Well, I am not one for trying alpha’s. This is due to having had a lot of problems in the past with Alpha’s and also because I use to test it on a full system to get the best accurate results.

I am now installing the first Beta in VirtualBox to get a look at what’s changed since 10.04.

For those who were a fan of the theme of 10.04 you will be happy to know things are relatively the same including a similar background to 10.04.

Also, if you did not like the layout of the buttons to the left with the introduction of 10.04, then you will be unhappy once more since they have kept that. Luckily for me, I was a huge fan of that feature.

When you start the CD in your computer you will notice that they have made some significant changes to the startup of the install.
In my opinion this is a very professional change and it seems to be very much aimed at new comers to the world of Linux.

Instead of starting on a live desktop with an icon for the installation, you are instead presented with a window asking whether you would like to run the live desktop or start the installation. This I think is a fantastic idea and improves things greatly.
I have not tried the live desktop and instead clicked on install.

Here the most impressive change has taken place since previous installations.

The install already begins and you are asked the usual questions while the install is running below.
It also asks you by means of a checkbox whether you wish to install support for Flash, MP3 and other support. Thus eliminating problems if you are unsure on how to go about doing this once it is installed.
After you have given your timezone and your name and the like, you are given the introduction screens while the install goes on.

The beauty about all of this is that Ubuntu is already known for it’s amazingly fast install, on average having taken around 10 minutes in the past. Even though there have been no changes in the installation under the hood, the idea of selecting your options during the installation means this will reduce that time even more.
And we can not argue with the option for MP3 support during install, this means less things to configure after install. And just in case you wondered, the ticking of the box also applies for WiFi too so if you have problems with that, this may fix it but I have always had a supported wifi card so I can’t speak for all.

The entire installation took 7 minutes on VirtualBox for me.

Once you have restarted the computer you are presented with the usual login screen.

As far as new applications added to Ubuntu, you will be disappointed. There are the usual suspects and as last time GIMP has been removed and F-Spot replaced by Shotwell.
If you start Rhythmbox, you will notice that the volume applet has a rather good looking set of buttons to change tracks, play and pause.
The icon sets used have been altered ever so slightly, hardly noticeable and for only a few  icons such as rhythmbox and the trash icon.

The best change has been in the software center where the background has become lighter and selecting to install apps gives the option of free apps and paid apps.

They have also added a feature which allows it to record your installed applications through your account thus saving you having to install it over and over everytime you have a new computer or have to format.

There is a new rating system and the featured apps have been moved to the bottom.
Once a program has been installed it displays the location at the top of the information screen for the app.

There is also a history option allowing you to see when, what was installed.

The Ubuntu One feature has a new introduction making things far easier to set up, it displays a sign up window making it very easy.

As far as the first looks go, I am fairly impressed.
The added features have been slick and informative although there aren’t as many new features as you may be wishing for.

The things I would like to see changed would be these:

1) It is great to see the new sign up option for Ubuntu One, however, most new users without a background in Linux would probably not think to go to the Administration department to set it up, it would probably be handy to add the option to set up or connect to an existing Ubuntu One account on install. That way, if you had an existing account and a connection to the internet, it could install your previous applications during installation thus saving your time doing all this afterwards and being ready to get started once the install is complete.

2) I don’t know about you, but I think that the old start up sound we have had for years is growing tired and I replace it almost immediately. It doesn’t appear to really fit into the new look and therefore if Ubuntu is trying to leave behind it’s old image, then please replace the start up sound too.

3) I am still unhappy with Empathy as a lot of you are, Ubuntu 10.10 looks like a fantastic OS but the problem is that it is overshadowed by a program which lacks some of the basic features, I know that Empathy is the IM client of the future with the most integration but let’s face it, it just isn’t ready yet. Why not keep Pidgin until Empathy can at least block people.

All in all I have found 10.10 to be a very good OS which I cannot wait to install once it becomes ready.

In marks out of 10, I have to give Ubuntu 10.10 Beta an 8. There are a few features that could be changed to make it perfect but don’t think it’s bad, because I am very modest on ratings and would give 10.04 a 7, and Windows 7 a 6.

All I can say is well done Ubuntu, and I urge you all to get some sleeping medicine because you will need it in the coming weeks, I for one am going to lose sleep waiting for it.