Nearly everything, if you look at it from the graphical user interface (GUI) perspective.
From the Start Menu to Windows Explorer, there are graphical changes everywhere. We have been so accustomed to the previous Windows versions that the new graphics elements in Vista felt very alien.
In reality, a lot of elements from Windows XP were retained. However, they were organized differently in Vista, so simple tasks now feel more complicated than they should. Microsoft claims that the new arrangements make better sense and have better security, but we beg to differ.
A lot of commonly-used options are now hidden. Three days into Vista and we are still not convinced that the new arrangements make sense. We will take a more detailed look at this later on.
Microsoft also introduced a few new applications and features in Windows Vista. Among them are :
- Windows Calendar, a basic desktop organizer
- Windows Update, which is now an application
- Windows Collaboration, to share application and documents with people you know
- Windows Sidebar, which allows useful gadgets to appear on the desktop
- Speech Recognition, which allows you to take control of Vista using voice commands
- Windows DVD Maker
- Windows Photo Gallery
- Windows Slideshow
- A powerful search and indexing service
- Windows System Performance Rating, which grades the overall performance of your PC, and
- Several new games that take advantage of a GPU
What excited us the most was the fact that Microsoft made Internet Explorer 7 independent of the operating system. We can now remove IE without feeling that we just removed the soul of operating system. Although tabbing is now implemented, IE 7 still consumes far too much system resources.
What’s Not So New?
While Windows Vista has many new features and UI changes, nearly everything that seem new is, in reality, not really new after all. The changes look radical but are not really revolutionary.
The taskbar is still there. It looks radically different because it now supports Aero Glass, but it is still the same old taskbar that does the same old thing. The Start Menu now looks a lot cooler but heck, it is still a Start Menu. We were expecting a Start Menu that can be positioned anywhere on the taskbar, but alas, that was not to be.
We acknowledge that Microsoft has rewritten quite a lot of codes and made a good operating system even better. But if one looks at it as a whole, Vista is somewhat like XP with a new and different skin.
While Vista comes with a few revolutionary changes, especially in Windows Explorer and its Performance Diagnostic tool (which we will examine later), it's hardly revolutionary enough to justify Microsoft’s claim that it is a quantum leap, similar to the transition from Windows 95 to Windows 98. We aren't disappointed but we sure expected more after all that hype and delay.