Hands On: A Hard Look at Windows Vista

Now that it's gold, here's an inside look at the best and the worst of Windows Vista

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The Bottom Line

Editor's Note: Our two reviewers wish to express their final opinions on Windows Vista individually. Preston Gralla:

What's the verdict on Windows Vista? Let's start off with the most obvious change, its interface. The slick new look is more than just eye-candy; touches like live thumbnails, Flip 3D, and gadgets make you more productive as well. There's no longer a need for Windows users to have Mac envy. And beyond that, it's just plain fun.

But there's a lot more to Vista than the most obvious interface changes -- consider the benefits of much-improved networking and better security, for example. RSS support in both Internet Explorer and gadgets finally make RSS an integral part of the computing experience. And the new search feature, despite its problems, makes it far easier to find information whenever you need it.

Are there problems with Windows Vista? Of course there are. UAC is a mess, for example, and some built-in applications, such as backup and Windows Meeting Space, are little more than a waste of hard disk space. But forget the wouldas, shouldas and couldas. Windows Vista is a far better operating system than Windows XP. For me, the decision isn't even close; I'm making the switch.

Scot Finnie:

I'm so unsure that I like Vista's trade-offs, like UAC and SPP, that I'm giving the Mac equal opportunity to become my next OS. I will be living with Vista on my main Windows production machine too. But Microsoft's willingness to frustrate Vista users with a few of its security mechanisms, along with its corporate obsession with antipiracy, have left a bad taste in my mouth.

It's time to consider the alternatives. The rise of more or less multiplatform enterprise Web applications transforms the landscape. The Mac and Linux are a lot more realistic alternatives than they once were.

Is Vista an excellent version of Windows? Yes. It's better than XP. A lot of great thinking and work went into it. I love the video subsystem. I'm impressed by many of the security features. There are many small touches that show that Microsoft is thinking about improving the user experience and elevating the intelligence of the platform.

But while Microsoft may have a death grip on what we used to call the desktop, it doesn't own servers, software as a service, Web apps or the Web browser. Things are changing. It's not enough to build a better version of Windows anymore, as Microsoft itself knows: see Beyond Vista: Microsoft hopes to dominate the Web 2.0 enterprise for details.

Related Stories:

Windows Vista A to Z

Buying a Computer for Vista ... and Beyond

Making Your Move to Vista: What You Need to Know

The Skinny on Windows SPP and Reduced Functionality in Vista

Vista and More: Piecing Together Microsoft's DRM Puzzle

Top 16 Vista time-saving tips

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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