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Old 08-27-2007
awesomo awesomo is offline
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Default Guide to Windows Vista for Windows XP users

Guide to Windows Vista for Windows XP users

Windows XP has been out since 2002 which is quite a long time in the world of computers. By this point, you've probably heard quite a bit about Vista, with some people proclaiming Vista is horrible, while others sing it's praise. Like anything, it's all up to your own opinion in the end, and I clearly remember this same type of rhetoric back when XP was released. But let's forget all that non-sense and focus on what Windows Vista is in comparison to it's predecessor, including it's advantages and disadvantages. The goal of this article is to get the seasoned XP user familiar with the new features in Vista. We'll leave opinions up to you.

The very first difference you'll encounter is when deciding what version to purchase. There are several editions available, and at the consumer level, we're talking Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate. Home Basic is the least expensive, and the most crippled of the choices. It does not include the Aero interface, nor Windows Media Center. Really it's just XP with a new interface, a better integrated search, and some revamped code (new network stack for example.) Home Premium is more akin to Windows XP Home/Media Center Edition in terms of comparison, than Home Basic is. Home Premium gives you the new Aero interface, more backup options, Flip 3d, a handful of games, and Windows Media Center. Definitely worth the few dollars more you'll have to pay. The Business edition scraps Windows Media Center and the games from Home Premium, and adds Windows Fax and Scan, full PC backup capablities, Remote Desktop, BitLocker (encrypt part of, or all of your hard drive.) For the enthusiast (i.e. me) Windows Vista Ultimate combines the features available in all these version.

One of the most striking differences between XP and Vista, is the visual appearance of Vista. If you've got a compatible card and Vista Home Premium or above, the first thing you'll notice is the translucent windows, animated effects, and overall polish that is inherent to the Aero interface. Aero not only provides a polished, modern interface, but it also accomplishes that goal while improving performance. It does that by using the video card, rather than the CPU to render the screen (which is how XP did it, as well as the classic and Basic interface in Vista.)

Next up is the sidebar, which allows Windows users to finally use widgets (called Gadgets in Vista.) This was something I loved in Linux the last few years, and I'm glad Windows finally natively supports it. The sidebar is enabled by default when you install Vista, so you're sure to notice it right away. Don't worry though, you can customize it any way you want, and download more Gadgets to have the information you're interested in displayed. Of course, you can easily disable the sidebar from starting by right clicking on the sidebar, choosing “Properties” and then uncheck the “Start Sidebar when Windows Starts” option and hit ok. To close the sidebar, simply right click on it and choose “Close Sidebar” (I know, who would've thought?)

Of course, any discussion about Vista is not complete without mentioning the new User Account Control (UAC.) UAC forces programs to run with standard user privileges, instead of having them run as administrator (which is how Windows XP and prior handled application permissions) even when you're logged in as an administrator. Anytime a program request to do something that requires administrative privileges, UAC will prompt you to Allow or Deny the program those privileges. This is a security feature that is designed protect your computer from malware, but limiting programs. If you have a program that will not run correctly on Vista without having administrative privileges (for example, Photoshop CS2) you can simply right click on the application and choose “Run as Administrator” It is possible to turn off the UAC, but for non-power users, it's recommend that you keep it on for security. For power users, the UAC can be configured in multiple ways, all of which are available by running gpedit.msc, selecting “Computer Configuration”, expanding “Windows Settings”, expanding “Security Settings”, expanding “Local Policies” and then selecting “Security Options.” From this Editor you're able to disable the UAC, change the way it functions and the authentication it requires, and much more.

Well, that about covers the basics of what's new and different in Windows Vista compared to XP. Of course there's a lot more, such as the redesigned Start Menu, the advanced Search Engine built into Vista, the renamed core folders (“My Computer” is now “Computer”, “My Documents” is now “Documents” etc), the expanded Task Manager, the redesigned Control Panel (yes, they redesigned it again), the hidden menus in explorer (hold down ALT to bring them back) but hey, I guess I just covered them right now!

The point is that there's a lot of changes between XP and Vista. Still, if you were familiar with XP, you'll find that things are only slightly different, a few menus will not be where you expect them, but on the whole, there's been nothing but additions and improvements to Windows. Of course, as I promised, I'll leave the final opinion to you. I'll just give you a hint though: you'll love it and never look back.
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Old 09-03-2007
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cpearson cpearson is offline
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Default Great article for Windows XP users upgrading to Vista.

Great article for Windows XP users upgrading to Vista.
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Old 09-26-2007
awesomo awesomo is offline
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Thanks. I hope this helps anyone considering upgrading to windows vista.
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