Windows Vista, Microsoft’s new OS, may be the best Windows ever till date. But here’s some reasons suggested by Mike Elgan on why we should not to rush into buying the new OS for a “Windows Vista Capable” PC.
* Vista is incomplete
Microsoft is already planning its first service pack and seeking input from users on what to include. Vista probably won’t be truly ready for prime time until that first service pack version, possibly later this year.
The hardware and software companies that make compatible products for Vista aren’t all ready for the new operating system. Many of those companies are scrambling to complete Vista drivers and updates. Most importantly, not all video and sound card companies are ready.
* Vista is expensive
Microsoft offers three versions of Vista to home users in the U.S. — Home Basic, Home Premium and Ultimate. You can buy any of these in the upgrade version with a discount, or the stand-alone version without the discount.
The cheapest way for current Windows XP users to get a legal copy of Vista is to buy the upgrade version of Home Basic, which is $99. But you don’t want the cheapest version.
First, the upgrade version will require you to keep your Windows XP CD for years. You do have a Windows XP CD handy, don’t you? Second, Home Basic just won’t cut it for most people. It lacks the Aero UI and Media Center capabilities. Plus, you can’t connect Xbox peripherals to Home Basic. For many, including yours truly, those are the three best reasons to upgrade to Vista in the first place.
Home Premium ($239 for the full and $159 for the upgrade version) is roughly equivalent to Windows XP Home. It’s for nontechnical, nonpower users who use their system for lightweight, personal use only. But if you’re the kind of person who currently runs Windows XP Pro at home — and since you’re reading Computerworld.com, you probably are — you’ll be happiest with Windows Vista Ultimate. It’s got all the fun and goodies of Home Premium, plus the power-user features in the business version of Vista.
Are you sitting down? The full version of Windows Vista Ultimate costs $399. If you have an XP CD, and don’t mind the hassle, the upgrade version of Vista Ultimate costs $259. Ouch!
* Vista wants a new PC
To get full value from Vista, you’re probably going to want to buy a new, Vista-optimized PC. Many of the benefits of Vista require hardware your current PC doesn’t have. “ReadyBoost” and “ReadyDrive,” for example, require special hybrid or flash drives. Aero looks awesome, but only if your graphics card supports Pixel Shader 2.0. You can record high-definition cable TV, but only with a tuner card designed to take advantage of that Vista feature. You can enjoy DirectX 10 games, but only with a compatible video card.
Vista’s new indexed searching is great, but you’ll need extra hard disk space for the index — and extra storage for the operating system itself. Don’t even think about running Vista on a system with less than 1GB of RAM; 2 GB is reasonable and 4GB is the sweet spot.
* Vista is time-consuming
Installing any new operating system is time-consuming. You have to configure everything, load your data, install your applications and get your peripherals working. Then, in the case of Vista, you have to figure out where Microsoft buried all the options, menus and features and get used to the ubiquitous Search boxes. Anytime you want to do anything in Vista, it seems, the software asks, “Are you sure?” You’ll want to figure out how to turn that off and customize Vista to get rid of all its annoying “user-friendly” hand-holding “features.”
* Windows XP isn’t obsolete
Vista adds new benefits and, in the long run, will make computing easier, faster and a lot more fun. But it doesn’t really “solve” any existing problem. Windows XP — after years of service patches and strong, industrywide support — is a solid, well-understood and highly functional operating system. And it will continue to be well supported. Microsoft itself has committed to at least seven more years of XP support, and even plans a Service Pack 3 next year.
Gartner says that by the end of the year, XP will be installed on 77.1% of all PCs worldwide, and Vista on just 12.3%. That means the industry will make sure their products will still work great on Windows XP!