Pros: Fast, easy to use, easy to install, great compatibility
Cons: Somewhat expensive, lengthy install process
The Bottom Line: Excellent overall product. The security is great, has a lot of features, and isn't too difficult to learn.
Before you get started in this review, remember, I am writing it for the general user. I'm not going to fill it with all the crap that generally comes with a computer software review, because I don't think most people want to hear that, they just want to know if it is good or bad. With that said... don't expect this to get super techie, don't expect me to talk in binary, because it's going to be a basic rundown of the pros and cons.
I have been using computers for quite some time, starting out with Macintosh, then moving to the personal computer over time. I have seen a variety of different operating systems, used many of them, including Linux, and have found that even with all of the options, Windows just has too many advantages, that I generally just overlook all of the negatives. With that said, when Vista came out, I realized that I would have to ultimately purchase that product as well.
How did I purchase it There are currently a variety of options for purchasing Vista. A lot of people just go to the store to purchase it, however, you can order it online, as well as download it online. I personally bought it from circuit city online, using the Digital Assistant. The digital assistant is a program that allows you to download your purchases directly, stores all of your license numbers so that you don't have to worry about losing them, allows you to resume downloading if you get interrupting without losing your location, and helps in the installation process of your new downloads.
During the time of my download, I downloaded Windows Vista Home Premium Upgrade and Office 2007 full edition. It was estimated that it would take about 12-14 hours in order to download the entire program, so I readied my computer before I went to bed and let it download through the night. When I woke up in the morning, I saw that all of the files were downloaded and started the installation process. Unfortunately, I had an issue with one of the files being corrupt, so I had to download it again... this second time downloading took me about 2 hours, compared to the 9 hours that it took me to download it the first time. After that, everything worked great.
The Installation When you install the product you are given a few options, you can choose to save all of your important files to another drive, you can do an upgrade, or you can do a complete sweep. I personally decided to clean my entire drive and then install the full program, so that I could eliminate any chances of having issues resulting from the upgrade. I had heard horror stories about those that attempted to do just an upgrade, so I didn’t want to take my chances with it.
After entering in my license code, and selecting my options, windows pretty much took over from there. The computer restarted several times and installed files over a nearly hour long process. During the installation, I wouldn’t rely on the length of the activity bars, because they really don’t tell you how much longer you have. I found that it would freeze in a single spot for twenty minutes, then would zip through the rest. So don’t use that as a gauge for how far along the installation process is.
Hardware During the installation process, Vista found all of the drivers for all of my connected devices. I didn’t have to install a single driver, as it searched out and found everything that I needed in order to complete the installation, including those drivers for my video card, which I heard a lot of people were having issues with. This doesn’t mean that it’s going to install all of the software that comes with your devices, it just installs what it needs to communicate with those devices.
My personal recommendation is to leave your devices connected and let windows do all of the work for you. So far, everything looks to be extremely plug ‘n play, much like XP was, but it is much more efficient about it.
Usage Vista definitely has a learning curve to it. While it is created almost the same as XP, there are a lot of new features that really take some time to get used to. One issue that I had at first was with saving items to folders. You no longer just save it to your own desktop, you have the option to save items to every desktop for every user on your computer, you can save it to other desktops, or you can save it to just your own. The same is true with documents folders as well. This gives you a lot more control over what you are doing with your files and who can use them. For me this was one of the biggest improvements of the program and made it worth purchasing as I find that I have to move files around a lot with XP, because I was unable to save them exactly where I wanted to from my own username.
Other items that were different, was that you have more control over your files. You can now choose how large you want the icons for a picture to be, you can have them super small, or super huge where you can actually tell what the picture is. Plus, you have the ability to control that picture a lot easier with picturing editing tools that just weren’t available standard with windows before. Pictures are a lot easier to sort through and since I am a single father, I find that I have loads of them, so this was a great feature for myself.
Security Probably the most significant thing that I noticed about the software was the incredible security enhancements that were made. The computer prompts you before installing anything, before doing anything that could be risky, and really ensures that everything that is done on your computer is done by you. Just going to my standard websites, I never realized just how many of them try to install toolbars, spyware, and whatever else each and every time you go to the site. By having Vista, all of these items were blocked from my computer. With XP, they would have been downloaded and installed without my knowing. This will definitely play a huge role in preventing my computer from getting infected with viruses or spyware, which was a major issue with the number of downloads that I do when I was using XP.
Just like XP, you can still create multiple user accounts, secured with passwords as well. You can even lock drives that you have attached to the computer, if you don’t want someone to have access to that particular drive. I don’t know if you could do this on XP or not, but I never figured out how to do it, so having that ability in Vista was great.
Speed Probably the biggest overall improvements was speed. There is a significant improvement in how fast Windows starts up, changes users, and just does everything. It used to take several seconds before some of my programs would startup, but with Vista, it is instant. Everything comes up smoothly without having to click on it over and over wondering if it is ever going to open. The startup process is pretty awesome as well. I restart my computer on a regular basis and used to hate waiting for the entire process, but now it’s so fast and efficient, I can’t even leave the room before the computer is restarted again. This is great when I’m in a hurry but need to do something that requires a quick restart before I can continue.
Compatibility One of the biggest issues that I have had with XP and other versions of Windows, would be the compatibility issues with outside computer software and Windows itself. Most of my games would play great, but would reach a point and then have an error randomly. While using Internet Explorer, I would get errors, while using virtually any product I would get an error if not in the first 30 days, within a year, most likely there would be some sort of stupid error.
With Vista, I have had no issues with compatibility, in fact, I have found that it works better with my programs than other editions have. I have a lot fewer issues with lag, the programs startup immediately, and they play smoothly until I turn them off. I have yet to actually have an error from using any parts of Vista or from using other software in conjunction with Vista.
I have realized however, that programs that I had major issues with on a regular basis with XP work great on Vista. I don’t know why there is such a huge difference, but the kinks have definitely been worked out with this version of windows.
Windows Vista Home Premium Recommended system requirements • 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor • 1 GB of system memory • 40 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space • Support for DirectX 9 graphics with: o WDDM Driver o 128 MB of graphics memory (minimum) o Pixel Shader 2.0 in hardware o 32 bits per pixel • DVD-ROM drive • Audio Output • Internet access (fees may apply) Additional requirements to use certain features • TV tuner card required for TV functionality (compatible remote control optional) • Windows Tablet and Touch Technology requires a Tablet PC or a touch screen Actual requirements and product functionality may vary based on your system configuration. Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor can help you determine which features and edition of Windows Vista will run on your computer. Windows Vista Home Premium Minimum supported requirements Certain product features are not available with minimum supported requirements. • 800 MHz processor and 512 MB of system memory • 20 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space • Support for Super VGA graphics • CD-ROM drive
Other Features Some of the other included features that I really enjoyed was the email, which seems much more functional than outlook express. The mail setup is a lot smoother, has fewer errors when sending and receiving and is extremely easy to setup accounts on.
Internet Explorer also has some huge improvements as well. I found that it has tabbed browsing, an option to view all of the pages in a snapshot at the same time, so you can quickly see an overview of everything that you are viewing at the same time. One issue I did have however was with my online classes which use Blackboard… the new Internet Explorer doesn’t show the text areas, so I still have to use Firefox to access those classes, but personally I like that browser better anyway, so it really isn’t that big of a deal.
If you have multiple computers that you use a network, there is a great network feature that allows you to really easily setup your home network, without having to call anyone, without any research, anyone can do it.
There are new applets that you can have displayed on your desktop which display news headlines, sports scores, your calendar, stock scores, weather, or whatever else you want displayed. Before you would have to download a variety of programs in order to accomplish this, but these are now integrated into windows. You can turn this feature on and off.
Overview So far I have found Vista to be an incredible product. It’s extremely efficient, looks great, and operates much better than any other operating system that I have used to date. The security has been greatly enhanced to protect the computer it is operating on, and overall, there have been great measures taken to ensure that this product wasn’t going to have the same issues with compatibility that other editions have had. I would definitely say this is by far the best Windows ever released by a long shot and would recommend that everyone purchase it.
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Clacky McSnackins (alaskacobalt)
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Windows Vista Home Premium delivers the productivity and entertainment that you need from your PC at home or on the go. It includes Windows Media Center, which helps you more easily enjoy your digital photos, TV, movies, and music.