Vista Build 5536: A tale of 3 impressions

On Friday Microsoft released Windows Vista build 5536. This is a pre-RC1 build. On Monday, Microsoft expects to release build 5552 which many anticipate to be the official first release candidate of Windows Vista.
The last mile stone build, 5472, was considered by many to demonstrate that Windows Vista is not on track.  Specifically, Longhorn Blogs and developer Stardock believed that a beta 3 was in order. Paul Thurrott of WinSuperSite was disappointed in the status but felt that Microsoft would not likely alter its ship date.
So what's the view now? Robert McLaws of Longhorn Blogs is escatic about the new build and thinks RC1 is back on track. Paul sees great improvement as well and says it's "wonderful".  Laurance Parry, head of Stardock's Vista lab, sees improvement but feels it is still being rushed.
I haven't gotten to play with it yet but from talking to some of the people using it there is a definite consensus that it's a big improvement. The question is whether it's a big enough improvement. And being better than previous betas of Vista isn't the question, the question is how much better is it than Windows XP?  The clean boot memory use is apparently over 500 megabytes -- twice that of XP. That's not surprising given that XP was designed 6 years ago.  But does Vista return enough back to justify requiring a 1 gigabyte memory system (minimum)?  That is the question many are waiting to see.
Neowin will be taking a close look at the release candidates and giving a guided tour of the system both good and bad.  Based on what we've seen, we're cautiously optimistic that Microsoft is indeed going to pull it together in time.  We also think that a couple thousand 20-something year old developers living in Redmond Washington are going to need to take a serious vacation when this is all over.
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