I deliberately took a few days out to spend some extra time with Windows Vista build 5456 before posting any reactions. I wanted to take the time to give it a reasonable chance rather than posting some knee-jerk reactions, as well as submit bugs before raising issues in a public forum.
As I mentioned previously, the Beta 2 build was buggy and it's a shame that this was the build released for public consumption. Build 5456 clears up a number of issues experienced within Beta 2 and has improved my opinion of the OS considerably.
Build 5456 is the first build that plays nicely with all of the hardware buttons on my Acer C110 Tablet - even the 'press and hold' functionality works which, essentially, gives an extra 6 actions that can be triggered without having to flip the screen and dive for the keyboard or follow a convoluted series of taps with the pen. Once the Acer Program launcher, Hardware Button drivers and wireless device control are all installed everything works as expected which is a big relief after the numerous frustrations of previous builds.
The Windows Mobile Device Center will now connect to my SmartPhone but only using the Quick Connect Option which is a real shame. The Center has been altered since Beta 2 so it automatically checks for softwar updates when opened. After the check, however, it reports that the software which would allow me to create a partnership is not available. Perhaps it's just because I have a WM2003 phone and not WM5 and the full driver set is not yet available.
I hav always thought that the new Network Center is overly complicated and also had a number of issues with it in Beta 2. Build 5456 has made me re-think this position. In this build I find it much easier to manage my connections, especially wireless. Whether it is just because the performance has improved considerably or that bugs have been ironed out I don't know, but the build makes it 'feel' much simpler to use that in previous builds. I don't think ther has been any change to the layout and functionality.
My posts in the past have highlighted a number of ways the UI has been improved which help navigation with a pen (selection via checkboxes, TIP auto-complete) etc. but I will always argue that Microsoft should have done much more to integrate Ink directly in to the operating system. Rob also takes a stand in his other Vista post here: Vista and Ink - a missed opportunity
: according to the Connect
website, the Network Center in build 5456 "has some brand new UI and bug fixes" which may well explain the differences in my perception of how it operates.