Windows Vista 101
A look at Microsoft’s latest operating system
By Marc Saltzman
WINDOWS VISTA, Microsoft’s latest operating
system (OS) has finally arrived. What’s the big deal,
you ask? You’re perfectly happy with your Windows
XP or, dare we say it, Windows 98.
After spending considerable time using Vista, I
can confidently say it’s well worth the upgrade. It’s
more reliable and stable than past versions of the
OS; it offers many new and intuitive ways to view,
organize and retrieve your stuff; and it makes it easy
to enjoy all your media, be it music, photos, TV
shows, movies or camcorder footage.
Here’s a look at some of Vista’s features.
Secure, speedy and safe
One of Microsoft’s top priorities for Windows
Vista was creating a faster, smoother OS that would
be less prone to attacks from malicious types in
cyberspace. Vista’s built-in firewall, anti-spyware tool
and anti-virus reminders and recommendations, and
a new “protected mode” in the Internet Explorer 7
browser help protect cyber-surfers from programs
that attempt to modify system files or settings.
You can back up important files, such as photos,
with ease, thanks to an automated scheduling
option within the File Backup and Restore feature.
Getting a new PC? Windows Easy Transfer makes it
a cinch to set up a new computer by transferring
data from an older one.
New parental controls let moms and dads keep
their children safe by blocking inappropriate online
content and mature-rated computer games.
Vista also delivers super-quick start-up times, so
you can begin to use your PC immediately after
turning it on.
Organizing, searching and multitasking
The moment Windows Vista is up and running, you’ll immediately notice a few “gadgets” on
the right-hand side. These features, called the
Windows Sidebar, enable you to customize what
you’d like to see (or use) at a glance, be it a clock,
calculator, photo slide show, news headlines or
“sticky notes.” After a few days, you’ll wonder how
you lived without it. Surfing the Web is also easier
thanks to “tabbed” browsing, which means you
can have multiple pages open at the same time and
simply click the tab to bring one full-screen.
One of my beefs with Windows XP has been
its slow and inaccurate searching when trying to
find files. Vista includes a search box on top of
many programs, enabling you to quickly scan your
hard drive to find what you’re after. You can also
take advantage of the “tagging” feature, which
means adding keywords to a file to easily find it in
the future. For example, finding a photo from a
recent family trip to Hawaii might be hard. Your
camera probably calls the file something like
“ DSC000543.jpg,” but with Vista you can add tags
Windows Media Player 11 for Windows Vista
gives you an easier way to enjoy and manage
your digital music, video and pictures.
to photos such as “Hawaii,” “2006,” “vacation,”
“Maui” and “lei.” Type in any of those words and
that photo will pop up.
Finally, Vista is designed to be the hub for all
your entertainment needs. The bundled Windows
Media Player 11 offers easier and faster ripping
(copying a disc to the hard drive), burning (copying
to a recordable CD or DVD), searching and playing
of music. Connect a supported portable media
player to the PC and you can also have seamless
synching between the two, so you’ll never be without
your favorite tunes.
When it comes to your photos and home
movies, Vista lets you easily edit, add special effects
and share your memories, whether it’s creating slide
shows for television, posting to your blog site, burning a DVD or ordering high-quality photos through
a number of online services.
Depending on the version of Windows Vista,
Windows Media Center is included, which lets you
watch and record live television, burn discs to watch
the content elsewhere and even log in from halfway
around the world to record your favorite shows. And
Vista is for gamers, with products designed for the
OS’s speed and power, smart networking features
for head-to-head games and online content such as
free downloads, forums and magazines.
Windows Vista comes in four flavors: Windows
Vista Home Basic; Windows Vista Home Premium;
Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Ultimate.
To read more about Windows Vista, including
which version is right for you and the minimum
system requirements (which are relatively modest),
visit www.microsoft.com/windowsvista. C
The Costco Connection
Microsoft Windows Vista is available at your local
Costco warehouse and on costco.com.
Marc Saltzman, a lead-
ing high -tech reporter,
contributes to more than
three dozen prominent
publications, appears on
radio and TV, and is the
author of 13 books.
Question for Marc?
Send your technology and
computer questions to:
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
Or fax to (425) 313-6718
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