(Part of the Microsoft Windows family)
Screenshot of Windows Vista Developer
Web site: Windows Vista: Homepage
Release date: RTM: November 8, 2006;
Vol. Lic.: November 30, 2006;
Retail: January 30, 2007 info
Current version: 6.0 Service Pack 1 (SP1) (Build 6001)
February 4, 2008 info
Source model: Closed source / Shared source
Kernel type: Hybrid kernel
Available language(s): Multilingual
Update method: Windows Update, Windows Server Update Services, SCCM
Platform support: x86, x86-64
Default user interface(s): Graphical user interface
Development of Windows Vista
Features new to Windows Vista
Management features new to Windows Vista
Security and safety features new to Windows Vista
Technical features new to Windows Vista
Windows Vista I/O technologies
Windows Vista networking technologies
Features removed from Windows Vista
Windows Vista editions
Criticism of Windows Vista
Windows Vista (pronounced /ˈvɪstə/) is a line of
operating systems developed by Microsoft for use on personal computers,
including home and business desktops, laptops, Tablet PCs, and media center
PCs. Prior to its announcement on July 22, 2005, Windows Vista was known by its
codename 'Longhorn'. Development was completed on November 8,
2006; over the following three months it was released in stages to computer
hardware and software manufacturers, business customers, and retail channels.
On January 30, 2007, it was released worldwide, and was made available for
purchase and download from Microsoft's website. The release of Windows Vista
comes more than five years after the introduction of its predecessor, Windows
XP, the longest time span between successive releases of Microsoft Windows.
Windows Vista contains many changes and new features, including an updated
graphical user interface and visual style dubbed Windows Aero, improved
searching features, new multimedia creation tools such as Windows DVD Maker,
and redesigned networking, audio, print, and display sub-systems. Vista also
aims to increase the level of communication between machines on a home network,
using peer-to-peer technology to simplify sharing files and digital media
between computers and devices. Windows Vista includes version 3.0 of the .NET
Framework, which aims to make it significantly easier for software developers
to write applications than with the traditional Windows API.
Microsoft's primary stated objective with Windows Vista, however, has been to
improve the state of security in the Windows operating system. One common
criticism of Windows XP and its predecessors has been their commonly exploited
security vulnerabilities and overall susceptibility to malware, viruses and
buffer overflows. In light of this, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates announced in
early 2002 a company-wide 'Trustworthy Computing initiative' which
aims to incorporate security work into every aspect of software development at
the company. Microsoft stated that it prioritized improving the security of
Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 above finishing Windows Vista, thus delaying
While these new features and security improvements have garnered positive
reviews, Vista has also been the target of much criticism and negative press.
Criticism of Windows Vista has targeted high system requirements, its more
restrictive licensing terms, the inclusion of a number of new digital rights
management technologies aimed at restricting the copying of protected digital
media, lack of compatibility with certain pre-Vista hardware and software, and
the number of authorization prompts for User Account Control. As a result of
these and other issues, Vista has seen adoption and satisfaction rates lower
than Windows XP.
2 New or improved features
2.1 End-user features
2.2 Core technologies
2.3 Security-related technologies
2.4 Business technologies
2.5 Developer technologies
3 Removed features
5 Visual styles
6 Hardware requirements
7 Service Packs
7.1 Service Pack 1
10 See also
11 Notes and references
12 External links
12.2 Reviews and screenshots
12.4 Security vulnerabilities
Main article: Development of Windows Vista
The Windows Vista Codename (Longhorn) logoMicrosoft began work on Windows
Vista, known at the time by its codename 'Longhorn' in May 2001,
five months prior to the release of Windows XP. It was originally expected to
ship sometime late in 2003 as a minor step between Windows XP and
'Blackcomb', which was planned to be the company's next major
operating system release. Gradually, 'Longhorn' assimilated many of
the important new features and technologies slated for 'Blackcomb',
resulting in the release date being pushed back several times. Many of
Microsoft's developers were also re-tasked with improving the security of
Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, both of which had been the target of a
number of high-profile security lapses. Faced with ongoing delays and
concerns about feature creep, Microsoft announced on August 27, 2004 that it
had revised its plans. The original 'Longhorn', based on the Windows
XP source code, was scrapped, and Longhorn's development started anew, building
on the Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 codebase, and re-incorporating only
the features that would be intended for an actual operating system release.
Some previously announced features such as WinFS were dropped or postponed, and
a new software development methodology called the 'Security Development
Lifecycle' was incorporated in an effort to address concerns with the
security of the Windows codebase.
After 'Longhorn' was named Windows Vista in July 2005, an
unprecedented beta-test program was started, involving hundreds of thousands of
volunteers and companies. In September of that year, Microsoft started
releasing regular Community Technology Previews (CTP) to beta testers. The
first of these was distributed at the 2005 Microsoft Professional Developers
Conference, and was subsequently released to beta testers and Microsoft
Developer Network subscribers. The builds that followed incorporated most of
the planned features for the final product, as well as a number of changes to
the user interface, based largely on feedback from beta testers. Windows Vista
was deemed feature-complete with the release of the 'February CTP',
released on February 22, 2006, and much of the remainder of work between that
build and the final release of the product focused on stability, performance,
application and driver compatibility, and documentation. Beta 2, released in
late May, was the first build to be made available to the general public
through Microsoft's Customer Preview Program. It was downloaded by over five
million people. Two release candidates followed in September and October, both
of which were made available to a large number of users.
While Microsoft had originally hoped to have the consumer versions of the
operating system available worldwide in time for Christmas 2006, it was
announced in March 2006 that the release date would be pushed back to January
2007, in order to give the company – and the hardware and software companies
which Microsoft depends on for providing device drivers – additional time to
prepare. Through much of 2006, analysts and bloggers had speculated that
Windows Vista would be delayed further, owing to anti-trust concerns raised by
the European Commission and South Korea, and due to a perceived lack of
progress with the beta releases. However, with the November 8, 2006
announcement of the completion of Windows Vista, Microsoft's lengthiest
operating system development project came to an end.
New or improved features
Main article: Features new to Windows Vista
The appearance of Windows Explorer has changed since Windows XP.Windows Aero:
The new hardware-based graphical user interface is named Windows Aero, which
Jim Allchin has said is an acronym for Authentic, Energetic, Reflective, and
Open.. The new interface is intended to be cleaner and more aesthetically
pleasing than those of previous Windows, including new transparencies, live
thumbnails, live icons, and animations, thus providing a new level of eye
candy. Laptop users report however that battery life is shortened with the
Windows Shell: The new Windows shell is significantly different from Windows
XP, offering a new range of organization, navigation, and search capabilities.
Windows Explorer's task pane has been removed, integrating the relevant task
options into the toolbar. A 'Favorite links' pane has been added,
enabling one-click access to common directories. The address bar has been
replaced with a breadcrumb navigation system. The preview pane allows users to
see thumbnails of various files and view the contents of documents. The details
pane shows information such as file size and type, and allows viewing and
editing of embedded tags in supported file formats. The Start menu has changed
as well; it no longer uses ever-expanding boxes when navigating through
Programs. The word 'Start' itself has been removed in favor of a blue
Windows Orb (also called 'Pearl'.
Instant Search (also known as search as you type) : Windows Vista features a
new way of searching called Instant Search, which is significantly faster and
more in-depth (content-based) than the search features found in any of the
previous versions of Windows.
Windows Sidebar: A transparent panel anchored to the side of the screen where a
user can place Desktop Gadgets, which are small applets designed for a
specialized purpose (such as displaying the weather or sports scores). Gadgets
can also be placed on other parts of the desktop.
Windows Internet Explorer 7: New user interface, tabbed browsing, RSS, a search
box, improved printing, Page Zoom, Quick Tabs (thumbnails of all open
tabs), Anti-Phishing filter, a number of new security protection features,
Internationalized Domain Name support (IDN), and improved web standards
support. IE7 in Windows Vista runs in isolation from other applications in the
operating system (protected mode); exploits and malicious software are
restricted from writing to any location beyond Temporary Internet Files without
explicit user consent.
Windows Media Player 11Windows Media Player 11, a major revamp of Microsoft's
program for playing and organizing music and video. New features in this
version include word wheeling (or 'search as you type', a new GUI for the media library, photo display and organization, the
ability to share music libraries over a network with other Vista machines, Xbox
360 integration, and support for other Media Center Extenders.
Backup and Restore Center: Includes a backup and restore application that gives
users the ability to schedule periodic backups of files on their computer, as
well as recovery from previous backups. Backups are incremental, storing only
the changes each time, minimizing disk usage. It also features Complete PC Backup
(available only in Ultimate, Business, and Enterprise versions) which backs up
an entire computer as an image onto a hard disk or DVD. Complete PC Backup can
automatically recreate a machine setup onto new hardware or hard disk in case
of any hardware failures. Complete PC Restore can be initiated from within
Windows Vista or from the Windows Vista installation CD in the event the PC is
so corrupt that it cannot start up normally from the hard disk.
Windows Mail: A replacement for Outlook Express that includes a new mail store
that improves stability, and features integrated Instant Search. It has the
Phishing Filter like IE7 and Junk mail filtering that is enhanced through
regular updates via Windows Update.
Windows Calendar is a new calendar and task application.
Windows Photo Gallery, a photo and movie library management application. It can
import from digital cameras, tag and rate individual items, adjust colors and
exposure, create and display slideshows (with pan and fade effects) and burn slideshows
Windows DVD Maker, a companion program to Windows Movie Maker that provides the
ability to create video DVDs based on a user's content. Users can design a DVD
with title, menu, video, soundtrack, pan and zoom motion effects on pictures or
Windows Media Center, which was previously exclusively bundled as a separate
version of Windows XP, known as Windows XP Media Center Edition, has been
incorporated into the Home Premium and Ultimate editions of Windows Vista.
Games and Games Explorer: Games included with Windows have been modified to
showcase Vista's graphics capabilities. New games are Chess Titans, Mahjong
Titans and Purble Place. A new Games Explorer special folder holds shortcuts
and information to all games on the user's computer.
Windows Mobility Center.Windows Mobility Center is a control panel that
centralizes the most relevant information related to mobile computing
(brightness, sound, battery level / power scheme selection, wireless network,
screen orientation, presentation settings, etc.).
Windows Meeting Space replaces NetMeeting. Users can share applications (or
their entire desktop) with other users on the local network, or over the
Internet using peer-to-peer technology (higher versions than Starter and Home Basic
can take advantage of hosting capabilities, Starter and Home Basic editions are
limited to 'join' mode only)
Shadow Copy automatically creates daily backup copies of files and folders.
Users can also create 'shadow copies' by setting a System Protection
Point using the System Protection tab in the System control panel. The user can
be presented multiple versions of a file throughout a limited history and be
allowed to restore, delete, or copy those versions. This feature is available
only in the Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions of Windows Vista and is
inherited from Windows Server 2003.
Windows Update with Windows Ultimate ExtrasWindows Update: Software and
security updates have been simplified, now operating solely via a control
panel instead of as a web application. Windows Mail's spam filter and Windows
Defender's definitions are updated automatically via Windows Update. Users who
choose the recommended setting for Automatic Updates will have the latest
drivers installed and available when they add a new device.
Parental controls: Allows administrators to control which websites, programs
and games each standard user can use and install. This feature is not included
in the Business or Enterprise editions of Vista.
Windows SideShow: Enables the auxiliary displays on newer laptops or on
supported Windows Mobile devices. It is meant to be used to display device
gadgets while the computer is on or off.
Speech recognition is integrated into Vista. It features a redesigned user
interface and configurable command-and-control commands. Unlike the Office 2003
version, which works only in Office and WordPad, Speech Recognition in Windows
Vista works for any accessible application. In addition, it currently supports
several languages: British and American English, Spanish, French, German,
Chinese (Traditional and Simplified) and Japanese.
New fonts, including several designed for screen reading, and improved Chinese
(Yahei, JhengHei), Japanese (Meiryo) and Korean (Malgun) fonts. ClearType has
also been enhanced and enabled by default.
Problem Reports and Solutions, a control panel which allows users to view
previously sent problems and any solutions or additional information that is
Improved audio controls allow the system-wide volume or volume of individual
audio devices and even individual applications to be controlled separately. New
audio functionalities such as Room Correction, Bass Management, Speaker Fill
and Headphone virtualization have also been incorporated.
Windows System Assessment Tool is a tool used to benchmark system performance.
Software such as games can retrieve this rating and modify its own behavior at
runtime to improve performance. The benchmark tests CPU, RAM, 2-D and 3-D
graphics acceleration, Graphics Memory and Hard disk space.
Windows Ultimate Extras: The Ultimate edition of Windows Vista provides, via
Windows Update, access to some additional features. These are a collection of
additional MUI language packs, Texas Hold 'Em (a Poker game), BitLocker and EFS
enhancements which allow users to backup their encryption key online in a
Digital Locker, and Windows Dreamscene, which enables the use of videos in MPEG
and WMV formats as the desktop background. On April 21st 2008, Microsoft launched
two more Ultimate Extras; a new Windows sound scheme, and a content pack for
Disk Management: The Logical Disk Manager in Windows Vista supports shrinking
and expanding volumes on-the-fly.
Reliability and Performance Monitor includes various tools for tuning and
monitoring system performance and resources activities of CPU, disks, network,
memory and other resources. It shows the operations on files, the opened
S3 Sleep State as a default enabled feature that will typically draw only about
2 to 3 watts of power while it sleeps, and it will take only a few seconds to
pick up where you left off before it went dormant. 
Main article: Technical features new to Windows Vista
Windows Vista is intended to be a technology-based release, to provide a base
to include advanced technologies, many of which are related to how the system
functions and thus not readily visible to the user. An example is the complete
restructuring of the architecture of the audio, print, display, and networking
subsystems; while the results of this work are visible to software developers,
end-users will only see what appear to be evolutionary changes in the user
Vista includes technologies such as ReadyBoost and ReadyDrive which employ fast
flash memory (located on USB drives and hybrid hard disk drives) to improve
system performance by caching commonly used programs and data. This manifests
itself in improved battery life on notebook computers as well, since a hybrid drive
can be spun down when not in use. Another new technology called SuperFetch
utilizes machine learning techniques to analyze usage patterns to allow Windows
Vista to make intelligent decisions about what content should be present in
system memory at any given time.
As part of the redesign of the networking architecture, IPv6 has been fully
incorporated into the operating system and a number of performance improvements
have been introduced, such as TCP window scaling. Earlier versions of Windows
typically needed third-party wireless networking software to work properly, but
this is not the case with Vista, which includes more comprehensive wireless
For graphics, Vista introduces a new Windows Display Driver Model and a major
revision to Direct3D. The new driver model facilitates the new Desktop Window
Manager, which provides the tearing-free desktop and special effects that are
the cornerstones of Windows Aero. Direct3D 10, developed in conjunction with
major display driver manufacturers, is a new architecture with more advanced
shader support, and allows the graphics processing unit to render more complex
scenes without assistance from the CPU. It features improved load balancing
between CPU and GPU and also optimizes data transfer between them.
At the core of the operating system, many improvements have been made to the
memory manager, process scheduler and I/O scheduler. The Heap Manager
implements additional features such as integrity checking in order to improve
robustness and defend against buffer overflow security exploits, although this
comes at the price of breaking backward compatibility with some legacy
applications. A Kernel Transaction Manager has been implemented that
enables applications to work with the file system and Registry using atomic
A User Account Control consent dialog.Main article: Security and safety
features new to Windows Vista
Improved security was a primary design goal for Vista. Microsoft's
Trustworthy Computing initiative, which aims to improve public trust in its
products, has had a direct effect on its development. This effort has resulted
in a number of new security and safety features.
User Account Control is perhaps the most significant and visible of these
changes. User Account Control is a security technology that makes it possible
for users to use their computer with fewer privileges by default, with a view
to stopping malware from making unauthorized changes to the system. This was
often difficult in previous versions of Windows, as the previous
'limited' user accounts proved too restrictive and incompatible with
a large proportion of application software, and even prevented some basic
operations such as looking at the calendar from the notification tray. In
Windows Vista, when an action requiring administrative rights - such as
installing/uninstalling software or making system-wide configuration changes -
is performed, the user is first prompted for an administrator name and password;
in cases where the user is already an administrator, the user is still prompted
to confirm the pending privileged action. Regular use of the computer such as
running programs, printing, or surfing the Internet does not trigger UAC
prompts. User Account Control asks for credentials in a Secure Desktop mode,
where the entire screen is blacked out, temporarily disabled, and only the
authorization window is active and highlighted. The intent is to stop a
malicious program misleading the user by interfering with the authorization
window, and to hint to the user the importance of the prompt.
Internet Explorer 7's new security and safety features include a phishing
filter, IDN with anti-spoofing capabilities, and integration with system-wide
parental controls. For added security, ActiveX controls are disabled by
default. Also, Internet Explorer operates in a 'protected mode' which
operates with lower permissions than the user and it runs in isolation from
other applications in the operating system, preventing it from accessing or
modifying anything besides the Temporary Internet Files directory.
Microsoft's anti-spyware product, Windows Defender, has been incorporated into
Windows, providing protection against malware and other threats. Changes to
various system configuration settings (such as new auto-starting applications)
are blocked unless the user gives consent.
Another significant new feature is BitLocker Drive Encryption, a data
protection technology included in the Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Vista
that provides full disk encryption for the entire operating system volume.
BitLocker can work in conjunction with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM)
cryptoprocessor (version 1.2) embedded in a computer's motherboard, or with a
USB key. However, as with other full disk encryption technologies,
BitLocker is vulnerable to a cold boot attack, especially where TPM is used as
a key protector without a boot PIN being required too.
A variety of other privilege-restriction techniques are also built into Vista.
An example is the concept of 'integrity levels' in user processes,
whereby a process with a lower integrity level cannot interact with processes
of a higher integrity level and cannot perform DLL–injection to a processes of
a higher integrity level. The security restrictions of Windows services are
more fine-grained, so that services (especially those listening on the network)
have no ability to interact with parts of the operating system they do not need
to. Obfuscation techniques such as address space layout randomization are used
to increase the amount of effort required of malware before successful
infiltration of a system. Code Integrity verifies that system binaries haven’t
been tampered with by malicious code.
As part of the redesign of the network stack, Windows Firewall has been
upgraded, with new support for filtering both incoming and outgoing traffic.
Advanced packet filter rules can be created which can grant or deny
communications to specific services.
Main article: Management features new to Windows Vista
While much of the focus of Vista's new capabilities has been on the new user
interface, security technologies, and improvements to the core operating
system, Microsoft is also adding new deployment and maintenance features.
The Windows Imaging Format (WIM) is the cornerstone of Microsoft's new
deployment and packaging system. WIM files, which contain a HAL-independent
image of Windows Vista, can be maintained and patched without having to rebuild
new images. Windows Images can be delivered via Systems Management Server or
Business Desktop Deployment technologies. Images can be customized and
configured with applications then deployed to corporate client personal
computers using little to no touch by a system administrator. ImageX is the
Microsoft tool used to create and customize images.
Windows Deployment Services replaces Remote Installation Services for deploying
Vista and prior versions of Windows.
Approximately 700 new Group Policy settings have been added, covering most
aspects of the new features in the operating system, as well as significantly
expanding the configurability of wireless networks, removable storage devices,
and user desktop experience. Vista also introduced an XML based format (ADMX)
to display registry-based policy settings, making it easier to manage networks
that span geographic locations and different languages.
Services for UNIX has been renamed 'Subsystem for UNIX-based
Applications,' and is included with the Enterprise and Ultimate editions
of Vista. Network File System (NFS) client support is also included.
Multilingual User Interface – Unlike previous version of Windows which required
language packs to be loaded to provide local language support, Windows Vista
Ultimate and Enterprise editions support the ability to dynamically change
languages based on the logged on user's preference. It is not possible to
change the language, even for all users, in Windows Vista Home.[citation
Wireless Projector support
Windows Vista includes a large number of new application programming
interfaces. Chief among them is the inclusion of version 3.0 of the .NET
Framework, which consists of a class library and Common Language Runtime.
Version 3.0 includes four new major components:
Windows Presentation Foundation is a user interface subsystem and framework
based vector graphics, which makes use of 3D computer graphics hardware and
Direct3D technologies. It provides the foundation for building applications and
blending together application UI, documents, and media content. It is the
successor to Windows Forms.
Windows Communication Foundation is a service-oriented messaging subsystem
which enables applications and systems to interoperate locally or remotely using
Windows Workflow Foundation provides task automation and integrated
transactions using workflows. It is the programming model, engine and tools for
building workflow-enabled applications on Windows.
Windows CardSpace is a component which securely stores digital identities of a
person, and provides a unified interface for choosing the identity for a
particular transaction, such as logging into a website.
These technologies are also available for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 to
facilitate their introduction to and usage by developers and end users.
There are also significant new development APIs in the core of the operating
system, notably the completely re-architected audio, networking, print, and
video interfaces, major changes to the security infrastructure, improvements to
the deployment and installation of applications ('ClickOnce' and
Windows Installer 4.0) , new device driver development model ('Windows
Driver Foundation' , Transactional NTFS, mobile computing API advancements (power
management, Tablet PC Ink support, SideShow) and major updates to (or complete
replacements of) many core subsystems such as Winlogon and CAPI.
There are some issues for software developers using some of the graphics APIs
in Vista. Games or programs which are built solely on the Windows
Vista-exclusive version of DirectX, version 10, cannot work on prior versions
of Windows, as DirectX 10 is not available for previous Windows versions. Also,
games which require the features of D3D9Ex, the updated implementation of
DirectX 9 in Windows Vista are also incompatible with previous Windows
versions. According to a Microsoft blog, there are three choices for OpenGL
implementation on Vista. An application can use the default implementation,
which translates OpenGL calls into the Direct3D API and is frozen at OpenGL
version 1.4, or an application can use an Installable Client Driver (ICD) ,
which comes in two flavors: legacy and Vista-compatible. A legacy ICD disables
the Desktop Window Manager, a Vista-compatible ICD takes advantage of a new
API, and is fully compatible with the Desktop Window Manager. At least two
primary vendors, ATI and NVIDIA provided full Vista-compatible ICDs.
However, hardware overlay is not supported, because it is considered as an
obsolete feature in Vista. ATI and NVIDIA strongly recommend using compositing
desktop/Framebuffer Objects for same functionality.
Main article: Features removed from Windows Vista
Some notable Windows XP features and components have been replaced or removed
in Windows Vista, including Windows Messenger, the network Messenger Service,
HyperTerminal, MSN Explorer, Active Desktop, and the replacement of NetMeeting
with Windows Meeting Space. Windows Vista also does not include the Windows XP
'Luna' visual theme, or most of the classic color schemes which have
been part of Windows since the Windows 3.x era. The 'Hardware
profiles' startup feature has also been removed, along with support for
older motherboard technologies like the EISA bus, APM and Game port support
(though game port support can be enabled by applying an older driver). IP
over FireWire (TCP/IP over IEEE 1394) has been removed as well. The IPX/SPX
Protocol is also removed, however it can be enabled by a third-party
Main article: Windows Vista editions
Windows Vista ships in six editions. These are roughly divided into two
target markets, consumer and business, with editions varying to cater for
specific sub-markets. For consumers, there are four editions, with three
available for developed countries. Windows Vista Starter edition is limited to
emerging markets. Windows Vista Home Basic is intended for budget users with
low needs. Windows Vista Home Premium covers the majority of the consumer
market, and contains applications for creating and using multimedia. The home
editions cannot join a Windows Server domain. For businesses, there are two
editions. Windows Vista Business is specifically designed for small and
medium-sized businesses, while Windows Vista Enterprise is only
available to customers participating in Microsoft's Software Assurance program.
Windows Vista Ultimate contains the complete feature-set of both the Home and
Business editions, as well as a set of Windows Ultimate Extras, and is aimed at
All editions except Windows Vista Starter support both 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit
(x64) processor architectures.
In the European Union, Home Basic N and Business N versions are also available.
These come without Windows Media Player, due to EU sanctions brought against
Microsoft for violating anti-trust laws. Similar sanctions exist in South
Dell and Microsoft partnered up to support (PRODUCT) RED. Microsoft released
the Windows Vista Ultimate (PRODUCT) RED that exclusively will come together
with Dell (PRODUCT) RED Computers.
Windows Vista has four distinct visual styles.
Vista's premier visual style, Windows Aero, is built on a new desktop
composition engine called Desktop Window Manager. Windows Aero introduces
support for 3D graphics (Windows Flip 3D) , translucency effects (Glass), live
thumbnails, window animations, and other visual effects, and is intended for
mainstream and high-end graphics cards. To enable these features, the contents
of every open window are stored in video memory to facilitate tearing-free
movement of windows. As such, Windows Aero has significantly higher hardware
requirements than its predecessors. 128 MB of graphics memory is the minimum requirement,
depending on resolution used. Windows Aero (including Windows Flip 3D) is
not included in the Starter and Home Basic editions.
Windows Vista Standard
This mode is a variation of Windows Aero without the glass effects, window
animations, and other advanced graphical effects such as Windows Flip 3D. Like
Windows Aero, it uses the Desktop Window Manager, and has generally the same
video hardware requirements as Windows Aero. This is the default mode for the
Windows Vista Home Basic Edition. The Starter Edition does not support this
Windows Vista Basic
This mode has aspects that are similar to Windows XP's visual style with the
addition of subtle animations such as those found on progress bars. It does not
employ the Desktop Window Manager; as such, it does not feature transparency or
translucency, window animation, Windows Flip 3D or any of the functions
provided by the DWM. The Basic mode does not require the new Windows Display
Driver Model (WDDM) for display drivers, and has similar graphics card
requirements to Windows XP. For computers with graphics cards that are not
powerful enough to support Windows Aero, this is the default graphics mode.
Windows Classic resembles Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003, does not use
the Desktop Window Manager, and does not require a WDDM driver. As with prior
versions of Windows, this visual style supports 'color schemes,'
which are a collection of color settings. Windows Vista includes six classic
color schemes, comprised of four high-contrast color schemes and the default
color schemes from Windows 98 and Windows 2000.
'Windows Aero' visual style.
'Windows Vista Basic' visual style.
'Windows Classic' visual style.
Computers capable of running Windows Vista are classified as Vista Capable and
Vista Premium Ready. A Vista Capable or equivalent PC is capable of running
all editions of Windows Vista although some of the special features and high
end graphics options may require additional or more advanced hardware. A Vista
Premium Ready PC can take advantage of Vista's 'high-end'
features. These two classifications are on the low side and may be
insufficient for adequate speed and responsiveness; some have given their own
unofficial viewpoint as to what they believe would be a recommended system
specification for smooth operation.
Windows Vista's 'Basic' and 'Classic' interfaces work with
virtually any graphics hardware that supports Windows XP or 2000; accordingly,
most discussion around Vista's graphics requirements centers on those for the
Windows Aero interface. As of Windows Vista Beta 2, the NVIDIA GeForce 6 series
and later, the ATI Radeon 9500 and later, Intel's GMA 950 and later integrated
graphics, and a handful of VIA chipsets and S3 Graphics discrete chips are
supported. Although originally supported, the GeForce FX 5 series has been
dropped from newer drivers from NVIDIA. The last driver from NVIDIA to support
the GeForce FX series on Vista was 96.85. Microsoft offers a tool
called the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor to assist Windows XP and Vista
users in determining what versions of Windows their machine is capable of
running. Although the installation media included in retail packages is a
32-bit DVD, customers without a DVD-ROM or customers who wish for a 64-bit
install media are able to acquire this media through the Windows Vista
Alternate Media program. The Ultimate edition includes both 32-bit and
64-bit media. Beware that the digitally downloaded version of Ultimate
includes only one version, either 32 bit or 64 bit from Windows Marketplace.
Windows Vista system requirements 'Vista Capable'
'Vista Premium Ready'
Processor 800 MHz 1 GHz
Memory 512 MB RAM 1 GB RAM
Graphics card DirectX 9 capable DirectX 9 capable GPU with Hardware Pixel
Shader v2.0 and WDDM 1.0 driver support
Graphics memory 32 MB RAM 128 MB RAM supports up to 2,756,000 total pixels
(e.g. 1920 × 1200) or 512 MB+ for greater resolutions such as 2560x1600
HDD capacity 20 GB 40 GB
HDD free space 15 GB 15 GB
Other drives DVD-ROM DVD-ROM
Audio Audio output HD Audio output
Microsoft occasionally releases service packs for its Windows operating systems
to fix bugs and also add new features.
Service Pack 1
Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) was released on February 4, 2008 alongside
Windows Server 2008 to OEM partners after a five-month beta test period. The
synchronized release date of the two operating systems reflects the merging of
the workstation and server kernels back into a single code base for the first
time since Windows 2000. MSDN subscribers were able to download SP1 on February
15, 2008. SP1 became available to current Windows Vista users on Windows Update
and the Download Center on March 18, 2008. Initially, the service
pack only supported 5 languages, English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese.
Support for the remaining 31 languages was released in 14 April 2008.
A whitepaper published by Microsoft near the end of August 2007 outlined the
scope and intent of the service pack, identifying three major areas of
improvement: reliability and performance, administration experience, and
support for newer hardware and standards.
One area of particular note is performance. Areas of improvement include file
parsing in Internet Explorer, network file share browsing, Windows Explorer
ZIP file handling, and Windows Disk Defragmenter. The ability to choose
individual drives to defragment is being reintroduced as well.
Service Pack 1 introduces support for some new hardware and software standards,
notably the exFAT file system, 802.11n wireless networking, IPv6 over
VPN connections, and the Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol. Booting a system
using Extensible Firmware Interface on x64 systems is also being
introduced; this feature had originally been slated for the initial release
of Vista but was delayed due to a lack of compatible hardware at the time.
Two areas have seen changes in SP1 that have come as the result of concerns
from software vendors. One of these is desktop search; users will be able to
change the default desktop search program to one provided by a third party
instead of the Microsoft desktop search program that comes with Windows Vista,
and desktop search programs will be able to seamlessly tie in their services
into the operating system. These changes come in part due to complaints
from Google, whose Google Desktop Search application was hindered by the
presence of Vista's built-in desktop search. In June 2007, Google claimed that
the changes being introduced for SP1 'are a step in the right direction,
but they should be improved further to give consumers greater access to
alternate desktop search providers.' The other area of note is a set
of new security APIs being introduced for the benefit of antivirus software
that currently relies on the unsupported practice of patching the kernel (see
Kernel Patch Protection).
An update to DirectX 10, named DirectX 10.1, makes mandatory several
features which were previously optional in Direct3D 10 hardware. Graphics cards
will be required to support DirectX 10.1. SP1 includes a kernel (6001) that
matches the version shipped with Windows Server 2008.
The Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) is being replaced by the Group
Policy Object Editor. An updated downloadable version of the Group Policy
Management Console was released soon after the service pack.
SP1 enables support for hotpatching, a reboot-reduction servicing technology
designed to maximize uptime. It works by allowing Windows components to be
updated (or 'patched' while they are still in use by a running process. Hotpatch-enabled update
packages are installed via the same methods as traditional update packages, and
will not trigger a system reboot.
In late April 2008, a compatibility issue was discovered between SP1 and
Microsoft Dynamics' Retail Management System. SP1 downloads from Windows Update
were temporarily halted until a fix could be applied. No estimate was given for
the fix. Users of RMS were advised not to install the service pack if they
haven't already. As of May 25, 2008, SP1 was available for download from Windows
Main article: Criticism of Windows Vista
Windows Vista has received a number of negative assessments. Criticism targets
include protracted development time, more restrictive licensing terms, the
inclusion of a number of technologies aimed at restricting the copying of
protected digital media, and the usability of the new User Account Control
security technology. Reviewers have also noted some similarities between
Vista's Aero interface and that of Apple's Aqua interface for the Mac OS X
operating system. Moreover, some concerns have been raised about many PCs
meeting 'Vista Premium Ready' hardware requirements and Vista's
pricing. When asked by Gizmodo at CES what Microsoft product could have used
more polish before release, Microsoft founder Bill Gates replied, 'Ask me
after we ship the next version of Windows. Then I'll be more open to give you a
While Microsoft claimed 'nearly all PCs on the market today  will
run Windows Vista', the higher requirements of some of the
'premium' features, such as the Aero interface, have impacted many
upgraders. According to The Times in May 2006, the full set of features
'would be available to less than 5 percent of Britain’s PC market'.
This continuing lack of clarity eventually led to a class action against
Microsoft as people found themselves with new computers that were unable to run
the new software despite the assurance of 'Vista Capable'
designations. The court case has made public internal Microsoft
communications that indicate that senior executives have also had difficulty
with this issue. For example, the lack of an appropriate graphics chip so
hobbled Vista features that vice president Mike Nash commented 'I now have
a $2,100 e-mail machine.”
Slow file operations
When released, Vista performed file operations such as copying and deletion
more slowly than other operating systems. Large copies required when migrating
from one computer to another seemed difficult or impossible without workarounds
such as using the command line. This inability to efficiently perform basic
file operations attracted strong criticism. After six months, Microsoft
confirmed the existence of these problems by releasing a special performance
and reliability update, which was later disseminated through Windows
Update, and is included in Service Pack 1.
Licensing and cost
The introduction of additional licensing restrictions has been criticized.
Criticism of upgrade licenses pertaining to Windows Vista Starter through Home
Premium was expressed by Ars Technica's Ken Fisher, who noted that the new
requirement of having a prior operating system already installed was going to
cause irritation for users who reinstall Windows on a regular basis. It has
been revealed that an Upgrade copy of Windows Vista can be installed clean
without first installing a previous version of Windows. On the first install,
Windows will refuse to activate. The user must then reinstall that same copy of
Vista. Vista will then activate on the reinstall, thus allowing a user to
install an Upgrade of Windows Vista without owning a previous operating
system. As with Windows XP, separate rules still apply to OEM versions of
Vista installed on new PCs: Microsoft asserts that these versions are not
legally transferable (although whether this conflicts with the right of first
sale has yet to be decided clearly legally). The cost of Windows Vista has
also been a source of concern and commentary. A majority of users in a poll
said that the prices of various Windows Vista editions posted on the Microsoft
Canada website in August 2006 make the product too expensive. A BBC News
report on the day of Vista's release suggested that, 'there may be a
backlash from consumers over its pricing plans—with the cost of Vista versions
in the US roughly half the price of equivalent versions in the UK.'
Digital rights management
Another common criticism concerns the integration of new forms of digital
rights management into the operating system, specifically the introduction of
the Protected Video Path. This architecture is designed such that 'premium
content' from HD DVD or Blu-ray Disc may mandate that the connections
between PC components be encrypted. Devices such as graphic cards must be
approved by Microsoft. Depending on what the content demands, the devices may
not pass premium content over non-encrypted outputs, or they must artificially
degrade the quality of the signal on such outputs or not display it all. There
is also a revocation mechanism that allows Microsoft to disable drivers of
compromised devices in end-user PCs over the Internet. Peter Gutmann,
security researcher and author of the open source cryptlib library, claims that
these mechanisms violate fundamental rights of the user (such as fair use),
unnecessarily increase the cost of hardware, and make systems less reliable
(the 'tilt bit' is a particular worry; if triggered, the entire
graphic subsystem performs a reset) and vulnerable to denial-of-service
attacks. Proponents have claimed that Microsoft had no choice but to follow
the demands of the movie studios, and that the technology will not actually be
enabled until after 2010; Microsoft also noted that content protection
mechanisms have existed in Windows as far back as Windows Me, and that the new
protections will not apply to any existing content (only future content).
User Account Control
While UAC is considered an important part of Vista's security infrastructure as
it blocks software from silently gaining administrator privileges without the
users' knowledge, it has been widely criticized for generating too many
prompts, even for regular tasks like installing software or renaming folders in
protected areas. This has led many users to consider it annoying and tiresome,
with some consequently either turning it off or putting it in auto-approval
mode. Responding to this criticism, Microsoft altered the implementation to
reduce the number of prompts with SP1. Though the changes have resulted
some improvement, it has not alleviated the concerns completely.
Software Protection Platform
Vista includes an enhanced set of anti-piracy technologies, based on Windows
XP's WGA, called Software Protection Platform (SPP). A major component of
this is a new reduced functionality mode, which Vista enters when it detects
that the user has 'failed product activation or of that copy being
identified as counterfeit or non-genuine', which is described in a
Microsoft white paper as follows: 'The default Web browser will be started
and the user will be presented with an option to purchase a new product key.
There is no start menu, no desktop icons, and the desktop background is changed
to black.  After one hour, the system will log the user out without
warning'. This has been criticized for being overly draconian,
especially given reports of 'false positives' by SPP's
predecessor, and at least one temporary validation server outage.
Microsoft removed the reduced functionality mode in Service Pack 1 in favor of
prominent notices on systems not found to be genuine.
Businesses' intended purchase rates and satisfaction ratings for Windows Vista,
Windows XP, and Mac OS X Leopard, based on information from ChangeWave
collected in February 2008Before the release of Windows Vista, expectations
for the new operating system were high, fueled by both promises of new
features, higher security, and an improved user interface, as well as the five
year period since the release of Windows XP. As a result, many consumers and
businesses planned on upgrading to Vista. However, by its release, it had not
delivered on some of its planned features and was largely met with harsh
criticism (see above). This prompted many businesses to delay upgrading to
Vista and even caused some people who had upgraded to Vista to replace their
installations with Windows XP or other operating systems. These results,
publicized by online reviews and articles, further led to low adoption levels
of Windows Vista and largely negative public review, as reflected by its title
from PC World as the biggest tech disappointment of 2007 and from InfoWorld
as #2 of Tech's all-time 25 flops. The market share for Windows Vista,
taking the median from various sources, was 9.03% as of February 2008.
Within its first month, 20 million copies of Vista were sold, double the amount
of Windows XP sales within its first month in October 2001, five years
earlier. However, PC World reports that adoption of Windows Vista is going
at a much slower rate compared to the adoption of Windows XP. Within the first
year of its release, the percentage of Windows XP users visiting PC World's
website reached 36%; in the same time frame, however, Windows Vista adoption
reached only 14%, with 71% of users still running XP. Due to Vista's
relatively low adoption rates and continued demand for Windows XP, Microsoft is
allowing continued sales of Windows XP and has extended XP's support lifecycle
to April 8, 2014. There have been reports of Vista users downgrading
their operating systems, as well as reports of businesses planning to skip
Vista, though some recommend that small businesses should indeed migrate to
Vista as a stepping-stone in transforming computers and technologies.
Many computer manufacturers are shipping Windows XP restore disks along with
new computers with Vista Business and Ultimate editions pre-installed, possibly
to help small to mid-sized businesses for a limited time, as well as
new computers with XP or Linux pre-installed. A study conducted by ChangeWave
in March 2008 shows that the percentage of corporate users who are 'very
satisfied' with Vista is dramatically lower than other operating systems,
with Vista at 8%, compared to the 40% who say they are 'very
satisfied' with Windows XP.
Business adoption of Vista has been slower than expected; while businesses do
tend to delay upgrading their operating systems, there have been reports of
businesses who were considering upgrading to Vista prior to its release now
intending to skip Vista entirely due to upgrade costs and the estimated release
of Windows 7 in late 2009 (as of May 27th, 200. According to InformationWeek, in December 2006, 6% of business
enterprises were expected to employ Vista within the first year, yet as of
October 2007, only about 1% of enterprise PCs were actually using Vista.
ChangeWave also reported that 53% of new business computers bought in the next
quarter will be equipped with Windows XP as opposed to the only 20% of
businesses buying computers equipped with Microsoft's latest OS.
Furthermore, while a large number of businesses have already bought licenses to
run Windows Vista, many of these companies are delaying deployment.
There have been a number of organizations who have denounced Vista due to its
problems. For example, in October 2007, The Dutch Consumers' Association called
for a boycott of Windows Vista after the software giant refused to offer free
copies of Windows XP to users who had problems with Vista. InfoWorld is
also conducting a 'Save Windows XP' petition to prompt Microsoft to
further extend XP's support and sales to prevent people using legacy hardware
or who dislike Vista from being forced to use Microsoft's latest OS. A
user on the generally pro-open source website Slashdot has compiled a list of
organizations who have boycotted Windows Vista.
Amid the negative reviews and reception, there has also been significant
positive review of Vista, most notable from among gamers and the advantages
brought about with DirectX 10, which allows for better gaming performance and
more realistic graphics, as well as support for many new capabilities brought
about in new video cards and GPUs.
On February 29, 2008, Microsoft announced that it will lower the price of the
Vista operating system sold at retail outlets in order to aid in its
adoption. These price cuts only apply to the retail versions sold in shops
which account for less than 10% of total Vista sales. Vista Ultimate, for
example, will see a 20% drop in its price, from US$399 to US$319.
On April 24, 2008, Microsoft announced that Vista sales has passed the 140
On June 3, 2008, in response to XP's demand Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
announced that Vista's license would allow a legal downgrade to XP, even beyond
the June 30 cutoff date of XP's sales.
W/ DEVELOPER ACTIVATION METHOD FOR TESTING PURPOSE ONLY (CTP JUNE 0@@@ ENJOY!