Don’t Fear the Vista!

If you are moving from XP to Vista, you may be apprehensive at first; I was! In fact, I would not have tried Vista if it weren’t for the fact that my new laptop was only available with Vista installed. After going through the startup process I was surprised to see a desktop that was very familiar; it actually looks much better than my XP desktop.

I read that there would be a huge learning curve, which made me apprehensive at first, but from my experience I found that Vista is not so difficult. There are however, some differences in the new operating system that can be seen as improvements over the previous versions. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s new and improved:

  • Aero
  • Sidebar
  • Enhanced Search
  • Explorers
  • Preview Pane
  • Enhanced Security

Aero … A Cool, New Desktop Experience

Vista has two different Windows interfaces available:

  • Basic – Your conventional interface much like XP
  • Aero – A graphically enhanced interface that requires a more capable graphics card

Aero is an impressive well designed interface that features a cleaner, more transparent look. New features in Aero also include Live Icons and the 3D Flip feature. Live Icons are accessed through the task bar. When the mouse is positioned over a task bar item an icon is displayed that shows a preview of the application running in that task, helping you work more efficiently and increasing productivity.

New to Vista is the 3D Flip feature. This feature is an update to the ALT+TAB feature and provides users with a 3D stack of their various open windows. 3D Flip can be accessed via the Windows logo+TAB keys, allowing you to flip through the open windows and quickly locate and select the window you want to access.

To see if your computer is ready for Aero use the Microsoft Upgrade Advisor available at or check with your computer manufacturer.

Sidebar … Easy Access to all Your Favorite Gadgets

Vista’s addition of the new feature, Sidebar provides users with highly effective, interactive, and customizable access to data. The sidebar is a collection of gadgets (mini applications) that provide features such as a clock, a calendar, RSS feeds, and much more. Gadgets can be downloaded for free right from the desktop or you can create your own using simple web programming skills. To personalize your Sidebar visit the Windows Vista Gadget Gallery.

Enhanced Search … Finding a Needle in the Haystack Just Got Easier

Vista’s desktop search feature is a vast improvement over XP’s search capabilities. Vista’s search tool allows users to search for files or applications from anywhere, rather than just the folder you are in. Additionally, you can start your search by just typing a few letters, and there’s no need to click search! For instance, typing dre might bring up Dreamweaver and a Dr. Dre mp3.

Explorers … Managing Information with More Speed and Flexibility

One of the biggest changes in Vista is the advent of Explorers. In Vista, Explorers are the tools you use for managing, viewing, and finding data and resources. Explorers allow you to manage documents, devices, media, and system settings through the Control Panel. The advent of the Explorers allows for a consistent interface throughout the Vista experience.

Preview Pane … A High Resolution Preview

The new Preview pane feature can be accessed from certain explorers, such as Documents, Music, or Pictures Explorers and allows you to see the content within the file without opening them. When Office 2007 is installed you can also read Office documents from the preview pane providing quick access to data as you browse or search.

Enhanced Security … Puts Your Mind at Ease

Home users should be especially concerned about security. Whether you are worried about someone accessing your data or just making sure your family is safe online, Windows Vista has provided users with enhanced security features to help meet their needs including:

  • Parental Controls
  • Enhanced Firewall
  • Windows Defender

Parental Controls … Setting Limits from One Location

If you are a parent, you’re concerned about protecting your children as they use the computer and the Internet. Vista’s Parental Controls allow parents to manage their children’s computer use. Vista allows parents to determine which games their children can play, which programs they can use, and which websites they can visit. Vista also allows parents to restrict computer use to specific times of day. It even integrates with third-party software where available.

At our home we use this to restrict access to the Internet to a few hours a day including homework time and it is turned off after bedtime. If kids need more access you can easily allow it on a permanent or temporary basis. The best part is that all this can be done from a single screen!

Enhanced Firewall … Setting Up Protection is Easy

Your first line of defense when you’re online is a firewall; personal firewalls help ensure you stay protected. Vista features two different firewalls: the basic firewall which is the same in XP, and the new enhanced firewall. The enhanced firewall provides users with a true firewall, capable of filtering traffic both inbound and outbound. The enhanced firewall also allows users to configure traffic rules. By default, all inbound traffic is blocked unless it is solicited and all outbound traffic is allowed.

The new firewall can really enhance security at home. For instance, in conjunction with parental controls you may not want your child to use a file share utility, so you can block the ports used by these applications. There are also a number of other uses for this enhanced firewall. To learn how to set up your firewall in Vista visit Windows Firewall.

Windows Defender … Improved Spyware Protection

Windows Defender in conjunction with Internet Explorer 7 is designed to assist you in making conscious decisions about what software is installed on your system. This is provided by Windows Defenders’ always-on protection. Always-on protection monitors key system folders and files, watching for changes that may indicate the presence of spyware.

Windows Defender uses newly designed scanning and removal technologies to keep your system safe. New spyware definitions are identified with the help from Windows Defender users, who submit reports of potential new spyware to Microsoft.

Go Ahead! Give It a Try!

With all the new features and benefits there is really no reason to fear Vista! Home users will find it to be a better, faster operating system with much faster load times. To see Windows Vista for yourself and to find out more visit See Windows Vista. So go ahead and give it a try!

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