Vista is likeable but it won’t hurt if you delay upgrade
UNLESS you've been living in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan, you've probably heard about Microsoft
's new operating system, Vista, which was released at the end of January.
So what is the hype all about? Is it worth running down to your favorite computer store and purchasing a copy?
On the surface Vista is likeable. It's aesthetically more pleasing than XP and there are countless little changes.
For example, the old hourglass icon has been substituted with a shiny, spinning blue circle and the icons have also gotten a facelift.
Security (so Microsoft tells us) is better and there are some interesting new functions such as parental controls and a cool new search engine.
The caveat is that you may need more hardware horsepower to utilize all of Vista's features, depending on the version of Vista that you purchase and the age of your PC.(There are a couple of versions available ranging from Home Basic to Vista Ultimate.) A basic upgrade will cost you $159.
Most reviewers seem to feel that Vista is definitely an improved version of Windows, but not necessarily a convincing upgrade for most users. In other words, it's not a breakthrough or must have "killer" app. Ease of use isn't improved significantly. While the program is better visually (and I'm sure in a hundred other ways) it more or less functions the same way as your old Windows XP.
A lot has been written about the hardware that you may or may not need to run this OS. My feeling is that it's best to have a machine that is not more than 2 years old. Some reviewers say that you absolutely need to have 2 gigabytes of software to run the program, but my research shows that having 1 gig is sufficient. (That said, it's probably best, if you can afford it, to upgrade to 2 gigs when you have the chance. It will cost about $50 for 512k of RAM and memory is easy to install.)
If you really want to check if your PC is Vista-worthy, Microsoft has a free, downloadable "Upgrade Advisor" that will analyze your system to let you know if you're a good candidate. (Go to microsoft.com/ windowsvista/getready/upgradeadvisor).
What if you have an older PC? Does that mean you can't run the program?
Home Basic should run OK in an older computer. The only item that a lower horsepower machine will miss out on is the Aero Glass interface. While visually pleasing, it's not obligatory or absolutely necessary to have. You'll still have many cool Vista features.
To support Aero you'll need a graphics card with 128 MB of RAM and DirectX 9-capability. A card such as this is not expensive. You can find one for way less than $100. Make sure that you have an open graphics slot before you buy your new card. Your PC may not have one! If you do, upgrading the card is also not difficult.
Is it a big deal if you delay upgrading to Vista? No. If you're using an older machine, and are thinking of stepping up to a new PC, your new purchase will have Vista installed and you can disregard this column!
Should you decide to delay your purchase, you'll also survive quite well. You also will not have to deal with the initial bugs.
is general manager of digital phone at Oceanic Time Warner Cable. He can be reached at email@example.com