Editors' Note: This downloadable version of Windows Vista is an upgrade only. Users can only upgrade to Windows Vista Home Basic from Windows XP Home version.
Windows Vista Home Basic is the edition of Windows for just the essential home computing needs, such as using e-mail, browsing the Internet, or viewing photos. While it lacks many of the features of Home Premium, it is easier and safer than Windows XP.
Instantly find information on your computer--including documents, e-mails, photos, and even music files--with Instant Search, which is integrated throughout Windows Vista. See the information you care about instantly with Windows Sidebar and gadgets, which bring real-time information, like weather and news, directly to your desktop. With Windows Photo Gallery, it's easier to download photos from your digital camera and then organize, edit, view, and share them with family and friends. Windows Defender helps automatically safeguard your PC against pop-ups, slow performance, and security threats caused by spyware and other unwanted software. With Parental Controls, you can manage the rules for your children's computer use. You can set time limits and manage their access to the web and to PC games.
The bad: Windows Vista Home Basic does not put Search on the desktop (it's buried within applications, within the Start Menu); no Aero graphics system in Home Basic; no new software yet written exclusively for Windows Vista; optimized only for the Microsoft Windows ecosystem (for example, RSS feeds from IE7 get preferential treatment); and little reason to leave Windows XP.
The bottom line: Windows Vista Home Basic is essentially warmed-over Windows XP, Windows XP SP3. If you're currently happy with Windows XP SP2, we see no compelling reason to upgrade. On the other hand, if you need a new computer right now, Windows Vista is stable enough for everyday use.
Reviewed by: Robert Vamosi; Reviewed on: 1/24/07; Release date: 1/30/07