Product Review: Microsoft Windows Vista

30 Jan 2007

To really determine whether or not the successor to Windows XP – the spanking new Windows Vista – will make much of a difference to its predecessor you need to know what you are really looking for in an operating system (OS) in the first place.

Aesthetes will be pleased with the appearance of the new OS with its frosted glass panels – thanks to the snazzy Aero function – and slight fuzzy glow to certain buttons. It also gives a postage-stamp-sized preview to some of the documents you have compressed on the task pane.

My first thoughts on using the new OS was that anyone who had become used to XP will be comforted to know that everything seems to be in the same place, so getting used to it won’t be too hard.

The desktop also comes with handy widgets like clocks and thermometers as well as RSS feeds for movie reviews and news.

Ultimately what Microsoft is attempting with Vista is to make it “easier, safer and more entertaining” to use. Easier? Not so bad because of the familiarity factor. Safer? It comes with pop-ups like “if you trust this website you want to visit click here…” that aim to prevent phishing attacks by fraudsters, so pretty cool.

Entertaining? I found the Windows Media Centre to be the ace in the pack. The appearance with a carousel of things like playing DVDs to recording TV programmes and its integration with the internet to explore online media to be ground-breaking and something we’re likely to get very used to.

Internet Explorer 7, which comes with Vista, as a web browser takes a bit of getting used to. It does allow you to better manage stuff like Favourites, however, and make fuller use of a browser for things such as RSS feeds than you would have with Version 6.

But it does encapsulate the conundrum that users of the Office 2007 products (which we will review at a later stage) will find. In attempting to make things easier to use, features like drop-down menus no longer exist, and finding functions will take some getting used to.

It takes time to get used to it but you will. How powerful Windows Vista is compared to previous incarnations will only really be discernable to power-users like IT and network managers, but to the ordinary user I found it to be a solid, immersive experience.

Estimated retail pricing for Microsoft Windows Vista starts at €145 for an upgrade to the Windows Vista Home Basic Edition. Pricing varies for the different versions including Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Ultimate.


Handling: ***
Features: ****
Performance: ***
Value for Money: ***