Operating System Comparisons: Windows Vista
First of all it must be said that Windows Vista delivers a stunning looking user interface. Since the days of Windows 3.1, Microsoft has always pushed the boundaries of operating system visuals and ergonomics. In this regard Vista takes some beating. Futuristic and flashy, Vista has improved considerably since XP, largely because it uses the new Windows Aero technology to deliver a groundbreaking 3D graphics experience. Coupled with Windows 3D flip functionality Vista offers translucent windows, smooth performance and 3D views of all minimized windows, which is a groundbreaking concept, if a little OTT for simple application navigation. Of course this enhanced visual experience takes up more resources, and relying on DirectX9 may prevent Vista from being installed and run efficiently on low end spec PC’s. The enhanced graphics engine also makes 512MB of memory (quoted as the minimum specification requirement for Vista to run) a bit low. I would suggest a PC with a minimum of 1GB, certainly for optimum responsiveness and processor capability.
User interface and visual delivery aside, Vista combines superb compatibility with all major software components. It is also worth a special mention that the new Ready Boost functionality works extremely well, dealing with performance issues and allowing the user to ease resource usage by utilizing external USB flash drives as additional memory resources. From a backup and hardware standpoint Vista also delivers excellent results, providing seamless integration with all major hardware types and models. This in turn creates greater confidence in backup management.
In terms of speed of functionality Vista delivers an impressive set of results. Boot time is way beyond expectation, much faster than that of XP and the new deep sleep mode allows users to virtually shut down their PC and then resume work quickly, without any loss of power or CPU resources.
What is annoying about Windows Vista however, and it is something that has always been the case with Microsoft delivered operating systems is the obsession with telling the end user exactly what is going on, all the time! Whether it is a plug-in, install, network connection, additional device - If there is a message to display, Vista will display it. Now this may be a personal gripe, and it goes without saying that it is not system critical but it is a drawback Microsoft really does need to address because their operating systems, Vista included, demand user attention. Linux and OS X on the other hand sit in the background working discretely, aiding the user without fuss or disturbance. These operating systems allow users to concentrate on applications, information needs and communications. This is, after all why we use computers in the first place.
This leads us to the final, fundamental problem with Vista. Whilst the vast majority of users will be happy with the fancy user interface and generic security features of a universally recognized operating system, Vista will continue to have the same issues with compromised security as its predecessors have. This is always going to be a problem for Microsoft no matter what the operating system, simply because it will always be the standard bearer. Hence creating an abundance of opportunities for hackers, both malicious and non malicious, to find weak spots, loopholes and ‘gremlins’ that can create spying, anonymizing and breaching angles. Vista is slick and cutting edge, do not get me wrong, but there are considerably more functional alternatives which are safer and cheaper to boot.