Windows Vista is the new desktop version of Windows that is designed to replace Windows XP. They have changed the name of some of the versions from Home and Professional to Home and Business, but basically Home replaces XP Home and Business replaces XP Professional. They hope to have the next version out in about 2 years so look fro it sometime in later 2009. Later this year the new Windows for servers that replaces Windows 20032 Server will appear and is Longhorn. Longhorn and Vista are closely related.
The biggest item Microsoft is pushing on using Vista is increased security.
They have added a product called Windows imaging that is supposed to replace Ghost which is made by Symantec. Windows Imaging will make images different than Ghost and similar products. Ghost does a sector based image so the image cannot be changed, but must be completed recreated for changes. Windows Imaging will be file based and you will actually be able to go in the image and change setting and add or delete files.
Vista has been pushed on memory and disk drives needed, but oddly enough now they are saying you can actually use it on smaller machines. Vista will only install and run the parts that can work in the environment of the machine so if les memory then less components, and when you add memory later it will allow additional components to run. Vista only requires 800meg or higher processor and 500 meg of ram. This means you can actually upgrade Windows 98 boxes to Vista. The push form Microsoft is that you can now upgrade all your machines to Vista whether running XP or 98 or ME. Where some 98 machines would not support XP.
The Search button on Vista is now on the Start Menu and you can use it to just type in name of program and get it running instead of searching for in menu. For instance to run Microsoft Word you could type Word and Word will run. Those with crowded Start menus, like me, will probably like it. The idea is this search is similar to IE7 and in various components and we will start using search, for instance they push in Control Panel also.
Office 2007 is moving to a new interface they think will be friendlier. Instead of losing your real estate on the desktop to lots of Toolbars, it will now use Ribbons. Ribbons will be similar to Toolbars, but you will only see one toolbar at a time that is relevant. So if working in a image in word you will see the Image toolbar in the ribbon and when you click in text the editing tool bar will appear and image disappears. The buttons that appear will be based on your usage and the context.
Office will also start putting documents in a XML format to make them more recognizable by other programs and more efficient, i.e. the size will reduce. I suspect the second was a larger reason. Office will also be able to more automatically produce PDF documents without Acrobat Professional and also produce documents in Microsoft’s version of PDF format. However both these features will not come on Office, but must be downloaded for free.
Using Windows key and tab key will show the various programs running but not just showing a static icon and name but will actually show the screen of the program as a thumbnail as it would appear if you switched to it then. So for instance IE would show in the thumbnail the page currently being viewed.
There will be some compatibility to get used to if you go to Office 2007. If you are sharing documents with previous Office versions you will need to save as a Word doc and not default XML. Use of Vista and Longhorn will force some upgrades. Quickbooks versions prior to 2007 are know to not work with Vista and will force upgrades. If you are running SQL Server on a machine you will have to use SQL Server 2005 if the database is on a Vista or Longhorn machine. However Vista machines can still access a SQL Server 2000 database as on as the database is on a Windows XP or 2003 or 2000 machine.
I would encourage you to test Vista and Office 2007 before converting as you may want to wait. There are licensing issues with Vista also when you decide to upgrade your machine, but Microsoft appears to be backing off them some.
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