Now that Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows Vista, has been around for a few months, it’s possible to make some intelligent recommendations about what to do with it – or not do with it.
To put it succinctly, should you upgrade? Probably not. But should you feel good about getting it with a new computer? Emphatically yes. Windows Vista is a (++++) operating system if you receive it preinstalled on a new computer, as you will when you buy just about any new non-Apple PC now. But it is only a (+++) operating system as an upgrade, and that single (+) difference will be significant if you are trying to decide what to do with an older computer.
There are six versions of Windows Vista, but only four that, for all practical purposes, you can actually buy, and only three that you will want to consider. Windows Vista Starter is a stripped-down version for the developing world only, not available in the
So if you are considering an upgrade, you’re really deciding among Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Business and Windows
Then, even if it says yes, think again. Installation is not necessarily speedy or without glitches, and it is necessarily accompanied by one significant annoyance: after you install
Okay, “enhanced security” doesn’t sound like a problem, especially with so many complaints about attacks on Windows XP – and so many fixes as a result. And in reality, the new operating system’s better security is a big plus (although you can bet that hackers are out there, even now, looking for ways around it). But Vista’s specific method of improving security is really annoying to users: anytime you do anything that might (not “will” but “might”) affect the operating system, Vista automatically dims your entire screen and brightens an alert called “User Account Control,” which requires you to confirm that you want to do what you’re doing. You cannot install anything without dealing with this warning – and since Vista does not attempt to teach you which programs are safe and which may be dangerous, you’re basically on your own to figure everything out. That will make you more aware of everything you do to change your computer, but it won’t really help you ensure that
It is because of Windows Vista’s hardware and software demands, and its irritating form of security enhancement, that the upgrade ranks (+++) rather than (++++). But it’s worth reiterating that the operating system itself – when preinstalled on a computer whose configuration guarantees that it will work properly – is a big improvement over Windows XP, despite the “User Account Control” annoyance. Transparency effects in Windows Vista add apparent depth to your screen; generic icons have been replaced by window previews; a delightful view called “Flip 3D” appears when you use the Windows icon and Tab keys – you see thumbnails of all open windows in an attractive layout that looks three-dimensional; you get a search form at the top of every window; “Vista Sidebar” gives you fast access to your calendar, the weather and other information; “Windows Easy Transfer” simplifies the copying of files and settings between computers; “Windows Mail” is a welcome update to Outlook Express; “Scheduled Backup” saves your data automatically; and more. For all these reasons, and others, Windows Vista surpasses Windows XP in functionality and richness of features. But that still doesn’t make upgrading a no-brainer.
If you decide that you do want to upgrade, be sure to analyze your needs carefully before picking the form of Windows Vista you select. In addition to security and backup features and “Windows Aero,” which allows all the elegant display elements in the new system, Windows Vista Home Premium includes