OK, part two. Are you happy now Em?
So Sunday afternoon I ordered a new desktop computer from Dell. The specs:
AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ dual-core processor
1 GB DDR2 memory
160 GB SATA hard drive
Geforce 6150 LE
No monitor (I have plenty)
USB keyboard and mouse
Windows Vista Home Basic
1 yr on-site warranty
Price: $399 + $25 tax - $15 paypal promo = $410 to my door. And Dell had it there by 10:30 AM Wednesday. Yes, that's less than three days between order and delivery. The build quality is good, it's quiet, and I actually like the case design. So...Dell did an outstanding job.
One of the first things I noticed taking it out of the box was this would be my first 100% legacy free computer. No serial ports. No parallel port. USB keyboard and mouse connections. That's mostly good, but does create an issue when you have a lot of computers and use a non-USB KVM switch.
I played around with Vista Home Basic for a while. It was disappointing. That particular version is almost the same as Windows XP, with the addition of widgets. Strangely, I experienced my first OS lock-up under Vista after clicking on a Microsoft produced widget that was integrated with their map service. The resulting web site had a script that completely consumed my CPU...power off...cold boot.
I promptly wiped the drive and installed Windows Vista Ultimate RC2. The process was fast and easy.
With any version of Vista above Home Basic, you get Aero. That's the nifty 3-D organization and transparent window feature. It's nice but many people will have to buy a new video card to use it.
In summary, my opinion of Vista so far is not particularly good. I do like the desktop widgets, but that functionality was mostly available under XP.
If you have the money to get a new computer, get Vista on it. But I wouldn't just run out and buy it otherwise...