I was in a real comfort zone with Windows XP and did not want to learn a new operating system. I have used all the Windows operating systems and before that, DOS, so I know technology improves as it advances. I finally took the big step with my newest laptop and installed Windows Vista. There are some differences between Windows XP and Windows Vista that you will notice right off the bat.
The Windows Aero interface, with live icons and the flip three-dimensional feature is definitely different than the XP interface. Hover on a diminished window on the task bar and live icons show you what is running in that window. In Windows Vista, when you are in a folder, the sidebar shows you other folders that you may toggle using 3D flip or ALT+TAB.
The START menu in Vista is much more streamlined than Windows XP. The integrated search feature in the START menu is more robust than the one in Windows XP. You may search for files or applications by typing the first few letters of the name in the search box.
Windows Vista has a feature where users access the computer but may not access critical applications and administrative functions. This feature keeps busy hands from changing your settings or deleting necessary components of the operating system. I found this feature the hardest to get used to. I kept looking for hardware profiles and such that you find in Windows XP.
In Windows Vista, the parental controls let you limit the programs, the websites and the hours users may access the computer and view the documents and the sites users have accessed. This is especially helpful as children become teenagers and learn to clear cache, history and cookies.
Windows Vista has two firewalls, the standard firewall found on Windows XP and another one that has advanced features and filters outgoing as well as incoming data. This is helpful if you have an open port of which you are unaware and someone is listening.Summary
There are issues with Windows Vista, such as the 32-bit system limit on memory, but most users will love the clean interface and the enhanced security features. If not, there are many articles online to tell you how to "tweak" Vista. The most important piece of advice I can give you would be to make sure you are installing Windows updates on a timely basis.