Windows XP vs. Windows Vista

Microsoft’s first update of its Windows operating system in five years contains some major changes from the previous version, Windows XP.


  • XP: Contains a built-in firewall and the ability to automatically download security software fixes.
  • Vista: Microsoft’s most secure software ever has a built-in firewall, anti-“phishing” software and other features. New login requirements limits “administrator” privileges to keep important programs closed off the general Internet and hackers. Built-in coding gives computers another layer of individuality, making it harder for viruses and other Internet maladies to migrate from machine to machine. Vista’s core software “kernel” is designed so outsiders can’t access it.


  • XP: Users had to buy an upgraded “Media Center” version to get the ability to watch and save television programming, edit home movies and share photos.
  • Vista: Media Center comes built in with all but the basic & business versions.


  • XP: Relied on attributes of previous Windows versions that limited how users can store and access files to static displays.
  • Vista: “Aero” technology lets users sort and view files through transparent panes. Static beige “folders” are replaced by 3-D icons. New “Start” menu and integrated search functions use keywords to locate applications, music, photos, e-mail and other data. “Sidebar” function lets users keep frequently used applications on the desktop for easy access.


  • XP: Parents had limited controls over where their kids could go on the Internet.
  • Vista: Parents can limit which Web sites their kids can visit, what games they play and what times of day they can use the computer. They can track every e-mail and instant message their children send and every Web site they visit or try to visit.


  • XP: Relied largely on an add-on graphics card, which reduces the quality of photo, graphics and video.
  • Vista: Better use of integrated graphics makes photos, videos and graphics sharper and games seem more realistic, especially on wide-screen monitors.


  • XP: Setting up home networks and finding wireless networks can be complicated.
  • Vista: New features make setting up networks much easier.

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