Two days ago (30 Jan) Microsoft released their latest operating system: Windows Vista. For many times, this announcement was delayed by technical problems but now it's different. Microsoft Windows Vista was released in 6 versions: Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Vista Business, Vista Enterprise, Vista Ultimate.
But, considering a windows XP end-user, what new can he expect?
First, i'm going to talk about the features
1- a new hardware-based graphical user interface named Windows Aero
that includes new transparencies and provides a more eye-candy look. The Windows Shell has also been improved. The impact, of these things in your produtivity might not have improved that much but your confort certainly did.
2- Vista is bundled with more and better applications for common tasks as "Internet Explorer 7", "Media Player 11", "Mail", "Calendar", "DVD Maker", "Meeting Place", "Media Center", "Photo Gallery", Games,...
In real life, this means you don't need so much 3rd party replacements as you did with previous versions of Windows.
3- Windows Search let's you find things faster using a very simple way. If you are familiar with the "Spotlight" of Mac OS X all you need to know is that on Windows Vista you access this option in the lower left corner of the screen. Your produtivity may benefict a lot with this feature.
4- Windows Sidebar is a new transparent panel in the side of the screen where you can place little applications like clock, calendar, weather reports, ... called "Gadgets". If you are familiar with Widgets on Mac OS and Dashboard you already know what i am talking about.
5-Backup and restore system has been much improved and now easier to use. One thing you can do now is to backup an entire computer as an image and restore it. You also can automatically recreate a machine setup onto new hardware or hard disk in case of any hardware failures.
6-Speech recognition is now fully integrated and supports many languages extending your interface to the computer and can be used for dictation in applications like Wordpad and Microsoft Office.
7-Parental controls have also been improved.
8-Problem Reports and Solutions have been totally redrawed. Now you have a better feedback of problem reports in a new control panel for this effect.
9-System Performance Assessment is a benchmark used by Windows Vista to regulate the system for optimum performance. Games can take advantage of this feature, reading the data produced by this benchmark in order to fine-tune the game details. The benchmark tests CPU, RAM, Graphics acceleration (2D and 3D) and disk access. (source wikipedia)
These are some of the most important new features you can find on Vista.
You have a very improved support and intelligent system considering some management options based on usage patterns analysis. Lot's of new technologies and revisions make this system clearly the most advanced of all Microsoft Operating Systems.
However, the biggest step in my opinion comes in Security
. Priviledge restrictions, phishing filters, user account control, Bitlocker Drive Encryption, Windows Defender (anti-spyware), integrity levels (a process with a lower integrity level cannot interact with processes of a higher integrity level), the end of the integration of Internet Explorer with Windows Shell, new and improved Windows Firewall, cryptographic extensions (SSL and TLS), Obfuscation tchniques such as address space layout randomization and Kernel Patch Protection (used to increase the amount of effort required by malware to infiltrate a system) and a new set of security arquitectures and politics make a huge difference on this matter.Criticism:
1- Many people criticize Windows Vista for leak of innovation and to rip a lot of thing from its Apple rival. I think this procedure doesn't show leak of creativity of Microsoft minds but a great vision and capacity to recognize what is good on other systems and take advantage from it to build a better system. And that's what they done.
2- Hardware requirements of Windows Vista also catch up with its new features. Not everyone today can run Windows Vista. This might be true but is reasonable to expect that a new generation of Operatings Systems requires a new generation of hardware. The delay of the release of Windows Vista surely was helpful on this matter and today the situation is not that bad.
3- Windows Vista is too expensive. If we consider the price of the previous version of Windows and the differences in technology that have been archieved, the price is not so high. However if we consider Mac OS and its bundled software, Vista is way more expensive.Bottom line:
for those who can (speaking of hardware and money) Windows Vista appears as a great option which i recommend in all aspects. But, if you are considering a migration i suggest you to check the competitors like Apple Mac OS X. Soon Apple will release Leopard (their new operating system) which won't make things any easy to Microsoft.
There are also free and good alternatives like GNU/Linux with Ubuntu and Novell/SuSE. Lately, this system has archieved great improvements towards the interface with the end-user.
The final choice becomes each day less a technical issue and more a matter of personal taste (specialy related to the GUI - Graphical User Interface), a reason why i advice you to test the systems above first.
Labels: operating, system, vista, windows