Taking a quick look at Vista


The consumer versions of Windows Vista:

• Windows Vista Home Basic: Includes security and search enhancements over Windows XP but not the new “Aero” visuals that enable transparent window borders, live previews and various animations. Intended for lower-end PCs with at least 512 megabytes of memory and an 800-megahertz microprocessor. $199 for full version; $99.95 for upgrade.

• Windows Vista Home Premium: Includes improved security and search as well as the “Aero” user interface, Windows Media Center, Windows Tablet PC technology, integrated DVD burning. Intended for higher-end PCs with at least a gigabyte of memory. $239 for full version; $159 for upgrade.

• Windows Ultimate: Includes all features of Home Premium as well as features from versions designed for businesses. Also promised are additional features, called Ultimate Extras, that can be downloaded from Microsoft, including a tool that animates the desktop background and an advanced image-editing tool. $399 for full version; $259 for upgrade.

(Vista automatically turns off features that can’t be supported by the PC’s hardware.)