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Windows Vista Lands

Windows Vista, the new version of Windows (previously known as Longhorn), has been released. Windows Vista is being shipped with many new computers and you can also buy upgrades from computer stores.

Windows Vista is the “client” or “workstation” edition of Windows, the successor to Windows XP, released in 2001. (The server version, the successor to Windows Server 2003, will be released later, and will probably be called Windows Server 2007.)

Should I upgrade my current computer to Windows Vista?

Probably not. Many machines purchased in 2005 or earlier are not likely to run Windows Vista particularly well. Although the official system requirements are much lower, a more practical guideline is 1-2Gb RAM, 256Mb video memory and 100Gb hard disk drive. Even if you have a very new system (2006 or later), to get the best experience you may still need to upgrade the memory, graphics adaptor and other peripherals.

There are also issues such as BIOS compatibility and hardware drivers. You should only use Windows Vista on a system certified by the manufacturer as “Vista Capable” or “Vista Premium Ready” — but nevertheless, be prepared to install BIOS upgrades and updated drivers before and/or after installation.

Thus the capacity and compatibility issues, plus the cost of the retail upgrade package ($199 to $499 depending on version), may make the whole exercise too costly to be worth the benefits.

Should I have Windows Vista installed on a new computer?

If you're in a business, government or corporate environment you probably use a number of important line-of-business applications and these will need to be tested thoroughly, so it's fairly unlikely that IT administrators will want Windows Vista on their networks just yet. On the other hand, introducing a small number of Windows Vista systems via new PC acquisitions may be a good way to ease into it, especially if you have some users who can start using Windows Vista without needing training.

If you're buying a new system that will be stand-alone, or in a small business, you'll probably be fine with Windows Vista if you're using a modern version of all your programs, such as Microsoft Office. However, it's early days and you may have some troubles with, say, printer drivers, or getting a scanner to work but, over time, having Windows Vista on new systems will be preferable to Windows XP despite the short-term effort.

If your new computer was preinstalled with Windows XP, but qualifies for an inexpensive upgrade for Windows Vista, order the upgrade as soon as possible, but take your time before installing it.

Will Windows Vista work with all my hardware and software?

Some products will work with Windows Vista unchanged, some will require updates and some won't work at all. Some vendors are refusing to support Windows Vista for their older products and require the purchase of an upgrade.

Before using Windows Vista, whether upgrading or starting fresh, check with vendors' websites and the Windows Vista Hardware Compatibility List for information about compatibility. The answers may not change your opinion about whether to use Windows Vista, but it's better to be forewarned about any problems rather than discover something won't work at the last minute.

Cadzow 2000 works with 32-bit Windows Vista, although you'll need version 2006.09.004 or better to support Windows Mail (the new Outlook Express). We haven't done any testing on 64-bit Windows Vista yet, although it works on 64-bit Windows XP Professional.

Which version of Windows Vista should I use?

Windows Vista comes in many flavours: Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Enterprise and Ultimate. There are also some extra editions not available in Australia.

Generally speaking, Windows Vista Home Premium is best for home systems, and Windows Vista Business is best for small office, small business, and many corporate environments.

Windows Vista Enterprise is suited to large organisations, or those with a complex infrastructure, and Windows Vista Ultimate is best suited to the enthusiast, or business users whose computer doubles as a home or entertainment system. These two also support the whole-volume encryption feature called Bitlocker so they're appropriate for people with very sensitive data.

Should I Wait For Service Pack 1?

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 is mooted to include major changes to the kernel (the underlying brains of the operation) to bring it into line with the kernel that will be in Windows Server 2007. For most people this won't make any difference. But if you plan to do major testing, you may be better served by ignoring the initial release version of Windows Vista and testing on Service Pack 1 instead.

Third-Party Information

Notes from the Field

  • The Xerox Able 1221 is not supported in Windows Vista because the driver by Xerox is kernel-mode only. However a HP Laserjet II driver does a reasonable job. Access to various trays is not available. Other generic drivers may provide tray access.

  • Some USB drives may not install as quickly as in Windows 2000/XP. See “USB Drives Difficult to Install in Windows Vista” in Problems with USB Devices.

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