Another important new feature is the Ready Boost system. This uses relatively cheap USB2 Flash memory devices to effectively speed up the PC. It's primarily designed for users that are short of RAM, or for users that occasionally use very demanding applications. ReadyBoost does this by creating an advanced swap file on the device, and makes use of the fact that solid state devices are capable of reading and writing small chucks of data a lot quicker than a hard disk can. The standard swap file is still used by Windows, however this holds data that is used less often than the data on the USB drive.
Superfetch is another of Vista's advanced memory technologies. In essence, it is a pre-emptive application launcher; monitoring the applications you use most regularly, and how you use them. It then makes a few decisions and loads these applications, even when you are not using them. As a result, when you do want to use them, they are ready. Newer, Vista compliant applications will take this a stage further. For example, if you use only 20% of Word's total functionality, then only 20% of it is "Superfetched". You'll see a lot of these applications soon. In fact, the first one to be released will be Microsoft Office 2007.
One of the most impressive features to play with on Vista is the new Speech Recognition system. The best thing about it is the fact that it just works. The new system will type documents for you, and listen out for system commands. The rate of accuracy, even straight out of the box, is remarkably good, and it improves as it learns your voice.
The system will also read documents, web pages and emails back to you, an excellent accessibility feature.
Beyond the cosmetic and aural enhancements, Vista has lots of new things under the bonnet. The most impressive of which are the improvements to network reliability and performance. You no longer have to carefully tweak your settings to get the performance you should, Vista just takes care of it. Wireless support is also very good, running at full speed on every network I have tried it on.