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Microsoft Opens Up 'Vista' Operating System

The Microsoft Windows Vista operating system logo is seen on a computer monitor, Jan. 26, 2007, at a Best Buy store in New York.
Stan Honda
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AFP/Getty Images
The Microsoft Windows Vista operating system logo is seen on a computer monitor, Jan. 26, 2007, at a Best Buy store in New York.

Microsoft is about to unveil its first new operating system in a number of years, amid much fanfare. But a big question remains: Is Vista any good?

Early reviews say the software, which will be available to consumers on Tuesday, delivers some real improvements — especially in the area of security. But it's not likely to cause a stampede at your neighborhood computer store.

Microsoft's newest product launch is relatively low-key, compared to some earlier rollouts, like Windows 95's. There's no Rolling Stones commercial, for example.

Bill Gates is scheduled to appear Monday night on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. And some retailers are holding midnight sales events. But unless those retailers are offering deep discounts, analyst Rob Enderle says, there's no need to stay up that late, just to be first on your block with the new software.

"Don't get me wrong," he says. "I've been using it myself for awhile. It's a good product, but I value my sleep a lot."

Enderle says the graphics of the new operating system are much prettier than older versions. It no longer looks like something from the last decade, he says. What's more, Microsoft has worked hard to make the software less vulnerable to computer hackers.

Enderle says people who are already planning to buy a new PC should be happy with the new operating system that comes with it. But those with older computers might think twice about buying Vista as an upgrade.

"If you bought a PC in the last year, it'll work fine. I'd just be real sure you that have enough memory. Vista really likes memory."

The most basic version of Vista retails for about $200, with advanced versions selling for twice as much. Technically challenged customers can pay an additional fee to have the software installed by a professional.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.