Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Fear of change: switching from XP to Vista

I know how hard it is to give up the well-known and comfortable, and step into the unknown. There is always a learning curve, and there is always some trepidation. I was chatting with someone who is in the market for a new laptop but has been very reluctant to buy because “I seem to have only two choices — Mac or Vista — and I don’t want to have to learn a whole new operating system.” (Before you start typing, Linux is out of the question for this particular shopper.)

For now, you can still buy a new laptop that is loaded with XP, or XP Media Center Edition. And you can still purchase boxed Install disks for XP Home and XP Pro, though I doubt there’s many who would wipe Vista from their new machine’s hard drive to install it. There are “custom builders” who will sell you a new machine without an installed OS out there too, offering the shopper another option.
But I wonder, why fight it? Knowing Vista is a marketable skill; and, Vista is destined to be as common as XP is today — it’ll be in your home and in your office soon, if it’s not there already. The same holds true for Office 2007 — sooner or later you’ll be using those new toolbars.

Tip of the day: Relax! Vista has a very shallow learning curve. My experience with Windows goes back a ways — I still have a 486 DX running Windows for Workgroups (aka Windows 3.11) circa 1992. Vista was the first “new version” of Windows I got my hands on before the general public did, and I have to tell you about my first impression — disappointment. (And I am not alone in that sentiment!) I really thought Vista was XP, with the desktop set to a professional photographer’s nature photo (a tweak I had made to my XP machines long ago). It was so similar and familiar, in so many ways, that I felt ripped off. A couple new games. A pretty picture. A search window on every bar. Big whoop.

The only place I found a real difference was in networking. Vista combines XP’s various network control areas into one unified Control Panel applet called the “Network and Sharing Center”. Fortunately, I was able to figure out my way around this new area in 4.5 seconds. I sincerely believe you will too.
The major differences between XP and Vista are “under the hood”. Think of Vista as XP with a different engine and a modernized dashboard, and you’ll have a very accurate analogy. (Getting used to Office 2007, on the other hand, is still a work-in-progress!) Vista runs the same programs (98% anyway) XP does.

Now you may be asking yourself, if this is true, what reason is there to upgrade to Vista? The answer will depend on who you ask, but it is my opinion that there really isn’t any. The most pressing reason I can see is, it’s (past) time for a new machine. Let the state of your hardware determine when it is that your machine is a Vista machine. Sure, Vista is a more secure “engine”, and it comes with a lot of the tools and features we XP users have downloaded and installed from third parties built-in already, but that’s not enough of a cause to rush out and buy a Vista Install disk. (In fact, Vista’s unwillingness to work with older hardware probably will cause you more headaches than a pretty nature photo is worth.) In summation, if you have a perfectly functional XP machine that is going to do what you want for another couple of years (in other words, of a fairly recent vintage), don’t even waste your time thinking about Vista, much less your money.

I know I said in yesterday’s post that I would answer reader questions today, but that’s going to have to wait until tomorrow. I apologize for that.

Today’s free link: I am going to repeat a free link for today’s article, for XP users who want the ‘modernized dashboard’ without actually changing their operating system. You can download a ‘skin’ (in this case, more accurately, a “shell”) for XP that mimics Vista’s look and feel quite well. Click here to return to my earlier post, scroll down to “Today’s free link“, read my warning, and there’s the link.

Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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July 25, 2007 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, tech, Vista, Windows, XP | 3 Comments