Want to check out whether your computer is ready for Windows Vista? Will you need to upgrade the hardware before you can use cool new features like the Aero interface? In addition to Microsoft's own spec check, PC Pitstop has a small readiness test utility that will quickly analyze your PC and feel you which components do and don't pass muster. Click here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=42B5AC83-C24F-4863-A389-3FFC194924F8&displaylang=en

Change the logon screen in Vista

Don't like the logon screen wallpaper? Want something a little more customized and to your own taste? It's easy to do with a simple little free utility that you can download at

  1. Create or download a picture that you want to use for the logon background and name it with the .logonvista extension.
  2. Download and install LogonStudio for Vista.
  3. Click the shortcut to open the program.
  4. When you get the UAC prompt, click Continue.
  5. Navigate to the location of the file you want to use for the background.
  6. Select the file and click Open.
  7. Click Save.
  8. Click Apply.
Now you'll have a logon screen you like instead of the same one that everyone else has

Ok here's my Vista review so far:

It looks pretty. The icons have the look of Apple and Firefox. It blocks installation of some programs, but usually if you make sure there are at lease XP compatible they'll work.( You might have to turn off the security feature to install programs. I have directions on that on the other Vista pages).Be ready to go looking for drivers. It did not have my 3Com 10-100 network card drivers so I rebooted into XP and download the latest ones-from 2003 off 3Com's web site, etc. The biggest issues so far are the drivers so be patient.It a little hard to navigate around when you're used to running XP in "Classic Mode" but with a high-end video card it does look nice. It does seem to work better at the screen size it selects best so I don't suggest changing it to another setting. Enjoy! I'm sticking with XP Professional for now. One more thing about Vista-it's also a "Media Center" type of software which I don't care to have either.To each their own I say but if you read my review of Windows Media Center software on it's page, I want my computer to be just that. I'll watch tv on my large screen tv, play cds in my stereo system etc. If you live in a one bedroom apartment that's tight for space, then maybe it's good for you. (I lived 5 years in a semi truck driving around the USA and Canada, and I still wouldn't want my computer to be my whole entertainment center. Basically if you read the computer magazines, they'll say the same thing we do. If you have XP and it works good, stay with it and don't upgrade to Vista. ALL of the new computers that are being sold now have Windows XP Media Center software installed and they'll give you a free "upgrade dvd to Vista" that is also a media center software. You system will "look like Vista" but not be a true Vista system. That is, it will still have XP running behind the scenes. If you truly want a Vista system, then buy one but it'll cost you at least $2000-$3000 for it.( I would wait at least for a year before buying one). That is because the Vista software is expensive and it has to be a "power system" to run it correctly. A super fast cpu, at least 2GB of DDR2 ram, and high-end video card, SATA hard drive, etc, etc, etc. Just because Vista offers improved security, it still will (along with ALL computers,Windows, Apple, Linux) will always be open to computer viruses, spyware & malware, etc as long as you go onto the Internet with it.

Vista Tips & Tricks:

How to make Vista stop prompting you for credentials to install applications

The most common complaint we've heard from customers who are testing the Vista Consumer Preview Edition (Beta 2) is about the seemingly endless number of dialog boxes that pop up every time you try to do something like installing a program, even if you're logged on as an administrator. That happens because as part of the quest for better security, by default Vista runs in Admin Approval Mode and has application installation prompts enabled. Although not recommended, you can disable Admin Approval Mode and User Account Control Prompts. This is done by editing the local security policies. See "Configure User Account Control" on the Microsoft TechNet web site for instructions on how to do this:

Vista Compatibility Mode saves the day

If you're running the Vista beta and you're having problems getting some of your applications to install or run, be sure to try Vista's compatibility mode. I installed CorelDraw 10 (I prefer it to later versions) and the installation seemed to go okay but the program wouldn't open. Here's what I did:

Go to the program's executable file and right click it, then select Properties.
Click the Compatibility tab. Here, as with XP, you can select to run the program in compatibility mode for a previous operating system (for example, XP SP2).
Unlike XP, you can also select to run the program as an administrator, in the "Privilege Level" section.
After I selected to run in compatibility mode and as an admin, my Corel applications started up and worked normally.

Use Vista's Reading Pane to preview your docs without opening them

One of my favorite new features in the Vista Explorer is the Reading Pane. When you turn this on (by clicking the Organize button in the toolbar and selecting Layout | Reading Pane), you get an instant preview of documents that you highlight in Explorer, without opening them. For instance, just click a Word document and you can examine its contents in the Reading Pane, including all formatting and any embedded graphics (similarly to the way you can preview a message in Outlook's reading pane without opening the message). It looks really great.

Where's this new firewall functionality, anyway?

You've probably read that the Windows firewall in Vista is improved to allow you to create rules for outbound traffic. But if you double click on the Windows Firewall applet in Control Panel (or through the Security Center), you'll probably be left scratching your head and wondering where you configure that. Well, here's the secret: you have to create a custom Microsoft Management Console (MMC) to access the new features. Here's how:
1. In the Run box (see "Help! I can't find the Run command!" in the Question Corner section if necessary), type mmc.exe.
2. If you're logged on as an administrator, click Continue at the prompt. If you're logged on as a regular user, provide admin credentials.
3. In the new, blank console, click File | Add/Remove snap-in.
4. In the list of available snap-ins, scroll down and select Windows Firewall with Advanced Features.
5. Click Add.
6. In the Select Computer dialog box, select the local computer and click Finish.
7. Click OK.
8. Now you can manage the firewall's inbound and outbound rules, computer connections and monitoring, import and export policies, etc. with the Windows Firewall MMC.

Vista helps you keep data in sync

One of the new features in Vista is the Sync Center, which provides you with a centralized place for synchronizing with network folder, mobile devices like your Pocket PC, flash memory cards, and other compatible applications. You get to the Sync Center by clicking Start | All Programs | Accessories | Sync Center. Here you can set up and manage synchronization partnerships. You can schedule automatic synchronization (every day, every week, every month, whenever you log onto the computer, etc.). When the Sync tool performs a synchronization, it checks the copies of the files in both locations of the partnership and updates them so that they match. You can read more about it here:

The missing Run box

Last week one of our Vista beta testers asked where the Run command had gone, and we dutifully reported that it's now hiding in the Programs | Accessories menu. What we didn't say (and thanks to David U. for pointing it out) is that you can also use the Search box in the Start menu to run programs, rendering the old Run box no longer necessary. Another alternative, pointed out by Lloyd M., is to use the Windows Key + R keyboard shortcut.

How to share your Windows Calendar in Vista with others

One of the cool new applications in Vista is the Windows calendar. Previously, you had to install Office with Outlook or a third party calendaring application, but now there's a built in calendar, where you can enter your appointments and events, set reminders, and invite participants. It also includes a task list. Best of all, you can easily share it with others. Here's how:
In the toolbar across the top of the calendar, click Share.
Select Publish.
Type in a name for the calendar and enter a location to publish (or browse for one). You can publish your calendar in a network folder or on a Web server.
Select whether you want changes you make to the calendar to be automatically published.
Check the checkboxes for the calendar details you want to publish (notes, reminders, tasks).
Click the Publish button.
After your calendar is published, you can click the Announce button to send email to people with whom you want to share the calendar.
Click the Finish button.
Now other Vista users can share your calendar in their own Calendar application, or others can access it on the Web if you published to a web site.

Vista Remote Desktop provides a new layer of security

Remote Desktop, the mini version of Terminal Services built into Windows XP and now, Windows Vista, is a great convenience for those who want to use the desktop of another computer on the network without physically going to that machine. But security has always been a concern, especially when using the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) over the Internet. Windows Vista supports a new feature, Network Level Authentication, for RDP connections. This adds security by authenticating users before establishing the full Remote Desktop session. Read more here: http://windowshelp.microsoft.com/Windows/en-US/Help/ea4680d1-6962-463b-b29b-351efa676f9e1033.mspx

Doing flips over Vista's new window switcher

One of the "cool factor" features in Vista is the new way of switching through windows, called Flip 3D. We're all familiar with the program switcher tool in XP; when you press ALT+TAB you get a bar containing icons for your open windows that you can tab through quickly to get to the program you want. Vista has the same thing, but it actually displays a thumbnail of each window instead of an icon. However, if you want to get really fancy, instead pressing the Windows key with the TAB key. Here's a video of what it looks like: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6219108055179715875

Want to get the same functionality on XP without upgrading to Vista? TopDesk 1.4.2 does that. Check it out here: http://www.otakusoftware.com/topdesk/index.html

Click here for more information on Microsoft Vista.

Click here are some installation Tips and Tricks.

Copyright 2001 Jon A Martinez Computers LLC. All rights reserved.