Q: So I hear Windows Vista was released last week. I am still running Windows XP. Do I need to upgrade? - D.W. Leighton
A: For computer nerds like Yours Truly, Vista is a very big deal. We will lock ourselves in our offices and shun our family and sole friend for days until we have it running on our computers. The real fun for us begins after the upgrade when we get to tweak Vista to our liking then spend hours upon hours in internet forums and Google searches figuring out why some things won’t work and how to fix them. If that sounds like fun to you, by all means go for it. Be sure to check out the Vista Upgrade Advisor at www.Micorosft.com before plunking down a penny for a Vista Upgrade.
For those of you who actually have a life outside of computers, I don’t recommend upgrading to Vista. Vista is an evolutionary, not revolutionary step. In my very humble opinion, the $99.00 price tag for the Basic Edition upgrade is usually better spent on a RAM upgrade for older computers.
If you still want to upgrade to Vista, there are four basic editions to consider: Home Basic, Business, Home Premium and Ultimate.
Home Basic ($99 for the upgrade) comes with the fundamental security improvements of Vista over Windows XP but does not come with the much-touted Aero interface. “Aero” is an acronym for (italics) Authentic, Energetic, Reflective and Open. Aero is intended to be a cleaner, more powerful, more efficient and more aesthetically pleasing user interface. Home Basic does not come with “Media Center.” Media Center is a set of software that allows you to use your computer as a central repository for all your music, videos and home entertainment. Home Premium ($159 for the upgrade) includes these missing features.
The Business Edition ($199 for the upgrade) removes the Media Center functionality and adds “Windows Backup” software, dual processor support, remote desktop and advanced networking features that almost no home user would use or appreciate. The Ultimate Edition ($259 for the upgrade) includes everything.
Choosing between all these versions can be confusing to non-techies so suffice it to say that the vast majority of home users will be perfectly happy with Home Basic.
On the other hand, if you are purchasing a new computer, by all means join the nerdy revolution! Vista does operate faster than a comparable, well-equipped Windows XP system. It should prove to be more stable and is definitely more resistant to virus and spyware attacks than XP. There are some really cool things coming down the pipe such as hybrid hard drives that will allow you to power-on your computer with 10 seconds, high definition TV capabilities, and new computer graphics technology that will add incredible realism to computer games. Microsoft is on track with their plans to revolutionize the way we watch television and store our digital lives. Vista is a big step in that direction but most of us are still a few years away from absolutely having to have Vista on our computers.