Talking tech since 2003

I’m going to break this review on Windows Vista up into a four different parts:

  1. The Background Information on Windows Vista
  2. The Good
  3. The Bad
  4. My Personal Opinion

Part 1 – The Background Information on Windows Vista

Microsoft released Windows Vista to the consumer on January 30th 2007. However, Vista had been available for beta testing much earlier. The beta testing stage was very successful to say the least. Many people downloaded the Vista beta and gave feedback to Microsoft which in return helped improved the OS. At first, Windows Vista was seen as essentially Windows XP with a nice new GUI (Graphical User Interface). This however is not true for the most part. Vista is a much improved OS from XP. Microsoft has added many new features, improvements, and even built-in security functionality into the OS itself all of which I will get to momentarily.

Part 2 – The Good

Windows Vista has a whole slew of new features, functionality, and improvements. Along with all those new things we must not forget that Windows Vista is the first Microsoft OS built with security in mind. Well what exactly does that mean to you the user? Let me explain. Aside from Windows Updates – Vista has Windows Defender pre-installed (which receives updates via Windows Updates so you always have the latest), the Security Center also keeps track of whether or not you have an Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware program installed. It will also manage your internet security settings and firewall. The Vista firewall is also an improvement to the XP firewall. Another new feature is the User Account Control (UAC) which is more for the novice/new computer user and not so much for the more intermediate/advanced user (in my own opinion). However what the UAC will do is notify you when something is trying to run or change a system setting. It will popup a dialog box asking you if you are sure you want to make this change or run this program. While it can be annoying it’s actually a very good security feature. It will definitely help teach new users about security or at least make them more aware of what is happening on their system. This in return could prove very useful when you get malware on your machine, we’ll find out just how useful as time goes on though.

Aside from the security side of Vista, it also a much improved Network interface (the new my network places). Vista will recognize other Vista machines with ease as well other older OS’ such as XP, 2000, etc and even your XBOX 360 so long as your XBOX is on your home network (which you can configure through the XBOX 360) which allows you play games with someone on the XBOX 360. Now I’m not sure on the specifics on the whole XBOX thing but it seems pretty neat. Another cool thing that Vista will do is when you have other Vista machines it will recognize its Windows Media Player (WMP) library and allow you to share content seamlessly.

And of course, the Windows Vista GUI enhancements (Which if I recall correctly some of them such as the Aero interface and such are only available with certain versions of Vista I don’t believe the lower end versions such as Starter and Home Basic have all of them). The Aero interface is very sleek looking. If you can run it on your machine then by all means you should. The Window Switcher which is available if your machine can support it is very cool. (Screenshot here) The widgets are also a nice addon to Windows – which you can play with and add new ones to do certain things such as read RSS feeds. If you have a copy of Vista Ultimate be on the look out for something called DreamScene which hasn’t been released yet, but what it will let you do is have a moving background such as a video or wallpaper with effects. Microsoft has also added a new set of Windows programs such as the Windows Photo Gallery, Windows DVD Maker, and an improved Windows Movie Maker. The Photo Gallery is awesome for sorting your pictures. It allows you to Tag your photos so all photos with the same tags will be put together making your life much easier when looking through pictures. (Screenshot here) They also added new burning software which is much much better than the burning software in XP. You can find the “Burn” icons scattered throughout Vista.

Part 3 – The Bad

Well to be honest there’s not much that’s bad about Vista. Of course, it’s new and has issues with certain programs and doesn’t have all the driver support yet, but that can be fixed in due time. However, there was one issue and that was during the install of Vista. The driver support for my RAID setup wasn’t that great. I ended up removing the RAID then having to reinstall XP and then going through the clean install of Vista again. But it’s not just RAID drivers that were the problem. I was having some issues getting it to recognize my hard drive after. It turns out that in some cases you need to remove your additional hard drive(s) (if you have one) and by remove I mean physically unplug it and then install Vista. Once installed you can then plug your other hard drive(s) back in and all will be fine. I’ve talked to other people and they had similar issues.

Part 4 – My Personal Opinion

Here’s the bottom line – if your machine can run Vista and if you have the cash to spend, buy it (I highly recommend going for Ultimate or at least Home Premium if you can’t afford Ultimate). Make sure you stay away from the Upgrade versions though. It’s harder to get the upgrade versions to do a clean install and from what I’ve read will make your XP key invalid. Overall Vista is a very nice OS. I’d give it a thumbs up.

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