Vista LogoVista is Here. But are you Vista Savvy? Read on to find out!
You’ve gotten your hands on Vista. It’s new, you’re excited: but what can you do with Vista, once you’ve gone and installed it on your premium ready machine? Here’s some great tricks you can accomplish once you’ve decided to enter the Vista experience. Read on, and impress friends and coworkers with your Vista knowledge that’s already ahead of the curve!

Dual-Boot: The Right Way To Get Started.
Relax, and take a deep breath. Just diving right into Vista might sound like the thing to do, and maybe it is. But for those wary of losing helpful, important, or just plain favorite pieces of data when Windows Vista takes command of their PC, a dual-boot is the way to go.

Vista home premium boxYou see, when you install Vista from within Windows XP, the new OS is installed on a new partition, along with a new drive letter. This letter is usually D. This is fine, except that old programs that used to automatically boot from the C drive when you start your computer may get lost or confused. The solution to this minor dilemma is to start your computer in a dual boot configuration. Start the PC with the Vista DVD and install from there. This makes it so whichever operating system your using at a given time (Vista or XP) appears on the C drive, instead of D. It also designates any programs you install using Vista to the C drive, rather than shuffling them off to D. This will keep your programs that automatically default to C running smoothly as well.

Make Sure You’ve Got Working Network Drivers.
So you’ve got Vista installed, and now some of your network equipment is acting screwy. Here’s the deal: Microsoft tested more than 100 hardware drivers from the XP-era. They work fine with Vista but are not included with the operating system for various reasons. Ethernet cards and Wi-Fi adapters seem to be the most commonly affected devices. The solution to this snafu is a simple one: download the XP driver from the device manufacturer’s website. This will likely fix the problem straight away. There is a list out there with drivers that Microsoft engineers found compatible with Vista, you can find it at Windows/

Pick Your Laptop’s Pocket, While it’s Sleeping.
Okay, so this one is more of a feature than a trick. But it is still way cool. If you use a laptop computer, you know that starting up your laptop just to check a message or find an address or phone number isn’t always practical. Vista sideshow imageWindows Vista SideShow technology enables laptop manufacturers to include a secondary or auxiliary display in future laptop designs. This display can be used to easily view the critical information you need, whether the laptop is on, off, or in sleep mode. The convenience provided by these auxiliary displays will save time and battery life by allowing you to quickly view meeting schedules, phone numbers, addresses, and recent e-mail messages without having to start up your laptop.

Go Commercial Free, For Nary a Fee.
You record your favorite television shows to your computer while you’re at the gym. But when you’re finally ready to watch, you still must fast-forward through commercials. Clip out the drivel: Vista’s edition of the Windows Movie Maker lets you edit shows you’ve recorded using Media Center. Although you are restricted to standard definition television content, this is still a great feature. You can also archive your video material in Windows Media Video (WMV) format, which makes for much smaller files than Media Center’s MS-DVR format.

Go Ahead: Use Virtual Folders.
Although the release information for Vista has downplayed the new Virtual Folders feature in order to hype other facets, it’s still there and highly usable. You just have to know where to look. Try it out: look for pre-constructed examples in C:\Users\username\searches. In a nutshell: you can use this handy feature in conjunction with the revamped search function. Start a search then click the “save search” option. This creates a search folder. If you use a title like: “documents by Mike that contain the Serious project” then the folder will dynamically update its contents to include any such file that is added, changed, or removed.

Keep the Malware Out of Your Hair
Trojan horses and rogue programs like spyware and its ilk are the bane of modern computing. Vista helps defend against these problem applications better than XP ever could. Here are two tricks that’ll hold back the tide attempting to flood your machine.
The first is fairly intuitive: leave Vista’s User Account Protection enabled and select a Standard User account. You will have to enter an administrator password occasionally, but bear with this. It is worth the minor inconvenience to keep out unwanted flotsam. For even better security, do what many power users already do: apply parental controls to your already created Standard User account. We know, you are already an adult. However, enabling this feature gives you a pop-up warning whenever you are about to enter a suspect webpage or run a rogue application on your computer.

Did You See That 3D?
Vista image shotWindows Vista is capable of striking 3D effects. But they are not just ready and waiting to pop out at you: you’ll have to know the tricks. For the best rendering in Vista’s included chess game, follow these instructions: Click game, then options, and toggle the Graphics Quality slider all the way to the right. When you click OK, you will notice the game instantly becomes smoother and less jagged. If you happen to be running an older PC, then you may wish to trigger the opposite effect. Slide the Graphics Quality indicator all the way to the left. This will drop the game into a 2-dimensional version that is perfect for PCs without the graphics power of the newer workhorse machines.

Computer, Do As I Say!
Boy, Don’t we all wish that had worked in the past! With Windows Vista, this may not be such an idle fancy. Windows Speech Recognition, a new feature in Windows Vista, lets you interact with your computer using voice commands. It was designed for people who want to use their mouse and keyboard less, yet maintain—or even increase—their overall productivity. You can dictate documents and e-mails in commonly used programs, and use voice commands to start and switch between applications, control the operating system, and even fill out forms on the web. Windows Speech Recognition was built using the latest Microsoft speech technologies.

Voice recognition pic

It adapts to your speaking style and vocabulary, so the accuracy with which Windows Vista recognizes your speech improves each time you use it. Windows Vista supports speech recognition in a number of languages, including English (United States), English (United Kingdom), German (Germany), French (France), Spanish (Spain), Japanese, Traditional Chinese, and Simplified Chinese. With Windows Speech Recognition, you are empowered right from the start; a guided setup and an interactive training experience familiarize you with key concepts and commands.

Related Links: Sofware, Microsoft Windows XP, Windows Vista