Windows Vista is an operating system by Microsoft that was released worldwide in 2007 although it was announced as early as 2005 and released in stages to business customers and retail channels, computer hardware and software manufacturers from 2006. It the successor to Windows XP, the second most popular version of Windows Operating Systems and was built for personal computers; business and home desktops, laptops, tablet PCs and media center PCs. Perhaps it is worthy to note that Microsoft released Windows Vista more than five years after Windows XP, the longest time period between successive releases of Windows desktop Operating Systems. Windows Vista was later succeeded by Windows 7 in 2009.
Vista came with many updated and new features probably because it was meant to fix the many problems that were reported in Window XP. New and updated features included graphical user interface and Windows visual style Aero, sub-systems for print, display and audio, Windows Search component, redesigned networking and new multimedia tools including Windows DVD Maker. Software development was enhanced in Windows Vista with the inclusion of version 3.0 of the .NET Framework that allowed development of applications without use the traditional Windows APIs. Vista also increased communication functionality between devices on a home network through use of peer-to-peer technology as way to simplify files and media sharing between computers and other devices.
Windows Vista was built on the basis of improving the state of security in the Windows Operating System especially in Windows XP and its predecessors. There were common criticisms from users about Windows XP exploited security vulnerabilities from its overall susceptibility to viruses, malware and buffer overflows. These were some of the Vista release delay reasons that were given by Microsoft as it prioritized improving the security of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 thus delaying the completion and release of Windows Vista. Although Vista was meant to enhance security, users still feel that it has high system requirements and restrictive licensing terms which have led to much criticism and negative press.
Many Windows OS users term Windows Vista as both revolutionary and evolutionary with new features that were different from its predecessors. Apart from the mentioned Windows Aero, there is also Windows shell that offers a new range of navigation, organization and search capabilities, Windows Sidebar, Windows Explorer 7, Windows Media Player 11 with new interface, Windows Defender, Backup and Restore Center which give users the ability to schedule periodic backups of files among many others add-ons. New technologies were also included in windows Vista such as the ReadyBoost and ReadyDrive which use the fast flash memory to enhance and improve system performance by caching commonly used programs and data.
Vista also came with a major graphics revision to Direct3D when it introduced Windows Display Driver Model which facilitates the new Desktop Window Manager to enhance Windows Aero through tearing-free desktop and special effects. Application security being the driving force behind Windows Vista, it came with improved security technology through the User Account Control (UAC). The UAC technology allows users to operate their PCs with fewer privileges by default and was meant to stop malware from making unauthorized changes to the system. Windows Vista, which has Windows Service Packs support, is available in various editions; Windows Vista Ultimate, Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Enterprise, Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Home Basic and Windows Vista Starter.