Windows Vista

After performing a hands-on analysis of Windows Vista, I’m happy to report that Microsoft’s long-awaited new operating system is more than just glitzy bells and whistles. Vista ($99.95 for home upgrades; $199 for businesses) has enough compelling tools to cause many businesses to upgrade just to get them.

OK, it’s true that most of Vista’s features are nothing new to Mac users, but Windows enthusiasts will find a lot to like. To really appreciate Vista’s high-end graphic effects, I opted to test it on the new MacBook, which runs Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950. I partitioned the hard drive on the MacBook in order to run both operating systems.

Make sure you are confident about the new operating system’s compatibility and support with your system before making any transition. To find out if your existing machine will support Vista, visit Microsoft’s Vista Upgrade Advisor, available at In the meantime, here are my top seven reasons Windows XP users should make the switch to Vista.

Enhanced security defenses: Vista raises the bar by taking full advantage of new security certification requirements and standards. Users are better protected against malicious software, or malware, and hackers that try to access your system.

Improved desktop search: Desktop search features from Google and Yahoo! offer better alternatives to the painfully slow search function in XP. Now, Vista tightly integrates instant desktop searching capabilities to make finding information, documents, e-mail messages, or other types of files on your desktop quicker and more efficient.

Internet Explorer 7: The latest version of the world’s most popular Web browser is a much-need improvement over IE6. It is chock-full of practical features, such as the Firefox-inspired tabs that offer a quick glance at all your open Web pages.

More compelling media: Vista includes Windows Media Center, along with some competent revisions to Windows Media Player, Windows Movie Maker, and Windows Photo Gallery. Users have more options for managing their digital media, including editing photos and videos, listening to music files, and burning DVDs.

Easier connections and sharing: In Vista, there is an emphasis on making collaboration and sharing workflow easier. Peer-to-peer technology lets users share files, folders, and computers on the same network. A new Sharing Wizard helps you specify other users you want to share files with.

High-end graphic effects: The Windows Aero interface makes this operating system visually engaging with 3-D rendering and animation. The Flip 3-D, for example, lets you use the scroll wheel on your mouse to flip through and select open windows that appear in a floating stack on your desktop.
Better backups: A new feature called Windows Restore offers multiple layers of protection from hardware failure. Basically, Microsoft tweaked the useful System Restore Feature, which returns your system to its original state before a viral infection or botched software installation.