Microsoft is undoubtedly the leader when it comes to computer operating systems, since Windows runs on the majority of PCs worldwide, in the flavor preferred by its users. Officially launched in 2007, Windows Vista can be considered a great leap forward compared to its predecessor, Windows XP.
Vista brought numerous new features and improvements, the most important one being its revamped graphical user interface meant to assist beginners to find their way around a computer with greater ease than before. Also, the search function is enhanced, along with the split screen functionality and a redesigned Start menu.
Another innovation is the Aero style which brings transparency, animations and live thumbnails to the otherwise static Windows OS, thus making it both visually appealing and more intuitive.
Windows Vista is the first Microsoft operating system to introduce sidebar gadgets, small applets that act as standalone applications and which can also be downloaded and installed from third-party sources. Unlike regular apps, these gadgets are focused on a single purpose, and can complete only basic functions (such as a calendar, RSS reader, email notifier and so on).
When developing Vista, Microsoft focused on security and stability, so UAC and Windows Defender were integrated within the OS. User Account Control enables users to control which programs are allowed to run (it is recommended to execute only the software that comes from certified sources), so that malicious tools can be blocked before harming the host PC. Unlike XP, Vista is less vulnerable to attacks and malware infections.
Regarding the updated aspects of the OS, most of the Windows built-in applications got optimized and redesigned, including Internet Explorer 7, Windows Media Player, Windows Mail (which replaced Outlook Express) or the Games Explorer.
Even though Vista is gradually replaced by Windows 7 and the newer Windows 8, it remains a breakthrough in terms of innovation and improvement, and it was a necessary stage towards creating a secure, user-friendly and feature-packed operating system.