A large percentage of the computers at Digital Life were running Microsoft's upcoming version of Windows named Vista. Obviously, the entire Microsoft setup was focused around the operating system's advancements and ability to tie into the user's every day life. I sat down with a very nice lady, who's name I forgot to get, and she took the time to give me a walk through on the photo organization and editing capabilities built right in to Windows Vista, as displayed on a 42" plasma screen. Now, I'm not a photographer and don't even own a camera, but I was definitely impressed with how responsive the system was to a library comprised of a few hundred photographs. The UI was almost identical to Windows Media Player 11 and relies heavily on meta data stored in the photo files. Throughout the demonstration, though, the entire system remained quick and snappy. I was quite surprised to never once witness a moment's hesitation, especially when the presenter was searching through the pictures or attempting to tweak the various levels of a particular image.
The nice presenter also took the time to show off the Media Center remote (fits in your hand beautifully despite the squared edges) and digital picture frames. Neither are devices that I'll probably be using anytime in the near future, but the functionality was very solid.
Given that I had yet to actually use Vista myself, I proceeded to one of the few kiosks which gave visitors the chance to play with the new OS. Obviously, the first thing I did was load up Neowin (I left it open when I walked away), but then I spent some time delving through the new menus and control panel options. Because the build being shown was still RC1, the "letterbox" effect when maximizing applications still turned everything a solid black. Reading so many complaints from others about this, I was actually a bit impressed to how effective the design really is. Your eyes are almost forced to the middle of the screen where the important data lies. I know I'm one of a small bunch, but I think Microsoft had the right idea with that effect all along.
For those of you wondering, Microsoft did have a set up where they planned on showing how the Xbox 360 would connect to Vista, but, as shown in one of the images below, they had a bit of technical difficulties with the PC used in the display. I was a bit disappointed by that, but what can you do? I have to admit, I did have momentary flash backs to the untimely blue screen of death that occurred when Bill Gates unveiled Windows 98.
All in all, the Vista setup was well done. Sure the 360 didn't work, the Zune was no where to be seen, and all the kiosk monitors were set to the wrong resolution so everything, including the start orb, had an elongated look to it, but the gist of it all was easy to pick up on. I walked away feeling a bit more excited about Vista. I wasn't thrown into a giddy schoolgirl state, but I was impressed, nonetheless.