About Windows Vista
Released January 30, 2007, Vista was poorly received by reviewers and businesses. The most attractive feature was the new Aero transparency.
…there's nothing wrong with Windows Vista. But there's no one compelling feature within Windows Vista that cries out to switch over…. As for security, Microsoft's biggest improvements in Windows Vista are within the Enterprise or 64-bit editions, versions most home users will not be running.
Vista sales terminated in October 22, 2010 (October 22, 2011 for sales of PCs with Windows preinstalled).
Microsoft's Windows Vista Support
Microsoft's Vista support pages are gradually disappearing as the focus moves to Windows 8 and 8.1, but there is still information remaining. If you land on a Windows 8 page, try searching for Vista-related topics or look to see if there is a tab allowing you to move between the different versions of Windows.
Windows Vista Editions
Comparing Vista Editions
There are four editions of Vista:
- Home Basic (intended for only the most basic computer uses: email/web browsing/photos) — not recommended.
- Home Premium (recommended for most home desktop and mobile PCs)
- Ultimate (all the bells and whistles: for your power user)
- Business (aimed at the needs of small businesses)
Downgrade rights for Windows Vista Business and Ultimate versions to Windows XP is no longer listed by Microsoft (it was up to the vendor to provide that option). See Understanding Downgrade Rights for details.
Windows Vista Hardware
Installing Windows Vista
Microsoft has instruction on how to Install, upgrade, & activate Windows Vista.
Vista More Demanding of Hardware
Windows Vista is particularly demanding and few computers built before 2007 will run Vista satisfactorily without being significantly upgraded. Hardware requirements are generally much higher to perform the same functions as a comparable system running Windows XP (or even Windows 7).
In most cases you are better off upgrading to Windows 7 if your computer will support it.
You'd best look at new hardware if you want to optimize your experience with Windows Vista. See the general notes about Windows hardware requirements.
Vista provides an advantage where you are using the 64-bit version with large amounts of memory (8 GB or more). 32-bit systems only provide a small amount of enhanced memory (nominally 4 GB of which many 32-bit systems only see 3.5 GB), making the advantages over XP, in this respect, minimal.
Hardware Upgrades Probably Necessary
The most likely upgrades needed to satisfy Vista's demands include:
- a significantly improved video card for most systems
- a doubling or more of RAM: 1 GB minimum, 2 GB recommended. (Vista Basic states a minimum of 512 MB RAM but it will be extremely slow and unresponsive.)
ReadyBoost is a new feature on Vista that allows you to enhance built-in RAM with external devices like USB flash drives. Not all devices are capable of providing the speed needed for ReadyBoost and it is most pronounced in systems with Vista's minimum of 512 MB RAM (not recommended).
Upgrading from XP
Vista is a poor choice if you're considering upgrading from Windows XP. Vista requirements are much higher and Windows 7 may run better on hardware that will support Vista.
If you have a basic XP system, you're more likely to be satisfied only if you purchase a new computer.
Vista Compatibility Resources No Longer Available
Many Microsoft resources, including the Vista Upgrade Advisor, appear to be no longer available.
- Windows Vista TechNet resources are aimed at technical support staff.
Vista “Basic” Crippled
In my opinion, Vista Home Basic was a sell-out to hardware vendors with computers lacking the capacity to run Vista. I recommend looking at alternatives to Windows if your computer cannot handle the requirements for Vista Home or better.
Tweaking & Customizing Windows Vista
This involves changing the way Windows does certain tasks, such as not placing the "shortcut to" in the name of new shortcuts (you can tell a shortcut by the little arrow placed on the icon—although you can remove that as well, if you like).
Broadband and Networking Tweaks
- Tweaking broadband and network settings is not recommended in Windows Vista.
- Windows Registry Guide. Be sure to backup your registry before making changes.
Changing the Look
Windows Vista introduced the Windows Aero translucent glass design and larger "live" icons which captured people's imagination. This is much more demanding of video hardware and can affect performance in marginal systems.
If you're having trouble with Vista, try these resources:
- Windows Recovery Hints — Recovering Your Windows Installation
- Windows Backup — Options & Strategies
- What are the system recovery options in Windows Vista? from Microsoft.
- Windows Vista User Guide shows screen shots of the System Restore process.
Windows Vista Security
Windows Vista greatly increased the security of Windows with bitlocker drive encryption, encrypting file system, shadow copy and the notoriously annoying User Account Control.
Significant changes to the operating system were undertaken to help reduce vulnerabilities long entrenched in Windows. This meant that legacy utilities and security software no longer ran on Vista (new versions were developed to remedy this).
Vista Service Pack 1 & 2
Support for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) ended on July 12, 2011.
Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2) provides
customer and partner feedback-driven fixes into a single service pack.
As with most service packs, Vista SP2 should be installed unless you have a compelling reason not to. Using Windows Update, only the necessary patches are downloaded and installed.
These pages give an overview of Windows, its versions history and expected life-cycle as well as concepts and terminology:
- Microsoft Windows — history, versions and life-cycle of support
- Windows Basics — general concepts & terminology
Other Current Windows Versions
The following related pages offer more information about other versions of Windows currently in use:
General Windows Information
The following related pages offer general information about Windows:
- Windows Recovery Hints — recovering your Windows installation
- Windows Backup — options & strategies
- Windows Security — vulnerabilities in Windows
Updated: January 25, 2014