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I've seen Vista come by, and while it looked cool, I assumed that it would run slower on my machine with the Aero theme. I also run my XP with animations, shadows and the like turned off, and also set to Windows Classic theme.

With Windows 7 on the horizon, is there any reason I should be thinking of upgrading?

Update

To clarify, I turned off the animations to get better performance.
My computer is about 2 years old, and is running these specs:

Intel Core(TM) 2 CPU 6300 @ 1.86GHz; 1 GB of RAM

Update 2:

I now run Windows 7. :)

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20 Answers 20

up vote 12 down vote accepted

XP 64-bit isn't very "polished", with a lot of missing drivers, and a 64-bit OS is the only reasonable way to get more than 4Gb of addressable RAM.

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9  
Saying that it's not polished is very... diplomatic of you. I would call XP 64-bit a horrible OS with horrible support. –  Stefan Thyberg Jul 15 '09 at 13:12
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I hate Vista with a burning passion, but I need XP64 for my 8GB of RAM. I'm getting Win7 because of the lackluster driver support. –  Andrew Scagnelli Jul 21 '09 at 13:58

Try out the Windows 7 RC (while you can), it doesn't really matter if your computer is old.

Tom's Hardware reported they got it working on a Pentium II. I got it working on a 6-7 year old laptop with a P4 processor and 512 MB ram. Only had a problem with my network card drivers, which I had no idea where to get compatible ones, but the rest worked straight "out of the box".

If you have a spare hard drive or your current one is large enough (+20 gb to be safe), just create a dual boot and give it a try! You will find out if drivers are an issue and if it runs smoothly.

In general I found Windows 7 a nice improvement over Windows XP, if only it were for the UI, so just give it a try, that's what the RC is for!

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I though that too, and there was a campaign in the media saying Vista was a nightmare.

The truth is I found it very easy to use. Granted I got it from a new computer. I guess the problem was the upgrade from existing XP installation.

It runs fine. I do that too on XP, bu in Vista there was no need. It all in the new hardware you buy.

If you have the money, go on, upgrade, or even better: Switch to mac

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4  
This doesn't seem helpful. The question is "what am I missing if I don't upgrade?" This answer is "the new version isn't bad." OK, but neither is the old one. Does the Vista/Windows 7 have anything great that XP doesn't? –  Nathan Long Jul 21 '09 at 15:17
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DV for suggesting switch to a mac. –  Chris Marisic Jul 21 '09 at 19:09

My understanding is that Vista offers two main, practical benefits over XP:

  • Security is better in Vista, though that can be a hassle too
  • The interface, if your hardware can handle it, provides some more visibility and convenience if you're running multiple apps

There are probably others that are not so visible. Outside of that, the hardware demands and gaming incompatibilities make me want to wait for Windows 7. And as you may have found, there are third-party utilities you can use to enhance XP.

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Since your computer is two years old, upgrade to Windows 7 when you buy your next computer.

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Yes, you are missing out on the state-of-art Ubuntu is reaching.
I write this from a USB Flash booted Ubuntu Jaunty running on an old Dell Latitude.


Update: Please note this is not a fanboy answer.
The primary OS on the laptop mentioned here is Windows-XP.
Besides which I use 3 more workstations with Windows-XP primary OS.

I feel related to the question, having considered a Vista shift earlier and
now dubiously considering a shift to 7.

I moved back to linux as a secondary OS on my laptop in an experimental form,
that is what I am suggesting here -- don't throw your favorite version of XP yet,
but, do an easy Ubuntu check from a flash drive install (not a LiveCD use).

When you use Ubuntu this way, from the same old hardware that you use with Windows,
it helps make a good comparison. You might decide to keep the secondary Ubuntu handy.
If nothing, for a bumpy back-seat car ride when you want to shutdown your HDD and work off the flash drive.

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2  
Let's not get into this, pleeeeeease, and just stick to the question –  Mark Henderson Jul 22 '09 at 1:40
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I'm tired of Mac and Linux fanboys butting into Windows-related questions with "Just buy a Mac" and "Just install Linux". Those answers don't help anyone. -1 –  Sasha Chedygov Jul 22 '09 at 3:30
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I see this as a perfectly valid answer to the question as written. by sticking with XP he's missing out on a whole plethora of OS's not just vista, Win 7, Ubuntu, OSX (if the hardware is right...). The OP may not have realised that Linux now is not what it was 5 years ago. +1 –  geocoin Jul 22 '09 at 8:48

Yes ... It is hard to put a finger on a specific feature, but Windows 7 is significantly better than Windows XP. It is a joy to use, more secure, and more polished everywhere.

As long as you have the hardware to run it.

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At this stage I would wait for 7. While Vista is a nice OS, 7 has that bit of extra polish, and it's release is this year iirc.

Most of the problems with Vista at its launch was from people believing it's minimun system requirements, which were a tad... optimistic.

However, technology moves on, and on new computers, it wipes the floor with XP.

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While I haven't tried Windows 7 on a "slow" machine (Windows 7 should be more friendly to less powerful machines) - Windows Vista doesn't run well on slower machine - with proper hardware though, I find Vista to be more responsive than XP and generally like it, due to vast improvement of security as well.

I wouldn't run Vista with any less than this:

Dual core CPU
4GB memory

You can run it with 2GB, but you'd probably want the 32bit version then, which stinks if you later decide to upgrade memory to 4GB as you'd then need to reinstall everything.

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1  
I have tested Windows 7 on a few Centrino 1GB machines and it's a massive improvement over Vista in these environments. –  Diago Jul 15 '09 at 11:27

No, you're not. Wait for Windows 7. I have an HP notebook with Vista. It has 4GB RAM and a decent CPU, but it feels slow. And it bluescreens every now and then. I prefer XP for sure.

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Blue screens are almost always caused by hardware problems or faulty drivers. All my blue screens were caused by hardware problems - most notably lots of dust accumulated in the CPU heat sink! –  Zr40 Jul 15 '09 at 20:12

My recommendation is to do what I did:

  1. Buy a cheap solid-performing extra hard drive. Top flight hardware is not required but why spend money on something that you would rather throw away?
  2. Download the free installation of the appropriate Windows 7 RC for your hardware.

My home desktop can run the 64 bit version so I decided to try that. It's my primary gaming and file-serving machine, so I figured that would be the best compatibility test. To date, I'm floored by Windows 7. Relative to Windows XP, it's great, it works, my games run faster, I can use all of my memory, etc.

I also tried it on the laptop (which is a 32 bit machine). That also just worked right out of the box. Again, I was floored. I plan to buy a new drive for my wife's notebook and install 7 on that as well. Worst case, at least I'll have all that crazy Dell cruft off that machine. Best case, she'll think I'm a genius for making her computer more awesome.

I plan to buy Windows 7 as soon as it comes out.

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Yes you are. I used XP at home and Vista at work. Didn't really like Vista that much but find it ok. But after trying Windows 7 at home, I will never ever be able to go back to XP.

If your machine is running slow even with XP, I would say it is probably time for a new machine :p But I will say this: Windows 7 runs great on my Asus EEE (Atom N280 1.67GHz, 2 GB Ram), so it doesn't really require that much. I think it requires less than Vista.

I would highly recommend checking out the RC version since it is free anyways.

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You can turn Vista's pretties off and make it look like Windows 2000, same as XP, and it doesn't run too badly. You didn't say whether your classic theme choice is because you prefer the look or because your PC runs badly otherwise. If it struggles with the animations and stuff in XP then I wouldn't try to run Vista with all the transparency etc.

I've run into a few problems supporting Vista which have put me off running it myself - some systems don't seem to see updates and you have to force service packs on them and the networking stuff is all laid out in a way that seems calculated to vex me. I'm going to wait for 7 and have a look at that. I've heard it's a bit happier on older hardware than Vista.

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Sticking with XP is fine for older computers and low-end hardware, but Vista is really the way to go with new computers. 7 might be even better, but I got my lastest computer before the public beta, so I haven't tried using that yet. You might want to consider waiting just a few months for the release of 7.

Well, then since this doesn't really answer the question well, here are some things you are missing.

  • Better 64-bit support.
  • IE8. Never mind.
  • Better security model.
  • Microsoft isn't going to discontinue it as soon.
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The only thing that hasn't already been mentioned yet is DirectX 10. this is probably a non-issue to you but for many gamers it's a deal breaker for XP. DX10 is only available from vista on. (there is a hack to get DX10 on XP, but is just that... a hack, and not very compatible by the looks of it)

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I have vista home premium on my laptop. So far I didn't face any major issues with it. There are few nuances with it. With simple web search, you would be able to find solutions for them. But vista is not a successful windows OS. It didn't penetrate much into the enterprise market. Vista may become like windows me. You may want to wait for couple of months to switch to windows 7 rather than vista.

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It's worth noting that there are a ton of cool new system features that developers can use in Vista and Windows 7 applications that weren't available in Windows XP, though I'm not sure how much they're actually being used (I'm not a Windows user). Given XP's staying power, I'd suspect that most developers are sticking with XP-compatible features, but this might change as XP users finally move on.

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Good question, I'm in a similar situation. I have an Asus netbook and it runs XP beautifully. I don't think I'll ever upgrade this as I can do everything I need and more running XP and any latest browser version I feel like.

I also own an Athlon XP desktop (running Xp Pro), it's 64 bit capable, but once again I have no real reason to need to upgrade. I develop and do basic video processing with no problems with "just" 2GB of RAM.

If I felt the need to upgrade though I will certainly wait for Windows 7 rather then Vista. By then of course, my desktop will be aging, so I'd probably buy new hardware at the same time.

Vista is probably not as bad as many would have you believe, but it's looking a lot like what "Windows ME" was before 2000/XP appeared, ie. a good one to skip.

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I use windows XP, windows 7 and vista regularly, and I have to say that while it's true that XP is starting to feel a little "dated", Ï can't say there is some killer feature in the newer versions that I really miss. There are small things, like having search be the default when I hit the win-key, but then there are small things I miss when I leave XP as well, like being able to dock the quicklaunch bar wherever I want.

Windows 7 RC is free for quite some time, so if you are curious - just try it and see if you like it.

If you have 1 gig of ram now, consider buying some more no matter what. Windows 7 might be a matter of preference, but more RAM is universally good. :)

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