Windows Vista is intended to be a technology-based release, to provide a solid base to include technologies, many of which will be related to how the system functions, and hence not readily visible to the user. An example of this is the restructuring of the architecture of the audio, print, display, and networking subsystems; while the results of this work will be visible to software developers, end-users will only see what appear to be evolutionary changes in the user interface.
Vista includes technologies such as ReadyBoost and ReadyDrive which employ fast flash memory (located on USB drives and hybrid hard disk drives respectively) to improve system performance by caching commonly-used programs and data. This manifests itself in improved battery life on notebook computers as well, since a hybrid drive can use the Flash memory to cache the data currently in use by the OS and/or other applications, spinning down the disc platters till some fresh data is required. Another new technology called SuperFetch utilizes machine learning techniques to analyze usage patterns in order to allow Windows Vista to make decisions about what application and content should be present in system memory at any given time.
As part of the redesign of the networking architecture, IPv6 has been incorporated into the operating system, and a number of performance improvements have been introduced, such as TCP window scaling. Windows Vista includes a more comprehensive support for Wireless Networks, compared to previous versions of Windows.
For graphics, Vista introduces a new Windows Display Driver Model, as well as major revisions to Direct3D. The new driver model facilitates the new Desktop Window Manager, which provides the tearing-free desktop and special effects that are the cornerstones of Windows Aero. WDDM's current version 1.0 is able to offload rudimentary tasks to the GPU, install drivers without requiring a system reboot and seamlessly recover from rare driver errors due to illegal application behavior. The next version is going to require an entirely new generation of GPUs, which nVidia and ATI are working on. Direct3D 10, developed in conjunction with major display driver manufacturers, is a new architecture with more advanced shader support, and allows the graphics processing unit to render more complex scenes without assistance from the CPU. It features improved load balancing between CPU and GPU and also optimizes data transfer between them.
At the core of the operating system, many improvements have been made to the memory manager, process scheduler, heap manager, and I/O scheduler. A Kernel Transaction Manager has been implemented that gives applications the ability to work with the file system and registry using atomic transaction operations.