Over the past year and, more specifically, over the past few months, I have had a number of conversations wtih clients and vendors alike regarding Windows XP vs Vista, whether to upgrade and when there won't be an option anymore. That said, I'm writing this article to, hopefully, clear up some of the confusion.
First, I'll start with the hard facts about what you can and can't do.
* Windows XP will no longer be available in the store or preinstalled on systems as of June 30th. After this date, there will still be some systems available as vendors run through inventory, but it is definitely going away and won't be readily available.
* With every installation of Vista, Microsoft allows "downgrade rights" which allows you to downgrade to XP by installing XP on your machine. This arena is a bit tricky as the downgrade rights for software installed by the OEM (ie. Dell, HP, etc.) are reliant on their Terms and Conditions of the OEM. I have heard rumors that these Terms and Conditions require that you upgrade to Vista by April of 2009, but, at this point, these are unsubstantiated.
Some facts about Windows XP's continued support:
* Windows XP will continue to receive full support from Microsoft until April 2009.
* After April 2009, Microsoft will provide critical support for Windows XP, but not much more than that. Any bugs, non-critical patches, etc, will not be supported or fixed after April 2009. If you keep your systems on Windows XP, you will leave your systems and network somewhat exposed to viruses and other attacks.
Some negative facts about Windows Vista:
* Many old applications don't work with Vista. With the release of Service Pack 1 for Vista, there are more applications and drivers that work on Vista, but many of the much older applications still don't work and probably won't ever work with Vista. This is by design as advancing technology, or anything for that matter, sometimes requires cutting ties with older things that are holding back that advancement. (As a note, this is common throughout the technology world as Apple did this when they released Leopard and it commonly happens with Linux distributions.)
* Vista is a resource hog. Microsoft wrote Vista with the expectation that it would not be run on old hardware and, therefore, it does not run well on old or slower hardware. That said, many of the prettier features of Vista can be shut off in order to make your system run faster...this substantially helps with older systems running Vista.
* Vista is a memory hog. Vista was written to use the memory in your system more efficiently so it automatically loads frequently loaded programs into memory so that it can launch them faster, when you need them. This causes less memory to appear as available, but Vista will readily flush out cached information to load information you need. The net effect is a small increase in performance.
Some positive facts about Windows Vista:
* Vista was released to market (RTM) in 2007 and already has Service Pack 1 out. SP1 provided some great increases in performance, compatibility, security and stability.
* With SP1, Vista, now, supports over 77,000 hardware products...that is more than double what was supported when Vista was originally launched.
* Microsoft receives 21% fewer support calls for Vista than it did for Windows XP in its first year of release.
* Vista is far more secure than any other Windows Operating System and, I'd argue, it is even more secure than any other major operating system that is out today. Vista only had 5 security issues found in the first 90 days while XP had 18...by design, Vista is more secure.
* Vista is far more stable than any of the previous versions. There are many reasons for this, but I'll highlight two of them.
o By default, anything that runs is isolated from other applications and the Operating System in its own virtual world. If an application crashes, often because the application had a problem unrelated to the Operating System, then it won't effect Vista and you'll keep running like you were.
o In Windows 95/98, applications would directly address hardware on a system. When multiple applications tried to address a single piece of hardware, often, the entire system would crash because of the conflict. In Windows 2000/XP, Microsoft introduced the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) which acted like a traffic cop and forced the applications to talk through it, when talking with hardware, so it could mediate the process. This worked well, but had some bugs and, consequently, crashes continued. With Vista, the HAL is back and is better than ever. While in 2000/XP, there were ways to bypass the HAL, in Vista, there isn't so the possibility of this kind of conflict is greatly reduced.
* Vista handles file synchronization beautifully. For anyone who has dealt with Windows XP and its offline files process, you know that it works, most of the time, but can be annoying and is prone, at times, to breaking. Vista's offline files setup is more intuitive, works faster and is far more stable...this is great news for the mobile user.
* In the vein of Mobile users, Vista also handles wireless networking and firewalling much more intuitively and it also handles things like suspending and hibernating much more smoothly.
There are many other things about Vista that usually end up evening themselves out in good vs bad. An example of this would be User Account Control (UAC). This feature prompts you when installing an application and launching some older applications. At first, this feature seems annoying, but it ends up protecting users from themselves as it provides an added prompt to let you know you're about to install something...this is especially helpful when you might have accidentally approved the installation of a piece of spyware and didn't even know you were approving anything to be installed.
In all, it is my opinion, that, Vista's advances in security, stability, performance and usability (Although it requires a little relearning) make it a worthwhile upgrade. Unless you have an application that you can't reasonably upgrade, you are far better off going with Windows Vista than Windows XP...especially if you are working off of a laptop as the improvements of Vista are magnified when you are out in the wild, connecting to networks at Starbucks, the Hilton and elsewhere.
Hopefully, this has been informative, not too dry and has increased your understanding of debate between Vista and XP.
Edited by hamluis, 16 April 2011 - 04:43 PM.
Moved from Vista forum to Gen Chat.