By now, I am sure that you have heard that Microsoft has released their newest operating system, Vista. Many, including myself, were wondering if it would be worthwhile to upgrade to the latest and greatest. So, here you go: the pros and cons of upgrading your current machine to Vista.
Tired of the same, boring user interface that has basically stayed the same since Windows 95? Tired of having the same, shitty integrated search function that, quite frankly, cannot find anything that you are looking for? Then Vista is for you. It has a rather robust, 3D accelerated user interface that looks spectacular. It includes Flip 3D, which, when you hold down the tab button and roll the scroll wheel of your mouse, will show all the windows you have open, and literally flip through all of them until you find the one that you are looking for. Vista also has finally included a good search function that actually will search the contents of files, instead of just reading the name. Now, when you look for that global paper you wrote last year to turn in for a sociology class, you can actually search for it based on the text of the document, instead of the name you gave it.
Unfortunately, the downside to features such as these is that they require rather beefy hardware. Want that pretty user interface to run smoothly on your $599 Dell special? Think again, as you will need a dedicated graphics card with onboard memory to even think of running Vista. Also, unless you have some of the newer hard drives on the market, your searches will take quite a bit of time, since the engine will be going through everything to find what you are looking for. Unfortunately, this is kind of a moot point if you do not have a relatively new model of processor. Ultimately, if you want the fancy visual features of Vista and its cool integrated features, then you will need to make sure that you have the hardware to support it properly.
Speaking of hardware, good luck finding drivers for some of your equipment. If your laptop has integrated wireless and sound, I wish you the best of luck searching for the drivers, because most likely the manufacturers will be holding off writing decent drivers for a while. Do you have an HP printer? If you do, you are shit out of luck, because HP has decided to only support their enterprise-level printers and are only writing drivers for existing products, so if your printer is more than six to nine months old, you will have to get a new printer when you make the move to Vista.
Fortunately, Microsoft has spent a tremendous amount of time improving the security of Vista. That is part of the reason why it took so long to come out in the first place. Did you know it has been more than five years since Windows XP was released? Did you also know that it took almost four years for it to become somewhat secure on its own? With Vista, Microsoft has completely rewritten the core components of the code to make it much more resistant to attack. You will still need third-party security software to be completely safe, but you can rest assured that at its most basic level, Vista is much more secure than XP was when it was first released.
Ultimately, if you are not in the market for a new PC/laptop, I would not think about upgrading to Vista yet. It has demanding requirements for hardware, so not everyone will be able to run it in the first place. Although it is very secure, it is still in its infancy, and you should expect to hear soon about the first viruses popping up for Vista. Personally, I am going to wait at least another six months before I even think about upgrading to Vista in order to let drivers mature, and really flesh out how secure Vista will remain. Besides, with a price tag of over $400 after tax for Windows Vista Ultimate, I will need to save some money for a while before I can think about upgrading. Ramen noodles for the win!