The Value of Windows Vista

We waited more than five years for Vista. As you may recall, Windows XP was released with much fanfare in October 2001. But instead of the next Windows version shipping in just a couple of years, as originally expected, Microsoft lost its way in the development process. Vista didn’t make it to consumers until early 2007. Was it worth the wait? The short answer is, “Yes.” We believe Vista is a major advance on Microsoft’s previous operating systems. If you’re buying a new PC today, we don’t hesitate to recommend that you get Vista rather than requesting XP or another, older operating system. (If you’re upgrading an older PC to Vista, by contrast, be sure to first read our tips in Chapter 3.) In 2001, Microsoft executives widely claimed that XP was “the most secure operating system we have ever delivered.” In fact, XP and its new Web browser, Internet Explorer 6.0, were full of maddening security holes that previous operating systems didn’t suffer from.
ActiveX exploits, drive-by downloads, and many other kinds of weaknesses were quickly exploited by black-hat hackers. Microsoft has been issuing patches for XP and IE 6.0 ever since. The Vista OS and the new IE 7.0 browser are welcome steps toward changing that. Will they never need patching? We’d hardly say that. But Microsoft has added “hardening” features to Vista that should make remote exploits more difficult for hackers to carry out. Besides improved security, XP users who switch to Vista will also find enhancements in desktop searching, Windows Sidebar access to
applets called gadgets, PC-to-PC content transfers, and even new games—mahjong and (finally!) chess. Unlike the first chapters of most books—which are filled with boilerplate thank-you and personal musings—we really do want you to read this chapter. Instead of filling our first few pages with acknowledgements of names you’ve never heard of, we’ve moved the credits for our valued sources into the chapters they helped us with. In these pages, we aim to give you a crash course on Windows Vista. In other words, read on and you can learn the most important new features of Vista in the time it takes to sip a nice, hot cuppa Joe.

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