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My take on the Microsoft Vista Operating System

By Lee Pollard - Computer Therapy, Inc.
Posted Friday, March 30, 2007

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Pittsboro, NC - I have been asked about the new Vista operating system during numerous on-site service calls I have performed over the past several months so I thought I would take an opportunity to provide the chatlist members with my comments and recommendations.

There are several versions of the Vista Operating System. For home users the best option (and least expensive) is the HOME BASIC. There are also HOME PREMIUM, BUSINESS and ULTIMATE versions.

RECOMMENDED SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS:

If your current computer is less than a Pentium 4 3.0 GHz (or comparable AMD processor) with 1 GB of RAM, and at least an additional 20G of free space on the hard drive, then do not even CONSIDER the upgrade. Although these parameters are a bit more powerful than those listed on the Microsoft site, these are more accurate for a user that doesn't want to INCREASE their frustration with their computer use.

Ideally you should have 2GB of RAM and a 64-bit processor with a SATA or 7200 RPM IDE hard drive to really see the performance enhancement of Vista.

You MUST have a DVD-capable drive on your computer for the installation.
Additionally you must have at least a 128M video card (onboard or AGP/PCI Express).

PERIPHERAL COMPATIBILITY WITH VISTA:

This is likely going to be the area of most concern for any user considering upgrading to Vista from their existing operating system.

You should make a list of ALL of your peripherals to include: your printer, camera, iPod, scanner, multi-function unit, and/or any external or internal video capture or audio devices.

You can visit the individual manufacturer's web sites for each of your devices to determine their Vista compatibility. For any that are specifically not listed as being Vista compliant, then plan on replacing that item if you upgrade to Vista.

IF YOU ARE BUYING A NEW COMPUTER:

Any new computer you buy these days from a retail outlet will likely include the Vista operating system.

You should perform the same peripheral analysis as listed above BEFORE deciding to buy a new Vista computer.

Keep in mind that computers that are PRE-LOADED with the Vista operating system will also work with Windows XP so you have the option of buying the new computer and then reinstalling your existing XP operating system (or have Computer Therapy or another comparable computer service company perform the installation).

PROS:

You can look these up for more specifics by googling "benefits of Vista".
Some of these will not be important to the average user but I thought I should list the more important ones.

RESTART MANAGER: updates and installations that usually require a restart can now be managed to allow the reboot process to be handled by the user;

CRASH MANAGEMENT: this might be more important to us as technicians, but it could save you money SHOULD your computer require service due to a DEVICE DRIVER that is causing an error with your computer's normal operation;

DATA MANAGEMENT: With the XP OS and prior, a clean installation meant backing up all of the files (which also means knowing where all of the data resides), and then having to reinstall EVERYTHING. The new Vista operating system has integrated processes that allow you (or us) to repair corrupt operating systems without as much labor associated with the backing up of the data files.

INTEGRATED FIREWALL: The firewall that is integrated into the current Windows XP operating system is more or less a ONE-WAY protection. It only protects items from getting IN to your computer. Many of you know
(unfortunately) that if you somehow get infiltrated by a spyware application, then there is no INTEGRATED protection from it contacting the "mothership" and all of its friends and you eventually end up with more and more spyware and malware and have to have it cleaned up in order to restore your computer to a functional state.

Windows Vista offers TWO-WAY protection by alerting you when an unknown application tries to access the Internet from your computer. Any of you that currently have the ZoneAlarm Free firewall or any of the paid firewall services (Symantec, McAfee, etc) are familiar with the process of being asked to authorize an outgoing Internet connection.

THE "SMART" START MENU: The start menu will "learn" your frequently used applications and provide you a more efficient means of access your programs as well as files/folders.

CONTENT VIEWING: This is one of my favorites. Imagine spending 2 hours creating a file, and then saving it to the appropriate document folder.
Then weeks or months later, you need to access that file. Do you remember the specific file name? the folder in which you saved the file? The new CONTENT VIEWING feature allows the user to see a synopsis of the file contents without actually having to open the file.

CONS:

As stated above, there are still numerous issues with peripherals that you may already own. Additionally, your computer may not be powerful enough to take full advantage of the benefits of the Vista operating system.

As with any new computer interface, there can be a slight learning curve (but as XP did with the older Windows versions) you can use some of the previous screens and menus for familiarity.

The Vista operating system has the DRM Technology integrated. This is the Integrated Digital Rights Management process that is designed to protect the copyright information of music and DVD/video content. Legally this is a great feature but there still seem to be some issues (and subsequently user frustration) when a valid ownership is not recognized on a music or DVD file.

More to follow as the Vista operating system deployment develops.

 
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My take on the Microsoft Vista Operating System