When it comes to graphics, Microsoft's new operating system may earn its name. Vista promises plenty of great views with upgrades for richly detailed games, as well as better-looking and more-useful desktop apps.
Much of the expected benefit will come from DirectX 10, the first complete rewrite of Microsoft's ubiquitous package of graphics tools, and its move toward what's called a Unified Shader Model. Though games will receive the biggest benefit, Microsoft says that Vista's improved use of graphics resources will allow all applications to add more animation and visual effects without slowing your PC to a crawl. Of course, there's a catch: DX10 must be paired with similarly boosted graphics hardware, meaning you'll have to shell out for a new video card. But you can still benefit from other advances with today's cards.