Vista launch: Microsoft's latest Windows OS goes global today

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vista.jpgMicrosoft’s latest PC operating system, Windows Vista, has finally been released to consumers worldwide.

Bill’s beefy new operating system is set to take over the reins from Windows XP, though there’s a hefty upgrade price both for the software itself and the hardware required to get the most from its shiny new features.

Much will be written about Vista over the coming year, as it settles itself onto PCs and we find out if it’s to be loved or loathed.

As usual, Brits get a very raw financial deal, with what appears to be a direct dollar-to-pound conversion. Vista Home Basic retails in the US for $100, with the UK price being around £100, while the Ultimate version retails for $249 in the US, with the UK price being around – yes, you’ve guessed it – £249.

So is it worth the upgrade? Well, you’ll need to shell out for a decent version of Vista if you want all the extra eye candy and functionality that it boasts.

Vista is also supposed to have much improved security, which should be a primary concern for any computer user. However, it includes greater restrictions on how users store and use digital content, via its DRM technologies, although that’s not a Microsoft exclusive feature by any means.

Analysts Ovum predict that 15% of XP machines will be running Vista by the end of 2007.

Concerns have also been raised over Vista’s price and performance. Derek Wall, from the UK’s Green Party, has warned that Vista will further exclude the poor from the latest technology, add cost to small and medium-sized businesses, and impact the environment due to the more power-hungry equipment required. We’ll have to see if that’s borne out in reality. Microsoft have committed to support XP until 2011.

Andy Merrett