Take a tour of Windows Vista Ultimate Edition

Windows Vista Ultimate Edition Review & Gallery

By Steven Warren

According to Microsoft, Windows Vista Ultimate Edition is the first Windows version that combines the advanced infrastructure features of a business-focused OS, the management and efficiency features of a mobility-focused OS, and the digital entertainment features of a consumer-focused OS. But this ultimate flexibility comes with a steep price. The retail price for Windows Vista Ultimate Edition is $399.00 (Full Product) and $299.00 (Upgrade). See if you think Windows Vista Ultimate Edition is worth the price.

Windows Vista was in development for roughly five years and I was actively involved as a beta tester for the last 12 months. I saw the good and the bad of Windows Vista (agonized over driver incompatibility, praised security and enhancements to the user interface).

Microsoft offers six different versions of Vista to handle the needs of private consumers, small businesses, and large enterprises. The versions are packaged as follows: for private consumers - Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Starter, Windows Vista Home Premium, and Windows Vista Ultimate (with all the bells and whistles).

For businesses there are Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Enterprise, which offer encryption and virtualization.

Vista installation is simple, quick, and aesthetically pleasing. In about 28 minutes I had my new operating system singing. This is half the time it takes to load Windows XP Professional.

My laptop graphics card supports Vista's new Aero Glass interface. Every time I work on my laptop, I find myself smiling at how beautiful the interface is. The Start button has been redesigned as a beautiful orb with a windows logo, the Start menu, and the icons, Microsoft did a great job redesigning the user interface.

Once I got past the interface and started digging around, I found that configuring a wireless connection was a snap and Vista's built-in security was top-notch.

Using Vista's User Account Control (UAC), I created and ran Vista with a standard user account, but elevated my privileges to administrator when necessary.

For example, when installing software, accessing the Adminstrative Tools, or open the Control Panel, Vista promted me for the administrator password. Like Linux, Vista doesn't require you to run the computer as a root user. Kudos to Microsoft for finally getting this right.

Vista also includes the redesigned Internet Explorer 7 (IE7). I love the new user interface that includes tabbed browsing, quick tabs, an instant search bar, page zoom, support for RSS, phishing filter, and a protected mode.

In protected mode, IE7 cannot modify Vista user and system files without your input. This is designed to prevent hackers from using the browser to execute code through administrative rights.

I also love Vista's ReadyBoost feature, which let's you improve system performance with USB flash drive. When you attach a USB drive to the computer, Vista prompts you to view the drive's files or speed up your system. My laptop already had 2GB of RAM, but I added a 2GB USB flash drive and my system screams.

The newly improved Start menu has been working great for me. In the past, you had a huge Start menu which listed tons of programs. With Windows Vista, you simply click Start and type the name of the program in the search bar. Vista usually finds the application in seconds. For example, you could type "word" and Vista brings up Microsoft Word. You no longer have to navigate through the a tree to find the desired program. This is a real time saver.

I also enjoyed Windows Flip 3D, Windows Flip, Live Taskbar Thumbnails, and the Windows Sidebar. If your computer supports Aero Glass, you will be tickled by Windows Flip 3D. It allows you to flip through your open windows in 3D. It is fantastic.

Windows Flip is the ALT-Tab combination but it also gives you a graphical presentation as well. Live Taskbar Thumbnails is also a welcomed enhancement to Windows Vista. By simply running your cursor over the taskbar, you get a graphical presentation of each open document.

Windows Sidebar is a sidebar that runs on your desktop that allows you to add gadgets. It is identical to dashboard widgets in Apple's OS X Tiger. On my desktop, I have a calendar, notepad, stocks, headlines and weather gadgets running. I can also go online and download more gadgets that are helpful to me. This is a feature I also really like.

On the backend, all user profiles are no longer stored in documents and settings. You now have a users directory and each profile is stored within this directory. Microsoft has also done away with "My". There are no longer My Documents, My Pictures, etc. It has been replaced simply with Contacts, Documents, Desktops, Downloads, Music, Pictures, etc.

These are just some of the features I have come to enjoy about Windows Vista. Vista has so much more to offer. I believe other people might see value in other areas of Vista such as Windows Mail, Windows DVD Maker, Windows Games, Windows Media Player, Parental Controls, and/or Windows Photo.

These are areas I have yet to explore but as each day goes by that I use Windows Vista, I find myself unlocking more of its mysteries. Now if we can just get all vendors to put out Vista drivers, we will be in good shape.

For more information on Windows Vista, please see my review "Windows Vista is not ready for the corporate world."