Monday, January 29, 2007

Duck!!! Here Comes Vista

This January not only brings a new year, but also the long awaited release of Microsoft Vista. And I know many of you received new computers or components with a coupon to upgrade ... But wait. Before you run out and put down your money, you need to take a look, because Vista might not be the best choice for you. Vista is indeed a big step forward, but notice, I say step and not leap. It is the first ‘next generation’ operating system designed to make full use of all the changes in technology over the last 10 years. Vista is also heading toward the future with some very cool new features. Vista is such a step forward, it can be compared to the release of the Windows 95 operating system.

Vista is termed as a “Technology Break”. This means the OS is a redesign, not just a re-build of the OS before it. Though much of it will seem familiar, many features are brand new. It also means that many of your existing components, or their drivers and software, will not be compatible with Vista. In reality, most current machines will not run Vista comfortably without a serious upgrade. This is because of the resources needed. This is especially true if your system does not have a separate graphics card. If your computer has less than a 2 Gig processor and 1 Gig of RAM; don’t consider Vista. In fact, the cost of upgrading will be so high Microsoft expects deployment of Vista to take 2 to 3 years while the hardware catches up.

Starting in January most new systems will have Vista installed but again research before you buy because Vista may not be the best choice for your situation. Now do not panic, XP is going to be around for a while, and will still be for sale for at least another year. So the recomendation is, if your system is running happily on XP, there is no reason to up-grade yet. There are going to be 5 versions of Vista.
1) For consumers: Vista Home Basic, $199.00 retail. No frills and will come pre-loaded on the commercial econo boxes like Dell.
2) Vista Home Premium, $239.00 retail. This version will be for mid-range to hi-end and media systems.
3) Vista Business, $299.00 retail, aimed at small business.
4) Vista Enterprise, this version will not be commercially available, and is meant only for large enterprise situations.
5) And finally, the Cadillac, Vista Ultimate, $ 399.00 retail (probably your best choice, if
you can afford it). This version contains all the features of the above versions, plus a
bundle of yet to be disclosed extras. This is for high end and business machines.
So there you go, more to come as we look into Vista. Bottom line, Vista is good, not
great, there are still a lot of bugs. Wait until service pack 1 comes out before you buy,
and let others work out the bugs.

As mentioned above, Vista will come in 5 flavors, but only 4 will be available to the
public. The Enterprise edition will only be available to large corporations. Now everyone will benefit from some of the fundamental improvements in Vista like the security and search capabilities, but that is where the similarities end. There are 2 versions for the home market; Vista Home Basic ($99.95 retail) and Vista Home Premium ($239.00 retail). Basic is really the bottom of the line. This version is so limited in features that some say it is an intentional marketing ploy to force the OEM manufactures (Dell, HP etc.) to upgrade to Premium so that they can still offer some value to their computers. Who knows? But this version is very feature short.

Home Basic does not include much of the new graphic interface or graphic capabilities of the other versions, none of the extras or bonus bells and whistles. You are better off with XP if you just surf the Internet or just check e-mail. Also if you look at the price of Vista compared to XP Home ($199.00), which has all the features, XP is the better deal.

Vista Home Premium is where many of the new features surface. There is a new user interface (UI) called “Aero Glass” which is a very cool glass like effect. There are also new floating windows, translucent windows, the 3D scrolling called “Windows Flip”and a few other graphic goodies. With Premium, you also get the new Media Player 11, Windows Calendar, the new Media Center, Photo Gallery, DVD authoring, sound recording, Windows Movie Maker all aimed at making Vista your multi-media center.

Speaking of media, one of Microsoft’s goals for Vista is to re-introduce the PC as a gaming platform. To achieve this, Vista introduces several new special gaming features. These include the new “Game Explorer”, peer-to-peer gaming, game related meta-data support and high end graphic, shadowing and 3D capabilities. Now, there is another price to be paid for all this graphic wonder and that is system resources. You will need a very strong video card, a fast processor, and a whole lot of RAM. Most current machines will need serious graphic and memory upgrades to take advantage of Vista.

The retail price for Premium will be around $239.00. If you are running XP Home or XP Media Center and you do not need to be on the bleeding edge of technology, then just download IE 7 for the security up-grades and browsing features and keep XP. For those of you who want to have the latest Operating System, be prepared to purchase the latest hardware upgrades or the latest computer in order to run Vista.

Chris Kaminski is head technician for Computer Guys Live Inc., an online computer repair company based in Asheville, NC. Visit The Computer Guys Live for your secure, online computer repair and tech support.

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Posted by Lone Bird Studio Ltd. @ 12:21 PM

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