After testing it for myself my advice on Vista was to keep XP installed and wait sceptically to see if Microsoft can actually produce an IMPROVED operating system in 2009. Not only has Vista been voted the worst software release in history, but Microsoft has finally given up on it... however if you've already committed to Vista read on.
Vista takes a lot of getting use to and you'll need a pretty fast/new machine to run it. Like most people my immediate reaction was: "this is just a piece of crap with shiny graphics". However Vista does have a few good points - you'll soon discover they've copied a lot of features from other operating systems and programs into the new interface.
UPDATE: Windows 7 is actually pretty good - install that. Windows 8 I really don't like, so haven't seen a need to install, but definietly don't install Vista.
Differences from XP
There are a quite a few little things which have been changed since XP... some of these are positive changes, but still annoying to get use to. Here is a list of a few major differences:
- The "Users" folder is now under your primary drive i.e.: "C:\Users\"
- The "All Users" folder is now called "Public".
- Windows Exporer has a nice built-in search bar (they copied OS X) which performs quite well.
- Internet Explorer now uses tabs (they copied Firefox) and search bar which you can set to search Google, Wikipedia or several other "providers".
After installation you'll want to do the following:
- If you're like me you'll want to kill the sidebar (they copied the Google sidebar) - right click the icon in the system tray and tell it not to load on startup.
- Change the resolution: right click desktop > "personalize" > display settings.
- Download and install all the most recent drivers for your hardware; especially your graphics card.
- If you want all the fancy "Vista" graphical features: right click desktop > "personalize" > Window Color and Appearance and then select "Windows Aero". And now you'll can try their over-rated new Windows Key + Tab feature
- Vista displays annoying messages whenever you start a new program/CD etc - you'll want to turn this off by going: Start > Control Panel > Control Panel Home > Check this computer's security status > Other Security then turn off the "user account control" and it will prompt for a restart. Alternatively type "user account control" in the search bar of the control panel.
- Before you leave this "Windows Security Center" center you'll probably also want to click "Change the way Security Center alerts me" on the left and select "Don't notify me and don't display the icon", or else you'll always see the red "error" icon.
I've had SO, SO many problems with Vista.. some big ones:
- Network card problem - on my computer it didn't gel well with my Network card such that my Internet stopped working everytime it installed a particular update... and even when I turned off automatic updates it seemed to occur. Every second day I found myself going back to an old system restore point.
- Limited file copies - whenever you try to copy large numbers of files (>16,000 between reboots) you'll get a "There is not enough memory to complete this operation" error message. The only solution is to reboot (and then finish copying the files) or ask for a "hotfix". more :-(