Is it Vista time yet?

Question

Is it time to consider Windows Vista now or should I just stick with Windows XP?

- Janice

Answer

This question was answered on January 18, 2008. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

The question about whether you should transition to the Windows Vista platform depends greatly on who you are, what your actual computing needs are and how you interact with other computers.

From the 10,000 foot level, Windows Vista at its core is more stable and more secure than Windows XP (which is what Microsoft has been touting since its release a year ago) However, because it’s a new operating system not everything that you currently have or want to do may work properly with it.

This compatibility issue with existing hardware and software programs and integrating it into home or business networks has been the biggest gripe of those that have a problem and looking back, it isn’t too much different than previous releases of Windows.

I can remember the same howling about change from hardcore Windows 98 users when Windows XP was released in late 2001 (and I still run into users that cling to 98 as their preferred OS!)

The bottom line is YOU What do you want your computer to do for you? If you have older hardware and software programs and everything is working fine for the moment, why rock the boat?

If you are in the market for a new computer and will be trying to integrate your existing peripherals and software with it, sticking with Windows XP is the safest route especially if you are not willing to do the homework to figure out what you currently have that will and won’t work with Vista.

If you are a hardcore gamer (and I don’t mean Solitaire or Minesweeper) that has spent a lot of time tweaking your computer, you’re probably better off sticking with Windows XP for the moment Initially, driver issues killed any chance of the hardcore gamer using Vista, but in the past year it has gotten better, so once again you must do your homework to see if what you have is supported in Vista.

The amount of time spent by the gaming community tweaking Windows XP based systems has yet to occur in Windows Vista, so you would be part of the group that is learning about the tweaks Additionally, most tests in the past have shown that Windows XP based gaming systems run faster for most of the largest gaming platforms This will certainly become less of an issue over time as the gaming tweaks in Vista are developed, but the game you play will be the key.

If you are a business user, you are also less likely to want to introduce a new operating system into your business network, unless you have a specific reason to do so.

Very few of our business clients are interested in experimenting with Windows Vista at this time, because many of their support mechanisms (in-house and third party) are not equipped to deal with all the unknowns.

We saw the same slower migration by the business community when Windows XP was released and in many cases they waited until their primary business software application vendor told them that they had to transition to Windows XP from 98 or they would lose support.

In addition, of the business customers that have purchased Windows Vista systems, the vast majority have asked us to turn off many of the security items that make Vista more secure and stable than XP, because they want to minimize the differences for their users (which kind of defeats the whole purpose of migrating to Vista.)

If you are starting from scratch and will be buying all new hardware and software and don’t need to integrate the new computer into a network of older systems, Windows Vista is well worth considering.

This question of which operating system to choose is not one that should be taken lightly and if you are confused, get help Make sure you thoroughly review all of the variables involved, especially how you will get the new computer to work like the old one did (transferring your data, favorites, e-mails, address book and programs as well as getting it to talk to your printer and home or business network.)

Make sure you purchase your computer from a vendor that still offers both Windows XP and Windows Vista so you get advice based on your needs, not based on their ability to only sell Vista based computers

If I had to choose a single operating system at this moment in time, the best all around operating system that balances stability, support and compatibility (for both home and business users) is still Windows XP Pro (your mileage may vary, which is the point of this column!)

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Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on January 18, 2008