November 29, 2006 12:00 PM PST

FAQ: Getting a handle on Windows Vista

Windows Vista took longer to arrive than hoped, and it might not have everything that was once planned, but Windows chief Jim Allchin maintains "It's a big deal."

And, more than five years after the debut of Windows XP, Vista is finally ready--at least, for businesses willing to buy at least five copies of the operating system. Those companies can get it starting Thursday, while consumers and those looking to get a Vista-equipped PC will have to wait until January.

For those who have been tuning out all the Vista chatter for the last few months, here's a primer on the new Windows. The update has security improvements, some snazzy new graphics and new desktop-searching abilities, among other features.

So is Vista really here?
After months of issuing community preview versions, beta versions and release candidate versions, Microsoft has finally declared Vista soup.

Large businesses can start getting Vista through volume-licensing contracts as of Thursday, while CompUSA is selling licenses to smaller businesses that purchase at least five copies of Vista. However, consumers and those looking to get new PCs with Vista installed will have to wait until the mainstream launch in January.

What if I buy a new PC now? Will it still run Vista?
Microsoft is offering an "Express Upgrade" program that runs through early next year. It offers those who buy an XP machine now a free or discounted copy of Vista, once it starts shipping to consumers.

There's still the question of how Vista-ready the PC is. Microsoft is using two logos to help consumers get a sense of that. Some machines are billed as "Windows Vista Capable." A PC with that logo will be able to run Vista, but that sticker does not guarantee the computer will have enough graphics horsepower and other components needed to run all of the operating system's new features. Those who want to guarantee that should look for the shiny "Vista Premium Ready" logo.

So what's in this Vista thing?
Vista--which used to be called Longhorn--has evolved quite a bit since Microsoft first demonstrated an early version in 2003. The company has dropped plans to include its all-new WinFS file system. It has also changed the way it's implementing a new Web services architecture, known as Indigo, and a new graphics engine, dubbed Avalon. Poll

Business debut
When do you think you will be running Vista at work?

I plan to sneak it on to my work machine pronto
Whenever the IT folks say it's OK, but probably not soon
Not until I'm forced to

View results

Among the key features of Vista as it currently stands are: security enhancements, a new searching mechanism, lots of new laptop features, parental controls and better home networking. There will also be visual changes, thanks to Avalon, ranging from shiny translucent windows to icons that are tiny representations of a document itself.

On the business side, Microsoft said Vista will be easier for companies to deploy on multiple PCs and that it will save costs by reducing the number of times computers will have to be rebooted.

Vista includes antispyware tools, Internet Explorer 7, an update to its Web browser, as well as Windows Media Player 11. It also has Windows Calendar, a new systemwide tool designed to do for datebook information what Outlook Express does for e-mail in Windows XP.

Is that all?
No. Among the other features Microsoft has publicly confirmed are: broad IPv6 support, improved clientside caching of data stored on a server, whole-volume encryption, a revamped synchronization engine, the ability to support laptops with an auxiliary display, automatic hard drive optimization and a secure boot-up process that helps prevent someone from gaining access to your data if your PC is lost or stolen.

Will my PC run Vista?
That depends on how recently you bought it and just how much Vista you want. To get the basics, like the new search abilities and improved security, you'll need a PC with 512MB of memory, an 800MHz processor and a 20GB hard drive with at least 15GB of free space. But to see Vista in all its glory, particularly its new Aero graphics, you'll really need a relatively modern video card with around 128MB of dedicated graphics memory or, for a system with shared systems and graphics memory, you'll need 1GB of memory.

Vista versions chart

Will it come in the same editions as in the past--Home, Professional, Tablet and Media Center?
Microsoft announced in February that there will be six basic versions of Vista. On the consumer front, there will be a Vista Home Basic, which will lack Vista's advanced graphics or media features, and a Vista Home Premium, which will include such perks.

For businesses, there will be Vista Business as well as Vista Enterprise. The latter version will be available only to volume-licensing customers, and it will include extras like full-volume encryption and built-in Virtual PC software to run a second operating system as a virtual machine.

Vista Ultimate will put the best of the consumer and business features in one package. At the other end of the spectrum, a scaled-down Vista Starter edition will also be offered, though only on new PCs sold in emerging markets like India and Thailand.

How much will it cost?
Windows Vista Home Basic has a suggested price of $199 for the full product or $99 for those upgrading from a prior version of Windows. The higher-end Home Premium version is priced at $239 for the full version and $159 for those upgrading. Vista Business has a sticker price of $299 for the full version and $199 for the upgrade. The Ultimate edition carries a suggested price of $399 or $259 for the upgrade. Windows Vista Enterprise is available only to large businesses through volume licensing, with prices varying based on the number of licenses.

See more CNET content tagged:
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The great PR blitz of 2005
Yah know you NEVER see this kind of attention paid to Linux or OS X. For the last year on a monthly basis its been one Longhorn story after another. Is partially owned by Microsoft or something because this is basically free advertising when it comes right down to it. I fully expect that every news article on the front page will be Longhorn related the day the OS actually ships. If you are going to give facetime to an OS how about do it across the board. Do we EVER heard what is planned for Linux or OS X? Do you guys keep tabs on their beta releases ever like you do with MSs wares?
This is what gets people who are anti-MS in such a mouth-foaming rage. Stop pandering to just the 90% for once. K?
Posted by Jonathan (832 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Follow the money...Deep Throat
Why is there so much attention paid to this vaporware next comming of the almighty omnipedent
Citizen Gates?

Follow the money... All the Ads, banner ads, pop up ads on every single page you open in CNET is loaded with Win, Wintel, WintelDell, visionary statements from Citizen Gates.....

CNET knows who they sold their souls to & the are bowing down to their master Citizen Gates.

"Pay no attention to all that Unix, Linux, OSX 64 bit stuff out there, just keep your eyes forward at the almighty Wizard of Bull (Longhorn)".

Tiger OSX 64 bit consumer desktop & server OS + IBM 64 bit PowerPC Chips will devour the lame, lumbering Longhorn before it's "scheduled" birth.
Posted by Llib Setag (951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
FAQ: Getting the handle on Cairo
1994 : Cairo Takes OLE to New Levels
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
[i]The next version of Windows NT, code-named Cairo and targeted for release sometime in 1995, will be built around the concepts of objects and component software. It will have a native OFS (Object File System) and distributed system support.[/i]

1995 : Signs to Cairo
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
[i]Cairo, Microsoft's object-oriented successor to Windows NT, will begin beta testing in early 1996 for release in 1997. Although Microsoft is not revealing the full details of Cairo yet, there are enough clues within current Microsoft OSes to yield a good idea of how it might work.[/i]

1996 : Unearthing Cairo
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
[i]At the first NT developers conference in 1992, Bill Gates announced that Cairo would arrive in three years and would incorporate object-oriented technologies, especially an object file system. Since then, we've seen Windows NT 3.1, NT 3.5, NT 3.51, and most recently NT 4.0. None is object oriented, none has an object file system, none is Cairo. It seems that Cairo is Microsoft's sly way of promising the world. "Will we see Plug and Play in NT?" "Oh yes, of course, in Cairo." "Will NT ever produce world peace and cheap antigravity?" "You bet -- in Cairo."[/i]

The so call Longhorn WinFS directory is just another rencarnation of the Cairo object orientated file system.

September 1, 2003 Eweek 'Longhorn' Rollout Slips
<a class="jive-link-external" href=",1759,1495482,00.asp" target="_newWindow">,1759,1495482,00.asp</a>
[i]Microsoft Corp. has once again shifted the schedule for the release of "Longhorn," the company's next major version of Windows, leaving some users up in the air about an upgrade path.

Microsoft executives from Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates on down have long described Longhorn as the Redmond, Wash., company's most revolutionary operating system to date. The product was originally expected to ship next year. Then in May of this year, officials pushed back the release date to 2005. But now executives are declining to say when they expect the software to ship.

"We do not yet know the time frame for Longhorn, but it will involve a lot of innovative and exciting work," said Gates at a company financial analyst meeting this summer. Since then, other Microsoft officials have neither retracted nor clarified Gates' statement.[/i]

Now it's 2006, or is that 2007 ...

Microsoft's long history of abusing the vaporware tactic.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by David Mohring (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If you say so Bill Gates
Now go back to bed.
Posted by nmcphers (261 comments )
Reply Link Flag
boxes of hope
the only thing M$ sells is expensive software boxes of hope. the
andrew fellow should just stop defending what apple has already
incorporated into the soon to be released Tiger.
Posted by (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
On Time? ... Service Pack 3? Heel no!
It's been pushed back so many times they should call it Lazy Boy...

As for calling it servive pack 3?... wouldn't Service Pack twelve fit better in their phantom time frame?
Posted by qazwiz (208 comments )
Reply Link Flag
SO.. once again Microsoft copies the MAC
Just like in the beginning when Microsloth copied the MAC GUI.
Now they want to make a big thing out of global system searching
and "little icons that resemble the actual document" like the MAC
has had for years. Way to go Bill.
Posted by (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How can it be a "Big Deal"
Attention Everybody, Attention

Please make note in this memo from Justin to the man that
quoted "it's the next big deal"

If someone like, say, Apple has already created the Schiznit, and
the real "Big Deal" is coming at the end of the month. Than that
would make your "Bid Deal" not so "Big". Hmmm.

If that wasn't enough, after the end of the month, what in the
sam wahn do you think is a "Big Deal" if we, as a technology
suave society, have seen and heard everything.

Tell me your comming out with a secure OS that won't be
compromised in a week and I'll drink my Vanilla Cap extra slow
in cudo's for doing something that you haven't manage to do
thus far, Billy!

Something to ponder on big guy.

I'm otta here, Mr. Fererty's getting restless on the 4th at
Birkshire, you can only stretch soooo much, that includes the BS.
Posted by OneWithTech (196 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Who cares about Windows, move to Mac OS X
Once upon a time I would have been interested to hear news
about the long awaited Longhorn Operating System. But these
days, I couldn't really care!

Fact is, I got sick and tired of Microsoft's Windows, and decided
to try out Apple Macintosh. At first I was quite sceptical, but
after a few weeks of using Mac OS X (Apple's UNIX based
operating system), it became clear just how poor Windows is.

So for all of you who are sick and tired of Windows, don't be
feared, try out an Apple Mac with Mac OS X. You'll be surprised!
Posted by (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Clusters and Desktops
The thing to keep in mind is that Mac OS X scales well with
usage in clusters (1000's of nodes) down to usage on fast
desktops and even to lowly (ancient) desktops or laptops such as
my 5 year-old PowerBook G3/400 which (very usably) still runs
the latest version of Mac OSX (10.3.9) even though it came with
MacOS System 9.0.2. This will likely also be true of OS X 10.4,
though for hardware wear and tear reasons it is probably time to
get a new laptop and have the current one as a backup machine!

Windows is way more demanding on hardware; I had never met
an operating system (from memory) that increased speed
substantially from 10.1 to 10.2 to 10.3. Like getting an new
machine. And it's (BSD) UNIX! Great for program development.
Games are for outdoors! Life is to short to play a computer!
Posted by (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Be kind to MS....
Consider MS's problems...

1, The PC is the bastard of the computer induxtry. No one has
ever set standards or established any real design control since
IBM started to mess with it in the late 70's. Every hardware and
software developer since, including MS, has attemtped to
redefine the platform to suit their own product. As a result, any
version of Windows must include and extensive collection of
'band-aids' to attempt to smooth over the hardware bumps.
Maybe the point to note is that Windows runs at all, rather than
it runs with problems.

2. The PC world has yet to recognize that there comes a time
when legacy processors and legacy OS's have to be left behind
to end the crippling load of dead wood in hardware and software
design. The current Pentium processor is little more than an
8088 on steroids, and until XP, WIndows was basically DOS with
a paint job. Now XP has somewhat dropped DOS, but you can't
really tell from the way it runs. Neither Intel or MS seem to have
the ability (or intelligence?) to 'innovate' a new generation of the
PC. Maybe the MS/Intel combination is more of a handicap than
a help.

3. Basically, 'bundling' applications into the OS is a very
stupid idea. It's nice to offer lots of additional features, but they
need to be independant applications, which can be changed
or removed by the user as he sees fit. You can't remove Internet
Expolorer from XP without also removing a major chunck of
code that XP needs to runt. And with a 'bundled' OS, trying to fix
a defective component too often screws up other components.
The OS maker losed control of his OS. And when you can't
control your OS, software becomes loaded with conditional
codings, which can be the sources for major problems.

So with this basic load of problems, MS probably is working it's
collective butt off trying to provide at least partially functional
software, OS and otherwise. Maybe Longhorn/Sorthorn/Airhorn/
Whatever will finally become a product that MS can be truly
proud of. That's going to take soem doing, but MS is big enough
to do it..... unless MS is too big to do it.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Okay, kids, let this be a lesson to you....

Someday, if you're in charge of a the world's largest software
company that up until now has managed, mostly by accident and
sheer luck, to inherit a dominant share of the PC operating
system market, it's really not a good idea to advertise the fact
that you have absolutely no vision whatsoever regarding how to
design your next generation release. Instead, just remember
these two critically important key guidelines:

1) When it becomes obvious (give it a few years) that you don't
have any original ideas, shamelessly copy the work someone
else has already done. Because these days, it really doesn't
matter anymore. You don't even need to understand the concept
of the features you are copying or why they were designed in a
particular way. If it looks good, just put it in anyway. With your
dominant market share, your customers will never hold you
accountable for poor or confusing implementation. And when
the time comes for your release, the press will simply issue
accolades about it's "revolutionary" features...

2) Tell your senior executives to shut up.

(Gates in 2004, "this is not a date-driven release" Allchin in
2005, getting Longhorn out on time is more of a priority than
including every last feature")
Posted by Terry Murphy (82 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I think I am starting to become a FanBoy
I was about to poke fun at the post by "Hacker Sci" when he goes on about families but I then realised that this "debate" has got silly. No one who has posted more than once is going to change their mind and it all is becoming a tad personal. It is a sign of a weak argument when you make assumtions of someones background (such as "Try other OSes istead of being a Window Fanboy") and that is what this debate has become. I think that CNET is deliberatly making these stories to rile people up and get more advertising dollars.
Posted by Andrew J Glina (1673 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Any eye candy for ...
... Linux?
Posted by folsco (55 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Should Call it Brontosaurus
Coming to a tar pit near you, Microsoft's new OS....

With all the "innovative" features (which we already have in the alternatives to Windows), and all the "new ground" being broken, I'm starting to think that they should call the next release "Brontosaurus". After all, Microsoft is showing itself to be the lumbering dinosaur of a prior age of technology, so let's name it appropriately.
Posted by (274 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft decides on a *name* to replace longhorn and it's news? That is a pathetic statment about how little IT and computer people really have to worry about...
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Windows Vista -
Still looking, it's out there somewhere...I think!
Posted by smellcoffee (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
they have cut EVERYTHING out!!!!!!!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!! man they suck!! this sounds like windows 98 all over again. £200 for a patch please. LOL
Posted by Scott W (419 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Windows Vista Screenshots
Windows Vista Desktop: <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

Internet Explorer 7 on Windows Vista: <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by BarbieVista (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I like this...
"Is everything final?
No. Microsoft's Allchin has said that getting Vista out on time is more of a priority than including every last feature. So if the team hits a stumbling block, some features could be on the chopping block."

So what they are say is that we will get it out on time even if it turns out to be a service pack we charge for. God, you have to love MS. Almost 6 years from the last Windows upgrade (I don't count service packs) and it would very well be a service pack we are going to pay several hundred dollars for.

As for copying the Mac as one person commented. So what, there is only so much one can do with an operating system. There is bound to be some feature duplication. It doesn't mean squat.

To me what is more important when comparing Mac to Windows is that Apple puts out meaningful upgrades of their OS and all we get for the big bucks is steroid enhanced service packs, even after nearly 6 years of waiting.

If Apple didn't have a hardware monopoly I would switch.

Posted by Heebee Jeebies (632 comments )
Reply Link Flag
...or how about naming it "Alzheimers"?
...because, if history is any guide, the new OS will 'forget' how to read your existing data files, will 'forget' how to use your existing programs, and will not recognize you, your computer, or any of your existing peripherals.

Oh will also forget the MS "we're really, really serious about security" pledge.
Posted by landlines (54 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Are they serious?
"simplify an array of other tasks, such as adding a PC to a home
network or connecting a laptop to a projector"

...they can't be serious...... I don't use windows based computers...
always have used Macs... All I do is plug the damn thing in.... or
open up the lid and I am connected.... Can't windows do this?
Connect to a projector? How can that be complicated? I connect to
projectors all the time...around the country.... i've never even
thought that it might be a problem.
Posted by 198775425444042216790779840523 (102 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What's the Date?
Why is it that this story claims to be published July 26, 2005 and the first 60 talkback posts are dated April 2005?

Is it that CNET recycles old posts from old stories to make it APPEAR that people are really interested in their articles?
Posted by TMB333 (115 comments )
Reply Link Flag
NGFS was to Cairo what WinFS will be to Vista
Windows NT 4.0 (Cairo) and its future file system that Microsoft intended to develope for Cairo (codename for Windows NT 4.0) was called NGFS (Next Generation File System) was supposed to be released when Windows NT 4.0 went gold but decided to pull it out at the last minute.

Then what was NGFS is now WinFS and is currently still in beta test and won't be included in Windows Vista but will be released in service pack 3 for Windows Xp and latter in 2007 for Windows Vista.
Posted by msims (66 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Windows Vista
Windows Vista brings clarity to your world, so you can more safely and easily accomplish everyday tasks and instantly find what you want on your PC.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by ip_fresh (59 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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