Windows Vista Part I

A couple of people recently have mentioned to me recently that I’m yet to review Windows Vista in follow up to the feature that I did regarding the beta (test) edition last year.This isn’t an oversight on my part but something I did intentionally as a true review of an Operating System requires the writer to use it day in day out for an extended period before giving his opinion.I’ve now been using Windows Vista since its launch date at the beginning of the year so I’ve now had a couple of months to get used to the replacement for Windows XP and am ready to give my opinion.

My first observation would be that I am completely unable to ascertain why such a development took so long – Microsoft started production on their new OS way back in 2001 and it seems bizarre to me that it took their best programmers until 2007 to come up with the finished product.As much as I liked Windows XP there is no escaping the fact that an update was well overdue and now we’re left asking ourselves whether was it worth the wait?

So that I can get them out the way I want to make my criticisms known from the start.First off Windows Vista eats low powered machines for breakfast; I had a relatively new AMD Sempron 2800+ with 512mb of RAM and a 64mb graphics card which Vista just annihilated.A couple of hardware upgrades later (1Gb of additional RAM, 256mb graphics card) and the new OS is running perfectly – for some this hardware upgrade cycle isn’t a problem but those with low powered machines on a limited budget should beware.

I also don’t like the fact Microsoft have given a choice of five different versions to choose from as this can only serve to confuse the end and additionally we in the UK we are paying such a disproportion amount extra when compared with our US cousins.

Despite having said the above, yes, I do like Vista and no, given the choice I wouldn’t go back to Windows XP.

When you first install Vista the only real differences you notice is the shiny new graphical interface which in many ways is more gimmicky than genuinely useful.For example there is an alternative to <ALT + TAB> for cycling through the opened programs that displays all the opened applications you have stacked one at a time in 3D.Additionally items such as the tops of windows, the start menu and so forth are semi opaque and features such as these don’t really offer me any real advantages other than to look pleasing to the eye.I suppose if you spend your days, like I do, looking at a computer screen then such features will make serve as an improvement as if you’re to spend your time using an Operating System it might as well be pleasing to look at.

Most the real improvements won’t even be noticed by the end user but that doesn’t mean to say that they’re not important.Microsoft was hit hard in Windows XP with viruses such as the Blaster Worm which crippled PC’s all over the world and served as a nice little revenue stream for computer repair people everywhere.When it came to creating Vista Microsoft actually gave early versions of the Operating System to software hackers and simply told them to ‘break it’ so that hopefully any major security issues would be discovered before the software was finalised.

Two features I do particularly like are as follows.When using a flash memory drive you can allow Vista to use it to cache commonly used programs and data.This reduces the need for Windows to use relatively slow ‘virtual memory’ on your hard disk so your system speed should be increased as a result.Additionally the search functionality is so, so much better than under Windows XP – I found it infuriating how long it took to search for an item under XP but in Vista when I look for something it searches my hard disk and outlook messages in a matter of seconds rather than minutes.

There have been many improvements to the applications present within Windows which I’d like to cover but unfortunately as I have already overrun my space for this week you’ll have to wait until next Friday for the second part of this Vista roundup.



About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.