Windows Vista Home Premium

Vista Home Premium will likely be one of the most popular of the six varieties of Microsoft's latest operating system. If you're currently happy with Windows XP SP2, we see no compelling reason to upgrade, but if you need a new computer right now, Windows Vista is stable enough for everyday use.


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Windows Vista is Microsoft's first new operating system in more than five years and the successor to Windows XP. However, it is not worth rushing out to purchase. If you desperately need to buy a new PC (if your old one died or you've been waiting and waiting for Vista to be released), then by all means do so; there's nothing wrong with Windows Vista. But there's no one compelling feature within Windows Vista that cries out to switch over, neither the enhanced graphic capabilities (Aero) nor the improved system performance features (truthfully, our Windows XP doesn't crash). As for security, Microsoft's biggest improvements in Windows Vista are within the Enterprise or 64-bit editions, editions most home users will not be running. Windows Vista is not the Apple Mac OS X 10.4 killer one hoped for (or feared). Nor are there specific big-name software packages written exclusively for Windows Vista -- most software available today is compatible with both Windows XP and Windows Vista. But the extensive tie-ins to Microsoft.com and Live.com, and the many, many interdependences upon Internet Explorer 7 left us desperately wanting more (and often best-of-breed) alternatives. Hard core Microsofties who live and breathe within the MSN, Live.com, and Microsoft desktop software ecosystem will rejoice with the release of Windows Vista, but for the rest of us who are product agnostic, who use Firefox, Google Desktop, ZoneAlarm, GMail, and Corel WordPerfect, Windows XP SP2 will suffice nicely until some killer program necessitates that we all upgrade to Windows Vista.

There are six major editions of Windows Vista. Windows Vista Ultimate includes everything, and this is the edition getting the most promotion from Microsoft. It is not the edition most people will find packaged on their shiny new PCs or will end up with after an upgrade of existing hardware. See our feature comparison chart to know which edition is right for your specific needs, and check the following individual reviews for more details.

Setup and installation
The Windows Vista DVD disc includes a Windows Imaging (WIM) format of the code, so whether you buy the Home Basic edition or the Ultimate edition, the code remains the same; only the product key unlocks your specific set of features. This means users who opt for the lesser editions can always upgrade (assuming they have the proper hardware) by downloading some additional code and securing a new product key online. However, all features -- even if you paid for them -- are dependent on specific hardware configurations being present; if you don't have the proper graphics hardware, for example, you'll simply never see the Aero graphic effects on that old Dell computer in your basement.

Hardware requirements for Windows Vista should not be taken lightly. In a controversial move to garner positive reviews, Microsoft sent hundreds of bloggers (not including CNET.com.au) free copies of Windows Vista Ultimate; Microsoft did not send boxed copies, rather the software giant sent top-of-the-line Acer Ferrari laptops with the operating system preinstalled. So even Microsoft seems to admit that the best performance is only available on top-of-the-line machines manufactured within the last year or so.

That said, many people will still want to upgrade their current Windows XP SP2. This will keep all your current data and applications, importing them directly into the new operating system. Most people will find either Windows Vista Home Basic or Windows Vista Home Premium to be their best choice. While Windows Vista does make a backup of your previous operating system before installing, it is always recommended that you backup your current Windows XP system yourself, just in case.

Rather than upgrade, we recommend you perform a clean installation. With a clean installation, you keep all your current on the Windows XP drive and install only the data and applications you want to run on Windows Vista. A clean install can be accomplished by buying a new PC with Windows Vista already installed, partitioning an existing Windows XP machine to dual-boot into Windows Vista, or adding a new hard drive to an existing Windows XP machine.

Our clean installations took anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the hardware in the system. It's pretty much an automated process, with the installer first copying the WIM image onto the new hard drive or partition then expanding that image. Once again, we experienced an uncomfortably long plateau at "Expanding: 27 percent"; as with previous builds, we waited between two and five minutes before the expansion continued. About halfway through, the installer reboots and continues the installation in Windows Vista.

During the installation, Windows Vista will load the drivers included within the installation image, but it will also download additional drivers from a much larger database at Microsoft. This assumes, however, that one has an always-on Internet connection; dial-up users may find that upon completion of the installation process some drivers are missing.

Once fully installed, Windows Vista first asks for your country or region, then time and currency, and, finally, the desired keyboard layout. Next, you'll choose a username, a user icon, and a password. Then select your desktop wallpaper and security settings: Automatic, Install Important Updates Only, or Ask Me Later. After reviewing the computer's time and date settings, there's one more message: "Please wait while Windows checks your computer's performance." Here, Microsoft grades your computer on a five-point scale, with the overall rating based on your system's lowest score (in our case, that was for the video card).

Windows Vista includes new musical tones written by veteran musician Robert Fripp. Compared to the familiar start-up tones of Windows XP, Windows Vista's are lighter, almost spritely. The sounds for User Account Control and Log Off are also perkier than those found in similar security warnings within Windows XP.

New on the Windows Vista desktop is a Welcome Center which contains links to frequently asked questions such as, "How do you configure your printer?" and "How do you connect to your Internet service?" There is also room for some sales opportunities, either with manufacturer specials or online offers from Microsoft, such as the Windows Live OneCare service. Frankly, we think it is better for you to look beyond the Windows ecosystem for e-mail, Internet browsers, and security applications.

After closing the Welcome Center, you'll notice to the far right there is a shaded sidebar populated with three example Gadgets ("widgets" to everyone else), tiny desktop applets that display content, such as RSS feeds. In one Gadget, a slide show of images from the sample photo library display; in the next, the current time; finally, there's a Gadget for subscribed RSS feeds. We downloaded and installed Firefox 2, made Firefox our default browser, and quickly set up a few RSS feed subscriptions. Guess what? The Windows Vista Gadget was unresponsive to our efforts, displaying only the default MSN feeds from Microsoft. Microsoft says the default RSS Gadget feeds off a common store of RSS feeds within Windows Vista, and Firefox hasn't yet adopted the API for that store. You have to use Internet Explorer 7 or choose a Firefox-friendly Gadget instead. By clicking the + symbol atop the sidebar, you'll see a panel of available Gadgets, with a link out to the Web to find even more. The Gadgets are not fixed to the sidebar; they can be dragged across the desktop. And even the sidebar itself can be disabled to allow for a full desktop view. An icon located within the taskbar will restore the sidebar at any time.

The familiar Start menu features some cosmetic changes for Windows Vista. Aside from the distinctive rounded icon, the Start menu now includes a built-in Search function. We would have preferred to have access to Search directly from the desktop rather than digging down a level or two. The All Programs list now displays as an expandable/collapsible directory tree, something Windows should have offered years ago. The new Start menu is divided in half, with access to documents, pictures, music, games, recent items, My Computer, network, Control Panel, default programs, and Help along the right-hand side.

Also new within Start is an Instant Off button. This button caches all your open files and processes, allowing you to turn off your laptop or desktop quickly without all the "cleaning up files" messages you see in previous versions. We like the feature, but on our Acer Travelmate 8200, Instant Off and closing the lid to hibernate sometimes produced limbo states where the laptop simply wouldn't wake up again, forcing us to reboot.

In Windows Vista, files become unmoored from the traditional directory tree structure -- kind of. The more ambitious plan of including a whole new file system was scrapped early on; instead, Windows Vista relies on metatags, which are keywords linked to files to make them searchable. With metatags, you can create virtual file folders based on a variety of search terms. Say you're doing a report on mountains, any file that is keyword-enabled to include "mountains" will be grouped into a virtual folder without physically dragging that file to a new location. The downside is that older files (say you upgraded your system from Windows XP or imported data from an earlier version of Windows) will have to be retroactively metataged in order to be searched. Also different is the file path displayed within Windows Explorer. Gone are the backslashes, replaced with arrows that offer drop-down menus of alternative folders. We liked this efficient feature.

Finally, there's a compatibility wizard buried deep within Windows Vista. Most Windows XP applications we loaded performed just fine. Operating under the hood, Windows Vista convinces native Windows XP applications that they're running on Windows XP. Should you need to run an older application, say from Windows 95, the compatibility wizard allows you to tweak the display resolution and emulate Windows 95 for that program. For example, we were able to run a Windows 95-optimised game demo on our Windows Vista test system.

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Pato* posted a comment   

The Good:It is very user friendly, better security.

The Bad:Nothing.....

I think that windows VISTA is way better than Xp. Well......thats my opinion.When i had XP, it took so long to start up. But VISTA on the other hand took alot faster. It has better security, with in my opinion is fantastic. People say that VISTA treats users like a 3 year old. Like when it says "are you sure you want to delete this folder", somthing like that. Its just trying to help protect your pc. It has Windows fire wall, that helps protect your computer from a virus on the net. It blocks the unfriendly sites, and lets good websites into your computer. Theres much more programs about blocking viruses and that. It even looks better and feels better Windows Xp is just crap. Looks like hog and performs like hog. Plus why would you want it, its to old. Came out in 2001. HELLOOOOOOOOO!!!! its 2010!!. There is much more ne features like "windows media player, you can watch recorded tv, play your faviorite music and plays dvd's. Theres windows media player 11, wich is better than windows media player 10. Look......theres much more. VISTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA ISSSSSSSSSS THEEEEEEEEEEEEE BESTTTTTTTTTTT... XP SUCKSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!! SO OLDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

 

Antinokia posted a comment   

sorry, I meant Mac not Max

 

Antinokia posted a comment   

The Good:Modern looking interface, one step above XP...

The Bad:...however it took two steps back with everything else.

Uhh, this is one of the biggest flops in Microsoft history. I hate vista and was very dissapointed when I got it. It crashes constantly and is very inefficent. I am not trying to sell Max here but I strongly recommened you get an OS other than Vista.

Slpl
1
Rating
 

Slpl posted a review   

The Good:Some of the money went to malaria research

The Bad:The OS is step backwards for Mircosoft

Two hard disk cleans and reinstalls later I have come to decide the Vista product-line is less than bad.

The only reason I gave a 1 rating is that there was no option for a 0.

Voting with my feet and moving away from Microsoft from this point. Bye Bye Billy.

Peewee
9
Rating
 

Peewee posted a review   

The Good:nice look, fast if you have a good computer, very safe

The Bad:would be bad on a slow compter

i have got home premium, it works fast on a intelcore 2 quad processer, 4gb of ddr2 ram and 1tb of harddrive space. I recomend it to anyone who can afford a pretty decent computer

 

rosemary posted a comment   

how do you format the hardrive
can some one email me how
rosemaryhartley@optusnet.com.au
thanks

 

ozitomai posted a comment   

i have a windows vista home premium package and i need to know wat video card it has i cant remember how to find out lol herbie.06@hotmail.com could someone be able to tell me thanx

 

michaelgh posted a comment   

The Good:none

The Bad:totally disatisfied

I bought a HP Laptop 2007 didnt know it had preinstalled Vista.Had loads of hasstles with vista,I hate it,waisted soo much time on computer trying to solve issues its also so slow you fall asleep using it.I am not a computer buff just average user but Im really **** off spending a lot of cash on a lap top to get this rubbish, waisting hours of my time.Really bad public relations to sell a product which is not well developed for the ordinary computer user.Soon as I can I will dump MS permanently for an Apple.

Vault 101 Dweller
9
Rating
 

Vault 101 Dweller posted a review   

The Good:Few Crashes, Easy to Use, User Friendly

The Bad:Uses Up CPU and RAM, Too many editions 2 or 3 should be fine

I have the Home Premium version, it runs great on my 1.66Ghz Celeron Dual Core with 2GB DDR2 Ram, Intel 4500MHD.

I don't see why people say it's so bad, Microsoft has most defiantly improved on XP here.
Take non-responsive programs for an example, in XP you'll sit there for 5 minutes clicking "End Now" only to have nothing happen, Vista, you click "End" and it ends!!
It takes advantage of games with the new DirectX 10. The OS is fast if you know what you're doing.

The only bad thing is that there are too many editions,
Basic - Premium - Business - Ultimate
It depends on what you'll use the PC for.
Basic is for Basic users, or those who don't have a good PC.
Premium is the most popular version, best for anyone.
Business is more for small businesses.
Ultimate is for those who want it all!! Gamers or Video Editors would most likely have this version.

Overall, Vista is a good OS, I still rather Mac OS X, but when it comes to games, Vista is the way to go.
9/10 - Great, Highly Recommended.

 

Jayko posted a comment   

The Good:Very user friendly - Much quicker to navigate - Very stylish - love the themes

The Bad:Takes a lot of CPU and RAM, need a reasonable computer to run it

I love Windows Vista, XP is rubbish compared to Vista and I think that it has a lot less system crashes.
Everyone complains about the OS asking about installing a program and moving files but you must understand that they are only trying to make your computer safer, And you can always disable it


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User Reviews / Comments  Windows Vista Home Premium

  • Pato*

    Pato*

    "I think that windows VISTA is way better than Xp. Well......thats my opinion.When i had XP, it took so long to start up. But VISTA on the other hand took alot faster. It has better security, with i..."

  • Antinokia

    Antinokia

    "sorry, I meant Mac not Max"

  • Antinokia

    Antinokia

    "Uhh, this is one of the biggest flops in Microsoft history. I hate vista and was very dissapointed when I got it. It crashes constantly and is very inefficent. I am not trying to sell Max here but ..."

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