I tried downloaded and installed the RC1 of Vista. Before, when I tried one of the betas, I tried it on a secondary box and just gave it a passing glance, this time I tried it on my main machine (on an extra hard drive).
The base installation took 35 minutes and went smoothly. It detected my wireless network card and various other hardware. The problems were that it installed a very generic (working but slow) driver for my nVidia 6600GT video card, generic (non-working) driver for my Audigy 2 NX external USB soundcard, and no driver for my Logitech STX webcam. The available video driver from nVidia doesn’t work with this version of Vista and there are no working remedies (that I have found) for the sound card or webcam. I was able to switch to the motherboard sound, but, the webcam is completely non-functional.
Vista looks nice, but, without better video drivers I don’t get any of the nifty Aero effects, so, it doesn’t really look much “better” than XP. Mostly, things are just different. I do find it annoying that it is constantly asking you for permission to do everything. Want to open Control Panel? You have to tell it you wanted to. Run an EXE you just downloaded to install a program? You have to give permission. You have to give permission to do EVERYTHING. It gets reeeaaalllyy annoying after a while.
So, given that it didn’t seem all that much better and that it didn’t work well with some key hardware I have gone back to XP. Oh well. Maybe I’ll try it again in a week or two when I have some spare time.