Microsoft made Windows Vista Beta 2 available for free download a week or two ago. I downloaded it then (and got the key) but didn’t try it. Tonight I installed it on a spare hard drive on my PVR/Media computer to see how it compares to MythTV, SageTV, etc. Vista was easy to install, took about 45 minutes with very little intervention. That machine is only connected via component video out to my HDTV which didn’t seem to throw it for too much of a loop. I had to manually install the drivers for the integrated sound (I had to use the XP drivers, which worked just fine). Also, for video playback, I had to install the nVidia drivers — which were beta drivers specifically for Vista. Other than these two drivers, everything seems to work pretty much “out of the box”.
The Vista interface seems nice, some neat visual touches. Stuff is reorganized but generally seems easy to find. Vista’s Media Center had no problems with my two WinTV PVR-250 cards but I cannot get the IR remote that comes with the PVR-250 to work, I will probably have to get a MCE remote control or get out my USB IR transceiver and program my Harmony to be like a MCE remote (this is probably what I will try first). Hopefully the drivers for my USB IR transceiver will work under Vista.
My impressions of Vista MCE are largely favorable. One crash so far, no big deal. MCE has a nice, clean interface and seems easy to use with most all of the options one would want.