Windows Aero

Probably the most commented new feature on Windows Vista is its new graphic interface, called Windows Aero, available on Home Premium, Business, Enterprise and Ultimate versions. Windows Aero allows elements to be drawn at higher resolutions and displays transparent windows (see Figure 1), thumbnails of the programs that are currently running when you press Alt Tab or pass your mouse on minimized programs on the task bar (see Figures 2 and 3) and Flip 3D, a 3D list of programs that are currently running when you press Windows Tab (see Figure 4).

Windows VistaFigure 1: Transparent windows (see how you can see Paint’s color palette under WordPad).

Windows VistaFigure 2: Thumbnails of the programs that are running when you press Alt Tab.

Windows VistaFigure 3: Thumbnail of the program when you pass the mouse over it on the task bar.

Windows Vista Flip3DFigure 4: Flip 3D, when you press Windows Tab.

So, why is Windows Aero a new hardware-related feature? Because it uses 3D processing of your video card to work. In theory this would mean that Windows Aero doesn’t work well if you have a low-end VGA. However we made some tests here with a GeForce 6200 TurboCache with 64 MB 64-bit memory – probably the most low-end PCI Express video card available today – and we thought that for the average user the Flip 3D performance was quite satisfactory. Of course the faster your video card is, the faster is the switching between applications using Flip 3D.

This new feature also has added a new feature on Windows Vista, a performance index or “Windows Experience Index”, as Microsoft calls it.


Gabriel Torres is a Brazilian best-selling ICT expert, with 24 books published. He started his online career in 1996, when he launched Clube do Hardware, which is one of the oldest and largest websites about technology in Brazil. He created Hardware Secrets in 1999 to expand his knowledge outside his home country.