I downloaded the Windows Vista Beta 2 ISO image from Microsoft right after it was released to the public.
I had to install it under VMWare (5.5.1 build-19175) because I did not have a spare machine that was powerful enough to install it on. The host machine that is running VMWare is decent enough though. It has a 3GHz hyper threaded Pentium 4, 2GB of main memory and two 200+ GB hard drives. Since I have had quite a few different OS’s running under VMWare before (including Windows XP, Windows 2003 and various flavors of Linux), I have a general idea what the performance expectations are.
Since I am running Windows Visa under VMWare, I could only use the most basic GUI without many bells and whistles (e.g. no DirectX support and thus no fancy 3D interfaces). But my goal is mainly to see the basic OS functionalities in this new OS which can be tested without much compromise under VMWare.
The installation process overall was pretty impressive. I created the virtual machine with 20GB harddrive space and 512MB memory. Given the size of the ISO (3.12 GB), I was actually quite impressed to see the OS getting installed in just about an hour.
The installation process went without any glitch, and was as intuitive as the installation of Windows XP. It seems that Microsoft finally abandoned the principle of having only simple colors (16 colors) during the installation process for backward compatibilities with VGA only displays, because the installation screens under VMWare’s default VGA driver were highly dithered and was hard to see what was on it. But this should not be a problem for people running a more modern PC (remember, to take the full advantage of the Windows XP’s graphics capability, you will need a graphic card that supports DirectX and has at least 128MB memory).
Windows Vista Beta 2 is almost 11GB after installed, which is more than 10 times larger than a standard Windows XP installation. I remember back in the days when Windows 95 just came out, people were complaining about the size of the 95 installation (around 100MB), and back then a 1GB harddrive was the top-of-the-line. It is even more impressive to look back at the days when I was using DOS2.0, I could put the whole OS on a 360K floppy disk and still have enough room for my BASIC programs… But relatively speaking, the relative size of the OS comparing to the size of the harddrive is relatively the same now if not smaller compared to that twenty years ago, which is roughly five to ten percent of the overall disk space… (more updates later)