Bill Gates is fond of saying that the biggest competitor for Microsoft products is...Microsoft itself. He's got a point. There's no compelling reason to change over even one computer from XP to the new operating system, especially if it works fine right now.
So why bother with Vista, the much-anticipated new operating system (OS) from Gates and Co.? Short answer: Unless you intend to shift to Apple or Linux, an unlikely proposition for most, you will eventually go to Vista, even if by simply replacing physical hardware over time.
Show me the goodiesAs with any long-delayed product launch, the critics -- and fans -- are leaping all over Vista.
Which Vista is for you? Good questionAlways seeking to divide and conquer, Microsoft is pushing at least four flavors of Vista, ranging from a consumer version to something called "ultimate," which is beyond business-level but offers very little on top of that. Some versions seek to capitalize on home media like games and movies; others are strictly corporate.
Is your current rig a contender for Vista?Probably not, especially if you bought it more than a year ago or if it came with the Windows XP OS installed. A few "enthusiast" users like videogame players might have installed enough hardware to handle Vista, but most business users would not have done so.
If you're PC shopping now, read the fine printSome PCs will come loaded with XP but say "Vista Capable" or "Vista Premium Ready." Since Microsoft had promised the new OS some time ago, PC and chip makers moved ahead to get ready, only to have to wait for the actual system to come out in early 2007.
No more free rideIf you've been playing fast and loose with software, "borrowing" previous editions or just not asking questions when your nephew fixes your notebook, well, it's all about to come to an end.
Of course, it's not as simple as buying a new OSIf you're going to buy in to the idea of a fancy operating system with a nifty 3-D interface, why on earth would you keep banging away with your ordinary versions of Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint?
- Who needs all this? Medium-sized to large corporate users concerned about security and collaboration will likely be pleased, but small business users will be slower to benefit, and to switch.
- You will almost certainly not have to buy the OS separately if you buy a new PC later in 2007, although be careful to buy the version suited to your work environment. Some PC makers will stuff the cheapest edition into laptops, for instance, to drive down price point. Then you'll have to fork over for the upgrade.