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Windows Vista: Choosing the right one for you

By Rick ยท 82 replies
Feb 15, 2007
  1. I've noticed many threads on the forum which ask for advice on which Vista to choose. This thread will be dedicated to the differences between the different flavors.

    First, here are the four main flavors of Vista. They are arranged from least features to most features. Keep in mind that (n) versions exist in Europe (to satisfy anti-trust laws), the International (crippled) version and Enterprise edition are out there, but none are really worth discussing here. Details on what each does will appear at the bottom of this post.

    CHOICE #1: Vista Flavors and Current Prices (February 2007):
    CHOICE #2: 32-bit or 64-bit?
    Since 32-bit is the gold standard, the real question is, 'Should I go 64-bit?'. The main considerations are whether or not your hardware is supported under 64-bit Vista (drivers), if your games + apps will run under 64-bit Vista and whether or not you'll be upgrading from a 32-bit install. *Note.. 64-bit Vista cannot upgrade a 32-bit OS, although there appears to be a work-around for performing a clean install using upgrade discs.
    • 32-bit 'x86' - Compatible with all current Intel/AMD desktop processors
    • 64-bit 'x64' - 64-bit version runs only on 64-bit platforms. (Eg. 'Athlon 64', Newer Intel P4s and 'Intel Cores' and other newer CPUs)

    CHOICE #3: OEM, Upgrade or Retail (full)?
    OEM, Upgrade and Retail version of Vista contain all of the same features when installed. However, the difference lie in price, licensing and install options.
    This full version of Vista has no limitations. Retail can perform clean and upgrade installs. Retail can be transferred to upgraded or entirely new systems as long as only one copy is installed at a time. Retail also includes full support from Microsoft and is the most expensive edition.

    This limited version of Vista can only perform upgrade installs on existing installations of qualifying Windows products. However, there appears to be a work-around for Upgrade to perform clean installs, like Retail and OEM versions. Upgrade may be transferred to an upgraded or entirely new system as long as only one copy is installed a time. Upgrade includes full support from Microsoft and is mid-priced.

    This limited version of Vista can only perform a clean install and cannot upgrade. The EULA has been changed from XP OEM and Vista OEM now states that it can only be installed on one computer and is forever bound to that computer (motherboard). This has raised eyebrows, but various tech sources online have indicated that Microsoft's product activation center is not currently enforcing this rule, but only showing concern for whether or not your copy of OEM Vista is installed on 1 or more computers. This rule in the EULA may only be a technicality to discourage people from buying less-expensive OEM versions instead of Upgrade or Retail. However, even if MS gives you an activation key for your upgraded or new system, you are still technically violating the EULA and MS may choose to take action in the future. OEM is intended for system builders you must provide your own support. OEM is the least expensive edition.​
    Features List - Simplified chart
                            Basic     Premium     Business     Ultimate
    Flip 3D                   X         Yes          Yes          Yes
    Aero 3D                   X         Yes          Yes          Yes
                            Basic     Premium     Business     Ultimate
    Windows Media Center      X         Yes          Yes          Yes
    Windows Media Player 11   Yes       Yes          Yes          Yes
    Windows Photo Gallery     Yes       Yes          Yes          Yes
    Windows DVD Maker
    Windows Movie Maker       X         Yes          X            Yes
    'Premium' Games           X         Yes          Yes          Yes
    Sidebar                   Yes       Yes          Yes          Yes
    Windows Calendar          Yes       Yes          Yes          Yes
    Windows Contacts          Yes       Yes          Yes          Yes
    Internet Explorer 7       Yes       Yes          Yes          Yes
    Windows Mail              Yes       Yes          Yes          Yes 
    Windows Mobility Center  Partial  Partial        Yes          Yes
                            Basic     Premium     Business     Ultimate
    Join Windows domain       X          X           Yes          Yes
    Concurrent Network        5          10          10           10
    Net Projector Ready       X          Yes         Yes          Yes
    Presentation Config       X          Yes         Yes          Yes
    IIS Web Server            X          X           Yes          Yes
    User Account Control      Yes        Yes         Yes          Yes
    Parental Controls         Yes        Yes          X           Yes
    IE7 Protection mode       
    Wireless Utility          Yes        Yes         Yes          Yes
                            Basic     Premium     Business     Ultimate
    ShadowCopy                X          X           Yes          Yes
    Scheduled Backup          X          Yes         Yes          Yes
    System Image Backup       X          X           Yes          Yes
    Encrypting File System    X          X           Yes          Yes
    BitLocker Drive Encrypt   X          X           X            Yes
                            Basic     Premium     Business     Ultimate
    Tablet fuctionality       X         Yes          Yes          Yes
    Touch Screen Capability   X         Yes          Yes          Yes
    Ultimate "Extras"         X         X            X            Yes
    Microsoft Anytime Upgrade Yes       Yes          Yes          X
    Document Sharing Support  X         Yes          Yes          Yes         
    Other Considerations...

    It's worth mentioning that the upgrade paths from previous versions of Windows will vary. Here are some quick points.
    • Windows 9x and Windows Me are not upgradeable.
    • Windows XP Home Users can upgrade to any version of Windows Vista
    • Windows XP Media Center users can upgrade to Home Premium and Ultimate Editions.
    • Windows XP Pro users can upgrade only to Business or Ultimate editions
    • Users of Windows x64 can upgrade to 64-bit versions of Windows Vista.
    • 32-bit Windows users cannot upgrade to 64-bit Vista.
    Home Basic System Requirements
    • 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
    • 512 MB of system memory
    • 20 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space
    • Support for DirectX 9 graphics and 32 MB of graphics memory
    • DVD-ROM drive
    • Audio Output
    • Internet access
    Premium or Better System Requirements
    • 1GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor (I strongly recommend faster)
    • 1GB of system memory
    • Support for DirectX9 graphics with a WDDM driver, 128MB of graphics memory (minimum) Pixel Shader 2.0 and 32bits per pixel
    • 40GB of hard drive capacity with 15GB free space
    • DVD-ROM Drive
    • Audio output capability
    • Internet access capability
    Microsoft Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor:

    Memory and CPU support
    • Home Basic supports up to 8GB of RAM and 1 CPU (Unlimited cores).
    • Home Premium supports up to 16GB of RAM and 1 CPU (Unlimited cores)
    • Business and Ultimate editions support up to 128GB and 2 CPUs with unlimited cores
    1 person likes this.
  2. swker98

    swker98 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,077

    Very good post, should clear up some threads on this topic

    it may be worth mentioning some benchmarks so people can refer here before asking " is it worth the upgrade in preformed"

    other then that very professionally done

    i vote sticky
  3. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 4,572   +65

    Additional Links

    Performance, Benchmarks and 64/32-bit Discussion:
    tomshardware.com - Windows XP vs Vista Benchmarks
    anandtech.com - Windows Vista performance guide
    64-bit-computers.com - Windows Vista 32-bit vs 64-bit
    tech-recipes.com - Should I install Vista 32-bit or 64-bit?
    zone.ni.com - A close look at Windows Vista 32-bit vs 64-bit

    EULA Discussion
    zdnet.com - Editorial on Vista's new EULA agreement
    pcper.com - OEM EULA put to the real world challenge
    microsoft.com - Retail Software License Terms

    Additional Links:
    wikipedia.org - Windows Vista WIKI article
  4. --Timmy--

    --Timmy-- TS Rookie Posts: 49


    Vista is not for me, don't get me wrong.. it looks nice but apparently gets in the way of productivity
  5. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 4,572   +65

    Just curious, how does it get in the way of productivity? (Well, aside from all the bugs and compatibility issues.. ;))
  6. gilloz

    gilloz TS Rookie Posts: 88

    Vista file format

    We all know by now that the file format for Windows XP is either the NTFS or FAT32. I have not seen any of these formats relating to the Vista OS. How then can you use the upgrade version of Vista on your current Windows XP with the NTFS file format?
  7. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    You can install Vista only to an NTFS partition.
  8. greatman05

    greatman05 TS Maniac Posts: 429

    Would Vista 32-bit support 16-bit apps?
  9. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,244   +234

    "Would Vista 32-bit support 16-bit apps?"

    Good question ;)
  10. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    40 Million Vista copies were Sold within the first 100 days following its release, more than twice the sales of Windows XP over the same time period, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates reported May 16th.
    "We have been amazed by the response to Vista and what has happened in the last 100 days. So, in the first five weeks of shipping Vista, we have matched the installed base of any other operating system provider," Gates said
    A company calling itself IDC predicted that there would be $120 billion worth of technological innovation as a result of the Windows Vista platform. Home networking will be key to this innovation, and there are "currently millions of homes worldwide with multiple PCs," Bill Gates informed.
    Windows Home Server, designed to help families with multiple PCs connect and share their content, reached the beta stage earlier in 2007 and will be released before the end of the year. Longhorn has been named Windows Server 2008 and also be out before 2007 comes to an end. Windows VISTA customers who buy the Home Server will get a free domain name when they buy Windows Home Server. They reportedly will be able to remotely access their content from a link in their Web browsers, he said.
    There are supposedly four times the number of device drivers for Vista as there were for Windows XP. Microsoft is claiming it will have most of these available for Vista before 2007 is over. But will need the help of hardware and device manufacturers
  11. dustin_ds3000

    dustin_ds3000 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 869   +8

    my school just bought new dells, each computer came with driver repair disks and one windows Business dvd. they were dumping all the cds in the trash. i took like 30 of the vista dvds. and this was like two months ago, i have had vista installed ever scene then and i love it. all my apps and games work fine.
  12. someoney3000

    someoney3000 TS Rookie

    I'm sure this already has been asked, but just to make sure: For a computer dedicated to gaming, would vista be a possible operating system?

    I prefer the vista os, but if that would be a problem for games then it's probably not worth it.

    I've already seen some responses in another thread, mainly XP over vista, but I want to make sure one more time.
  13. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Based on what information do you say that VISTA installs spyware... we work with a great number of VISTA installs, where we have found the spyware so far is substantially less than other Microsoft OS versions... if you use Firefox or Gran Paradiso or Opera, instead of IE 7
  14. greatman05

    greatman05 TS Maniac Posts: 429

    If anybody has tested Windows Vista 32-bit version, do you know if It supports 16-bit apps?
  15. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    According to the information Microsoft sent me, no it does not. I have not attempted anything with it in 16 bit, however.
  16. MarcFOnline

    MarcFOnline TS Rookie Posts: 74

    Anyone have any idea what the deal is with the "Vista Ultimate Bill Gates Signature Edition" I see advertised at Micro Center? Microsoft.com only gives me one result when I search their site, and it's just from some user posting an error-related question to the TechNet forums.

    It doesn't cost any more than the regular Vista Ultimate upgrade, which tells me it doesn't have any additional bells or whistles... just Bill Gates' signature somewhere in the package. Seems a bit odd they'd go through the trouble of creating an entirely separate package design for that though...
  17. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,244   +234

  18. MarcFOnline

    MarcFOnline TS Rookie Posts: 74

    Yeah, that's similar to other listings I saw. It mentions Bill's signature, but it's packed in with Ultimate's standard list of features so it was a bit hard to tell if there was anything else that set it apart from other copies of Vista Ultimate Upgrade.

    Turns out I should have Googled first, too, since this helpful link came up as a result:


    I guess I'm not the only one who found it a bit odd at first. Still, that is a cool idea, I suppose...
  19. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,244   +234

    Google is a wonderful tool :)
  20. sledgus

    sledgus TS Rookie Posts: 115

    Vista looks better, that's it
  21. dustin_ds3000

    dustin_ds3000 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 869   +8

    yeah it is all eye candy, but i still love it
  22. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Don't get caught up in Microsoft marketing. If it was any good, or better, that fact would be posted on every computer magazine and website.
  23. sledgus

    sledgus TS Rookie Posts: 115

    yeah, and because it isn't posted on every magazine and website, that means its crap :)
  24. dustin_ds3000

    dustin_ds3000 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 869   +8

    xp was crap when it first came out
  25. sledgus

    sledgus TS Rookie Posts: 115

    Love XP

    I loved everything about XP when it first came out, still do!
    Its the best operating system in history in my opinion
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