Windows Vista is an operating system released in several variations developed by Microsoft for use on personal computers, including home and business desktops, laptops, tablet PCs, and media center PCs. Prior to its announcement on July 22, 2005, Windows Vista was known by its codename "Longhorn." Development was completed on November 8, 2006; over the following three months it was released in stages to computer hardware and software manufacturers, business customers, and retail channels. On January 30, 2007, it was released worldwide, and was made available for purchase and download from Microsoft's website. The release of Windows Vista came more than five years after the introduction of its predecessor, Windows XP, the longest time span between successive releases of Microsoft Windows desktop operating systems. It was succeeded by Windows 7 which was released to manufacturing on July 22, 2009, and for the general public on October 22, 2009.
Windows Vista contains many changes and new features, including an updated graphical user interface and visual style dubbed Aero, a redesigned search function, multimedia tools including Windows DVD Maker, and redesigned networking, audio, print, and display sub-systems. Vista aims to increase the level of communication between machines on a home network, using peer-to-peer technology to simplify sharing files and media between computers and devices. Windows Vista includes version 3.0 of the .NET Framework, allowing software developers to write applications without traditional Windows APIs.
Microsoft's primary stated objective with Windows Vista has been to improve the state of security in the Windows operating system. One common criticism of Windows XP and its predecessors is their commonly exploited security vulnerabilities and overall susceptibility to malware, viruses and buffer overflows. In light of this, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates announced in early 2002 a company-wide "Trustworthy Computing initiative" which aims to incorporate security work into every aspect of software development at the company. Microsoft stated that it prioritized improving the security of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 above finishing Windows Vista, thus delaying its completion.
While these new features and security improvements have garnered positive reviews, Vista has also been the target of much criticism and negative press. Criticism of Windows Vista has targeted its high system requirements, its more restrictive licensing terms, the inclusion of a number of new digital rights management technologies aimed at restricting the copying of protected digital media, lack of compatibility with some pre-Vista hardware and software, and the number of authorization prompts for User Account Control. As a result of these and other issues, Windows Vista had seen initial adoption and satisfaction rates lower than Windows XP. However, with an estimated 330 million Internet users as of January 2009, it had been announced that Vista usage had surpassed Microsoft’s pre-launch two-year-out expectations of achieving 200 million users. At the release of Windows 7 (October 2009), Windows Vista (with approximately 400 million Internet users) was the second most widely used operating system on the Internet with an approximately 18.6% market share, the most widely used being Windows XP with an approximately 63.3% market share. As of May 2010[update], Windows Vista's market share estimates range from 15.26% to 26.04%
- Windows Aero: The new hardware-based graphical user interface is named Windows Aero, which Jim Allchin stated is an acronym for Authentic, Energetic, Reflective, and Open. Microsoft intended the new interface to be cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing than those of previous Windows versions, including new transparencies, live thumbnails, live icons, and animations, thus providing a new level of eye candy. Laptop users report, however, that enabling Aero shortens battery life.
- Windows Shell: The new Windows shell differs significantly from the shell in Windows XP, offering a new range of organization, navigation, and search capabilities. Windows Explorer's task pane has been removed, integrating the relevant task options into the toolbar. A "Favorite links" pane has been added, enabling one-click access to common directories. The address bar has been replaced with a breadcrumb navigation system. The preview pane allows users to see thumbnails of various files and view the contents of documents. The details pane shows information such as file size and type, and allows viewing and editing of embedded tags in supported file formats. The Start menu has changed as well; it no longer uses ever-expanding boxes when navigating through Programs. The word "Start" itself has been removed in favor of a blue Windows Pearl.
- Instant Search (also known as search as you type) : Windows Vista features a new way of searching called Instant Search, which is significantly faster and more in-depth (content-based) than the search features found in any of the previous versions of Windows.
- Windows Sidebar: A transparent panel anchored to the side of the screen where a user can place Desktop Gadgets, which are small applets designed for a specialized purpose (such as displaying the weather or sports scores). Gadgets can also be placed on other parts of the desktop.
- Windows Internet Explorer 7: New user interface, tabbed browsing, RSS, a search box, improved printing, Page Zoom, Quick Tabs (thumbnails of all open tabs), Anti-Phishing filter, a number of new security protection features, Internationalized Domain Name support (IDN), and improved web standards support. IE7 in Windows Vista runs in isolation from other applications in the operating system (protected mode); exploits and malicious software are restricted from writing to any location beyond Temporary Internet Files without explicit user consent.
- Windows Media Player 11, a major revamp of Microsoft's program for playing and organizing music and video. New features in this version include word wheeling (incremental search or "search as you type"), a new GUI for the media library, photo display and organization, the ability to share music libraries over a network with other Windows Vista machines, Xbox 360 integration, and support for other Media Center Extenders.
- Backup and Restore Center: Includes a backup and restore application that gives users the ability to schedule periodic backups of files on their computer, as well as recovery from previous backups. Backups are incremental, storing only the changes each time, minimizing disk usage. It also features Complete PC Backup (available only in the Ultimate, Business, and Enterprise versions) which backs up an entire computer as an image onto a hard disk or DVD. Complete PC Backup can automatically recreate a machine setup onto new hardware or hard disk in case of any hardware failures. Complete PC Restore can be initiated from within Windows Vista or from the Windows Vista installation CD in the event the PC is so corrupt that it cannot start up normally from the hard disk.
- Windows Mail: A replacement for Outlook Express that includes a new mail store that improves stability, and features integrated Instant Search. It has the Phishing Filter like IE7 and Junk mail filtering that is enhanced through regular updates via Windows Update.
- Windows Calendar is a new calendar and task application.
- Windows Photo Gallery, a photo and movie library management application. It can import from digital cameras, tag and rate individual items, adjust colors and exposure, create and display slideshows (with pan and fade effects) and burn slideshows to DVD.
- Windows DVD Maker, a companion program to Windows Movie Maker that provides the ability to create video DVDs based on a user's content. Users can design a DVD with title, menu, video, soundtrack, pan and zoom motion effects on pictures or slides.
- Windows Media Center, which was previously exclusively bundled in a separate version of Windows XP, known as Windows XP Media Center Edition, has been incorporated into the Home Premium and Ultimate editions of Windows Vista.
- Games and Games Explorer: Games included with Windows have been modified to showcase Vista's graphics capabilities. New games are Chess Titans (3D Chess game), Mahjong Titans (3D Mahjong game) and Purble Place (A small collection of games, oriented towards younger children. Including: A matching game, a cake-creator game, and a dress-up puzzle game). A new Games Explorer special folder contains shortcuts and information to all games on the user's computer.
- Windows Mobility Center is a control panel that centralizes the most relevant information related to mobile computing (brightness, sound, battery level / power scheme selection, wireless network, screen orientation, presentation settings, etc.).
- Windows Meeting Space replaces NetMeeting. Users can share applications (or their entire desktop) with other users on the local network, or over the Internet using peer-to-peer technology (higher versions than Starter and Home Basic can take advantage of hosting capabilities, Starter and Home Basic editions are limited to "join" mode only)
- Shadow Copy automatically creates daily backup copies of files and folders. Users can also create "shadow copies" by setting a System Protection Point using the System Protection tab in the System control panel. The user can be presented multiple versions of a file throughout a limited history and be allowed to restore, delete, or copy those versions. This feature is available only in the Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions of Windows Vista and is inherited from Windows Server 2003.
- Windows Update: Software and security updates have been simplified, now operating solely via a control panel instead of as a web application. Windows Mail's spam filter and Windows Defender's definitions are updated automatically via Windows Update. Users who choose the recommended setting for Automatic Updates will have the latest drivers installed and available when they add a new device.
- Parental controls: Allows administrators to control which websites, programs and games each Limited user can use and install. This feature is not included in the Business or Enterprise editions of Vista.
- Windows SideShow: Enables the auxiliary displays on newer laptops or on supported Windows Mobile devices. It is meant to be used to display device gadgets while the computer is on or off.
- Speech recognition is integrated into Vista. It features a redesigned user interface and configurable command-and-control commands. Unlike the Office 2003 version, which works only in Office and WordPad, Speech Recognition in Windows Vista works for any accessible application. In addition, it currently supports several languages: British and American English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified) and Japanese.
- New fonts, including several designed for screen reading, and improved Chinese (Yahei, JhengHei), Japanese (Meiryo) and Korean (Malgun) fonts. ClearType has also been enhanced and enabled by default.
- Improved audio controls allow the system-wide volume or volume of individual audio devices and even individual applications to be controlled separately. New audio functionalities such as Room Correction, Bass Management, Speaker Fill and Headphone virtualization have also been incorporated.
- Problem Reports and Solutions, a control panel which allows users to view previously sent problems and any solutions or additional information that is available.
- Windows System Assessment Tool is a tool used to benchmark system performance. Software such as games can retrieve this rating and modify its own behavior at runtime to improve performance. The benchmark tests CPU, RAM, 2-D and 3-D graphics acceleration, graphics memory and hard disk space.
- Windows Ultimate Extras: The Ultimate edition of Windows Vista provides, via Windows Update, access to some additional features. These are a collection of additional MUI language packs, Texas Hold 'Em (a Poker game) and Microsoft Tinker (a strategy game where the character is a robot), BitLocker and EFS enhancements which allow users to back up their encryption key online in a Digital Locker, and Windows Dreamscene, which enables the use of videos in MPEG and WMV formats as the desktop background. On April 21, 2008, Microsoft launched two more Ultimate Extras; three new Windows sound schemes, and a content pack for Dreamscene. Various DreamScene Content Packs have been released since the final version of DreamScene was released.
- Reliability and Performance Monitor includes various tools for tuning and monitoring system performance and resources activities of CPU, disks, network, memory and other resources. It shows the operations on files, the opened connections, etc.
- Disk Management: The Logical Disk Manager in Windows Vista supports shrinking and expanding volumes on-the-fly.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. |
Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (December 2007)
Vista includes technologies such as ReadyBoost and ReadyDrive which employ fast flash memory (located on USB drives and hybrid hard disk drives) to improve system performance by caching commonly used programs and data. This manifests itself in improved battery life on notebook computers as well, since a hybrid drive can be spun down when not in use. Another new technology called SuperFetch utilizes machine learning techniques to analyze usage patterns to allow Windows Vista to make intelligent decisions about what content should be present in system memory at any given time. It uses almost all the extra RAM as disk cache. In conjunction with SuperFetch, an automatic built-in Windows Disk Defragmenter makes sure that those applications are strategically positioned on the hard disk where they can be loaded into memory very quickly with the least amount of physical movement of the hard disk’s read-write heads.
As part of the redesign of the networking architecture, IPv6 has been fully incorporated into the operating system and a number of performance improvements have been introduced, such as TCP window scaling. Earlier versions of Windows typically needed third-party wireless networking software to work properly, but this is not the case with Vista, which includes more comprehensive wireless networking support.
For graphics, Vista introduces a new Windows Display Driver Model and a major revision to Direct3D. The new driver model facilitates the new Desktop Window Manager, which provides the tearing-free desktop and special effects that are the cornerstones of Windows Aero. Direct3D 10, developed in conjunction with major graphics card manufacturers, is a new architecture with more advanced shader support, and allows the graphics processing unit to render more complex scenes without assistance from the CPU. It features improved load balancing between CPU and GPU and also optimizes data transfer between them. WDDM also provides video content playback that rivals typical consumer electronics devices. It does this by making it easy to connect to external monitors, providing for protected HD video playback and increasing overall video playback quality. For the first time in Windows, graphics processing unit (GPU) multitasking is possible, enabling users to run more than one GPU-intensive application simultaneously.
At the core of the operating system, many improvements have been made to the memory manager, process scheduler and I/O scheduler. The Heap Manager implements additional features such as integrity checking in order to improve robustness and defend against buffer overflow security exploits, although this comes at the price of breaking backward compatibility with some legacy applications. A Kernel Transaction Manager has been implemented that enables applications to work with the file system and Registry using atomic transaction operations.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. |
Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (December 2007)
User Account Control, or UAC is perhaps the most significant and visible of these changes. UAC is a security technology that makes it possible for users to use their computer with fewer privileges by default, with a view to stopping malware from making unauthorized changes to the system. This was often difficult in previous versions of Windows, as the previous "limited" user accounts proved too restrictive and incompatible with a large proportion of application software, and even prevented some basic operations such as looking at the calendar from the notification tray. In Windows Vista, when an action is performed that requires administrative rights (such as installing/uninstalling software or making system-wide configuration changes), the user is first prompted for an administrator name and password; in cases where the user is already an administrator, the user is still prompted to confirm the pending privileged action. Regular use of the computer such as running programs, printing, or surfing the Internet does not trigger UAC prompts. User Account Control asks for credentials in a Secure Desktop mode, in which the entire screen is dimmed, and only the authorization window is active and highlighted. The intent is to stop a malicious program misleading the user by interfering with the authorization window, and to hint to the user the importance of the prompt.
Testing by Symantec Corporation has proven the effectiveness of UAC. Symantec used over 2,000 active malware samples, consisting of backdoors, keyloggers, rootkits, mass mailers, trojan horses, spyware, adware, and various other samples. Each was executed on a default Windows Vista installation within a standard user account. UAC effectively blocked over 50 percent of each threat, excluding rootkits. 5 percent or less of the malware which evaded UAC survived a reboot.
Internet Explorer 7's new security and safety features include a phishing filter, IDN with anti-spoofing capabilities, and integration with system-wide parental controls. For added security, ActiveX controls are disabled by default. Also, Internet Explorer operates in a protected mode, which operates with lower permissions than the user and runs in isolation from other applications in the operating system, preventing it from accessing or modifying anything besides the Temporary Internet Files directory. Microsoft's anti-spyware product, Windows Defender, has been incorporated into Windows, providing protection against malware and other threats. Changes to various system configuration settings (such as new auto-starting applications) are blocked unless the user gives consent.
Whereas prior releases of Windows supported per-file encryption using Encrypting File System, the Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Vista include BitLocker Drive Encryption which can protect entire volumes, notably the operating system volume. However, BitLocker requires approximately a 1.5-gigabyte partition to be permanently unencrypted and to contain system files in order for Windows to boot. In normal circumstances, the only time this partition is accessed is when the computer is booting, or when there is a Windows update that changes files in this area which is a legitimate reason to access this section of the drive. The area can be a potential security issue, because a hexadecimal editor (such as dskprobe.exe), or malicious software running with administrator and/or kernel level privileges would be able to write to this "Ghost Partition" and allow a piece of malicious software to compromise the system, or disable the encryption. BitLocker can work in conjunction with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) cryptoprocessor (version 1.2) embedded in a computer's motherboard, or with a USB key. However, as with other full disk encryption technologies, BitLocker is vulnerable to a cold boot attack, especially where TPM is used as a key protector without a boot PIN being required too.
A variety of other privilege-restriction techniques are also built into Vista. An example is the concept of "integrity levels" in user processes, whereby a process with a lower integrity level cannot interact with processes of a higher integrity level and cannot perform DLL–injection to a processes of a higher integrity level. The security restrictions of Windows services are more fine-grained, so that services (especially those listening on the network) have no ability to interact with parts of the operating system they do not need to. Obfuscation techniques such as address space layout randomization are used to increase the amount of effort required of malware before successful infiltration of a system. Code Integrity verifies that system binaries have not been tampered with by malicious code.
As part of the redesign of the network stack, Windows Firewall has been upgraded, with new support for filtering both incoming and outgoing traffic. Advanced packet filter rules can be created which can grant or deny communications to specific services.
The 64-bit versions of Vista require that all device drivers be digitally signed, so that the creator of the driver can be identified.
 BusinessWhile much of the focus of Vista's new capabilities has been on the new user interface, security technologies, and improvements to the core operating system, Microsoft is also adding new deployment and maintenance features.
- The Windows Imaging Format (WIM) is the cornerstone of Microsoft's new deployment and packaging system. WIM files, which contain a HAL-independent image of Windows Vista, can be maintained and patched without having to rebuild new images. Windows Images can be delivered via Systems Management Server or Business Desktop Deployment technologies. Images can be customized and configured with applications then deployed to corporate client personal computers using little to no touch by a system administrator. ImageX is the Microsoft tool used to create and customize images.
- Windows Deployment Services replaces Remote Installation Services for deploying Vista and prior versions of Windows.
- Approximately 700 new Group Policy settings have been added, covering most aspects of the new features in the operating system, as well as significantly expanding the configurability of wireless networks, removable storage devices, and user desktop experience. Vista also introduced an XML based format (ADMX) to display registry-based policy settings, making it easier to manage networks that span geographic locations and different languages.
- Services for UNIX has been renamed "Subsystem for UNIX-based Applications," and is included with the Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Vista. Network File System (NFS) client support is also included.
- Multilingual User Interface–Unlike previous versions of Windows which required language packs to be loaded to provide local language support, Windows Vista Ultimate and Enterprise editions support the ability to dynamically change languages based on the logged on user's preference.
- Wireless Projector support
DeveloperWindows Vista includes a large number of new application programming interfaces. Chief among them is the inclusion of version 3.0 of the .NET Framework, which consists of a class library and Common Language Runtime and OS/2 environment just like its NT predecessors. Version 3.0 includes four new major components:
- Windows Presentation Foundation is a user interface subsystem and framework based vector graphics, which makes use of 3D computer graphics hardware and Direct3D technologies. It provides the foundation for building applications and blending together application UI, documents, and media content. It is the successor to Windows Forms.
- Windows Communication Foundation is a service-oriented messaging subsystem which enables applications and systems to interoperate locally or remotely using Web services.
- Windows Workflow Foundation provides task automation and integrated transactions using workflows. It is the programming model, engine and tools for building workflow-enabled applications on Windows.
- Windows CardSpace is a component which securely stores digital identities of a person, and provides a unified interface for choosing the identity for a particular transaction, such as logging into a website.
There are also significant new development APIs in the core of the operating system, notably the completely re-architected audio, networking, print, and video interfaces, major changes to the security infrastructure, improvements to the deployment and installation of applications ("ClickOnce" and Windows Installer 4.0) , new device driver development model ("Windows Driver Foundation") , Transactional NTFS, mobile computing API advancements (power management, Tablet PC Ink support, SideShow) and major updates to (or complete replacements of) many core subsystems such as Winlogon and CAPI.
There are some issues for software developers using some of the graphics APIs in Vista. Games or programs which are built solely on the Windows Vista-exclusive version of DirectX, version 10, cannot work on prior versions of Windows, as DirectX 10 is not available for previous Windows versions. Also, games which require the features of D3D9Ex, the updated implementation of DirectX 9 in Windows Vista are also incompatible with previous Windows versions. According to a Microsoft blog, there are three choices for OpenGL implementation on Vista. An application can use the default implementation, which translates OpenGL calls into the Direct3D API and is frozen at OpenGL version 1.4, or an application can use an Installable Client Driver (ICD) , which comes in two flavors: legacy and Vista-compatible. A legacy ICD disables the Desktop Window Manager, a Vista-compatible ICD takes advantage of a new API, and is fully compatible with the Desktop Window Manager. At least two primary vendors, ATI and NVIDIA provided full Vista-compatible ICDs. However, hardware overlay is not supported, because it is considered as an obsolete feature in Vista. ATI and NVIDIA strongly recommend using compositing desktop/Framebuffer Objects for same functionality.
Removed featuresSome notable Windows XP features and components have been replaced or removed in Windows Vista, including several shell and Windows Explorer features, multimedia features, networking related functionality, Windows Messenger, NTBackup, the network Messenger Service, HyperTerminal, MSN Explorer, Active Desktop, and the replacement of NetMeeting with Windows Meeting Space. Windows Vista also does not include the Windows XP "Luna" visual theme, or most of the classic color schemes which have been part of Windows since the Windows 3.x era. The "Hardware profiles" startup feature has also been removed, along with support for older motherboard technologies like the EISA bus, APM and Game port support (though on the 32-bit version game port support can be enabled by applying an older driver). IP over FireWire (TCP/IP over IEEE 1394) has been removed as well. The IPX/SPX Protocol has also been removed, although it can be enabled by a third-party plug-in.
EditionsWindows Vista ships in eight editions. These are roughly divided into two target markets, consumer and business, with editions varying to cater for specific sub-markets. For consumers, there are four editions, with three available for developed countries. Windows Vista Starter edition is limited to emerging markets. Windows Vista Home Basic is intended for budget users with low needs. Windows Vista Home Premium covers the majority of the consumer market, and contains applications for creating and using multimedia. The home editions cannot join a Windows Server domain. For businesses, there are three editions. Windows Vista Business is specifically designed for small and medium-sized businesses, while Windows Vista Enterprise is only available to customers participating in Microsoft's Software Assurance program. Windows Vista Ultimate contains the complete feature-set of both the Home and Business (combination of both Home Premium and Enterprise) editions, as well as a set of Windows Ultimate Extras, and is aimed at enthusiasts.
All editions except Windows Vista Starter support both 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x64) processor architectures.
In the European Union, Home Basic N and Business N versions are also available. These come without Windows Media Player, due to EU sanctions brought against Microsoft for violating anti-trust laws. Similar sanctions exist in South Korea.
- Windows Aero
- Vista's premier visual style, Windows Aero, is built on a new desktop composition engine called Desktop Window Manager. Windows Aero introduces support for 3D graphics (Windows Flip 3D), translucency effects (Glass), live thumbnails, window animations, and other visual effects, and is intended for mainstream and high-end video cards. To enable these features, the contents of every open window are stored in video memory to facilitate tearing-free movement of windows. As such, Windows Aero has significantly higher hardware requirements than its predecessors. The minimum requirement is for 128 MB of graphics memory, depending on resolution used. Windows Aero (including Windows Flip 3D) is not included in the Starter and Home Basic editions.
- Windows Vista Standard
- This style is a variation of Windows Aero without the glass effects, window animations, and other advanced graphical effects such as Windows Flip 3D. Like Windows Aero, it uses the Desktop Window Manager, and has generally the same video hardware requirements as Windows Aero. This visual style is included with Home Basic edition only as a "cheap" replacement of Windows Aero style.
- Windows Vista Basic
- This style has aspects that are similar to Windows XP's "Luna" visual style with the addition of subtle animations such as those found on progress bars. It does not employ the Desktop Window Manager, as such, it does not feature transparency or translucency, window animation, Windows Flip 3D or any of the functions provided by the DWM. The Basic mode does not require the new Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) for display drivers, and has similar video card requirements to Windows XP. For computers with video cards that are not powerful enough to support Windows Aero, this is the default graphics mode. Prior to Service Pack 1, a machine that failed Windows Genuine Advantage validation would also default to this visual style.
- Windows Standard
- The Windows Standard (or Windows Classic) visual style is similar to that of Windows 2000 and Microsoft's Windows Server line of operating systems. It does not use the Desktop Window Manager, and does not require a WDDM driver. As with previous versions of Windows, this visual style supports color schemes, which are collections of color settings. Windows Vista includes six color schemes: four high-contrast color schemes and the default color schemes from Windows 95/Windows 98 (titled "Windows Classic") and Windows 2000/Windows Me (titled "Windows Standard").
Hardware requirementsComputers capable of running Windows Vista are classified as Vista Capable and Vista Premium Ready. A Vista Capable or equivalent PC is capable of running all editions of Windows Vista although some of the special features and high-end graphics options may require additional or more advanced hardware. A Vista Premium Ready PC can take advantage of Vista's high-end features.
Windows Vista's Basic and Classic interfaces work with virtually any graphics hardware that supports Windows XP or 2000; accordingly, most discussion around Vista's graphics requirements centers on those for the Windows Aero interface. As of Windows Vista Beta 2, the NVIDIA GeForce 6 series and later, the ATI Radeon 9500 and later, Intel's GMA 950 and later integrated graphics, and a handful of VIA chipsets and S3 Graphics discrete chips are supported. Although originally supported, the GeForce FX 5 series has been dropped from newer drivers from NVIDIA. The last driver from NVIDIA to support the GeForce FX series on Vista was 96.85. Microsoft offers a tool called the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor to assist Windows XP and Vista users in determining what versions of Windows their machine is capable of running. Although the installation media included in retail packages is a 32-bit DVD, customers needing a CD-ROM or customers who wish for a 64-bit install media are able to acquire this media through the Windows Vista Alternate Media program. The Ultimate edition includes both 32-bit and 64-bit media. The digitally downloaded version of Ultimate includes only one version, either 32-bit or 64-bit, from Windows Marketplace.
|Vista Capable||Vista Premium Ready|
|Processor||800 MHz||1 GHz1|
|Memory||512 MB||1 GB|
|Graphics card||DirectX 9.0 capable||DirectX 9.0 capable and WDDM 1.0 driver support|
|Graphics memory||32 MB||128 MB|
|HDD capacity||20 GB||40 GB|
|HDD free space||15 GB|
|^1 Even though this is Microsoft's stated minimum processor speed for Windows Vista, it is possible to install and run the operating system on early IA-32 processors such as a Intel Pentium II/III and older Celeron and AMD Athlon (K7 and Thunderbird), K6/K6-2/K6-III and AMD K5 with or without SSE instructions. Windows Vista is not compatible with processors older than Pentium II (such as Original Pentium, Pentium Pro and Pentium MMX) because it requires a i686 (Intel) or RISC86 (AMD) Compilant Processors.|
Physical memory limitsMaximum limits on physical memory (RAM) that Windows Vista can address vary depending on the both the Windows version and between 32-bit and 64-bit versions. The following table specifies the maximum physical memory limits supported:
|Version||Limit in 32-bit Windows Vista||Limit in 64-bit Windows Vista|
|Windows Vista Ultimate||4 GB||128 GB|
|Windows Vista Enterprise||4 GB||128 GB|
|Windows Vista Business||4 GB||128 GB|
|Windows Vista Home Premium||4 GB||16GB|
|Windows Vista Home Basic||4 GB||8GB|
|Windows Vista Starter||1 GB||N/A|
Multiprocessor limitsThe maximum quantity of physical processors in a PC that Windows Vista supports is: 2 for Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate; 1 for Starter, Home Basic, and Home Premium.
 Service packsMicrosoft occasionally releases service packs for its Windows operating systems to fix bugs and add new features.
 Service Pack 1Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) was released on February 4, 2008, alongside Windows Server 2008 to OEM partners, it was a five-month beta test period. The initial deployment of the service pack caused a number of machines to continually reboot, rendering the machines unusable. This caused Microsoft to temporarily suspend automatic deployment of the service pack until the problem was resolved. The synchronized release date of the two operating systems reflected the merging of the workstation and server kernels back into a single code base for the first time since Windows 2000. MSDN subscribers were able to download SP1 on February 15, 2008. SP1 became available to current Windows Vista users on Windows Update and the Download Center on March 18, 2008. Initially, the service pack only supported 5 languages - English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese. Support for the remaining 31 languages was released on April 14, 2008.
A whitepaper published by Microsoft near the end of August 2007 outlined the scope and intent of the service pack, identifying three major areas of improvement: reliability and performance, administration experience, and support for newer hardware and standards.
Service Pack 1 introduced support for some new hardware and software standards, notably the exFAT file system, 802.11n wireless networking, IPv6 over VPN connections, and the Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol. Booting a system using Extensible Firmware Interface on x64 systems was also introduced; this feature had originally been slated for the initial release of Vista but was delayed due to a lack of compatible hardware at the time.
Two areas have seen changes in SP1 that have come as the result of concerns from software vendors. One of these is desktop search; users will be able to change the default desktop search program to one provided by a third party instead of the Microsoft desktop search program that comes with Windows Vista, and desktop search programs will be able to seamlessly tie in their services into the operating system. These changes come in part due to complaints from Google, whose Google Desktop Search application was hindered by the presence of Vista's built-in desktop search. In June 2007, Google claimed that the changes being introduced for SP1 "are a step in the right direction, but they should be improved further to give consumers greater access to alternate desktop search providers". The other area of note is a set of new security APIs being introduced for the benefit of antivirus software that currently relies on the unsupported practice of patching the kernel (see Kernel Patch Protection).
An update to DirectX 10, named DirectX 10.1, marked mandatory several features which were previously optional in Direct3D 10 hardware. Graphics cards will be required to support DirectX 10.1. SP1 includes a kernel (6001) that matches the version shipped with Windows Server 2008.
The Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) was replaced by the Group Policy Object Editor. An updated downloadable version of the Group Policy Management Console was released soon after the service pack.
SP1 enables support for hotpatching, a reboot-reduction servicing technology designed to maximize uptime. It works by allowing Windows components to be updated (or "patched") while they are still in use by a running process. Hotpatch-enabled update packages are installed via the same methods as traditional update packages, and will not trigger a system reboot.
Service Pack 2Service Pack 2 for Windows Vista was released to manufacturing on April 28, 2009, and released to Microsoft Download Center and Windows Update on May 26, 2009. In addition to a number of security and other fixes, a number of new features have been added. However, it did not include Internet Explorer 8: Windows Vista Service Pack 2 is build 6002.18005.090410-1830.
- Windows Search 4.0 (currently available for SP1 systems as a standalone update)
- Feature Pack for Wireless adds support for Bluetooth 2.1
- Windows Feature Pack for Storage enables the data recording onto Blu-ray media
- Windows Connect Now (WCN) to simplify Wi-Fi configuration
- Improved support for resuming with active Wi-Fi connections
- Enables the exFAT file system to support UTC timestamps, which allows correct file synchronisation across time zones
- Support for ICCD/CCID smart cards
- Support for VIA 64-bit CPUs
- Improves audio and video performance for streaming high-definition content
- Improves Windows Media Center (WMC) in content protection for TV
- Provides an improved power management policy that is up to 10% more efficient than the original in some[clarification needed] configurations
 Platform UpdateThe Platform Update for Windows Vista was released on October 27, 2009. It includes major new components that shipped with Windows 7, as well as updated runtime libraries. It requires Service Pack 2 of Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 and is on Windows Update as a Recommended download.
The Platform Update allows application developers to target both Windows Vista and Windows 7. It consists of the following components:
- Windows Graphics runtime: Direct2D, DirectWrite, Direct3D 11, DXGI 1.1, and WARP;
- Updates to Windows Imaging Component;
- Updates to XPS Print API, XPS Document API and XPS Rasterization Service;
- Windows Automation API (updates to MSAA and UI Automation); (will also be available on Windows XP)
- Windows Portable Devices Platform; (adds support for MTP over Bluetooth and MTP Device Services)
- Windows Ribbon API;
- Animation Manager Library.
- Windows Management Framework: Windows PowerShell 2.0, Windows Remote Management 2.0, BITS 4.0
- Remote Desktop Connection 7.0 (RDP7) client;
The Mojave ExperimentIn July 2008, Microsoft introduced a web-based advertising campaign called the "Mojave Experiment", that depicts a group of people who are asked to evaluate the newest operating system from Microsoft, calling it Windows 'Mojave'. Participants are first asked about Vista, if they have used it, and their overall satisfaction with Vista on a scale of 1 to 10. They are then shown a demo of some of the new operating system's features, and asked their opinion and satisfaction with it on the same 1 to 10 scale. After respondents rate "Mojave", they are then told that they were really shown a demo of Windows Vista. The object was to test "A theory: If people could see Windows Vista firsthand, they would like it." According to Microsoft, the initial sample of respondents rated Vista an average of 4.4 out of 10, and Mojave received an average of 8.5, with no respondents rating Mojave lower than they originally rated Windows Vista before the demo. The experiment has been criticized for deliberate selection of positive statements and not addressing all aspects of Vista.
ReceptionA Gartner research report predicted that Vista business adoption in 2008 would overtake that of XP during the same time frame (21.3% vs. 16.9%) while IDC had indicated that the launch of Windows Server 2008 served as a catalyst for the stronger adoption rates. As of January 2009, Forrester Research had indicated that almost one third of North American and European corporations had started deploying Vista. At a May 2009 conference, a Microsoft Vice President said "Adoption and deployment of Windows Vista has been slightly ahead of where we had been with XP" for big businesses.
In its first year of availability, PC World rated it as the biggest tech disappointment of 2007, and it was rated by InfoWorld as #2 of Tech's all-time 25 flops. The internet-usage market share for Windows Vista after two years of availability, in January 2009, was 20.61%. This figure combined with World Internet Users and Population Stats yielded a user base of roughly 330 million, which exceeded Microsoft's two-year post launch expectations by 130 million. The internet user base reached before the release of its successor (Windows 7) was roughly 400 million according to the same statistical sources.
Within its first month, 20 million copies of Vista were sold, double the amount of Windows XP sales within its first month in October 2001, five years earlier. Shortly after however, due to Vista's relatively low adoption rates and continued demand for Windows XP, Microsoft continued to sell Windows XP until June 30, 2008, instead of the previously planned date of January 31, 2008. There were reports of Vista users "downgrading" their operating systems, as well as reports of businesses planning to skip Vista. A study conducted by ChangeWave in March 2008 showed that the percentage of corporate users who were "very satisfied" with Vista was dramatically lower than other operating systems, with Vista at 8%, compared to the 40% who said they were "very satisfied" with Windows XP.
Amid the negative reviews and reception, there were also significant positive reviews of Vista, most notably among PC gamers and the advantages brought about with DirectX 10, which allows for better gaming performance and more realistic graphics, as well as support for many new capabilities brought about in new video cards and GPUs. However, many DirectX 9 games initially showed a drop in frame rate compared to that experienced in Windows XP. Though in mid-2008, benchmarks suggested that Vista SP1 was on par with (or better than) Windows XP in terms of game performance. At the release of Windows 7 (October 2009) a survey by Valve Corporation indicated that 40.41% of gamers were running DirectX 10 systems. The survey also indicated that DirectX 10 was supported on 83.21% of DirectX10 capable OS’s (Windows Vista, Windows 7 beta and Windows 7 represented 48.56% of the survey) and that 42.27% of these OS’s were 64-bit.