What is Windows Vista? (part 2)


Visual styles

Some notable Windows XP features and components have been replaced or removed in Windows Vista. Perhaps the most significant of these is the removal of Windows Messenger, the network Messenger Service, HyperTerminal, MSN Explorer, and the replacement of NetMeeting with Windows Meeting Space. Windows Vista also does not include the Windows XP “Luna” visual theme, or most of the classic color schemes which have been part of Windows since the Windows 3.x era.

The “Hardware profiles” startup feature has been removed as well, along with support for older motherboard technologies like the EISA bus and APM. WinHlp32.exe, used to display 32-bit .hlp files, is no longer included in Windows Vista as Microsoft considers it obsolete. This has resulted in a number of older programs not being able to display Help when running on Vista.

In addition, Microsoft prohibits software manufacturers from re-introducing it with their products. However, WinHlp32.exe can still be installed manually from Microsoft’s Download Center. Telnet.exe is no longer installed by default, but is still included as an installable feature.

Visual styles
Windows Vista has four distinct visual styles.

Windows Aero
Vista’s premier visual style is built on a new desktop composition engine called Desktop Window Manager. Windows Aero introduces support for 3D graphics (Windows Flip 3D), translucency effects (Glass), window animations and other visual effects, and is intended for mainstream and high-end graphics cards.

To enable these features, the contents of every open window is stored in video memory to facilitate tearing-free movement of windows. As such, Windows Aero has significantly higher hardware requirements than its predecessors. 64 MB of graphics memory is the minimum requirement, depending on resolution used. Windows Aero (including Windows Flip 3D) is not planned for inclusion in the Starter and Home Basic editions.

Windows Vista Standard
This mode is a variation of Windows Aero without the glass effects, window animations, and other advanced graphical effects such as Windows Flip 3D. Like Windows Aero, it uses the Desktop Window Manager, and has generally the same video hardware requirements as Windows Aero. This is the default mode for the Windows Vista Home Basic Edition. The Starter (developing markets) edition does not support this mode.

Windows Vista Basic
This mode has aspects that are similar to Windows XP’s visual style with the addition of subtle animations such as those found on progress bars. It does not employ the Desktop Window Manager; as such, it does not feature transparency or translucency, window animation, Windows Flip 3D or any of the functions provided by the DWM. The Basic mode does not require the new Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) for display drivers, and has similar graphics card requirements to Windows XP. For computers with graphics cards that are not powerful enough to support Windows Aero, this is the default graphics mode.

Windows Classic
An option for corporate deployments and upgrades, Windows Classic has the look and feel of Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003, does not use the Desktop Window Manager and does not require a WDDM driver. As with prior versions of Windows, this theme supports “Color schemes” which are a collection of color settings. Windows Vista includes six classic color schemes, comprised of four high-contrast color schemes, as well as the default colour schemes from Windows 95 and Windows 2000.

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