Microsoft releases Vista vs. XP comparison

Martin Brinkmann
May 26, 2008
Updated • Nov 13, 2017
Windows, Windows Vista, Windows XP

If a company releases a product and a successor of that product a few years later and then a document comparing the features of both products; what would you expect from that comparison ? Any company in the world would obviously come to the conclusion that the new product is far superior than the old one.

Microsoft released a Windows Feature Comparison white paper that compares Windows Vista and Windows XP. The not so surprising result of the comparison is that Windows Vista is superior to Windows XP in all aspects: well except for a few parameters that have not been compared with each other.

Update: Microsoft removed the download from its website. We have uploaded the document to our own download server for archiving purposes. You can download the PDF document with a click on the following link:  (Download Removed)

Microsoft is having a hard time convincing the public that Windows Vista is a "good" operating system, that upgrading to it does indeed make sense from various points of view. The feature comparison explains how features are implemented in XP and Vista in two columns and outlines the key differences in a third.

The following features are compared:

  • Security Development Lifecycle (SDL)
  • Defense in depth
  • Windows BitLockerâ„¢ Drive Encryption
  • Windows Firewall
  • Windows Internet Explorer® 7 Protected Mode
  • Microsoft ActiveX® Installer Service
  • Group Policy settings
  • Standard user accounts
  • Reliability and diagnostics
  • Event management
  • Task scheduling
  • Image-based setup (IBS)
  • Deployment, compatibility, and asset -inventory tools
  • Windows Setup
  • Worldwide single-image deployment
  • Windows Mobility Center
  • Sync Center
  • Offline files
  • Network Projection
  • Secure Sockets Tunnel Protocol (SSTP)
  • Power management
  • Wireless networking
  • Search
  • User interface and navigation

The intended audience for the white paper is clearly not the end user but people working in IT. Microsoft compares security, deployment and management which are key features for IT admins who have to weight in on the upcoming company operating system when it comes to making upgrade decisions.

Windows Vista is not a bad operating system. The PC I bought for my mother runs Windows Vista and it's working out fine for her. My major problem with Windows Vista is that, apart from the forced exclusiveness of Direct X 10, it does not provide anything that I would need that I could not have in Windows XP.

Software developers have created so many excellent programs that add to the Windows XP experience that Vista's native exclusive features don't really make for a compelling upgrade argument. Just look at Bitlocker and Search for instance. Instead of using Bitlocker users can install True Crypt, and there are so many desktop search replacements for Windows XP that I stopped counting a long time ago (try Everything for instance).

Microsoft's main problem in my opinion is the lack of new features from a user's standpoint that would make a user say: Wow, that's better. The one key are that they did not mention in their feature comparison is performance and that is probably the area where they could make the biggest impact. But I guess that we have to wait until Windows 7 is released to the public before we see an improvement there as well.

Microsoft releases Vista vs. XP comparison
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Microsoft releases Vista vs. XP comparison
Microsoft released a Windows Feature Comparison white paper that compares various features of Windows Vista and Windows XP.
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  1. a lot more said on October 18, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    ii think microsoft has done a good job see vista os which enables its aero features when the hardware is compatible with aero feature otherwise it is windows xp in performance when win xp came it was same like vista no program was compatible with it and nor hardware wait for vista to better it will give us better results wait for sometime n be patient

  2. Chuck said on September 12, 2008 at 6:32 am

    If you can stay away from Vista,,, DO SO! It svcks out loud. I hope to GOD we don’t EVER have to field it at my company. Bill Gates, do us all a favor and pull this Vista piece of crap off the shelves and continue with XP-SP4, 5, 6 et-al. XP rules. Also IE7 svcks too. Scrap that piece of dog$h!t while you’re at it Bill.

  3. Scott said on June 29, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    I’m confused, I see all the new computers are having VISTA installed in them, I have XP do I even have to worry about upgrading mine, at this point I’m content with what I have.

  4. Anon said on June 14, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    Vista fucking sucks. Used it for a year until a virus fucked up my exe’s (Norton blows goats), I installed XP and realized that it’s superior. Even though I have a 8800GTX + Quad core Intel, my games were like 20% faster. When will Microsoft start making a decent operating systems again? 98 sucked, NT sucked, ME sucked and now this Vista shit…

    Fuck Vista and fuck DX10.

  5. Jesse said on May 29, 2008 at 5:13 am

    I just paid 100 bucks for a legit OEM copy of windows special ordered from my local IT guy, My laptop came pre-installed with Vista and I knew my computer could run a million times better with a different OS.

    While I waited because XP was backordered from the distributor, I decided to run a few *nix distros and had a lot of fun with that but ultimately, I’m running XP(but dual booting *nix for fun) because I’m just used to the doze environment.

  6. Starboykb said on May 27, 2008 at 2:21 am

    i hate Vista at first because of the performance and problem i experience with. After the Service pack 1 release, my personal opinion have change a little. but i dont really trust the security in vista because i found that they can easily infected by older virus which i dont believe after i seen it with my own eyes in my customers laptop.

  7. Bruno said on May 26, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    well, after tons of patch I think that now it’s time, I’ll migrate to …xp sp3, :D bye bye win2000

  8. Rarst said on May 26, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    I think that there are two basic factors that make transition (global) to new version of windows (based on desktop-level 3.1->95->98->XP timeline) successful:

    1. Current windows has insufficient compatibility with latest hardware.
    2. New windows offers new and important features.

    Vista fails both of these miserably:
    1. Hardware compatibility is actually worse than in XP, only new thing is DirectX 10 (which is far from hit) .
    2. Features suck.

  9. Thinker said on May 26, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Hehe, I agree with Jojo: MS is getting desperate. Why MS have to prove users, that Vista is better? Why users don’t see it? I see, that on Vista works less hardware and software due to incomparability, and even if Vista offers fabulous DX 10 it still works slower with games, and everything else :]
    And what I expect from OS? That it will be transparent. I don’t need 3D aero glass skins. The feature that I wonder about, probably impossible to implement(SIC!) is when I click on My Computer I don’t have to wait 1-10sec for opening it. I hate it. It is only possible on totally clean system, but after 1 hour of installing drivers and basic programs it’s gone.

  10. Kieran said on May 26, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    I am running Vista atm and have to say I don’t hate it. My parents know nothing about computers and it has stopped them screwing things up fairly well. It is less versatile at first in terms of customisation when compared to XP. But if you know what your doing and/or are smart enough to gain access to google then their are few issues that cant be resolved. Thing is this is much the same as XP in my opinion. XP is just more developed (obviously) give it time and I think vista will eventually be accepted more. Its not that much better if at all but it looks nice and came pre-installed so whatever.

  11. Jojo said on May 26, 2008 at 11:11 am

    Bah! I smell Microsoft getting desperate.

    Which of the various versions of Vista does this list apply to? One of the things MS should do forthwith is to reduce Vista to two versions like XP (Home and Pro). Or better yet, one version for everyone.

    I don’t use group policy and I don’t have any security issues, so I don’t care about what security enhancements are in Vista. IF MS REALLY wanted to improve Windows security AND manageability, then they should STOP every damm program from adding files to Windows system libraries!

    As you say, MS should have spent time making enhancements that would resonate with the average user. For instance:

    – A double paned Explorer UI with integrated file viewer
    – Fix Explorer so it isn’t always losing the view of files in a folder (thumbnails, detail, icon, etc.)
    – Put a real icon representing the [or the first] exe file encountered in a folder in the Explorer folder list instead of the that boring yellow folder for every single non-special folder
    – A true disk imaging application built-in
    – Replacements with new UI’s for age old apps like notepad and paint
    – Control over the boot-up process from the very beginning. We should be able to step through what drivers are being loaded and be able to disable them on the fly. We should be able to time home long a boot-up takes, where the time is being used and auto save that information as part of Windows
    – Trapping and reporting of BSOD’s instead of forcing the user to wrote the info down or take a photo
    – Provide an option to auto pump event errors to email (like I do now using Eventsentry Lite). This way users would know when an app is having problems. Few people actually look at their event logs.
    – A corral function for the desktop that would let you group a set of icons and move them as a group. Draw a physical line around the group.

    These are just a few ideas off the top of my head. Probably many more if I put some thought into this. But taken together, it is simple things like this that would impress the average user. Then they might build a groundswell based on user adoption.

  12. Martin said on May 26, 2008 at 9:53 am

    I think that you can add most features of Vista to XP with third party applications. I would not upgrade to Vista but have no prob to use it if I buy a new computer that has it preinstalled. I do not think that the new features justify an update from Windows XP.

  13. darkkosmos said on May 26, 2008 at 9:06 am

    So vista has actually more features than XP but not worth paying for right now?

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