Microsoft Windows Vista is the current version of Microsoft's Windows operating system series. Windows Vista Business and Enterprise Editions replaced Windows XP Professional Edition in November 2006 and Vista Home Basic/Premium replaced XP Home Edition in January 2007. Two other versions, Vista Starter and Vista Ultimate, are intended for markets that Microsoft felt were not adequately supported by any Window XP version. Other sub-versions, such as Home Basic N and Business N, are designed to comply with restrictive regulation in specific markets such as the European Union. Not all versions of Vista are available in all markets.
While Windows Vista shares many similarities with Windows XP, it is a completely different operating system. This is evident in all levels of the user experience including the appearance and functionality of the GUI's, the way workflows are handled, the way the system is configured, and in the stability and security features. Windows Vista is expected to be both more secure and more stable than any previous version of Windows thanks to it's separation of critical software components from the kernel. Common configuration options have been redesigned and automated. Workflow situations such as file searching and document printing have been entirely retooled and streamlined. The classic Windows appearance is still available as an option, but has been superseded by three new graphical user interfaces.
Windows Vista is considered a 'heavy' operating system, that is, it's system requirements are very high and it leaves few resources available to third-party applications. Microsoft claims an 800 MHz processor and 512 MB of RAM as the minimum system requirements for the most basic version of Vista, however the configurations that most home and business users are expected to use will require about four times that capacity. 2 MHz dual-core processors and 2 GB of RAM will be required for serious gaming and other resource-heavy tasks such as video, music, or photo editing. The new Aero GUI additionally requires 128 MB of dedicated video RAM for standard resolution displays and up to 512 MB of dedicated video RAM for high-resolution displays. Vista installations will require between 5 and 15 GB of hard disk space for the OS alone. Microsoft provides a Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor that runs on Windows XP to determine system compatibility and recommend hardware upgrades.
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