Vista: Upgrade—Or Trade Up?



FYR - Another perspective from BW:

For subscriber:

After all the hype and delays, Windows Vista is finally here. Should you
rush out and buy a copy when upgrade versions go on sale on Jan. 30?
Probably not, given the odds against a satisfactory upgrade experience. But
I'd certainly consider speeding up the purchase of a new computer when pcs
loaded with Vista become available in a few more weeks.

The marketing barrage that Microsoft (MSFT ) has prepared will focus on
Vista's new look--the first major design overhaul for Windows in more than a
decade. Many of the concepts come from Apple Computer's (AAPL ) Mac OS X,
but Vista pushes the visual effects much further. Photorealism replaces the
garish cartoonishness of Windows XP for everything from program icons to
file folders. To cut the confusion that can occur when you have lots of
windows open, a thumbnail image pops up when you run your mouse over the
program's task-bar icon. Folders look like actual manila folders and show a
glimpse of what's inside: a bit of album art for a music folder, a slice of
one of your pictures for a photo folder.

All this eye candy is nice, but it's not going to make it any easier to
draft a business plan or a budget. And it does come at a price. As is the
case with the new version of Microsoft Office, which I wrote about last
week, novelty breeds confusion. There are many new ways to display the
contents of file windows, for example, including stacking folders that are
sorted by size. You won't find the "select all" command on the Edit
menu--because the menus have been banished. On the other hand, hitting
control-A will still select all the contents of a window, and you can find
ways to do everything else you need to do, too. It just takes time to figure
it out.

THE MOST IMPORTANT CHANGES IN VISTA are hidden. Microsoft has made some
fundamental alterations to fix Windows' notoriously leaky security, as I'll
explain next week. But there are other substantive changes that are both
visible and useful.

The ability to find things is paramount. Like the Mac's Spotlight search,
the new Windows search is accurate and fast. In the best Windows tradition,
there are three ways to seek things out, each producing slightly different
results. Each window has a search box, and when you enter a search term,
Vista brings up matches found in that window's folders. A search box on the
start menu searches the entire computer, including program files. And a
separate search application lets you specify the scope of desktop search.

The big question is when and how you should move to Vista. Upgrade today? Or
just wait and buy an all-new Vista computer down the road?

When Windows XP came out in 2001, I urged people to move quickly to get rid
of the hopelessly unreliable Windows 98 and the even worse Windows Me. That
meant upgrading to XP, and like all earlier Windows upgrades, the process
was as much fun as a root canal. XP, on the other hand, is good enough that
you may just want to make do, for now. Based on the troubles I've had in
tests, I'd warn against upgrading if you have old accessories, such as
printers, or if you run any custom or obscure business software.

If you decide to upgrade anyway, make sure your existing computer has the
horsepower to do Vista justice. Any system older than six months or a year
may be trouble. Functions could feel sticky or sluggish, and if the graphics
on your PC aren't up to snuff, you'll lose the fancy visual effects. You'll
need at least a gigabyte of memory. And don't try to pinch pennies. There's
a Home Basic version of Vista for $100, but it lacks many features,
including the new graphic design; you want the $140 Home Premium.

The big risk of upgrading is that you'll get all the confusion of Vista and
the looks of XP. With a new made-for-Vista computer, at least you'll know
that everything will work. And Vista is a big step forward; in time, you'll
want it.

Gary Mount

Wow, thanks for the information. I have been living under a rock for the
last few years and was unaware that there was a brand new O/S from Microsoft
called Vista.


Gary Mount said:
Wow, thanks for the information. I have been living under a rock for the
last few years and was unaware that there was a brand new O/S from
Microsoft called Vista.

You must also have missed the last 600 versions of Linux! Shame on you!


Sorry for any inconvenience may have caused.

It's for more sophisticated audience who are accustomed to learn from
different resources.

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