I went through this a few weeks back ...
but I am a bit of a technophobe... especially with VISTA.
In the end - I ordered a £12 Logitech (120 I think) headset from TESCO which did the job - it's not that clear - but I can certainly talk to the world with it.
I would recommend USB tho - the one with the pluggy in jack at the front (which is what I got) does not APPARENTLY have the clarity as a USB headset - I guess it depends on whether you wish to use it to talk (headset with microphone) or whether just to listen with.
If you go to talk - USB headset which will be a few bucks more- but I am told it is much better.
(When Texas Bubba arrived - he took one look at the laptop - set it up where I can talk/listen without using any headset - it already had a built in everything!
- however, using the headset with microphone makes is clearer for the person to whom I am talking to.)
ooooh... sorry that was a bit long...
answer is YES for VISTA and VISTA can be a little flaky!
SKYPE is free PC to PC talk
SIGHTSPEED is video talking if you have a webcam
both free of charge