Windows Vista/6.0.5384.4.winmain beta2.060518-1455

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Kernel version NT 6.0
CPU architecture x86
Edition Starter
Home Basic
Home Basic N
Home Premium
Business N
BIOS date May 19, 2006

Windows Vista build 5384.4 is the official Beta 2 build of Windows Vista, announced by Microsoft to be immediately available during WinHEC 2006 on 23 May 2006,[1] and publicly made available on 7 June 2006.[2]


Early comments to this release seemed to be mixed. One review complained about the installer:

[…] This weekend, Liz was away on Saturday night (:(), and I’ve been meaning to do a Windows XP reinstall (and actually creating a disk image so that future reinstalls are much, MUCH faster), so I figured what the hell, why not spend a nice Saturday night in, backing up all my data? Which is exactly what I did. However, I had downloaded the Vista Public Beta 2 disk image, so I figured what the hell? Why not give it a spin, see what Microsoft has up its sleeve for the next release of Windows? (Despite the fact that it is reaching Duke Nukem Forever delay styles) Well, I popped the install dvd in, and did the install (very pretty, incidentally – no more “DOS Mode” in the installation at ALL), and it took a GOD DAMN LONG TIME. Finally finished, and went to reboot into Vista for the first time… Very exciting… BLACK SCREEN OF DEATH. “Cannot find Winload.exe, or file is corrupted”. Are you KIDDING ME??? I couldn’t be arsed (I love that expression) trying to figure it out, and with no other PCs to use to google the answer, I just went ahead and did my XP install. Now I have a nice and sweet 4 gig disk image sitting on my portable hard drive, so the next time I want to reinstall, I just have to back up my old stuff, and do a quick re-imaging of the hard drive. Lickety split, an hour of (unattended) install later, it’s done! But I found out with a bit of quick googling that that Winload.exe problem seems to be pretty common with this beta. Way to go, Microsoft! You’re not exactly inspiring me with the quality of your OS when the INSTALLER doesn’t even work. Seriously. (I should note that the recommended fix, booting up with the install disk and doing a repair, did not work. Grrrr) […]

While other reviewers were more positive. ArsTechnica noted that:

Vista felt surprisingly swift to me. After all the stuff I had read by other journalists and reviewers, I was really expecting a sluggish ride. This has yet to be the case with Vista. The display layer feels spry and my computer just felt great. I'll try to expand on this a bit later...

... The shell for Vista is an evolutionary change from the shell that was introduced in Windows XP. The Start menu in particular has received some much-needed love. In contrast to the classic Start menu that could quickly grow to an uncontrollable tree, Microsoft has changed how Vista's start menu grows. The Start menu now works more like a column-based file browser. After becoming accustomed to this welcome change, I have found it hard to go back to my other XP workstation. This Start menu is seriously nice. For one, it's much snapper. Scrolling through it feels much more responsive. The organization is much improved; I find it to be much more intuitive than the XP Start menu.

"Broken Windows Theory"

Soon after the release of Beta 2, someone in Microsoft with the username "philipsu" wrote an article which criticised Windows' development process in general. For instance,

Ask any developer in Windows why Vista is plagued by delays, and they'll say that the code is way too complicated, and that the pace of coding has been tremendously slowed down by overbearing process. These claims have already been covered in other popular literature. A quick recap for those of you just joining the broadcast:

  • Windows code is too complicated. It's not the components themselves, it's their interdependencies. An architectural diagram of Windows would suggest there are more than 50 dependency layers (never mind that there also exist circular dependencies). After working in Windows for five years, you understand only, say, two of them. Add to this the fact that building Windows on a dual-proc dev box takes nearly 24 hours, and you'll be slow enough to drive Miss Daisy.
  • Windows process has gone thermonuclear. Imagine each little email you send asking someone else to fill out a spreadsheet, comment on a report, sign off on a decision -- is a little neutron shooting about in space. Your innocent-seeming little neutron now causes your heretofore mostly-harmless neighbors to release neutrons of their own. Now imagine there are 9000 of you, all jammed into a tight little space called Redmond. It's Windows Gone Thermonuclear, a phenomenon by which process engenders further process, eventually becoming a self-sustaining buzz of fervent destructive activity.

— philipsu, [6]