I attended the Windows Vista Launch event in Minneapolis on Thursday February 1. I was impressed with both the new look of Windows Vista, and the features of the Microsoft Office 2007 productivity suite. Here are my recommendations.
Windows Vista – take your time. The machines that they were demonstrating Vista on reportedly had 4 gigabyte of RAM installed. My grandma would look fast with 4 gig of Ram installed. This made the operating system appear must quicker and crisper that a typical "Vista Ready" machine you can by now at retail. Retail Vista Ready machine may have as little as 512 MB of RAM. Vista will seem slower than Windows 95 running on an old 286 box in this configuration. Adding 2 GB of RAM will add another $300 to your system cost, so beware! Another thing, many pre-Vista software applications and hardware peripherals do not play well in Vista yet. My recommendation – give it a year, at least until service pack 1, before you take the plunge to business production systems.
If you are determined to be an early adopter, be prepared for some small struggles, and reserve your purchase to some kind of personal machine. If you buy, go for one of the Media editions. Home Basic will not do anything XP doesn’t do already, so save your money. Your Vista machine should have AT LEAST 2 GB of RAM, a video card with AT LEAST 512 MB of Video RAM, and a dual core processor like an Intel Core 2 DUO or AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 processor. I am a fan of AMD, much more bang for the buck generally. Go somewhere where you can order your computer made to your own specs, like Dell, or General Nanosystems in Minneapolis.
On the other hand, MS Office 2007 is a buy now. There is a lot to like about this new productivity suite, especially the new Ribbon interface. Instead of a bunch of confusing, nested drop down menus, in Office 2007, when you select a menu title, a toolbar-like ribbon opens and shows all your options. Ribbons open automatically based on the context of your work. Over all, a vastly simpler, and more intuitive user interface that should please almost everyone, once the inital learning curve is behind them. I will be installing Office 2007 on my persona laptop in short order, and will report on my experience in the blog.
Vista will be instlled on a test machine in my lab — as soon as I can afford the 4 gig of RAM, and the high-end video card. I’ve got about half of the parts, so it will be a while yet.
By the way, if you need Vista drivers, you might check out RadarSync at http://www.radarsync.com/vista/