I didn't really play with it long enough to form a firm opinion on Vista, but the experiment ended rather badly. Vista popped up a window telling me that the trial period had expired, and it was time to pay up. I had to go to work at that point, so I shut down the machine, brought it into the office, and booted it up again. Then, the "trial period expired" window and a browser window - supplied so that I could buy a license at the MS site - were the only functionality that Vista would enable.
I couldn't go to my desktop, Windows Explorer, a command prompt, or anything that would enable me to access my hard drive. Files that I had created under my paid-for XP were now inaccessible to me; no way was provided to copy them off before reinstalling XP. My hard disk was, in essence, being held hostage; paying for a Vista licence was the ransom.
I tried to reinstall XP from its CD while preserving the data on the partition, but I got some frightening error messages in the process and aborted before risking the whole partition.
This could have been a serious crisis, but for two things -
- I do all my real work on the Linux partition, and didn't really have anything to preserve from the Windows side. I just wanted to take a look around to verify that.
- The Windows NTFS partition was perfectly accessible from Ubuntu, so I copied what I needed that way - didn't even need a thumb drive, just dragged icons onto the Ubuntu desktop. Hooray! I hadn't realized that read-only access to NTFS was so foolproof from Linux.
[If it hadn't been a dual-boot machine, I think I could have accomplished the same thing with an Ubuntu install CD, booting from it and copying the files to a USB drive.]
I don't think MS planned it this way. They just failed to plan a soft landing for their software's trial period ending. I'll remember that next time I play with a demo.