Windows Vista is a new operating system released in 2006 by Microsoft. Touted as the most secure version of Windows yet, Vista’s “User Account Controls” restricts programs from accessing your vital system files without your permission. UAC is fairly intuitive, only bothering you when installing new programs or drivers. It can be a bit annoying, but third party programs are available to make UAC a little less startling. Windows Update has also been retooled for more flexibility. All updates can be downloaded automatically, or the user can choose to install, ignore, and hide older unwanted updates individually. Many other tools have been tweaked or upgraded such as the Task Manager which identifies which programs are accessing the internet or your hard drive.
Visually, Vista adds the new Aero 3D desktop interface. The main feature is the transparent Aero Glass effect on windows and toolbars. The windows key and tab bring up the “Flip 3D” interface as an answer to OSX’s “Expose” feature. The effect looks neat but isn’t nearly as fast or effective as the simply Alt-Tab application switcher. These effects are not too demanding, and most computers bought 2005 and on should run Vista well.
Overall the new security and visual features of Vista are great to have. I wouldn’t advise anyone happy with XP to run out and purchase it just yet as drivers still need to mature. However it’s a great choice for anyone with a brand new PC.