I don’t work on Windows Vista but that doesn’t stop members of my extended family from thinking I am their resident expert and support representative for every Microsoft product. With that in mind, and as a firm believer in teaching people how to fish (so to speak), I submit this post to my blog.
As many people the world ’round will be replacing their computers in the next 12-18 months I’m sure several are wondering what new features and applications make moving to Windows Vista a smart and economical thing to do.
There is a comprehensive entry on Wikipedia entitled “Features New to Windows Vista” which does a great job thoroughly explaining the multitude of changes and advancements in the new operating system compared to Windows XP and Mac OS X. The article is as long as one might expect as it is written about a multi-million-lines-of-code, multi-billion-dollar software system that has required a multi-year development cycle to create.
The Wikipedia entry is written matter-of-factly (sans marketing mumbo-jumbo) and does its best to forego geekspeak whenever possible. It also explains how and why end-users — such as one’s grandmother — might use each feature covered. If you are short on time, just read the section on “New and Upgraded Applications.”
My guidance on what features to look for in a new computer to make sure it’s truly Vista-ready for the average home user:
Dual-core 2GHz or faster
- Intel vs. AMD doesn’t matter
- 32-bit vs. 64-bit doesn’t matter
1GB RAM (minimum) / 2GB RAM (if you have the $$$)
200GB hard drive (for storing all those photos and videos you’ll be taking)
ATI RADEON (based) PCI Express graphics adapter w/ 256MB RAM (minimum) / 512MB (optimal)
- ATI has been tweaking its video adapter drivers to optimize them for Vista for a very long time and their hardware undergoes significant verification internally as well. Nvidia makes great cards as well but they seem to have lagged ATI this time around. This may just be my flawed perception.
- 256MB may seem like a lot especially for non-gamers and 512MB probably sounds wasteful but that’s probably because you’re looking at the Vista graphics subsystem with your pre-Vista glasses on. Read the sections on Windows Aero and Desktop Window Manager to see why beefier hardware is necessary for the full (256MB) or optimal (512MB) Aero experience.
- If you’re looking for a great video adapter to run Vista on an existing machine, check out this one which was referred by someone in-the-know on such things.
Invest in a 19″ or larger LCD display with a DVI connection
- Dell has some great LCDs and you can often find significant discounts on them here and here. (Of course, there’s always eBay.)
- I can vouch for the Dell 20.1″ 2001FP and the 24″ Widescreen 2405FPW displays.
From there you can add more bells & whistles until your heart is content or credit card maxed.