30/01/2007

Microsoft Vista goes on sale in UK

Microsoft has placed its latest operating system incarnation on sale in the UK.

Vista is expected to be in use on around 100 million computers worldwide within a year. The OS, which is available in four versions - Home Basic , Home Premium, Business and Ultimate - boasts new features and promises improved security.

But Vista will require a modern system on which to run, one with at least 512Mb of Ram, an 800MHz processor and 15Gb of hard drive space. Microsoft recommend a 1Ghz 32-bit or 64-bit processor, 1Gb of memory, and 128Mb of graphic memory, for Vista Premium.

The price of Vista in the UK has come under fire as the top flight Ultimate Version is on sale in the US for $249 (£127) but is priced at £249 in the UK.

However, Vista is Microsoft's first major OS release for five years and Windows XP has been criticised for serious security flaws and the myriad of patches needed to close the holes exploited by hackers and virus writers.

But the most serious concern raised about Vista relates to the implementation of Digital Rights Management, which has the capability to block or downgrade access to the system hardware to prevent the copying of protected software, including HD video titles.

The cost of this improved content protection is to be passed on to consumers, amid concerns that some computer systems may be blocked if they prove insufficiently secure at a later date.

Microsoft say that the DRM features built in to Vista have been requested by content providers to prevent unauthorised copying of premium content such as Hollywood movies.

Microsoft also released the latest version of Office today. Support for Windows XP is expected to be withdrawn in 2011.

(SP/KMcA)

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