The previous version of Windows for the desktop. Released in late 2006 for businesses and early 2007 for consumers, Vista comes in six versions (see Windows Vista versions). Vista added numerous features, including improved security (see NGSCB) and greater support for digital rights management, but required more memory than XP, typically 2GB being a safe bet. See Windows and Windows 7.|
New User Interface
Many Vista user interface elements changed from XP including terminology, menus and dialog boxes. Vista's "Aero" interface takes advantage of PCs with advanced 3D graphics, providing features such as translucent window borders (see Aero). Also improved was the navigation of the file/folder hierarchy in Explorer (see Vista breadcrumbs).
Enhanced Search and File Management
Vista speeds up the indexed file searching over Windows XP and enables results to be stored in a virtual folder that is updated automatically. The search also extends to syndication feeds, and developers can employ the search capability in their own programs to enhance functionality.
Messaging, Workflow and User Identity
Vista includes new systems for local messaging between applications and Web services, a workflow component for automating tasks and a user identity system for personal information and site logon. These functions are also available for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. See .NET Framework 3.0.
New Document Interchange Format - XPS
Vista supports the XML Paper Specification (XPS) document format. Enabling digital signatures and digital rights to be applied to the documents, XPS also keeps the page layout intact from computer to computer, similar to Adobe's PDF format. See XML Paper Specification.
Downsized Before Released
One eagerly awaited feature was Windows Future Storage (see WinFS), a subsystem that uses a relational database on top of the NTFS file system. It allows users to combine heterogeneous data such as files, folders, e-mail and contacts into collections that can be viewed together. Although highly touted, WinFS was never included in Vista.
Explorer's terminology and hierarchy changed in Vista with many names made shorter as in this comparison to Windows XP. All the "My's" were dropped. My Computer, My Network Places and My Documents changed to "Computer," "Network" and "Documents." Shared Documents changed to "Public."