Vista is among us. Either you can look at that four-word sentence as a final answer to many prayers, or you can view it as a "not again" moment from Microsoft. The truth of the matter is that no matter how you look at it, if you use a PC, your only options now are upgrading or buying a Mac. Of course, there's the option to do nothing and use what you have, but, like in the past, it will only be a matter of time before you will be forced to make the decision of trying something new, Mac, or upgrading. Even this decision is not your top priority right now. The real question on all of our minds instead of "Should I upgrade?" should be "When should I upgrade?" To answer that question, you need to know the facts about everything Vista. From what makes this latest offering from Microsoft so "revolutionary," to how much out of pocket expense you're looking at, you need to be well informed. The only way to discover the answers to those questions, as well as a slew of others, is to start at the beginning of what could become the toughest decision of your computing needs in several years.
Before 2001, newer versions of the Windows operating system were released frequently; updates seemed almost on a yearly basis. This doesn't mean that once 2001 hit Microsoft decided not to provide a constant source of upgrades. On the contrary, they continued to do this, but on a much quieter scale. Once XP debuted, general America got bogged down by the "every couple of years I gotta do what" syndrome. In fact, several PC users converted to the Mac life, which, not surprisingly, was worse than the Microsoft experience on some levels. A Mac operating system's life span over the last six years, not including upgrades, has been about one year. That said, I am in no way downgrading the users of Macs, because I personally feel that the Mac is a better operating system, or OS, on many levels. Nor is this a bashing of Vista. Each system has good points, and each system has points on which they could improve. Back to what I was saying though, since 2001 Microsoft has only graced us with small upgrades and the inclusion of this newer version of Windows on recently released PCs that correspond with that current Windows. So why now? Why has Microsoft decided that the general populace needs a newer version of their operating system, especially when so many of us are quite comfortable with the XP OS we've been using for years. This answer is a simple one - better relations between computer and user.
That is exactly what Microsoft's goal has been from the beginning. Vista will bring them closer to this goal, even if it harms the average consumer in the beginning. If you ask any of the Windows gurus, they'll tell you Vista was a project that took two years, which is an impressive feat considering the sheer size. In all actuality, however, it took them nearly six. So, why the long developmental stage? Easy, Microsoft made a mistake. That's right, they, the all knowing, all controlling, PC dominator, made a mistake. Simply put, Microsoft was trying to abandon the simple formula they were using to build upon the existing operating system and craft a whole new system - a "let's start from scratch and go from there" mind set. This proved to be too much and the operating system fell from under its own weight and sheer magnitude.
You might be asking yourself why any of this matters. The reasoning behind this information is to let you know that even a company that has become a powerhouse can make mistakes. When there are mistakes, sometimes the average consumer is overlooked when repairing those mistakes and making such a standard operating system revolutionary again. This is not to say that Vista is so riddled with mistakes that the everyday Joe won't be able to deal with some of the oversights; just make sure you have all the information before you leap. There is no better way to make this monumental decision than to arm yourself with knowledge of the past editions and the additions Vista brings to the table.
Back in 2001, when XP was introduced, we only had two versions to worry about - XP Home Edition and XP Professional. As said earlier, we had upgrades, or, rather, previously installed upgrades available on newly bought PCs. Now, we have an onslaught of the pretty packaging for Vista. A total of six versions, unless you count the N and K editions for Europe and Korea, and the various 32 bit and x64 editions, which equals a total of 17 editions. Sounds like a lot, but actually, there is less than a handful, only four to be specific, that should even be considered: Windows Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate. There is one thing I'd like to suggest here - DO NOT BUY HOME BASIC! Home Basic does not include some of the features that make Vista Vista. Don't buy it, don't buy a computer with it already installed, and don't settle using it. The reason behind this barrage against Home Basic is simple: you will end up upgrading to the Home Premium edition in a matter of weeks just to experience Vista the way it was meant to be thus wasting your initial purchase. If you want Vista, buy the whole package. Now that Home Basic is out of the picture, we only have three left.
Home Premium and Business will be very comparable to the current XP editions on computers now, Windows XP Media Center Edition and Professional respectively. While the Ultimate edition is new and is more of a superset to Home Premium and Business, the price might make you rethink the need for this snazzy upgrade. What kind of lifestyle do you have? Vista edition choices are as simple as answering that question. The Home Premium is exactly what it states, it is intended for the average home user. The Business edition is intended for the business scene. If you are an "everybody" then you will want to pick up Ultimate, so just be prepared to spend a little more.
Booting the Windows Vista desktop for the first time, you will be struck by the professional-looking translucencies of the new Start Menu, taskbar, windows, and other onscreen elements. On-screen windows especially, appear to pop onto the screen, and, thanks to glass-like translucency effects, they visually appear to hover over other windows and objects, giving a sense of depth that was missing from previous Windows versions. This effect is called "Aero Glass," and it is both interesting and troublesome. Now, windows in Windows Vista are literally windows, with "glass" you can peek through and see what lies beneath. Weird? Probably for most, but with the pseudo-3D environment that today's PC operating systems provide, the translucencies and other effects provide a nice evolutionary improvement over the less sophisticated interface of Windows XP.