Microsoft has released Vista to the public—should you jump on the bandwagon?

Windows Vista is the long delayed successor to Windows XP. While Microsoft describes it as a revolutionary upgrade, to most users it will only see an incremental evolution from XP.

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Right out of the gate, if you are running XP on your current PC, it would not be in your best interests to upgrade to Vista. On the other hand, if you are buying a new PC, it would be foolish not to insist on having Vista pre-installed.

As an XP user, moving to Vista the most noticeable difference is the new Aero interface. Your hardware needs to meet certain stan- dards in order to run Aero, but lets not dwell on that right now. Aero is an improvement on your existing XP interface. It is not like moving from standard transmission to an automatic. Keeping the automotive analogy, It is more like moving from a 2 door to a 4 door car. There are more options, but it still basically the same feel, with an enhanced look and some improvements.

Vista is touted as much more secure. It now has a user account control facility to monitor programs and ensure they behave as Win- dows expects. Unfortunately right now, many of your favorite XP pro- grams do not understand this, and as a result account control be- comes a nag. Every time one of your programs tries to perform an operation that Vista thinks is threatening, you are asked to approve it.

Vista adds another element to your desktop, a sidebar. The sidebar is an area where you can run Vista gadgets. Gadgets are small programs like a clock, sticky notes, RSS feeds and the like. These gadgets are readily accessible and viewable as you work in your other applications. You are going to need one of those large widescreen monitors to truly appreciate the sidebar.

Benchmarking has shown that applications typically run a little bit slower in Vista. This is common of all most every version of Windows ever released. The operating system gets bigger and requires more processing power. To the typical user though, Vista appears faster. Microsoft has done a good job of re- working how processes are handled in Vista. As a result, the application you are working on, feels like it is running faster and is responding to you more consistently, making it seem faster.

So why not jump the curve and get on the bandwagon? Well, it would appear that even though Vista has taken years to get to market, Microsoft has not done a good job of getting partners to come to the party. There is a huge number of programs out there that are not Vista ready. For example, Adobe’s Acro- bat, yes even Version 8 needs work. Quicken’s product line is the same. Microsoft’s own development tool, Visual Studio 2005 requires a Beta patch to run. Many vendors have stated that only there most current release will be patched/upgraded to support Vista. Hardware is the same. You’d better check that your printer, scanner and fax have Vista drivers? Hell, even Microsoft’s own biometric device is not supported. And while some workarounds are available for many products, their performance and Vista’s performance with them is problematic.

This will improve over the next 3 to 6 months, so we have to recommend you only move to Vista if it is already installed on a new PC. Upgrading at this time just does not make good business sense.

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