XP vs Vista

“The biggest competitor we face with Windows Vista is XP,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer shortly before the launch of the OS. He wasn’t wrong. Not since the makeshift Windows ME has Microsoft faced such an uphill battle to win public favour for a new version of Windows.

Microsoft insists Vista is the fastest-growing OS ever, but given that the installed base of PCs has nearly doubled since the launch of Windows XP, it would be disastrous if it wasn’t. Many of the new Vista uptake are either people and businesses buying new PCs as part of an upgrade cycle, or corporate customers that receive the latest OS as part of their rolling licence. The number of people actually opting for Vista upgrades is painfully thin: US reports claim that sales of boxed upgrade editions are 60% down on XP levels.

So what’s the problem with Vista? Is it that users simply don’t know how good the new OS is? Or is it, as Ballmer implied, simply not a big enough improvement on Windows XP? This feature answer those questions.

We’re throwing the two OSes into the ring and judging them over nine categories, ranging from performance, right through to bundled apps and games. At the end of each section, we give each OS a score out of ten, and at the end you can find out which is our overall winner.

Of course, we’re not the only experts who’ve been working with Vista. Hundreds of IT professionals told us what they thought of Vista in our exclusive online survey, and we reveal their scores and feedback.

If you’re still not sure whether to upgrade, the next ten pages will guide your decision.

Usability and interface


Gaming and entertainment




Bundled apps




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