Newbie’s Guide to Vista: The Look

It has been more than a full year since Microsoft’s revolutionary operating system was available to the masses. Harsh reviews, astounding features, and a lot of troubles, it is still seen as the dark horse amongst most users. Even among power users, Vista is looked down upon. Dissecting the features of Vista, and noting considerable changes could sway some of you to ultimately want to switch from whatever operating system you may be using currently, or maybe not. First up we will look at the interface and some graphical changes that have been made. As sad as it may seem, there wasn’t a total overhaul on the way Windows looks. It keeps the same stature as Windows XP, but altogether, it definitely looks a lot smoother. This article will be followed by a second and third part. As aforementioned, this particular article will be about the Look of Vista, while the second and third parts will cover how Vista Feels, and it’s Experience, through my eyes. Now let’s dive in.

The Look

Thanks to the newly developed Aero graphical user interface, I give Windows Vista a thumbs up for making everything look substantially better than XP. With that being said, high expectations should not be overwhelmingly outrageous. The taskbar has been revamped, and given a more “flashy” look than what most are used to looking at. Getting rid of the “START” from the Windows Start button is probably the most significant noticeable change that didn’t retain the status quo of XP. To say the least, it looks great, and really makes for a good first impression. Something Microsoft seems to really aim towards.

Those of you able to use Aero will notice that Windows now features transparency by default, which makes everything happen so much more seamlessly, as one would hope. A very minor feature is the ability to change the color of your windows, taskbar, and Start menu. It may not seem like much, but it gives a little bit more control and the user is able to add a small personal touch that might be needed to achieve the desired environment. The title bar and windows have not been left out of this graphic overhaul, adding the nice transparent effect, accompanied by some new boxed-shape icons. Icon sets really do have a baring on what operating system people choose to use. For those still using XP, the icons really don’t seem too different, mainly because they were developed by the same people. Yes, “The Iconfactory” has developed the icon set for Vista, as they did for XP. It appears that the overall theme for Vista places an emphasis on making it appealing to end-users, which really turns out to be a benefit for everyone- making something that almost anyone can appreciate. The icons do not slouch in this area either, following the trend and out-classing XP’s icon set. High standards were expected from the XP fanboys/fangirls, but Microsoft didn’t seem to try and sell itself short either.

For those who believe in showing the best thing last, you will get your wish. The Windows Flip 3D window browsing has to be one of the most fun and graphically exciting things that is part of this operating system. This feature enables you to browse through each and every window you have open, including the desktop, to easily decide which window you might want open. It gives you a complete look at whatever is going on in each of the windows or applications you have open.

Using this feature is as easy as pressing Windows Key+TAB, or clicking on the button titled “Switch Between Windows.” If only more mainstream Vista users knew about this feature, I would have no doubt in believing they would have an overall satisfactory grade to give Vista. It is almost flawless, except for the fact that the edge of the windows could seem a little jagged without some anti-aliasing applied. And of course, you can’t exactly read everything that is in those windows. To use this feature you need Aero capable hardware, with Aero enabled. Just a reminder to all those considering buying Vista, if you want all the benefits of Aero, you will need to purchase Home Premium or higher.

This concludes the Look section of my Vista dissection. Coming soon will be the following articles about the Feel of Vista, and then the Experience in Vista.