I decided to purchase Windows Vista Home Premium for one reason and that was because of the improved parental controls. I have a problem where my son sees so much time on the computer he has started to lose his social skills. Not to mention the fact that once I go to bed he gets up and starts playing games on the PC until 3 or 4 in the morning.
So the advanced parental controls in Windows Vista really appeared to me, especially the time controls. This is where you can allocate time slots for each account. So as soon as I installed it, the first thing I did was to specify what times he is allowed to access the computer. For this reason alone, the cost of upgrading was well worth it.
Well that's my reason, but what is the rest of Vista like?
Well Vista arrived, via the postman, on Tuesday morning. Once unwrapped, you are presented with a very neatly packaged box. Not sure this level of packaging is required, when you consider you'll probably use only once or twice before the next upgrade to the Windows family is released.
So after backing up all my critical data, I put the Vista disk into my machine. It started tracking my PC and came up with a message that I had to rename a data file and uninstall Nero. So once this was done, I had to start Vista again. This time it passed the checks and I spent the next four hours twiddling my thumbs! It is not a quick process let me tell you that!
However, once the four hour upgrade had been completed, I was ready to check out all the new features!
The way Windows Vista presents itself is absolutely stunning compared to older versions. Two things I really like are the Windows sidebar and the screen switching button (Areo Feature).
The screen switching button is great, as when you have a number of screens open you can press it and Vista shows all the screens in a 3D cascade in the middle of the screen. It looks great and is really useful.
The sidebar is also equally as good. The sidebar is a collection of small info gadgets that are fixed to the side of the screen. On mine I have an analogue clock, a calender, a local weather panel, cpu usage meter, latest $ to £ exchange rates and yahoo news. Other gadgets can be added, and I believe more can be downloaded via the web. This is an excellent utility as I always found it difficult to find out the date when working at the pc under older windows versions.
Another good addition is the ability to review what programs are in your start menu. As I've had my pc for over a year there were programs in there which I very rarely use and it is really easy to turn them off using this utility.
The start menu is much slicker than it used to be on XP. On clicking the start button, you are presented with similar information to that of XP but it is organized much better. All the programs in the All Programs menu are now listed sequentially in a scrolling box as opposed to expanding right across your screen as in XP. The usual shortcuts are also there, like control panel, recent files, etc …
Windows Mail is much improved. Essentially Microsoft has taken Outlook and integrated it right into Windows Vista. Mail can be checked at a click of a button. The features of Windows Mail have not been scimped upon, with 99% of Outlooks features available, ie calender, tasks, etc …
Windows Explorer has changed quite frequently and it is so easy to find the files you are looking for. As you drill down through the directories, a link to each directory / subdirectory is displayed above the main window so going back on yourself is very much simplified. Also the used / free space on each drive is shown in a bar above the drive letters, much like a progress bar when downloading something off the web. My Documents, My Pictures, My Music are now given a specific short cut link at the top of the Explorer Window, which makes finding your media files really easy. Also Microsoft has dropped the 'My' part of the directory name. Something which always used to bug me!
Security is much improved. When you try to install anything, Windows pops up a question confirming you requested this action. Should help to stop some of those Trojans I guess.
Having used Internet Explorer 7.0 on XP and now on Vista, I can see why I had so many problems with XP. The 7.0 update was designed to integrate into Vista and this is plainly obvious when you use it for the first time. Pages load faster and IE is much more stable in Vista. I used to get 2 or 3 crashes a day in XP.
Other updates include, Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Movie Maker, Windows DVD Maker, Windows Meeting Space, Sync Center, Ease of Access Center, and some great new games. I have not had chance to play with these new additions yet, except a few games of Mahjong, but on the surface they look really good.
The Control Panel is one area where Microsoft has really improved things, everything is now organized more sensibly into various categories, ie security, system & maintenance, user accounts, appearance & personalization, network and internet, etc …
Perhaps the largest addition is the Media Center. This allows you to view all your pictures and videos either on your desktop or onto a linked TV. You can also watch, pause and record live TV if you have a TV tuner in your machine.
I'm a bit of a gadget freak and love anything new. This is why I bought XP when it came out and now Vista. I have to say though that Vista is without doubt a massive improvement on XP. Everything about the operating system is so much more stable and it's packed with useful utilities and gadgets.
So is it worth the investment? You bet it is!