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 Podcast #8 – NOW Which Windows Do I Want?
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Posted - February 07 2008 :  08:20:23  Show Profile  Email Poster  Visit 1029usr078198's Homepage  Click to see 1029usr078198's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Hello and welcome to podcast #8 for July 10, 2007. Back in August, we did a podcast about the versions of Windows and we said we’d probably have to do another one when Vista came out. Well, it’s time… right after this message.

Microsoft released Windows Vista to businesses in November of 2006, and to the general public at the end of January 2007. The latest numbers I’ve heard on Vista’s sales are that Microsoft has sold sixty million licenses. Yet the story I keep hearing everywhere I go is: don’t buy Vista! WBAI is a PRN affiliate in New York. They do a show called “The Personal Computer Show”. It’s one of the podcasts I listen to here. Every time they talk about Vista their attitude is, “wait on the next release” or “wait for the service pack”. Many non-Microsoft programs are still not compatible with Vista, like accounting programs from Sage Software. This includes Business Works, Peachtree, DAC Easy, and others. But even Microsoft itself reportedly has only recently gotten Vista to synchronize properly with Windows Mobile.

Others have not been kind to Vista, either. Ed Bott’s blog on ZDNet has an article called “Vista isn’t Me2, it’s Win95 + 12 years”. We’ve got a link to this article in our show notes, and he says:

In certain circles, it’s become fashionable of late to refer to Windows Vista as Windows Me2. It’s the second-worst insult you can hurl at a Microsoft program (the worst is to compare it to Microsoft Bob, neatly summarized as “7th place in PC World Magazine’s list of the 25 worst products of all time and [named] worst product of the decade by CNET.com” in 2005.).

Even so, he goes on to make the point that Vista is less like Windows Millennium and more like Windows 95 and I must admit that I see his point. The similarities are there, but for the meantime, “Businesses will continue to stay away from Vista in droves. They have a perfectly acceptable alternative in Windows XP, and there’s little upside in upgrading,” he surmises.

One bump in that road is that Microsoft will stop making Windows XP at the end of 2007. So, if you have a computer that needs a Windows XP CD, get it now while you still can. After Microsoft pulls the plug on XP, you won’t be able to get it or recovery CDs for your computer anywhere legally.

Ok, Ok, I get it, but which version of Vista do I want?!?

Let’s start with the editions of Vista. In the US, Microsoft has two editions of Vista designed specifically for home use: Home Basic, and Home Premium. Vista Starter edition is not for distribution within the US, but is the cheapest edition out there. Windows Vista Business is obviously aimed at businesses. Windows Vista Ultimate is aimed at both the home and small business markets because it includes every possible feature except for the Virtualization license, a Unix subsystem, multi-language support, and an optional Desktop Optimization Pack, which are reserved for the Enterprise edition. For more info, check out www.microsoft.com/windows in the show notes.

If you are looking to upgrade, Microsoft has a program on the Windows website called the “Windows Upgrade Advisor” to help you make that determination. One or two gigabytes of RAM are essential regardless which version of Vista you ultimately get. And if you don’t get the one you need, the DVD contains all versions of Vista so that you can upgrade at any time to the one you do need. Microsoft calls that an “Anytime Upgrade”. You pay the extra money and they will issue you the keys necessary to unlock the version you require.

What if you’re buying a new computer? Chances are excellent it will have a version of Vista preloaded on it that ties into what the hardware can handle. In other words, if the hardware can only handle Windows Vista Home Basic, that’s what it’ll be preloaded with. If it can handle Vista Home Premium, it’ll be preloaded with that. Vista Home Premium includes media center features: Make DVDs, edit High Definition movies, Windows Media Center lets you use your computer as a digital video recorder, Tablet PC features are useful if you have a Tablet PC system. Other features are added, but those are the best ones.

What about for businesses? Vista Business has most everything that Home Premium has, except for the DVD and High Definition video capabilities and the Media Center functionality. To get those features and add BitLocker hard drive encryption so that if someone steals your computer, they can’t use your data, you need Vista Ultimate. Can businesses use an edition of Vista designed for the Home? A business with only one computer could, assuming you are certain that compatibility isn’t an issue. If compatibility is an issue, then be sure to get Vista Business or Vista Ultimate. These two editions include “downgrade rights” that allow you to run Windows XP. You can reinstall the copy of Vista you have at a later date, when the compatibility issue is gone. What’s the catch? Well for starters, you are required to provide your own media for the downgrade, but one copy is sufficient for any number of downgrades. Your system builder is not required to support your system if you downgrade, but I believe most would.

Ok, Ok, I really get it, but which version of Vista do I need?

As you might have gathered from the rest of my rant, I can only recommend Vista for home users buying a new computer. I recommend that business users in the market for a new system utilize their downgrade rights at least until the end of the year. I also don’t recommend hurrying to upgrade your current system. In another of Mary Jo Foley’s blog articles entitled, “From the ‘I’m glad I’m not a Vista salesperson’ files”, she says:

How to downgrade to XP is at the top of Microsoft’s “Top 5 Licensing Questions.” In a posting to Microsoft’s UK Partner Team blog, a Microsoft employee lists the five questions most often asked last month via the “Ask Partner” Hotline. The most commonly asked question was “What downgrade rights does Windows Vista Business have?” (Not a question you want to hear asked if you are trying to convince customers that upgrading, not downgrading, is the way to go.) The second most frequently asked question: “What media and key can I use when downgrading?” Again, not exactly a resounding endorsement of Vista from volume licensees.

Do you need Vista? If you need it, buy it. Otherwise, just pass on it for now.
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