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Windows Vista reviewed

Back when Vista was first released, sbisson and I reviewed it for PC Plus. By the magic of syndication, you can read it most easily on the TechWeb site. Here's what we think of the four versions anyone can go out and buy; click through for all the details.
Windows Vista Home Basic
The cheapest version of Vista is limited in scope
Windows Vista Business
Full networking capabilities, but no entertainment
Windows Vista Home Premium
The best value version of Vista includes Media Center
Windows Vista Ultimate
The most comprehensive version of Windows will cost you...


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
16th Apr, 2007 16:10 (UTC)
£219.99 (WVHP) is "a bargain"? Come on. You can buy a whole PC for that if you catch Dell on a good day.

The much touted security is still inferior to a free OS, you say ReadyBoost doesn't actually work with most USB sticks, Photo Gallery is still nowhere near the 'much cheaper than £219.99' and 'much more powerful' Photoshop Elements...

That review also doesn't touch on what I still think is a deeply unpleasant monopolistic move to make you upgrade by insisting that the latest version of the games API that everyone uses won't run on anything else or the whole DRM issue.

And have all the drivers arrived yet?
16th Apr, 2007 20:53 (UTC)
the problem with OEM PCs as a benchamark of value is that the OEM copies of Windows don't include a CD to re-install from - although with Vista that's far less of a problem because you'll be able to re-install without losing all your apps and settings, which is a big value to any home user. The OEM cost also covers only support from Dell not from Microsoft; I've dealt with PSS on a lot of reader questions and they're one of the best software support services I've come across. Add that to the features in Vista and yes, I'll still say Home Premium is a bargain. Ultiamte should be that price though; it's way too expensive.

Security; I'm not sure I agree with you. http://blogs.csoonline.com/node/236 is an interesting starting point here.

We said that ReadyBoost didn;t work on many of the cheap, slow USB sticks that have been common. Since Vista came out it's become trivial to get a ReadyBoost capable stick. And if you have an SD slot, you can get a 1GB SD card for ReadyBoost for about £15.

PhotoGallery isn't the editing tools Elements is; editing tools you pay for are going to be better in many cases and Adobe has all that Photoshop development to mine. But for a simple fix to my photos, I often use PhotoGalley rather than firing up anything else and it tags and catalogs adequately. But PhotoGallery is hardly the key feature you're going to buy Vista for.

DirectX 10 - if that's what you mean - is more about the Aero rendering features than about gaming features. Install .NET 3 on XP and you get the Avalon graphics engine for some of the 3D. But one the one hand you're complaining that Vista doesn't have enough new features for you and on the other you're complaining that it has new features that aren't in previous versions.

DRM. Let's see how much of what's going to be mandatory for *future* versions of the Vista logo actually gets picked up by the entertainment industry. But if you want HD DVD on your OS legally, your OS is going to have the DRM that the studios in the HD DVD working group want.

Drivers. No, and I hope people keep beating up the hardware manufacturers. It's why Dell can sell a PC for the price of an OS; they can rely on you replacing hardware when there aren't drivers for it. Only thing I'm missing personally is a Sony driver, Toshiba just brought out a whole set of M200 drivers they said they'd never do. But driver support is still my number one bugbear with hardware companies, neck and neck with 'couldn't you pay for a decent ACPI BIOS or switch to EFI?'.
16th Apr, 2007 22:45 (UTC)
One of the historical pricing methods for software has been a percentage of the cost of the hardware. Sod the fact that Dell will only give you an install partition rather than a CD - we're now looking at an OS that costs more than the PC!

You may get decent support from Microsoft. For mere home users, Microsoft have never, ever been worth it. What's it for WVHP? Ah, 90 days from activation on a rip-off number, then £47 an issue.

No, I'm complaining that the latest version of the most important API for games, one of their most important monopolies - just see how much difficulty Cedega have in emulating bits of it - is being tied to Vista.

Microsoft have changed the driver APIs (and the database APIs and...) every few years. Given that there are some very clever people working for them, the not very cynical conclusion is that some of this has been deliberate, in order to have other companies playing catch up with this month's API rather than challenge Microsoft's power.

I accept that they have it tough - having to live with the consequences of their past mistakes can't be easy (we should know, we had to...) - and they're in a no-win position in relation to some extras (if they don't provide them, people will moan, and if they do, software vendors will) but ultimately, it's all their fault and enough is enough.

What keeps me using Windows? Very little: some games and some Adobe programs. I could have the latter on OS/X, and older versions mostly work on WINE. At the moment, everything I have open would run on Ubuntu... and the only reason it's not is that I'm waiting for something to finish downloading.

I was amazed when the resident teenager didn't moan about being given Ubuntu on his PC rather than Windows. That he didn't and more and more of his friends ask for the install CDs has been fascinating to watch: they want web, IM, email, an office suite (and OpenOffice.org is fine, because it's close enough to the version of MS Office at school, and indeed, at my work), and not much else - for games, they use consoles. Some want photo organisers / editors / an web page designer, and there's a choice, they're free and they're better than the bundled ones with Windows.

I seriously wonder if the five year old will find the idea that people wanted to pay more than the cost of a PC for an OS as funny in the future as she finds the idea that there was a time when DVDs didn't exist now.
17th Apr, 2007 10:14 (UTC)
You don't say much about the games improvements Vista is supposed to be delivering in your review. Of course the games that support the features aren't probably shipping yet...

Reading the Home Premium review I got the impression that you wouldn't be able to connect to your corporate network via VPN using Home Premium. Is that true? Or is it just that the support is not as good as with business? If you can't connect at all, doesn't that make Vista Home actually a step backwards from that POV compared with XP home which ISTR either has that built in or downloadable?
17th Apr, 2007 10:17 (UTC)
It was for a business title and we're not gamers, so not well placed to comment. XP Home can't join a domain, neither can Vista Home, so no difference on that front. But VPN connection Home can certainly do, XP or Vista.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


full steam ahead
Mary Branscombe
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