Microsoft Vista and Home Computing Essay
Microsoft Vista and Home Computing
In 2005, Microsoft announced that it was working on a new version of their Windows operating system that would fix many security problems that were plaguing Windows-XP users. Consequently, many software lovers eagerly anticipated the launch of the upgraded operating system, named Widows Vista. Unfortunately, after Vista was released in 2007, it disappointed most users and critics because of its lack-luster performance, high cost and incompatibility with XP software. It is worse than Windows XP, and home-computer users today are better off using Windows 7 Home Premium.
Windows Vista was released five years after XP, taking longer to produce than previous versions of Windows. XP had numerous security flaws that allowed hackers to manipulate or destroy a computer user’s data or cripple network communication, and Microsoft aimed to fix these with Vista (Ricadela 2006). Viruses, spyware, trojans and other forms of malware can easily infect XP, especially when users access the internet. Microsoft’s preoccupation with fixing these bugs in XP eventually delayed the production and release of Vista (Ricciuti 2004).
Unfortunately, after Vista was released in 2007, it met harsh criticism from press reviewers, corporate users and home-computing users. A corporate satisfaction survey launched in 2008 indicated that only 8% of Vista users were very satisfied compared to 40% for XP users (Keizer 2008). Netmarketshare (2010) also estimates that Vista has the smallest portion of users (14. 34%) among the currently-used Windows operating systems, with Windows 7 at second place (14. 46%) and XP with the most users at 61. 87% (2010). Home users will find it difficult to use Vista, especially if they have been used to the more stable XP operating system.
XP users will realize that Vista’s system requirements are higher than XP’s. Consequently, existing users have to upgrade their computer hardware or buy a new computer altogether if they want to upgrade to Vista. Microsoft recommends at least a 1 GHz processor, 1 GB of Random Access Memory (RAM), a 128-MB video-graphics card capable of DirectX 9. 0, at least 40 GB of Hard Disk Drive (HDD) capacity with at least 15 GB of free space, and a DVD-ROM drive to install the software (Microsoft 2010). It may be possible to run Vista with less, but the performance will crawl.
In reality, one needs much more than the stated requirements to achieve reasonable performance. Vista’s performance is also slower compared to XP and Windows 7. XP users will immediately notice the difference in speed when they start using Vista. Many tasks seem to crawl compared to XP. Benchmark tests run by Tom’s Hardware indicated that XP is generally faster than Vista, and the testers recommend sticking with XP because “it cannot perform better than Windows XP” (Schmid 2007). For example, basic tasks, such as copying files, are much slower than XP.
Microsoft released a Service Pack upgrade to fix this problem, but ZDNet benchmark tests indicate that the upgraded Vista is still slower than XP (Kingsley-Hughes 2008). In fact, computers that were purchased pre-installed with licensed Vista software performed so poorly that customers wanted to downgrade it to XP, but retailers charged a fee for it. Consequently, customers sued Microsoft for this (Melanson 2009). Avid gamers will also be very disappointed if they use Vista in their home computers. Just like Tom’s Hardware, Techgage processed comparative tests using different games running in both Vista and XP.
Naturally, XP was faster than Vista (Williams 2007). The graphics drivers of Vista are simply not developed enough, and the basic requirements of Vista itself are heavier than XP. Microsoft attempted to fix this again through a Service Pack upgrade. However, even after the “fix,” game developers still recommend Vista users to double the requirements of XP users. For instance, Capcom, the publisher of the game Devil May Cry 4, requires a minimum of 2 GB of memory for Vista users. However, XP users only need 1 GB (PC Game Requirements 2010). Some XP software and hardware are also not compatible with Vista.
Existing home computer users who already spent a considerable investment in software will be frustrated again with Vista’s inability to run some of their existing computer programs such as virus scanners. Even many businesses did not bother to upgrade from XP to Vista when it was released because of this incompatibility issue (Deare 2007). The US Department of Transportation has also banned any upgrades from XP to Vista citing software incompatibility issues, costs and the lack of additional features that could prove to be useful or advantageous (McDougall 2007). Using Vista with WiFi will also be difficult.
While connecting to networks with XP is not a problem, Vista sometimes refuses to connect with some networks (Claerr 2008). Even if one is able to connect to the router, the Internet may be absent or access to network files and printers may not be available. The user may also be disconnected intermittently from the router if he or she is able to connect, or the speed may be very slow. Fixes may involve upgrading routers, but if the router is not owned by the user, such as in airports, cafes or other public Wifi hotspots, then connections are not possible unless XP or other compatible operating systems are used.
Vista also consumes more power than XP. This means that laptop batteries will drain faster using Vista. It is due to Vista’s higher hardware requirements that use more energy. Attempting to turn off some of Vista’s features, such as its fancy graphical interface, will make it more energy-efficient. However, doing the same with XP still makes it greener than Vista. Vista is also more expensive than XP or Windows 7. Microsoft Vista Home Premium currently retails for $239. 95 in online software retailers. On the other hand, Windows 7 Home Premium retails for only $199.
99. And if one buys a new, discounted, old-model personal computer today, with a CRT screen, a tower CPU and an extended keyboard for around 200 to 250 dollars, sometimes Windows XP is already bundled together with the entire package, making it virtually free. This is why Vista is not cost effective. Some of the new features of Vista are also not impressive compared to its predecessor, Windows XP and its successor Windows 7. The new graphical interface of Vista is more aesthetic than XP, but it slows down performance to the point where it is not worth it.
The new versions of bundled software such as the internet browser, media player, email manager, photo manager, appointment manager and movie maker are either downloadable for free for XP users or available for free either from third-party vendors or packaged together with purchased hardware like cameras and scanners. The new security prompts can also be nagging or annoying. The most noticeable new feature for Vista is the Aero graphical user interface. Compared to XP, it appears more three-dimensional. The new eye candy has improved icons, animations and thumbnails that are live.
The transparencies are also new. However, since Aero uses more energy, it drains the battery life of laptops. Turning it off will save power (Murph 2007). Another new feature that is immediately noticeable is the Windows Sidebar. It is a transparent panel where various applets or small programs called Desktop Gadgets can be attached or removed. These applets include gadgets such as clocks, weather information, news, photographs, currency converters and so forth. In Windows XP, a similar panel called Google Gadgets can be downloaded for free, courtesy of Google. Internet Explorer 7 also comes with Vista.
This version has new features including multiple tabbed windows, the ability to zoom pages, a filter against phising (hackers attempting to gather important data such as passwords from users), additional security features, including restricting suspected malicious software from writing beyond the Temporary Internet Files folder without consent, and International Domain Name (IDN) support. However, these features and many more are included in free internet browsers such Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome, which can be downloaded and installed using Windows XP or other operating systems for free.
A new version of Windows Media Player, version 11, is also bundled with Vista. A new feature in this version allows users to search for music or video files while they type. This is called “word wheeling. ” It also includes a new media library Graphical User Interface (GUI), a photo organizer and an Internet file-sharing feature. However, new versions of Media Player can be downloaded from Microsoft’s website under Windows XP for free. Moreover, there are other third-party software applications that provide free video and audio software, including codecs, to play all the latest types of media for free.
Again, these can be downloaded from the Internet using XP or other operating systems. Vista also includes a new version of Outlook Express which was renamed Windows Mail. It features continuously-updated junk-mail and phishing filtering. However, there are better email management programs, such as Mozilla’s Thunderbird, that can again be downloaded for free from the Internet using XP or other operating systems. Windows email systems have also always been the prime target of hackers and malware authors, so using a different email program such as Thunderbird is more secure and safe.
There are also new multimedia applications that are included In Vista, but these programs are usually included for free with the hardware that they support. For example, Vista includes Windows Photo Gallery, which allows users to import pictures from digital cameras, organize them, adjust their properties and produce slideshows. But software that is bundled for free with digital cameras is more advanced than Vista’s basic Photo Gallery. There are also new games included with Vista. A new chess and mahjong game is included.
A folder is also included to organize all of the games. Unfortunately, like previous versions of Windows, the bundled games are not the type of commercial games that users like or want to play. And if they have an existing game collection already, they will run slower on Vista and may not even run at all. Vista also has speech recognition software integrated within Vista. It allows users to hear words in computer applications by allowing the computer to speak them out loud in a robotic voice that may not be comprehensible occasionally.
This feature may be useful for those with visual problems, but usually the visually impaired purchase better speech recognition software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking, which is available in XP and other operating systems. Vista also has other minor new features. It has new fonts and improved international fonts. For mobile computer users, there is also a centralized control panel called the Windows Mobile Center for controlling properties needed by laptop user such as battery life, wireless connections, brightness, screen orientation and other settings.
There is also a new version of Netmeeting renamed Windows Meeting Space. This allows different users to share their entire desktop or individual applications over the Internet with other users. And there is also a new version of the back up and restore application which facilitates the restoration of damaged data. The improvements however are not significantly new. In conclusion, home computer users should avoid Windows Vista altogether. If one is an existing XP user who is thinking about upgrading, one should just forget about it since it may make home computing worse. It is also overpriced.
However, if one is purchasing a brand new state-of-the-art PC or laptop with an option for choosing one’s operating system, then Windows 7 is the answer. On the other hand, if one is on a budget and wishes to purchase new, discounted, old-model PCs pre-installed with licensed versions of Windows XP, then that is a satisfactory option as well. But whatever one does, one should always avoid Vista. It’s a lemon. References Claerre, J. (2008). Vista Problems With WiFi. eHow. Retrieved August 13, 2010, from http://www. ehow. com/about_5106461_vista-problems-wifi. html Deare, Steven. (2007, May 14). Gartner: App testing delaying Vista rollouts.
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