Development was completed on November 8, 2006; over the following three months it was released in stages to computer hardware and software manufacturers, business customers, and retail channels. On January 30, 2007, it was released worldwide, and was made available for purchase and download from Microsoft's website. The release of Windows Vista comes more than five years after the introduction of its predecessor, Windows XP, the longest time span between successive releases of Microsoft Windows.
Windows Vista contains many changes and new features, including an updated graphical user interface and visual style dubbed Windows Aero, improved searching features, new multimedia creation tools such as Windows DVD Maker, and redesigned networking, audio, print, and display sub-systems. Vista also aims to increase the level of communication between machines on a home network, using peer-to-peer technology to simplify sharing files and digital media between computers and devices. Windows Vista includes version 3.0 of the .NET Framework, which aims to make it significantly easier for software developers to write applications than with the traditional Windows API.
Microsoft's primary stated objective with Windows Vista, however, has been to improve the state of security in the Windows operating system. One common criticism of Windows XP and its predecessors has been their commonly exploited security vulnerabilities and overall susceptibility to malware, viruses and buffer overflows. In light of this, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates announced in early 2002 a company-wide "Trustworthy Computing initiative" which aims to incorporate security work into every aspect of software development at the company. Microsoft stated that it prioritized improving the security of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 above finishing Windows Vista, thus delaying its completion.
While these new features and security improvements have garnered positive reviews, Vista has also been the target of much criticism and negative press. Criticism of Windows Vista has targeted high system requirements, its more restrictive licensing terms, the inclusion of a number of new digital rights management technologies aimed at restricting the copying of protected digital media, lack of compatibility with certain pre-Vista hardware and software, and the number of authorization prompts for User Account Control. As a result of these and other issues, Vista has seen adoption and satisfaction rates lower than Windows XP.Windows Vista ships in six editions. These are roughly divided into two target markets, consumer and business, with editions varying to cater for specific sub-markets. For consumers, there are four editions, with three available for developed countries. Windows Vista Starter edition is limited to emerging markets. Windows Vista Home Basic is intended for budget users with low needs. Windows Vista Home Premium covers the majority of the consumer market, and contains applications for creating and using multimedia. The home editions cannot join a Windows Server domain. For businesses, there are two editions. Windows Vista Business is specifically designed for small and medium-sized businesses, while Windows Vista Enterprise is only available to customers participating in Microsoft's Software Assurance program. Windows Vista Ultimate contains the complete feature-set of both the Home and Business editions, as well as a set of Windows Ultimate Extras, and is aimed at enthusiasts.
The 64-bit editions of Windows Vista—available for all editions of Windows Vista except Starter—deliver premier performance, reliability, and security, providing you access to the next generation of PC innovations.
The 64-bit editions of Windows Vista are for the serious computer users who have advanced high-performance needs and are running a computer system with a 64-bit processor. These editions bring together Windows Vista innovation with cutting-edge PC hardware to deliver access to vast amounts of memory, stronger security, and a new level of reliability. Security features such as Data Execution Prevention (DEP) and Microsoft's PatchGuard provide an additional layer of security against threats, while increased memory capabilities improve the performance of applications with heavy memory demands.
For businesses, Windows Vista 64-bit editions are ideal for engineering (CAD/CAM) work, digital content creation, scientific/technical computing, and even demanding financial analysis, all on computer systems with 64-bit processors.
In the consumer market, Windows Vista 64-bit editions are for serious gamers, high-quality media creators, and enthusiasts who demand the most from digital media and are running computer systems with 64-bit processors.
The 64-bit editions of Windows Vista are not for everyone, and require a system with a 64-bit processor and 64-bit system drivers. Please confirm that your system, applications, and devices are compatible with a 64-bit edition of Windows Vista before installing.Memory specifications
All editions of Windows Vista 64-bit provide increased memory support beyond the standard 4 gigabytes (GB) available with 32-bit editions. Refer to the specific edition of Windows Vista 64-bit to determine maximum memory capacity.
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