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A few thoughts about buying Windows Vista

I’ve spent a few months living with various builds of Windows Vista, from betas to the final release, but don’t worry – I’m not going to duplicate the millions of column inches that have already been dedicated to it. Instead, here’s a few bits of advice for people who would like to buy it.

  • The best way to get Vista is pre-loaded on a PC, because it’ll save you a fortune. If you are buying a new PC, though, make sure it *is* pre-loaded. The upgrade voucher process is overly complicated, very time consuming and supremely annoying.
  • Look carefully at the various versions. I reckon Home Premium and Ultimate Edition are the ones to have. Avoid Home Basic at all costs.
  • If you’re thinking of upgrading an existing PC, check the driver status. Not everyone has updated their device drivers, and in particular some top-end graphics card drivers aren’t vista-ready yet (or at least, they weren’t a few days ago). This is particularly important if you’re a keen gamer. That said, Vista’s installed drivers are pretty comprehensive and support most common hardware.
  • Check software too. Some programs – security ones in particular – will need patched before they can run under Vista, and other programs – such as gadget manufacturers’ software – will detect Vista, go in a huff and refuse to work.
  • Be realistic about your PC. If it chugs with XP, it’ll chug even more with Vista. But reports of massive hardware requirements are often exaggerated. I’ve ran it happily and speedily on a dirt-cheap Acer laptop and a year-old Dell that cost £500 last summer.

And that’s it. As I’ve blogged before, I’ve changed my tune on Vista: while first impressions suggest it’s just XP in nicer trousers, there’s a lot of good stuff under the hood and the Premium and Ultimate editions are packed with goodies. In addition to all the features that have been endlessly covered elsewhere, I really like what it offers laptop users: easier and better networking, superb power management features and a dedicated control panel for mobile stuff. If you buy it the right way, I think you’ll love it.