Which Vista Is the Right Vista?

Opinion: Vista is finally-we think-arriving shortly. But, which, if any, Vista is the one you should buy for your home or company?

Eventually, were going to see Vista come out. Yes, I know, even at this late date, Vista is still getting unexpected delays—it was set to go to manufacturing Oct. 25, but its not going to make it—but it is on its way.

My question, though, is: What version will actually work for you come that day?

Thats not an idle question. I knew several businesses that were burned by XP Home when it first came out because theyd assumed they could save a hundred bucks a box and use XP Home PCs on their domain and AD (Active Directory)-based networks.

They were dead wrong. You cant do it, unless you didnt mind blowing your networks security by making some unauthorized tweaks to your systems.

With six different versions, the potential for buying the wrong version for the job has just gone up. Buy too low and you dont get the functionality you need. Or, buy too high, and you get some office "functionality," like the Game Performance Tweaker that you really dont need.

Lets me start though by looking at whats not in Vista. No, Im not talking over long-lost Vista features like the WinFS or the Next-Generation Secure Computing Base. Im talking about XP features that arent in Vista.

Some of them are minor. I mean, does anyone still use the gopher Internet protocol?

Some of the old features, however, are major departures. For example, Windows Messenger, the XP IM client, is history. There is a link to download Windows Live Messenger, the IM client formerly known as MSN Messenger, but its not the same thing.

NetMeeting, the VOIP (voice over IP), desktop sharing and videoconferencing client, is also going bye-bye. Its being replaced by Windows Meeting Space.

I know many businesses, and third-party applications, that are using Windows Messenger and NetMeeting together all the time for such purposes as IM discussions over a whiteboard or Web conferencing.

I foresee a lot of grief for enterprises that have made these uses central to their business.

I can also see great pain ahead for anyone whos foolish enough to buy Windows Vista Starter.

In theory, you wont be able to buy it in the United States. In practice, I know there will be gray-market copies of it for sale in the States at unbelievable prices.

I can think of nothing of any value in Starter for any user. You would be better off running Windows 98. Im not joking.

I could go on and on about this ridiculous bottom-feeder version of Vista, but I can sum it up with two of its "features."

It can only access 256MBs of RAM, and you can only run three applications on it at a time. This isnt a 21st-century operating system. Its a bad joke even as a 20th-century one.

Windows Vista Home Basic is better. Its not completely crippled the way Starter is. At the same time, its not much of a home operating system, and its a flop for businesses.

For instance, what is Vistas one feature that has people talking? The answer: Vistas eye-candy, the Aero Glass interface and all of its translucent, 3D prettiness.

Guess what, its not in Starter and its not in Basic either. You also wont find such home favorites as DVD Video Authoring.

Next Page: Business use.