Great post dude_56013. Very helpful.
7.1 is a surround sound technology that has 7 channels of sound in the left, right, center, left surround, right surround, left rear, right rear positions. It also has a single channel (.1) that is used for a sub-woofer.
That particular card has 5 standard 3.5mm output jacks for speakers.
The SPDIF ports are optical and use a TOSLINK (optical) cable. It's called TOSLINK as it was created by Toshiba and is short for TOShiba-LINK.
It is fully compatible with Vista.
Most speaker setups will simply plug into the green port on the back of the card.