Which Vista Is the Right Vista?

eWeek: Which Vista Is the Right Vista?

Eventually, we’re going to see Vista come out. Yes, I know, even at this late date, Vista is still getting unexpected delays—it was set to go to manufacturing Oct. 25, but it’s not going to make it—but it is on its way.

My question, though, is: What version will actually work for you come that day?

With six different versions, the potential for buying the wrong version for the job has just gone up. Buy too low and you don’t get the functionality you need. Or, buy too high, and you get some office “functionality,” like the Game Performance Tweaker that you really don’t need.

Let’s me start though by looking at what’s not in Vista. No, I’m not talking over long-lost Vista features like the WinFS or the Next-Generation Secure Computing Base. I’m talking about XP features that aren’t in Vista.

Some of them are minor. I mean, does anyone still use the gopher Internet protocol?

Some of the old features, however, are major departures. For example, Windows Messenger, the XP IM client, is history. There is a link to download Windows Live Messenger, the IM client formerly known as MSN Messenger, but it’s not the same thing. NetMeeting, the VOIP (voice over IP), desktop sharing and videoconferencing client, is also going bye-bye. It’s being replaced by Windows Meeting Space. I know many businesses, and third-party applications, that are using Windows Messenger and NetMeeting together all the time for such purposes as IM discussions over a whiteboard or Web conferencing. I foresee a lot of grief for enterprises that have made these uses central to their business.

I can also see great pain ahead for anyone who’s foolish enough to buy Windows Vista Starter.

In theory, you won’t be able to buy it in the United States. In practice, I know there will be gray-market copies of it for sale in the States at unbelievable prices. I can think of nothing of any value in Starter for any user. You would be better off running Windows 98. I’m not joking. I could go on and on about this ridiculous bottom-feeder version of Vista, but I can sum it up with two of its “features.” It can only access 256MBs of RAM, and you can only run three applications on it at a time. This isn’t a 21st-century operating system. It’s a bad joke even as a 20th-century one. Windows Vista Home Basic is better. It’s not completely crippled the way Starter is. At the same time, it’s not much of a home operating system, and it’s a flop for businesses.

For instance, what is Vista’s one feature that has people talking? The answer: Vista’s eye-candy, the Aero Glass interface and all of its translucent, 3D prettiness.

Guess what, it’s not in Starter and it’s not in Basic either. You also won’t find such home favorites as DVD Video Authoring.
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