Windows Vista Ultimate Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Installation 9.2
Ease of use 9.5
Usefulness 9.5
Value 9.5
Distributor: Microsoft
Review Date:
February 2007
Reviewer:
Andrew Bistak & Tory Favro

9.5


Windows Vista Ultimate


 

Its finally arrived... Microsoft Windows Vista, the successor of Microsoft Windows XP that once again sets a new benchmark for PC-based computing. Best of all, this current incarnation of Windows now supports the latest dual-core CPU's and 64-bit computing for true performance gains. Although this review focuses on Windows Vista Ultimate, Microsoft have released a variety of different versions that include:

  • Windows Vista Home Premium

  • Windows Vista Home Premium Academic Version

  • Windows Vista Home Premium Upgrade

  • Windows Vista Business

  • Windows Vista Business Upgrade

  • Windows Vista Ultimate

  • Windows Vista Ultimate Upgrade

Each of these different incarnations of Vista (although similar) targets a specific PC-User and users should be aware of these differences before making their purchase.  A list of all the different versions of Vista can be found below.

Windows Vista Home Premium

Windows Vista Home Premium is the operating system for homes with advanced computer needs. It will help you use your laptop or desktop PC more effectively as well as enable you to enjoy new, exciting digital entertainment experiences—all with the benefit of added security and reliability.

New user interface
Windows Vista Home Premium has a new user interface named Windows Aero™, which is both efficient and beautiful. This new interface makes it easier than ever before to find your way around the operating system. It even makes it easier to accomplish multiple tasks at once by providing a three-dimensional, real-time, animated view of all of your open applications and documents. Additionally, Windows Vista Home Premium helps you quickly find and organize large collections of documents, pictures, movies, videos, and music. By integrating search throughout the operating system, Windows Vista Home Premium helps you quickly find exactly what you are looking for.

Improved mobility
Windows Vista Home Premium makes it easy to take your home computing experience with you wherever you go. For example, Windows Vista Home Premium includes Windows Tablet and Touch Technology that enables you to interact with your Tablet PC-compatible computer with a digital pen or with your fingertip instead of having to use a keyboard. Computers that include Windows Vista Home Premium and an auxiliary Windows SideShow™ display will also allow you to access key data even when your computer is off. It is also easier than ever to share files between other PCs in your household and to manage your laptop computer settings to more securely connect to your favorite WiFi hotspot.

More entertaining

Windows Vista Home Premium will improve every aspect of your digital entertainment experiences including viewing and sharing photos, video, TV, movies, music, games, and more. For example, Windows Vista Home Premium enables you to create your own DVDs and edit your own high-definition movies. Most significantly, Windows Vista Home Premium includes all of the Windows Media Center capabilities for turning your PC into an all-in-one home entertainment center. Windows Media Center in Windows Vista provides new ways for you to enjoy your music, photos, and DVD movies. You can also use Windows Media Center to record and watch your favorite TV shows (even HDTV) and to access new kinds of online entertainment content. You will also be able to connect Windows Vista Home Premium to your Microsoft Xbox 360 to extend your Media Center experience to multiple rooms in your home.

Whatever you choose to do with your home PC, Windows Vista Home Premium will deliver a more complete and satisfying computing experience.

Features

  • Most secure Windows ever with Windows Defender and Windows Firewall
     
  • Quickly find what you need with Instant Search and Windows Internet Explorer 7
     
  • Elegant Windows Aero desktop experience with Windows Flip 3D navigation
     
  • Best choice for laptops with enhanced Windows Mobility Center and Tablet PC support
     
  • Collaborate and share documents with Windows Meeting Space
     
  • Experience photos and entertainment in your living room with Windows Media Center
     
  • Enjoy Windows Media Center on TVs throughout your home with Xbox 360™ and other devices

Minimum Recommended Requirements

  • Processor 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
     
  • System Memory 1 GB
     
  • GPU Windows Aero Capable
     
  • Graphics Memory 128 MB
     
  • HDD Free Space 40 GB
     
  • Optical Drive DVD-ROM Drive
     
  • Audio Audio output capability
     
  • Internet Internet access capability
Windows Vista Business

The Windows Vista Business operating system is designed to meet the needs of business organizations of all sizes. For small businesses, Windows Vista Business will help keep PCs running smoothly and more securely so you will be less reliant on dedicated IT support. For larger organizations, Windows Vista Business provides dramatic new infrastructure improvements, enabling your IT staff to spend less time focused on the day-to-day maintenance of PCs and more time adding strategic value to your organization. Windows Vista Business also offers powerful new ways to organize, find, and share information while staying better connected whether you are in the office or on the road. This helps your business to run more efficiently than ever before.

More manageable, reliable, and secure
For small businesses, Windows Vista Business includes new technology and tools to ensure your PCs are always up-to-date, more secure, and running smoothly. For instance, Windows Vista Business will make your PCs safer with built-in protection against malicious software, or malware. You will be warned of impending hardware failures long before you risk losing any important business data. An array of sophisticated new backup technologies helps protect your information even in the event of a catastrophic hardware failure.

For larger organizations, Windows Vista Business has been designed from the ground up to improve the deployment and management of the operating system. For instance, image-based installation is now the default method for installing the Windows Vista operating system, and the images are no longer hardware-dependent. These two key design principles enable your organization to dramatically reduce the number of images you are required to manage and streamline the process of deploying new PCs and updating existing PCs.

For businesses of any size, Windows Vista Business is designed to allow your IT department to configure users' systems so that they can log onto their PCs as standard users instead of as administrators. Windows Vista Business enables the use of standard user accounts without the compatibility and usability issues that could occur in previous versions of Windows. This new capability significantly reduces the likelihood of a malicious attack causing damage to your organization's PCs.

Easier, faster access to information
Windows Vista Business has a new user interface, named Windows Aero™, which is designed to deliver new levels of efficiency for any business user. This new interface makes it easy to navigate through the operating system and from application to application. For instance, Windows Aero helps you juggle multiple tasks at once by providing a three-dimensional, real-time, animated view of all your open applications and documents.

In addition to these navigation improvements, Windows Vista Business makes it easier than ever to manage huge volumes of business documents. By integrating search throughout the operating system and providing new ways to organize files, Windows Vista Business helps you quickly find exactly what you are looking for.

For those who are not full-time IT professionals but have roles that require them to support their organizations' PCs, Windows Vista Business includes Small Business Resources. This built-in how-to guide leads you through everyday tasks and troubleshooting in easy-to-follow, non-technical language.

More mobile and better connected
Windows Vista Business is designed to help you easily and quickly connect with your organization, your customers, and your partners, whether you are in the office or on the road. Windows Vista Business includes all of the essential infrastructure required to more securely connect you to your business information whether you are sitting at your desk, working at home, connected to a WiFi hotspot, or even if you are using your cell phone to connect to the Internet.

To help you be more productive when you're away from your desk, Windows Vista Business includes Windows Tablet and Touch Technology, so you can interact with your Tablet PC by using a digital pen or your fingertip in addition to a keyboard. The new Windows Tablet and Touch Technology in Windows Vista Business includes improved handwriting recognition and easier ways to browse documents and programs without using a keyboard.

Computers that include Windows Vista Business and an auxiliary Windows SideShow™ display will also allow you to access critical business information even when your computer is turned off. Windows Vista Business also makes it easy for you to share documents and collaborate with colleagues, partners, and customers—even if a network is not available. Additionally, Windows Vista Business helps you get the most out of your portable PC by making it quick and easy to manage key mobility settings.

Regardless of whether your organization is big or small, Windows Vista Business will help you lower your PC management costs, improve your security, enhance your productivity, and stay better connected than ever before.

Features

  • Most secure Windows ever with Windows Defender and Windows Firewall
     
  • Quickly find what you need with Instant Search and Windows Internet Explorer 7
     
  • Elegant Windows Aero desktop experience with Windows Flip 3D navigation
     
  • Best choice for laptops with enhanced Windows Mobility Center and Tablet PC support
     
  • Collaborate and share documents with Windows Meeting Space
     
  • Help protect against hardware failure with advanced business backup features
     
  • Business networking and Remote Desktop for easier connectivity
     

Minimum Recommended Requirements

  • Processor 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
     
  • System Memory 1 GB
     
  • GPU Windows Aero Capable
     
  • Graphics Memory 128 MB
     
  • HDD Free Space 15 GB
     
  • Optical Drive DVD-ROM Drive
     
  • Audio Audio output capability
     
  • Internet Internet access capability
Windows Vista Ultimate

Windows Vista Ultimate is the most comprehensive edition of Windows Vista. It is the first operating system that combines all of the advanced infrastructure features of a business-focused operating system, all of the management and efficiency features of a mobility-focused operating system, and all of the digital entertainment features of a consumer-focused operating system. For the person who wants one operating system that is great for working from home, working on the road, and for entertainment, Windows Vista Ultimate is the operating system that lets you have it all.

Work from home
Windows Vista Ultimate includes all of the features that make it easy to remotely connect to business networks. So when you're working from home, you'll have advanced networking capabilities, such as the ability to join a domain, support for Group Policy, and features such as Remote Desktop. Windows Vista Ultimate also includes Windows BitLocker™ Drive Encryption that provides new levels of protection against theft for your important business data whether you are at home, on the road, or in the office.

The latest in entertainment
Windows Vista Ultimate delivers all of the entertainment features available in Windows Vista Home Premium. It includes everything you need to enjoy the latest in digital photography, music, movies, analog TV, or even HDTV. Windows Vista Ultimate has great tools such as Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Movie Maker to ensure that you have everything you need to collect, manage, and edit your digital content. It also includes Windows Media Center for turning your PC into an all-in-one home entertainment center.

No compromises
Windows Vista Ultimate delivers all of the features available to both business users and home users. It is the ideal solution for a small-business owner who wants a single PC that he or she can use at the office, on the road, and at home. It is also the ideal solution for someone who wants a home PC that will be used primarily for entertainment purposes but that can also be used for business purposes such as connecting to a corporate network.

If you want all of the best business features, all of the best mobility features, and all of the best home entertainment features, Windows Vista Ultimate is the solution for you. With Windows Vista Ultimate, you don't have to compromise.

Features

  • Most secure Windows ever with Windows Defender and Windows Firewall
     
  • Quickly find what you need with Instant Search and Windows Internet Explorer 7
     
  • Elegant Windows Aero desktop experience with Windows Flip 3D navigation
     
  • Best choice for laptops with enhanced Windows Mobility Center and Tablet PC support
     
  • Collaborate and share documents with Windows Meeting Space
     
  • Experience photos and entertainment in your living room with Windows Media Center
     
  • Enjoy Windows Media Center on TVs throughout your home with Xbox 360™ and other devices
     
  • Help protect against hardware failure with advanced business backup features
     
  • Business networking and Remote Desktop for easier connectivity
     
  • Better protect your data against loss or theft with Windows BitLocker™ Drive Encryption

Minimum Recommended Requirements

  • Processor1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
     
  • System Memory 1 GB
     
  • GPU Windows Aero Capable
     
  • Graphics Memory 128 MB
     
  • HDD Free Space 15 GB
     
  • Optical Drive DVD-ROM Drive
     
  • Audio Audio output capability
     
  • Internet Internet access capability

Windows Vista Ultimate
Microsoft versus Apple

The battle of Microsoft versus Apple has been raging for years and quite a few PC users have migrated to the MAC O/S because of its stability and performace. However, Microsoft have taken notes from their users and their latest incarnation is Microsoft Windows Vista that has a new look, more functionality and of course... more stability.

Even though Microsoft Windows XP was definitely a winner, it's time for Vista to shine. Our test machine for Windows Vista Ultimate contained a Dual-Core Intel CPU, 120GB SATA Hard Drive, 1GB RAM and a Radeon Graphics card with 128MB.

Installation

As our test machine was void of any operating system and all we needed to do was place the installation DVD into the drive and patiently wait. After a few minutes and a plethora of drivers being loaded by Vista, we were treated to an impressive installation screen and unlike previous versions of Microsoft Windows, all we needed to do was set the time/date, location and type of keyboard we were using with the system and off it went.

This my friends is where Vista is light years ahead of Microsoft Windows XP because we only needed to add extra information on two occasions, unlike Windows XP that prompted the user several times.

What seemed like an hour, the installation was finally complete and the Vista login screen had greeted us... it was that simple. No questions about drivers, no prompts, no nothing... the operating system had installed itself onto a barren system with minimal to almost no prompting. Once completed, Vista will even automatically download the latest drivers from the internet, provided you are connected to a router or broadband modem.

Vista Ultimate Upgrade

Although if you do buy the upgrade version of Vista, the new Operating System will endeavour to keep your previous settings, however we would recommend a clean installation in order to keep the operating system at an optimal speed and to ensure that old files don't clutter your hard drive. That said, it does do an upgrade flawlessly but in a computing sense, a clean installation will definitely cause you less problems in the long run. The final task to do once the operating system is installed is to select your user-name, password and icon for the user.

Interface

After the first boot of Vista, the user is greeted to a Welcome Centre that contains a variety of FAQs regarding the operating system. The O/S also supports widgets or "gadgets" that are great for RSS feeds. The new interface of Vista is quite a smooth and flawless experience that although does take some time getting use to, features a variety of special effects that also adds to the "wow factor".

For those purists, there is an option to switch back to Microsoft XP, however once you have experienced the native look and feel of Vista, it is quite difficult to turn back. Probably the biggest difference with Vista is Windows Aero that basically floats your operating system and makes switching between windows and tasks a painless experience.

Windows Aero also contains some interesting themes that include semi-translucent frames, animations and also high resolution icons. However, the price of Aero does come at a cost and your computer must have a DirectX 9 compatible video card but considering the specifications of the operating system, one would expect users interested in Vista to already have one of these cards installed. Don't fret though, even if you don't have a card compatible, the interface of Vista is still a smooth experience and nonetheless still impressive.

The Windows XP style start button has been replaced with the Windows logo which also allows you to access your entire hard drive with just one click. Accessing documents, music or even web pages has never been simpler. Another new feature is the search functionality that now lets users not only search their hard drive and network connections but also the internet.

The Games Explorer and User Folder are two new additions to Vista with the Games Explorer displaying all your Windows and third party games that also offers ratings and links via the Windows Market Place. On the other hand, the User Folder allows the user to directly access their documents such as downloads, saved searches, videos and saved games.

Even those old familiar Windows Games have been given an overhaul and include new games to the system such as Chess Titans, Purple Place, Mahjong Titans and Ink Ball. Needless to say all these games are top class, both graphically, musically and gameplay wise.

Connectivity and Compatibility

The connectivity of Vista is also miles ahead of XP that now contains a truly easy to use network wizard that although has been simplified still provides the more experienced user with a plethora of options. Whether setting up a virtual private network or wireless network, it's extremely simple and our Vista machine even found our other XP machines on the network with no hassles at all. An interesting feature for those XBox 360 owners is that Vista Ultimate supports the console that allowed us to share content between the two machines.

With the improved connectivity of Vista, we wanted to test the ability of Vista itself and whether it could connect to our router without any prompting. Plugging a spare CAT5 cable into our network slot and then the other end into our router, Vista had automatically detected and setup our internet connection. This was bliss! Gone were the days of complicated installation for new hardware or network connections, Windows Vista Ultimate had successfully worked out what was needed. Although not new for Mac owners, this new functionality had the wow factor.

Another interesting feature was that Vista also automatically installs the correct driver for most hardware add-ons that included our HP Printer and Olympus Digital Camera with no necessity for driver discs. Vista also comes with Windows Mobile Device Centre to assist people with mobile devices to easily connect to the operating system which is great for synchronizing outlook.

Vista offers compatibility to most previous Windows applications and after testing a variety of applications such as Adobe Photoshop, mIRC, FireFox 2.0, Office 2000 and Microsoft Office 2003, there were no issues with compatibility as all the programs ran flawlessly. We even test a few non-Vista games such as Doom 3 and Europa III Universalis that worked from the word go.

Security
Windows Defender & Piracy

Security is also a big part of Vista and with the newly implemented Windows Defender, users can now have a safer internet experience without malicious applets or spyware. When you first run Windows Defender, the user is greeted to the defender home page that lets you know how up to date your operating system and whether you need to download the latest signature file. It also allows you to schedule a scanning time or even use real-time protection.

Unfortunately Windows Defender is only an anti-spyware utility and does not contain an antivirus program which is a shame. However it does give you great protection while surfing the web and prevents a variety of malicious applets being installed on your system.

The new security protocols in Vista allows administrators to control their users through the User Account Control functionality and because of the new security access features, it also prevents any malicious programs from tampering with system files.

As with Windows XP, users will still need to registered their copy of Vista in order for Microsoft to keep their intellectual security, however unlike XP, users have 30 days of grace to register their product. The system will prompt you to activate your system once it has detected an internet connection. However, by activating the product, you also get access to premium downloads and special updates so pirates beware! 

Internet Explorer 7.0

The latest version of Internet Explorer 7.0 is also present in Vista that has now incorporated tabs into the program which makes for more structured internet browsing.

I must admit that the latest version of IE 7.0 on Vista is extremely stable, unlike the previous versions and loading up a plethora of tabs (40 to be exact), the program was still useable. Microsoft have also upped the ante of security with IE 7.0 that includes some advanced technologies such as the Protected Mode which allows users to have a safer browsing experience on the web.

Explorer

As with IE 7.0, Explorer has received a much needed overhaul that now allows the user to stack certain files together, such as pictures from a similar date or files that contain certain similar themes. For those upgrading to Vista, you will unfortunately need to "meta tag" these files, however with a fresh install, this option is quite easy to implement from the onset.

Even though the revamped the file management system of the Vista still contains you classic views such as files, folders, details but with the addition of author, title and the above mentioned tags, it really helps organise files on your computer. Great for keeping your hard drive clutter free.

Windows Mail & Windows Meeting Space

Outlook Express has been changed to Windows Mail which could be considered a more streamlined and smaller version of Microsoft Outlook 2003. A nice feature in Windows Mail is the word wheel that makes filtering through messages (both email and news groups) a faster process. Windows Mail also contains anti-phising capabilities and gone are the days of .dbx files that have now been replaced by Mail Store which will limit or prevent any future problems with large mail files.

The new Windows Meeting Space allows people to meet (similar to online chat) , chat, view and share files between each other. This will definitely be a winner for businesses or for those work abroad. You can also invite users into your desktop for presentations.

Vista Multimedia

Vista Ultimate is definitely for the digital experience and what really draws the attention of this operating system is Windows Media Player version 11 and Windows Photo Gallery. Gone are on the complicated menu systems of Media Player that although has been streamlined offers the user a variety of new features for that true digital experience.

Windows Photo Gallery allows user to view their photos with minimal fuss and heartache. You can even fix your photos from your basic auto adjust to exposure, brightness and contrast. Got a photo with red eye? One click and it's gone! Although it's not Photoshop, it has enough features to suit most people who use Vista.

Windows Movie Maker has a variety of new features that really help with authoring DVDs. Whether its menus, chapters or the like, Windows Movie Maker is extremely easy to use and is great for those users wishing to create DVD's from their camcorders. Once done... simply burn to DVD.

Systems Tools

Vista also contains a variety of diagnostic and performance tools that include:

  • Disk Defragmenter that can now be run in the background (you can also set schedules and run user defined defrags)

  • System Recovery Options:
    Start-up Repair - fix boot up problems
    System Restore - Restore Windows to an earlier point that worked
    Windows Complete PC Restore - restore your PC from an earlier backup &
    Command Prompt - Mainly used by those users who grew up with MSDOS (like myself) where you access the grunt of the operating system in TEXT

  • Parental Control (Limit computer usage, filter websites, monitor access etc)

  • Speech Recognition

This review has only just touched the surface of Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate, however Microsoft have once again improved upon the impossible and has created an even more stable O/S. In regards to MAC OS X? Windows XP unfortunately just lost that battle but this new incarnation of Windows, Vista is definitely a contender against the MAC and maybe a winner.

With the new features and that cleaner look for Vista, it's time to upgrade those PC's that cannot support Vista for there is a new King in town and you really don't want to miss the boat. The only downside for those wishing to upgrade to Vista is that they better have a computer that can handle the grunt of this operating system. True 64-bit computing has finally arrived on the PC.






 
 



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