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INFORMATION & COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION
“COMPARISON BETWEEN WINDOWS XP & WINDOWS VISTA”
R H Patel English Medium B.Ed College,
With 90% of the consumer desktops running it, Microsoft Windows is the de facto standard operating system. Love it or hate it, it's what most of us have to work with every day. So when MS decides to introduce a new version of Windows to the market, there's an understandable uproar. Converting your system to run with the new version can introduce headaches, from things as minor as rearranging desktop icons to showstoppers like major application incompatibility. Historically, the improvements to Windows with each successive version have been worth the hassle—Windows ME notwithstanding. With this latest transition, however, many people have been asking whether it really is worth the trouble to upgrade. To answer that question, here's a head- to-head comparison between the current incumbent, Windows XP, and the newly arrived successor, Windows Vista. You may be wondering, why make this comparison now? With the recent release of Service Pack 1 for Vista, the new Windows has more or less settled into its permanent form, giving us a chance to realistically compare the two systems on their own merits. Comparing Vista to XP in the first months of its release was not a valid measure of their relative merits, as many issues not under MS's control were causing Vista to misbehave. Now though, issues relating to driver support, third-party vendor foul-ups, and other such teething issues have been mostly resolved. For clarity's sake, this comparison will be broken up by topic, covering each of the major functions that a modern operating system is expected to fulfill. Following that, there will be a list of any miscellaneous issues for each OS that weren't covered in the general overview. So, let's crack open the crypt, and see what shambling horrors emerge!
Look and Feel
One of the first things people notice about an operating system is how it presents itself. As much as people might like to say they don't care, appearance does effect our perception of how a system works. More than just graphical style though, look and feel is also about the responsiveness of the system. How fast do menus open when I click on them? Am I getting enough feedback on what the system is doing when it's busy? Does the system present me with the information I need in a useful manner? All of these are questions that are important to look and feel. Windows XP's Luna interface was criticized by many as having a childish, toy-like look. The conspicuous use of bright blues and greens throughout the interface was a radical departure from MS's historically staid black on gray interface. Colors aside, though, the use of large blocky buttons and oversized icons lent XP a somewhat childish look. This was not helped any by the addition of search avatars that looked more appropriate to a saturday morning cartoon show. Even so, XP's interface offered real improvements in usability. The addition of thumbnail and gallery view modes to the Explorer file manager meant that finding a single image in a folder of hundreds was no longer a mind-numbing chore. The Start menu also saw improvements, with links to the most commonly used folders added, as well as an automatically updated list of the most frequently used programs. Windows Vista sought to avoid the "tinkertoys" image that XP had
garnered, and consequently, Vista's Aero interface is dominated by glossy buttons and smoked glass. The conspicuous use of transparency in many interface elements is æsthetically appealing, though it can lead to some confusion on a busy desktop with a dozen or more windows open at once. The inbuilt search bar on the Start menu is a nice touch, although the use of cascading slide-over menus in the Programs submenu can be confusing at times. Improvements to the Explorer file manager include the use of breadcrumbstyle navigation in the address bar, which speeds up navigation without need to resort to the folder tree side pane.
Performance and Functionality
Historically, every version of Windows has had more overhead than the last, requiring a more powerful machine to run than the one before. Traditionally, this has been offset by improved functionality; each version adds its own bells and whistles that—hopefully—make life more convenient. What improvements, then, did XP and Vista each bring to the user experience? XP's improvement user to experience in main the was the
stability. The version it replaced consumer Windows market— ME—was
widely reviled as the most unstable version of Windows yet. By switching over from the aging Win9x kernel to the newer and more stable Win NT 5 kernel, Windows XP eliminated a lot of the crashes and DLL Hell issues that had plagued users before. Driver rollback gave users the much-needed ability to revert back to an older version of a given driver, if the update did not produce the desired results. The addition of sub-pixel font rendering, known as ClearType in MS jargon, greatly improved the readability of text on LCD-based displays. DirectX 7 (and later DX9) greatly improved 3D graphics quality and performance. With Service Pack 2, XP also got improved integration with anti-virus and anti-spam software, as well as a fully functional software firewall. These changes were more evolutionary than revolutionary, but as a whole they served to make XP a more stable platform than its predecessors.
Vista brought a number of changes, both in end-user functionality and in "under the hood" functionality changes, among which are: newer versions of Internet Explorer and Windows Media player, and improved search functionality. Expanded speech recognition and text-to-speech functionality, improvements to memory new The older management screen new GDI Vista and process handling, and a whole rendering
framework were also included. Window Manager replaces the screen-drawing interface altogether, effectively treating the screen as a 3d image. This allows for smoother screen-drawing, as well as amusing visual tricks like live thumbnails of minimized windows, Flip 3D, and using video files as desktop wallpaper. Windows Gadgets—mini programs that live on the desktop—give the user at-a-glance info, and make the desktop useful as more than a place to plop down a bunch of shortcut icons. Overall, Vista brings a number of badly-needed improvements to how Windows functions in day-to-day life.
Let us start discussion on comparison from the process of installation itself. In Windows XP, the system prompts for user information, CD-Key, and other information etc. after the process of copying files is done. In Windows Vista, it will ask for information such as computer name, CD-Key before the copying process. One cannot install Windows Vista in drives formatted using FAT32 file systems! One need to have NTFS formatted partition for installation of Windows Vista, which aims at secured future operating systems. Security in FAT32 is less compared to NTFS. Installation process was also fast, compared to Windows XP.
Next significant change is in the booting process. The NT Boot Loader which was present in the other older operating system has been replaced by Windows Boot Manager. Windows Vista does not allow storing our own or application files in Windows installed boot drives such as ‘C:’ for security reasons, for users including administrator.
Microsoft redesigned the desktop items, such as start menu. The task bar which consist of start button, which is similar in look of Windows XP start button. But, the default color of the task bar has been changed. Instead of classic blue, the default color has been changed to coffee black.
Aero & 3D Effect
There is a new feature called “Aero” which is enabled for use if the system contains a high graphics card, which supports DirectX 9.0 and higher. This feature which is not present in Windows XP enables one to view the open windows as 3D windows. The task bar and open windows can be given translucent, which means semi-transparent effect, through “Aero” option.
Larger Icons on Desktop
The address bar of the Windows Vista Explorer is redesigned to show path as “Computer > Local Disk (C:) > My Folder > My Next Level Folder >” instead of “C:My FolderMy Next Level Folder” which was in Windows XP. The icons appearing on the desktop has been made larger compared to Windows XP. Microsoft has done away with word “My” in the terms such as My Computer, My Document, in Windows Vista.
Sidebar to save time
Microsoft brought a side bar similar to the side bar of MS-Office 97. Programs can be quickly accessed, through customizable buttons provided for the purpose. We need not navigate through Start > Programs > Program Group > Program Name” to run a program. Instead, we can create a short cut on the side bar such that Program Name can be directly accessed. Adding an old hardware devices have a problem in Windows Vista too, similar to Windows XP. It is said that Windows XP Compatible hardware doesn’t have any problems. Hardware devices which are not detected by Windows XP have problems in Vista too. So, look for a logo “Windows Vista or XP compatible” before buying the hardware. Some old devices can be made to work, if the manufacturer of the device can provide the needed XP or Vista compatible drivers. But, some old devices or the system itself may start to behave differently when we install a XP or Vista compatible drivers which are provided by the manufacturers.
Parental Control- Lets you control your Kid's activity
Vista on the other hand, has a new feature called Parental Control, which is not present in Windows XP. Parents can control their children who make use of the computer for playing their popular games. Parents can now deny access to the computer, deny playing games, and deny even surfing internet. Parents now even can check the status of guessing passwords.
Better Gaming performance
Performance wise, vista surges ahead compared to Windows XP. The various tests such as iTunes encoding, Photoshop CS2 image-processing, 3D games testing using F.E.A.R., has shown that better performance can be achieved in Windows Vista, than Windows XP.
Additional cost to computer user
But, with Windows Vista, it is hard time for people with old systems, as they need to burn some of their extra energy, in purchasing hardware. The RAM needed to be at least 256 MB. One cannot run Vista Aero feature, without a good 3D graphics card that too should support Direct X 9.0. Performance will be slow, if the processor speed is lower than 2.0 GHz.
One thing is sure, Windows Vista surely will be a replacement for Windows XP, in terms of performance, number of rich features, the way it manages the computer resources etc. As Vista is in beta phase, we can expect decent performace when it finally comes put. Let us wait & watch.
Warts. Lumps. Flaws. Call them what you will, every OS has its defects, the places where it stumbles, comes up short, or just plain fails to deliver. XP and Vista both have a lot to recommend them, but they also have their fair share of problems. XP's main faults centered around security. Being the first consumer-grade Windows version to be based on the NT kernel, XP had a combination of questionable security practices and powerful networking features that made it an irresistible target for malware authors. Prior to Service Pack 2, a Windows XP machine would find itself irretrievably compromised within minutes of being connected to an unprotected internet connection. The default behavior of giving new user accounts Administrator privileges only compounded this, and the severe crippling of non-admin user accounts meant that even conscientious users couldn't do much to proactively limit the damage. Service Pack 2 did much to fix this, by fixing the previously unusable Windows Firewall, and adding prominent notifications when anti-virus programs were missing or out-of-date. Even so, users can still find themselves horribly compromised with little-to-no warning, and frequent reinstalls are a depressingly common remedy to the numerous infections. Much of Vista's early criticism has centered around stability, rather than security. The introduction of a new driver model, as well as heavy DRM provisions, served to bring back the sort of instability and frequent crashes that many users had hoped were left behind with WinME. Much of this has since been fixed, as hardware manufacturers have become more familiar with the new driver model, but issues with stability remain, especially when legacy WinXP drivers must be used to maintain compatibility with older hardware. A problem that has not gone away, though, is Vista's new privilege management system, known as User Account Control. To be fair, it does allow for
more flexibility in privilege escalation, letting people run as limited users most of the time without too much difficulty. The problem lies in its implementation. Constant, persistent, annoying nag boxes pop up whenever you do anything that requires privilege escalation. This escalation, by the way, is required for not only actions taken by third party programs, but for many things within Windows itself, including a fair portion of the Control Panel. An operation as simple as copying files from one user to another can generate UAC prompts for every copy and move operation, as well as for opening folders and subfolders
One criticism common to both is the use of product activation, known in MS jargon as Windows Genuine Advantage. Intended to combat piracy, WGA serves mainly to frustrate and punish users who purchased their copies of Windows legitimately. An inventory of a system's hardware is done at install, and thereafter, every time a significant change is made—i.e. one you have to open the case for—the user is required to re-activate Windows. This activation process should, in theory, be easily done over the internet, but it often fails due to internet connectivity issues, corrupted hardware indices, or any number of other unknown issues. Additionally, if the number of significant changes passes a certain threshold, the user is required to call Microsoft and spend time groveling to a customer disservice lackey in order to get a new product key. Ironically, though, this does little to impede those who would obtain their copies of Windows illegitimately. WGA cracks, keygens, and other bypass mechanisms are plentiful and easily obtained, and frequently used. In all, the main accomplishment of WGA seems to be the continued alienation of MS's primary customer base.
So, the question remains, which is better, XP or Vista? The answer is: it depends. Aside from a few easily-forgettable games from Microsoft Game Studios, there are no games that require Vista to run. Older programs, on the other hand, can sometimes misbehave or outright fail to function in Vista, due either to bad coding practices on the part of the application writers, or irregularities in the backwards-compatibility modules of Vista itself. Unless you run into one of these edge cases, however, the choice boils down to cost vs. benefit. Vista offers improved æsthetics and a more featureful user interface, at the cost of increased overhead, occasional glitches, and in the case of laptops, somewhat reduced battery life. XP offers the broadest compatibility with older hardware and programs, but still suffers from all the old complaints. In the end, it's up to you to decide.
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