Do you really need Windows Vista?

Do you really need Windows Vista?

Summary: Not a day goes by now where I don't see an article with a title such as "10 reasons you need Vista", "10 reasons you don't need Vista" or "50 things that are wrong with Vista". It seems to me that everyone has an opinion about Windows Vista but hardly anyone is providing the reader with any real information to help them decide whether Vista suits their needs.

TOPICS: Windows

Do you really need Windows Vista?Not a day goes by now where I don't see an article with a title such as "10 reasons you need Vista", "10 reasons you don't need Vista" or "50 things that are wrong with Vista".  It seems to me that everyone has an opinion about Windows Vista but hardly anyone is providing the reader with any real information to help them decide whether Vista suits their needs.

Let's take a look at who needs Windows Vista, who might benefit from it and those who might want to give it a wide berth.

[poll id=70]

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Hardware Support

To be honest, when you think about it, very few people will actually need Windows Vista come January 30th.  Nothing changes at the stroke of midnight - XP will still work and all your existing hardware and software applications will continue to function. 

In fact, the only people desperately awaiting Windows Vista are those who want to make use of AMD's Quad FX platform.  These people will need Windows Vista Ultimate for the technology to work.  Apart from that, most hardware will continue to support Windows XP for years to come and you could quite safely sit back and wait for Vista to mature and for a service pack or two to be released before investing.

Another advantage of sticking with XP in the interim, especially if you're a gamer, is the quality of hardware drivers, especially graphics cards.  Despite the fact that both ATI and NVIDIA have released drivers for their Vista hardware, these aren't as good at the drivers currently available for XP (I'm still seeing problems in games such as Oblivion under Vista - nothing major, more annoying really, but it'll take some time for the drivers to settle down).  There are other casualties, such as Creative's DirectSound based EAX - this doesn't work under Vista.  This is used by many of the popular games and it's loss is noticeable.  Updates are planned but don't hold your breath.

If you're thinking about upgrading to Vista, check your hardware carefully and make sure you can find Vista drivers for everything.  If you can't find drivers, you could find yourself having to spend more money.

Software Support

As with hardware support, most software will continue to support XP for some time to come.  Years probably.  While Windows Vista brings with it DirectX 10, no games currently supports this version of DirectX.  Games requiring DirectX 10 will eventually hit the shelves, but you can be sure that game studios won't do this until Vista hits critical mass.  (Also, returning to hardware considerations for a moment,  the current power requirements of DirectX 10 graphics cards – most now consume around 300W – will put people off.  GPU makers need to work on taming the power consumption of these cards before they become mainstream.)

Releasing a game that required DirectX 10 within the next 18 months would be an example of the studio shooting themselves in the foot with great precision.  The only studio that might is Microsoft itself, but I don't see that happening.  Gamers can happily stick with XP for at least a year.

For some people support is their main worry.  Many fear that Windows Vista means that Microsoft will no longer support XP.  This isn't true.  Microsoft will continue to support Windows XP Home, Media Center and Professional for the next 2 years (mainstream support ends in April 2009, free security updates will continue until 2014). 

Software support also works the other way.  Just because some software applications work on XP doesn't mean that it will still work under Vista.  Software such as security applications will need to be updated (depending on what product you use, this upgrade could be free or it could cost you) as will many DVD burning utilities such as Nero.  Make sure that you factor in these costs before upgrading because if you don't, you might end up spending a lot more money than you'd planned on.

Some products, such as Paragon's Hard Disk Manager doesn't yet have an update that makes it work under Vista.

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One of the biggest selling points of Vista is security.  In fact, it's one of the biggest selling points as far as I can see.  There are a number of features specific to Windows Vista that are designed to make it safer.  However, most of this remains untested in the real world against real hackers. 

While I'm convinced that some of the new features such as UAC (User Account Control) is going to make it harder for malware to get a foothold on your system, I'm also bracing myself for a load of updates.  When it comes to security, Windows Vista can't and won't replace simple common sense.

BitLocker (available as part of Windows Vista Enterprise and Ultimate) is also a huge step forward as it offers robust and reliable full-disk encryption. 

The User Interface

Love it or hate it, Vista has a new UI.  Putting Aero aside (which is nice, but nothing more than eye candy) the main thing to remember about Vista is that it's designed with audio, video and images in mind.  It takes a little getting used to, but overall it's a huge improvement over XP. 

On larger screens running at higher resolutions I find the new UI much better on the eye that XP is.  Things on the screen in XP start to get small when running a 19 inch monitor at 1024x768.  Vista is a lot easier on the eye at higher resolutions.


The truth is that very few people will actually need Vista when it's released at the end of the month.  A far greater driver in upgrading that need is want.  If you're buying a new PC, you might want to opt for Vista even if XP is on offer.  If you want to remain at the cutting edge then you'll want Vista.  If you like trying out new software, you'll again want Vista. 

If the want isn't there right now, no worries.  Windows users won't need to upgrade for some time to come.

Whether or not you'll want to spend the money … well, that's another issue entirely.

What are your reasons for wanting (or not wanting!) to upgrade to Windows Vista when it is released?

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Topic: Windows

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  • Even though my computer...

    is quite capable of handling Vista, I won't upgrade to it because I see no use to upgrade.

    UAC? Does it really matter when I myself have no problems with malware, viruses and the like? I don't use IE and don't use P2P.. So does UAC really matter much to me? Other than the usual network admin saying "Why would you log in as Admin idiot".

    I don't use P2P, I don't browse "cracking" sites, I don't use ActiveX, I don't just click on email for no reason, I don't use any form of MS Email app.. I'm all good to go.

    Since I am the main user and know what I'm getting myself into. I see no problem with Admin. For the average user who has kids, and the average "parent" (40+ age) I can totally see a reason for it. Most of them just click on things like it's going out of style.

    Is there a use for Vista other than the Eye Candy? and annoyance of Admin boxes that will pop up that I will say yes to ever single one?

    Not really.. At this moment I see no reason for myself.
  • I am pretty well vested with OpenSuSE

    and the fact is Linux meets and exceeds my needs. Besides, why would I go from owning my PC and software to renting the privilege? Why would I pay a lot of money for something I get for free or very little money? And why would I cripple software I use?

    I guess some people like being abused. I sure don't and I sure don't see the reason to pay a lot of money for something that isn't mine in the first place! ]:)
    Linux User 147560
    • Linux Abuse

      WinXP meets and exceeds my needs so no need for Vista. True, MS needs to have a better way to combat theft as their activation scheme seems to be finding too many false positives.

      But until linux has an easy to use Media Center, easy support for 3rd party devices, a consistent software installation method and a consistent patching/update mechansism, it will never have a place as my primary home pc. I use unix at work but Linux on a home PC is abuse. But you are right, some people like abuse.
      • Abuse?

        Then I guess I'm guilty of child abuse, since my 7 year old grandson is running PCLinuxOS on his home PC! Either that, or you are blowing smoke about something you really haven't tried. Honestly, unix at work is just not the same.
        • Fair Enough

          Yes, unix at work is different (Slowaris--I mean Solaris) and is not Linux.

          I used Fedora a couple of years ago, I had a pain getting the video card to work, the sound card never really worked well and every program had its own set of install quirks. They say Vista has too many versions (and I agree) but selecting a Linux distro is even worse.

          If Linux works for you, so be it. For me, it seemed like I was spending far too much time getting things to work.
  • be released before investing

    Investing? Investing and computers are about as polar oppostite as you can get. Let's face it, nobody needs a computer. We waste tons of money on them. They could all blow up tomorrow and after adjusting, the world would go on.

    As to Vista. Of course nobody NEEDS it.

    As to changes and compatability: Change is innevitable and I'd rather be ahead of the curve than behind it. If you want to rant about compatability and lack of application and games support, you're talking about OSX and Linux.

    Bring it on.
  • For me the simple answer is a resounding... No...

    But I felt the same way about XP. And the reason I switched.
    2KP was the last Windows I needed/wanted.

    I have been using Linux now for 7 years (since the turn of the Century) Debian for 5, Sarge, for the past 2, Woody before that. (soon to move to Etch) Not only does it fits my needs, Work & Play, I find it far more interesting & fun.

    I still play, explore install many other Distros, but Debian is my personal choice.
  • I will get a Vista PC....

    ... for compatibilty testing for Web pages. But all production will stay on OpenSuSE for both server and desktop work.
  • Maybe the question should be concatenated to.. Do You really need Windows?

    For some the answer is yes, as they already have (or just think they have) an investment in Apps, infrastructure or workflow.

    And choose the path of least resistance, even without due diligence.

    However for the many, there is no "real" need, but the marketing illusion of convenience & expediency of what is offered & available (through common distribution channels) again the path of least resistance. Not to mention much Confusion & FUD about the alternatives.

    It was a good departure for you to talk about the Macbook.
    A bit surprised as a "Tech Guy" this was your first experience, as Apple as been around since practically the beginning, and many credit it as the catalyst or genesis of the PC.

    I look forward to more reports about the alternatives.

    BTW As I choose not to use javascript or Flash on ZDnet could someone tell me the current tally of the polls, not really that important but thanks.......
    • Uh.... "concatenated"?

      Perhaps you meant "cropped"? As in: "Maybe the question should be cropped to.. Do You really need Windows?"
      Hallowed are the Ori
    • Poll

      As of right now:
      When I Buy a New Computer = 25 %
      Never = 22%
      As Soon As It's Out = 11%

      As discussed in these talkbacks many times, there is no adequate method for counting the numbers migrating to Linux, but the 22% are not all Mac users - me, for one! :) And for me, it's not that Windows OS sucks, it's that Windows corporate sucks, and I don't see Mac as any better. There are lots of great OSs out there and bean counters need to wake up and smell the coffee.
    • Speaking of the MacBook Pro blog ...

      I thought that was going to go on for 30 days. It seems to have quit after 12.
      Adrian, are you planning on any more entries or did you give it back early?
  • I'll pass on Vista... or, at least, wait until it gets its act together.

    For me, there are two reasons for me to wait:

    1) Still need to get a better system. Vista on a 700Mhz Athlon with 256MB RAM... [i]Don't try it at home![/i]

    Hopefully the upgrade will come soon, but I need to find a decent PC store that sells barebones systems, or one with a blank hard drive.

    2) I do mostly games and net surfing, though I'm looking to get back into programming. As long as I can still play System Shock 1&2 on my system, and get out on the net, I'm good.
    Mr. Roboto
  • Adrian.. Question/Comment about the Poll

    Why so many (superfluous) choices.
    (why 3 pages )

    I don't care for the way the polls are done & do not participate, but would hazard a guess the greatest percentage would be; Never, When I buy a new PC and then trailing, As soon as it comes out.

    The rest are somewhat non-sequitur As few can predict the future with accuracy or precision.

    Hopefully those that come here are more aware & interested technically... So the two extremes of the poll.... As Soon AS & Never. Then the middleground.. When I buy a new PC...
    An honest/practical answer. Figuring sooner or later it will be difficult to get a worthwhile deal on hardware without Windows. Whether they choose to use it or something else is another story.

    My guess
    Never ------------------25% +/-
    When I buy a new PC-----25% +/- (sooner or later/ maybe)
    As soon as it is out....10% +/-

    the rest are almost meaningless & skew the numbers.

    What is/are your favorite distros?
    Can you Learn to work without MS?
    What are the advantages you can see in the Alternatives?
    What are the best multi-functin printers or video cards for Linux? (with GPL drivers) (why buy what does not support what you use)
  • HD Video DRM is the killer for me

    Apart from the WGA atuff, what really alarms me with Vista is the DRM on video content:

    I find this truly unacceptable, if you search the web many forums have people complaining about certain content not running or running in low resolution.

    I will therefore stick with XP or Linux for most of my PC's at home, particularly where Video is concerned.

    I find it strange no one on ZDNet has investigated his more thouroughly.
  • I switched and didn't look back

    I've avoided the debate after having gotten my MCSE certification years ago by buying
    Macs. I liked them so much, I "bought" the company!

    So "No", I don't need Vista.

    Now we sell Apple products on our website at
  • I'll stick with my iBook and my Linux laptop

    I don't need Vista. I might end up checking it out on a friend's/relative's computer (out of curiosity) but I just don't see the need to switch from Panther and Linux. When I program these days I usually code in perl. IF I want to code in M$ compilers I have vmware installed and I can program on my windows machine at work.
  • sure i do

    and i'm running it now.
  • Is Vista the Windows ME of 2007??

    A worthless one of those in-between Windows releases just to kick the profit engine in the shorts? What is the real advantage here?
    • the real abuse

      How many times should an abused spouse get punched and kicked, and then succumb to "Baby, I'm so sorry, it wil never happen again!" before he/she leaves for good?

      With new exploits being found in Vista before it even hits the streets, I am hard pressed to see the difference in MS behavior, no matter how good Vista may appear on the surface.