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★★★★☆

“Basic Information on the release of Microsoft Windows...”

Written on: 16/10/2006 by stuke (2 reviews written)

Good Points
Solid, interactive and secure

Bad Points
Pricey.
Heavy on RAM.
Needs a good Video card.

General Comments
Basic Information on the release of Microsoft Windows Vista, requirements and performance:



Vista Release Candidate 1 has been available to Microsoft Partners and others for a few weeks now. This in in lieu of the release to businesses at the end of November 2006 of the final version, and the release to the public around February or March 2007.



Basically, the Operating System is very stable, and it has a new snazzy interface that gives the user a more interactive experience. Vista is similar to XP in abilities, with a bit more besides. I expect people will take a few weeks to get used to the Interface, and I expect a few administrators will get annoyed that tools and configurations have to be made from different places (and some of these are more difficult to get to). One biggie for me is that every time you change some configuration, install or update, the system asks you to confirm that you want to make the change. This is a simple security technique, and probably prevents a lot of malware messing up your system. In short it's annoying, but worth it if it prevents unwanted system changes by Trojans, spyware and so on.



Performance:



Firstly, Vista supports many hardware devices, especially the more important ones. This is a continuation, if not advance on XP, and facilitates migration and new installations.



Vista is Memory GREEDY! You will need 1Gb of RAM to get the benefits of the system. (512Mb is the min spec, but if that is all you have it is not worth installing Vista - stick to XP).



I expect that if you are running anything that requires a lot of memory, 1Gb will not be sufficient. I also guess that in a year or 2 you will actually NEED more than 1Gb just to run basic applications. This is because updates generally use up RAM. So figure for 2Gb. If you use graphic packages you may need 4Gb, or even 8Gb (fortunately many AM2 motherboards support up to 8Gb).

Hard drives over 200Gb are now fairly inexpensive, and they give good value for money. A 300Gb SATA2 drive in a non-raid system will give a very high performance rating. So anything better (gamers) will get top marks.

A DVD RW is now standard - no PC should be without one!



Processor:



I strongly suggest that you use a dual core CPU of some sort. There are several Intel CPU's that fit this, but look at the motherboard and see what it offers (preferably one that can take 8Gb RAM, has an x8 graphics slot and has good bus width).



Graphics:



Vista can cater for fantastic (and highly expensive) graphics cards (x8). However, to rate highly in Vista's interactive performance, this is the area that you will have to fork out on (buy a good graphics card). I have my concerns about this. Many basic graphics cards are designed for Office Admin use, and not the latest games. This is always the case for on-board graphics. I used a M2NPV-MX AM2 Motherboard when assessing Vista. This came with a built-in 128Mb graphics card. When I looked at the performance (according to Vista) it came up as 1.6 (5.9 is the highest)! So I installed a separate X8 card (an inexpensive HIS 0520 card). Low and behold the interactive experience performance rating went up to 1.7. Yes that's right 1.6 to 1.7!!! Basically, the systems performance is now 1.7 (the lowest on the index rating). Not much of a rating system, especially if everything else is well over 4, and some are over 5. The presumption that every Vista system will be a gamers system is quite dumb.



Start up and shut down. This is a bit tricky. It is not as it was. If you use XP and then Vista, you will actually put the system into standby by going through the same shut down procedure. That said, I wonder if I will ever shut the system down again. It's fantastic. Why? Because it actually works. The standby is VERY fast. Fast to go into standby, and fast to start up again. Top marks there. I thought XP was a pain to setup, and it frequently failed. This may actually have been due to hardware. But it all works now.



COST:



Well, here is one for you! I expect it will be available in the shop for around £300 come March. A Stinger! For businesses it might be £20 or £30 less, going down for increased numbers. I do however expect the academic licensing will be reasonable. Also, OEM will probably take a significant dent out of the shelf price.