Windows optimize

10 reasons to give Vista a chance

Some tech pundits are calling Windows 7 'Vista done right,' but that's little consolation for users who will be staying with Vista for the foreseeable future. If you're in that boat, here are some Vista features you may appreciate.

Some tech pundits are calling Windows 7 'Vista done right,' but that's little consolation for users who will be staying with Vista for the foreseeable future. If you're in that boat, here are some Vista features you may appreciate.


Many Vista bashers are eagerly awaiting the upgrade to Windows 7, but others won't have the option to switch when the new version arrives. Upgrading is expensive and many companies simply won't do it, at least not anytime soon. If you're going to be using Vista for a while -- especially if you're not really sold on it -- here are a few positive things to keep in mind about the OS. (Note: These items apply to a Vista Business SP1 system.)

This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Better processing allocation

Windows uses threads to multitask (seemingly). A thread is a single function and just one application can spawn many threads at the same time. That's why you can read e-mail while you import data or run a scan. Windows allocates resources to each thread, as needed. Unfortunately, too many threads slow down processing in general. Logging on is the perfect example: Do you log onto your computer and then go for coffee while your desktop slowly winds up for work?

Vista does a better job than Windows XP of keeping background tasks in the background and giving focus and processing power to your work. You can open Outlook and read e-mail while the desktop is still loading. Vista users get their coffee before they log in. (Provided their system has adequate resources.)

Despite the threading, a Vista boot requires about 30 seconds or longer. Windows 7 promises a 15-second boot time.

2: Better suited for powerful systems

Whether right or wrong, some people avoid Vista because they've heard it's a processing hog, but that's not a fair description. When Windows XP came out, we measured processor power in megahertz and memory in megabytes. It's 2009! It takes four digits to measure modern processors in megahertz and our cell phones have almost the same memory capacity as the initial Windows XP-generation computers.

If your goal is to use a lightweight operating system, go back to DOS. But if you want a 2.x GHz duo core processor with 4 gigs of RAM, you should also want an operating system that can utilize all that power. Using Windows XP on such a system is like buying a stock car to drive to the grocery store. Vista is the operating system of choice with today's powerful systems.

3: Good networking stability

Have you ever gotten to the last few minutes of a long transfer (several minutes or even an hour) only to have Windows XP drop the connection? That happens when something interrupts the process, but it won't happen on a Vista system. You might get a message asking you to Retry, Ignore, or Cancel the transfer, but Vista won't just drop it. When we tested this stability, Vista completed the transfer after the system was rebooted and after switching the connection from wireless to wired, and back again.

4: More intuitive interface

Not seeing much change in the interface over the years has made Windows users somewhat complacent. Many people complain that Vista has more windows, menus, and display settings: "What happened to my right-click?" One session with Vista, and most users are ready to light torches because the interface seems so different.

The truth is that Vista has a lot of new features and options to pack into its interface. The good news is that most of your favorite features are still easily assessable, if you know where to look. For instance, when you right-click the desktop (the background, not an icon), Vista displays a Personalize option. In Windows XP, you get Properties. When you right-click an icon, Vista displays the expected Properties item. It's a seemingly small change, but these types of changes make the Vista interface more intuitive for novices.

Tip: If you don't like the Control Panel, switch the Control Panel option in your Start Menu options to Menu. Vista will display everything via a menu.

5: Aero benefits

Another common gripe is Aero's flashy effects feature, but Aero has its advantages. For instance, many users live and die by the Alt + Tab shortcut. With several applications open, you use this shortcut to jump from window to window. Others prefer to click the appropriate item in the status bar.

Aero actually enhances both styles. If you have several Word documents open, Aero previews them so you can pick the right one. No more cycling until you arrive at the right document. Aero promotes faster window jumping.

6: Better information warehousing

A database warehouse displays data in a global sense. For instance, suppose you process $2 million in sales each month. In this case, a data warehouse could break down the various markets with totals by personnel and so on, from hundreds or thousands of records that are meaningless when viewed all at once. Vista does the same thing, improving the overall experience:

  • Press [Windows]E to launch Windows Explorer. Vista's display is packed full of warehoused information. For example, Vista groups and displays information about your drives. You might not need all that information all the time, but it's there just the same. Vista is displaying a lot of meaningful information in a warehoused sort of way, such as which drive the operating system is installed on, what drives are shared, and how much of a drive is already used.
  • Transferring files is another example. In previous versions of Windows, you watch the filenames flash through at lighting speed (or crawl, if they're large) along with that handy Time Remaining detail, which is about as accurate as calling 1-900-Dial-a-psychic. Vista does a much better job of displaying what's going on by warehousing the information. You can click the Details button to see how many files are still waiting for transfer, along with their size. (Unfortunately, Microsoft still hasn't mastered time estimation.) If Vista encounters a duplicate during the process, it tells you how many conflicts of that type there are and allows you to settle them all at one time (an improvement over the simple Yes/No To All options).

7: Convenient sidebar

When you make the leap to Vista, take a little time to customize the sidebar. For instance, the CPU/Memory monitor quickly displays information about the system. Both the Calendar and Calculator are handy tools. Set the default to hide it so you have more room for your applications. Then, use [Windows][Spacebar] to display it when you need it.

8: Slick new features

Vista bundles a number of new features that use to require additional software in previous versions:

  • Tablet features are part of the Vista operating system -- you don't need a special version of Windows to run a Tablet PC.
  • Vista has its own speech recognition capability.
  • Vista comes with a journal package.
  • Vista comes with online meeting software.
  • Vista has its own movie-making software.
  • Vista has improved picture-editing software.
  • Vista has a variety of new games.

These are just a few of the new offerings; there are many more.

9: Quick searching

Vista has a slick new searching capability. From your Start menu, Vista can search e-mails and files, even in networked folders. By default, Vista won't index network drives, though there are reported cases where this feature wreaks havoc. If your machine is low on resources, you can turn indexing off.

10: Virtual PC and current platform

Virtual machines are here. Anyone who develops software or administers or maintains a network knows that supporting numerous operating systems is just part of the daily grind. You might be tempted to virtualize Vista on a Windows XP host operating system, but don't. Instead, use Vista as your OS and virtualize the others. Vista requires some hefty resources. That means that Vista in a virtual environment runs slowly because it doesn't have access to the full resources of the host. But if you run Vista as the host, you get the full capabilities of the host (and Vista) and can run less resource-intensive operating systems in a virtual environment.
36 comments
acr
acr

I built an high end system for Vista and it has been fantastic for me since RC1 to current. I played with Windows 7 but it appears to just be a slimmed down Vista and is ugly to me. Maybe the final version will look better. I'll buy it, dual boot it but unless it gets better looking, I'll cling to all the "bling" in my Vista!

dwutka
dwutka

Home and Pro. Can't tell you how many users would get XP Home and complain that it didn't do what their Pro version at work did! LOL

simon
simon

Not sure Vista is all that good. My thoughts. 1) You still need to purchase the 64bit version to address 4 gigs of RAM! (Will only address 4gb total including I/O and yet it seems to only read 3.2 Gbyte ram.) 2) It does require more horsepower (CPU) than it's predecessor XP just to get going. 4) There are too many versions of Vista leading to confusion at system selection time.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

1) 32 bit recgnizes and uses 4Gb RAM, ot exceed 4Gb you need 32bit. Shared ram is not displayed so it will show as less when the box shares ram with the GPU. 2)And Xp uses WAY mroe H P than Win2K just to get started, and Win2K needed more than WinME, and WinME needed more than Win98 and Win 98 needed mroe tha Win95, and Win95 needed more than Win3.11. Yes, it will do more and computers are now caoable of doiing more too as they come with mroe robust hardware installed. As this comment was addressed in the initial post, if you want to run on an old box, run DOS. 4)? what happend to 3) oh well, The Count you are not, too many versions of Vista, well there are two base breaks, Business and Home use. From there they are divided simply into available feature sets. I have always found that the number of grid style comparisons do a very simple job of laying it out for you. the festures are listed with checkmarks beside them, if the features you need have checks beside them, but that version. Not exactly neurology here, just a simple grid to determine the best OS for your needs, as we all know we all have different needs and expectations.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Your first problem is not Vista specific, all 32bit OS's have this problem. Vista is just the first OS to actually make you justify needing more than 3gb of RAM. A 32bit Vista almost seems like a farce, Vista requires more RAM than what a 32bit OS can support.

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

Shows his lack of understanding how a 32-bit operating system works, though I do think the server OS's can see and use more without moving to 64-bit.

pgit
pgit

A 32 bit Linux kernel can be compiled to handle just about any RAM you can throw at it, but there are performance hits that make desktop use of more than 4 GB less than desirable.

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

Win 7 sucks even worse than Vista. If you really want a good OS buy a Mac or use a Linux distribution say, Debian, Mephis or Ubuntu just to name a few.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Biiiig streeeeeetch , yawn, I was wondering how long it would take for someone to pipe in with such a typically irrelevant comment. Nobody wants to talk about Mac or eunichs so I guess their only hope for conversation is to troll Windows forums.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Hurt your cause far more than they help it.

Slayer_
Slayer_

"Using Windows XP on such a system is like buying a stock car to drive to the grocery store" Isn't this every mans fantasy?

tom.vahle
tom.vahle

Broken PDF download link above!

ian_boyes
ian_boyes

very usefull information on vista.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I have yet to find anything about computers that's 'intuitive'. Almost everything has to be learned, and what many call 'intuitive' is actually just what they've become comfortable with. "The good news is that most of your favorite features are still easily assessable, if you know where to look." If it was 'intuitive', I would already know where to look. Changes to the interface are only confusing to the majority of Windows users who were used to the appearance of XP. "when you right-click the desktop ... Vista displays a Personalize option. ... When you right-click an icon, Vista displays the expected Properties item. It?s a seemingly small change, but these types of changes make the Vista interface more intuitive for novices." What is intuitive about right-clicking?

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Rightclicking, the second step to computing after left clicking, opens context menus (as you already know). Intutitive in that case would mean that the options provided are relevant to the context of what you are right clicking. Win2K was the beginning of "intuitive context menus", meaning that different menu options were displayed, depending on what you right clicked, XP was almost identical to Win2K in that respect. But to right click a desktop and see Personalize, rather than Properties, is more intuitive. A new user may not understand that properties allow you to change desktop appearance and settings, "Personalize" would lead them to what they wanted to do to the appearance and doesn't sound like some core adjustments are being made. Working with someone completely new to computing, I have found many instances where the Vista menus I have are more intuitive than the XP menus the user has. When I direct him to something, he'll say "well why don't they just call it that then, if that's what its for?" But then I look at my Vista machine and they DO call it that. Vista is definitely more intutitive to new users.

dwutka
dwutka

And in one of the early drafts of this article, I had an example of the 'Personalize' vs. 'Properties'. In XP and before, if you asked a user to right click on the desktop, and select 'Properties', there was a good chance they could right click on an icon, and get the properties window for that icon, instead of the desktop. By changing that to 'Personalize', your end users know they did something wrong when they don't see 'Personalize' as an option....

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

"Changes to the interface are only confusing to the majority of Windows users who were used to the appearance of XP." I don't completely understand that. It may be confusing, but that shouldn't make it a no go for people. Change is necessary and needed. While I disagree on what MS changed in Vista, I don't think that not changing something just because it may different from the norm is an acceptable reaction. The GUI's of the 80's and 90's were a huge departure from the CLI of the early PC's and mainframes. Do you think that, because it is different, that we should have stuck with CLI? or going back even further, the microcomputer was a huge leap from mainframes, mainframes from vacuum tube, vacuum tube from primitive computer, and primitive computers from math-by-hand. I could go further, but you get the drift, I hope. Change is not something to ridicule unless it breaks something. The changes in Vista, imo, did not really break anything (mostly) but just moved it. Now why they moved the pieces? I have no idea.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

And these children that you spit on as they try to change their world. Are immune to your consultations, they're quite aware of what they're going through. I always thought that it was the most fitting opening phrase to The Breakfast Club too.

john3347
john3347

Intuition can be the result of repeated "learned" actions. If you perform an action without having to stop and think "what do I do now", that action is intuitive. Perhaps not instinctive, but certainly intuitive. Right clicking, for instance, has become a natural action (intuitive) to persons who have been using computers for a significant time. When we want a certain result, we perform a right click. Therefore a right click IS intuitive for a longtime computer user. For many, many years (even long before computers came along), we have thought of filing systems that use simple folders and sub-folders. You open a folder named "tools" and find sub-folders named "power tools" and "hand tools" and additional sub-folders in each of these categories, etc. Both business filing and home filing systems have followed this procedure for so long that it is "intuitive". XP came along and lumped "Documents" and "Settings" together in one folder and thus began the process of dismantling intuition within their filing system. This took another HUGE step away from intuitive with Vista. Now you simply have to rely on memory and think "what next" to perform whatever task you desire to perform on your computer. Yes, a right click is intuitive and we need to return to intuitiveness to boost productivity with a personal computer. (The right click example used here is just an example and not really a significant issue on its own.)

ssharkins
ssharkins

The word intuitive has taken on a life of its own in these discussions, so I take note of your point. Right-click is a universal action for PC users, so in that sense, right-clicking is intuitive -- even just a bit of mild training exposes the right-click for context-sensitive options or information.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

[i]for PC users, so in that sense, right-clicking is intuitive -- even just a bit of mild training exposes the right-click for context-sensitive options or information.[/i] Noobs, even those exposed to right-click, don't right-click without being pushed to instill a habit. It doesn't even occur to my students to right-click for a context menu. Some of them haven't learned to right-click after several semesters with me in spite of my pushing it. Then again, they don't save out of habit either, without being pushed.

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

I had a user the other day having trouble with opening programs on her desktop. She told me she was clicking them and they would not open. I remoted into her machine and it opened fine for me. I closed the program and asked to open it back up. I saw the mouse move over the icon and nothing happened. I asked her to double click and, viola, it worked. I guess double clicking isn't as intuitive as I had previously thought. I guess it is a non sequitur to have single click work in some places but not others, even in the same program (or OS).

phil
phil

I used Vista for a year after it launched on a very contemporary laptop - Core2 Due, 2 gig RAM etc etc and I was so relieved to get back to XP despite having really wanted to like what is a very nice front-end. I got sick of the interminable waits, file transfers that reminded me of dial-up and poor compatibility with SMB on my Linux boxes. I use Windows, Linux and OS-X on a daily basis and I honestly think all three have their place, only a fool would assume one OS is good for all tasks. How is it that Leopard looks good, does everything that Vista does but still runs on my wife's 2001-vintage G4, and runs well? Ubuntu 8.10 runs superbly on my 1Ghz machine. I'm not saying you should flog old hardware past it's natural life but tight, well written code needs fewer resources than bloat. Having said all of that I'm loving Windows 7 on my 1.5Ghz Sony Vaio laptop - as Patrick Norton observed "...Vista no longer sucks"!

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

2Gb RAM, will do the most basic stuff but for Aeroglass, indexing and power computing you'd need to double it. RAM's cheapo as hell these days, I don't see what the upgarde issue is with people. I know you don't NEED 4Gb of RAM but if you want the OS features, you need the ram and again its CHEAPO!

TNT
TNT

Phil, its not that Vista cannot run on more limitted devices its that Vista comes with too many services configured to start. Half of them the average user will never use. I run Vista on a laptop with only 1Gig of RAM at work and its as spunky as XP. The trick is to turn off the services you don't use. It then requires less overhead and runs great. And my desktop (3.4 GHz Dual-core Pentium, 4Gig RAM)running 64-bit Vista is probably the fastest computer I've even worked on. Take the time to tweak the OS and it is a much better experience.

aromadeterra
aromadeterra

Hello Support - I purchased a Lenovo Thinkpad r61 with 1 gig of ram on it last year with vista business installed and an XP downgrade option, which I took. Now I think I'm ready to rescue and recover the Vista and have been reading the pros and cons for a while. What sorts of services have you turned off?

william.bondy
william.bondy

I have been running Vista for a long time now, on hundreds of machines, I don't have any more problems than I did with XP. When I do have a issue Technet.com will solve it for me.. The only thing I had to over come was installing more ram in all the machines, but that is a good thing the more ram it uses the faster operations are. All my equipment mets the HQL so i dont have any problem with drivers, never did, I have always wondered what kind of hardware people are running that have issues. I have manyly Intel boards and some ASUS. I figure if you can't get a driver working with Vista, then it would be the company problem not Vista, MS issues the code to make drivers years ago. I think MS gets a bad rap from bad vendors. I guess when you have 95% of the vendors out there creating Hardware to work with your Software, your bound to get a few bad devices drivers

william.bondy
william.bondy

Check out the Event Viewer it might give you other answers they you might have missed

Slayer_
Slayer_

people only complain when something is broken, not when something is working.

becksdark
becksdark

I agree that the interface takes getting used to, but my main issue is DRIVERS! I understand the security concerns, but I have several older pieces of hardware with drivers that won't work under 64bit Vista, because they're not 'Digitally Signed'. I've never gotten a virus (or even heard of one) spread through a device driver. Major pain! Can I downgrade to 32bit?

william.bondy
william.bondy

I wouldn't cry to MS about your drivers, since when did MS make drivers for the hardware you put in your machine to support their OS. MS puts out the spec and Code to companies to write drivers, certain companies just put in the minimum requirements and offer a really cheap price for their product and if there is a OS upgrade that year your toast. It?s the cheap companies wanting your money and making you upgrade and they are leveraging MS, OS's to get more money out you.

william.bondy
william.bondy

Well that isn't a Microsoft issue, that the company that provides drivers to interface with MS products. sadly most companies would rather have you buy new equipment so they can make there money. MS always gets the short end of the stick on that one, Blame MS hehehehe there not the issue. MS doesn't write drivers for there products the ATI, ASUS and so one write drivers for MS products. MS offers a Digitally Signed program for all the users of the world so you know that the product your bying will work good with MS. with 64Bit if anyone moves there they really should do some leg work that take 10 minutes to see if the Hardware you bought for your windows machine will even work

dwutka
dwutka

Actually, I doubt the digital signatures for vista drivers are there for security. Vista does have a problem with older hardware, and I believe the reason is that with Vista, Microsoft is trying to get closer to a Mac's performance. I'm a PCer. The day I prefer a Mac to a PC is the day I quit the IT world! ;) However, I'm also a realist. Mac's are superior when it comes to integrated processes such as graphics, and the reason is due to their closed architecture. That is why when DVD burners first started becoming standard, it would take hours to make a home movie on a PC, but minutes on a Mac. Since Apple controls every peice of hardware in a Mac, they can keep everything running very tight. The open nature of a PC has plenty of advantages, but it has disadvantages too. Microsoft was forcing hardware manufacturers to become a little more uniform in order to boost performance. Which is why, on a newer machine, with Vista approved equipment, Vista performs quite well.

reisen55
reisen55

I was originally a Vista hater of the first order. Since then I have had corporate exposure to it and still prefer XP in many ways, but since Vista is rather out there, one has to live with it. I commend the PDF download on this site that strips much of the EyeCandy out of Vista to make it more XP-like in appearance. I believe this is Windows V-XP by name. Very useful document. I constructed a Business Edition load for my Dell GX280 system and created a ghost image which means I can bounce between Operating systems by choice of project. The big trick is to turn off the lousy authorization crap and that is addressed in the pdf document above. So, I am not such a hater now. Tolerant of this foolish, mis-begotten child born of a dead OS-2 Mentality.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I always ignore the "not digitally signed" message and install the drivers anyway. 9 out of 10 times the driver works for me signed or not.

TNT
TNT

BecksDark: Yes you can downgrade to 32 bit Vista but it requires a complete reinstallation. But I would recommend you either try and install the drivers anyway (even if they are not digitally signed) or upgrade the device you are tryint to install. When I installed 64-bit Vista 18 months ago all my components worked flawlessly. I didn't have to download any drivers. Anyway, I agree with the articles 10 reasons to try Vista, though point number 9 was kinda weak. While I switched to Vista longa ago, the organization I work for is still using XP. With Windows 7 just around the corner we will likely continue with XP until summer of 2010, and then we'll switch to Windows 7. We've bypassed Vista not because of concerns with the OS but mostly because there was no compelling reason to make the switch. With most of our hardware reaching EOL next year its a good time to make the jump.