Comp-U-News from Comp-U-Talk

Feb-March 2007


A bar of iron costs $5, made into horseshoes its worth is $12, made into needles its worth is $3500, made into balance springs for watches, its worth is $300, 000. Your own value is determined also by what you are able to make of yourself. ~ Unknown

Microsoft released a new operating system last week. They named it Vista. There's a lot of scuttlebutt about Vista and this is what you need to know.

First, Vista is an operating system. An operating system is like a command center. It tells the video card how to interact with the monitor. It tells the modem how to interact with the phone lines. It tells the network card how to interact with the router. It accepts commands from the keyboard and commands from the mouse and routes them to the appropriate locations. Without an operating system your computer is useless.

Previous operating systems had names like Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000, and Windows XP. For the most part, they were named for the years in which they were introduced. This operating system is named Vista. Webster's dictionary defines Vista as a distant view. I'm certain there is some sort of absurd connection between the name and what it does, but I'm at a loss to figure out what it might be.

Second, Vista is powerful and pretty. If you have been around computers very long, then you know that powerful and pretty and synonyms for fast and expensive. Technically, Vista will run on any system with at least 800 MHz of processing power, 512 Megs of RAM and 15 Gigs of available hard drive space. Technically, I can enter my 3-legged horse in the Kentucky Derby also. (Well, maybe not the Kentucky Derby, they probably have some sort of entrance requirements, but you get the drift.) In order to take full advantage of Vista I recommend that you not even start to consider running it on a computer with less than a 2 GHz processor, with 1 Gig of RAM and a dedicated 256 Meg Video Card.

Some of the features of Vista include Parental Controls, better firewall protection, Windows Calendar, and improved digital media features for working with your videos, pictures and music.

So what does this mean to you?

If you are purchasing a new computer, be certain to get enough 'umph' to handle Vista. That means a 256 meg dedicated video card and at least 1Gig of RAM. And it would be ok to get the computer with Vista already installed. However, if you have to continue to run proprietary software like accounting applications, CADD applications, Monitoring software, even games, it would be in your best interest to check with the software vendor and verify the ability to function under Vista.

For at least a little while longer, there is the option to purchase a new computer with XP installed and receive a coupon for a free or reduced upgrade to Vista.

If you are not in the market for a new computer and are considering upgrading to Vista, then we succumb to the adage of 'If it isn't broke, don't fix it!'. And certainly don't try to upgrade until you have a properly running system with 1 Gig of RAM and 256 Megs of Video Card. It's a guarantee: If your computer runs like molasses in January now, it will be worse with Vista!

To happier computing,