From the Kenosha News on 1-28-07

Decide if you and your computer are ready for Windows Vista

You’ve probably heard about Vista – the newest version of Microsoft Windows. Microsoft’s web site (www.microsoft.com/windowsvista) says it will be widely available on January 30. So much to understand and so little time!

Recently, the most common question I’ve gotten is if people planning to buy a new computer should wait and get a computer with Vista. Yes. Operating system upgrades are generally something you want to avoid. It’s not worth buying a new computer just to have Vista, but if you need a new computer anyway, it’s worth waiting for Vista so you won’t have go through the expense and inconvenience of an upgrade. But research your choice carefully using the information below.

A second common question is if your current computer can run Vista. That’s a pretty complicated question, but there a tool to help you know. On the site shown above, click the Get Ready link at the left, then scroll down and click on “Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor.” Download the program and run it. It will scan your computer’s hardware and software to determine if Vista will work on your computer. The scan may take some time.

Once the utility finishes, click the See Details button. It will recommend which version of Vista is right for you. (There are four distinct versions.) Below, the System Requirements section shows if you have sufficient system resources. It tells me I don’t have enough disk space and that I need to upgrade my video card if I want to run Vista’s new “Aero” interface, which is optional. Below that, the Devices section shows if my hardware device drivers are compatible or not. It knows that my pointer device will need a new driver, and it has no information on some of my printers or my wireless network interface. This will make any upgrade pretty painful. The Programs section tells which of my software programs will run with Vista and which will need to have new versions re-installed. My favorite item is that it’s not sure if MSN messenger (Microsoft’s own product) will work with Vista or not. More disconcerting is that it’s not sure about my anti-virus. Basically, my 1.5 year old computer needs quite a bit of work.

If your computer is Vista-ready, why would you want it? What does it do that previous versions of Windows don’t? Its claim to fame is improved security above previous versions. For home users, Vista has improved ability to handle music and video – playing catch-up with Mac OSX and its bundled software. The Aero interface is supposed to give a cleaner look with no menus; if you feel less than excited about having to learn all new ways to do the things you knew how to do before, this might not be an advantage. Make sure you know which of the new features are in which versions of Vista. On the Vista web site, click the Get Ready link on the left and then click the Windows Vista Editions link, which is first on the list. In general, if you are running Windows XP, you may want to put off an upgrade to Vista until more is known about it.

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 1-28-07