that install shield setup programs do not work with Vista rc1. Maybe not all versions of install shield don’t work, though version 6.31 and 5.x didn’t seem to. I tried this with my driver installs. The window would appear as frozen when you start an installation. If you are one of the lucky ones and have the rtm vista, this issue is resolved.


The performance difference between rc1 and beta 2 is
huge. rc 1 runs much faster. Just like xp. The only thing I do
not like is that it takes forever to start up. Like 2 minutes, a
long time. But JAWS reacts quickly to keys.
This 2-minute startup only happens if you don’t have you’re sata (serial ata) driver installed properly with vista. When I custom installed, Vista rc1 didn’t recognise my Sata driver. I finally downloaded Intel’s matrix storage manager from the web and it worked ok. Vista loads in about 34 seconds with Sata. It’s even faster then xp was!
With rc1, there was a 0.5 second key lag (when you push a key). This lag completely went away in RTM build.

final thoughts and conclusion:

At this stage, Vista is a stable
operating system. For the blind, there’s still a few issues with
JAWS. Maybe Freedom Scientific will start making JAWS 8.0 soon.
Until then, JAWS will not working properly with Vista.
So, my recommendation is to stick with xp. I wish I could do a
main menu review on Vista with ACB Radio, but I have dial – up
and this is not possible. For now, I will uninstall Vista and
wait for JAWS 8.0 and an antivirus software. Vista is coming out
on OCTOBER 18 for manufacturing hopefully, meaning that any new
computer should come with Vista after that date ( it will most
likely take a few moths for them to actually make new computer
models ) .
hope you enjoyed this third long review of Vista!

Leave a Comment