Opening a new vista on the world

You may have heard by now that Microsoft launched its new Vista operating system last Tuesday.

Vista is the intended successor of Windows XP and has been in development for the last five years. I realised that I would encounter the beast sooner or later, and so I set out on an Internet expedition to see what was what.

My first port of call, as usual in these situations, was the wonderful technology site www.cnet.com, where I found plenty of details about the new product. The Microsoft site has a lot more detail, including 100 reasons to say Wow about it, but, funnily enough, Incredible Connection’s local site has one of the nicest features lists I’ve yet seen.

The major new features include increased graphics capabilities, known as Windows Aero, a new and more intuitive interface and Instant Search, which allows you search for files by name or by words and phrases they might contain.

Vista has a Live Icon feature which shows you previews of your files or windows when you view your folders in Windows Explorer or you flip through the open windows on your desktop.

Networking and security on Vista are apparently much improved, and there is a Windows Sidebar feature, which lives on your desktop and accommodates gadgets, which are mini programs that can do many different things including displaying a calendar, or the contents of your photo album.

By the time I had got to the bottom of the list of new features, I was starting to think ‘so what’! CNET’s review comes to much the same conclusion and the reviewer says that, while he would not turn Vista down if he got it with a new machine, he can’t see much reason to upgrade to it.

A local retailer has the Basic Home Edition Upgrade available at R999 and the Business Edition Upgrade for R1999. Before you rush out to buy it, however, you’d be well-advised to see if it’ll run on your machine.

CNET does have an online checker which can evaluate your machine to see if it’s Vista-capable and the Microsoft site has a program you can download for the same purpose. The CNET evaluation was pretty pessimistic about my machine’s chances of running Vista, citing my video card, in particular, as a problem.

Microsoft’s upgrade advisor told me that my machine could run Vista but that my current video card would not support its enhanced graphics capability. It went on to say that my scanner would not work under Vista and that it didn’t know if my printer would or not.

The adviser then listed a fair selection of the programs on my system, including Norton AntiVirus, which it said would either not work or might have compatibility issues. So, that writes off a Vista upgrade for me for the time being, and I can’t say I’m too annoyed about it.

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