I may not be your average computer user. I’m a self-proclaimed geek. I’ve been using Vista since the days when it was called Longhorn. I’ve been a beta tester, and I’ve been invited by Microsoft to participate in some private Vista labs where we got previews of features, and opportunities to provide feedback. Some of which directly affected the product you may be using after it goes on sale tomorrow.

I am a Microsoft MVP. I don’t work for Microsoft, in fact my day job isn’t even in the IT field. I manage some servers that run Redhat Linux. I’ve installed Ubuntu on my laptop. I’ve owned a Mac with OSX. I’m not a Microsoft fanboy. However, I will be installing Vista on all my systems. I will install it on my parents systems, and?I will?likely help a number of friends to upgrade their systems.

Vista is mostly a security update. It won’t be marketed that way, because it’s not too exciting, and it’s not something many people are going to get excited about paying for.?Some of the security features that were originally planned for Vista were rolled in XP SP2 after the Blaster and Sasser infections became so rampant, but Vista has a lot more to offer.?While it looks very similar to XP, it’s really new from the ground up. Here’s why I’m updating:

1. Vista is very secure. Run at it’s default settings, and using Microsoft email products (Outlook, Windows Mail, IE7) at their default settings, I don’t think there’s currently a single malware threat that can infect Vista. (although, I expect that to change soon). User Account Control, and IE protected mode are a couple of the major changes. There are many smaller code improvements that you’ll never see, and the 64-bit version has even more security features.

2. Improved file management. Integrated search has been around for a while with products like Google desktop, and others. Vista search?still is clunky at times, and does favor Microsoft products. However, it’s drastically changed the way I find things on my system. No more navigating through drives, folders, and files looking for what I want. It’s not as good as OSX, and it needs to get better, but it’s good. The photo management is also much better, as is backup and Windows Explorer. Shadow copy (VSS from server 2003) allows a previous version of a file to be restored, effortlessly. Vista doesn’t have the new file system that was supposed to be it’s “killer feature”, but it’s still pretty good.

3. Stability. Vista is rock-solid, and fast. Using betas I had some BSODs, but they were all due to driver issues. Since the RTM version, they’re gone. Driver support is still weak for the 64-bit version, but getting better everyday. The next generation of computer users may not know what BSOD stands for, seriously.

4. Aero. I’m a sucker for eye candy, and Vista looks nice. It’s not just a new XP skin, it’s a new interface. It’s pleasing, it’s fast, it can increase productivity. It will only get more impressive as applications, and web pages are designed to take advantage of it.

5. Gaming. Vista doesn’t offer a lot in way of improvements for gamers, but if you want to play?any of the new DirectX 10 games it’s you’re only choice. Live Anywhere,?and it’s ability to?game online against console players?will be cool.

6. Media Center. It’s Windows optimized for a 10 foot experience (as in 10′ from the screen). I’ve?built Home Theater PC (HTPC)?systems for others, I don’t?own one yet. The Media Center in Vista is greatly improved, and has some really cool features that will be announced soon. You really have to see it to appreciate it. One look at it on a hi-def television, and I knew I had to have?it. I think it’s a real sleeper, and alone makes a great argument to upgrade for anyone with an HTPC. Home Premium and Ultimate will include Media Center.