Windows Vista pros: What I love about Windows Vista
On this page, you'll learn about the new features within the Windows Vista operating system that I think you'll like. Since the Windows Vista Aero graphics system, which I like, will work only with certain high-end hardware configurations, I've focused here on features I like within Vista that do not require Aero. At the moment, all of these features are scheduled to be included in the Home Premium and Business editions of Windows Vista. If you're mainly interested in what's wrong with the new operating system, move on to the next page, where you can learn more about glitches we've encountered so far.
1. Search or create virtual files
Forget directories, forget directory trees. Microsoft has integrated search throughout its new operating system, and you'll quickly come to wonder how you lived without it. You can search for all documents authored by John Doe, then save the search as a virtual file folder for later reference without having to physically relocate or make copies of all those files.
2. Widgets -- er, Gadgets
In Windows Vista, Microsoft allows you to drag and drop Gadgets (think Widgets on the Apple OS X desktop) to tell time, calculate currency, or tackle any trivial task you perform regularly that would be handier if it were always on top of your current screen. Presently, you can acquire Gadgets, or Widgets, for your Windows XP machine from online sites such as Windows Live. In the near future, Microsoft says you'll be able to write your own Windows Vista Gadgets, allowing you to really personalise your desktop.
3. Built-in diagnostics
Programs won't run, the operating system crashes -- Microsoft says these will be in the past with Vista. So far, we've seen more dialogs, from explaining why an application won't run to warning us that there are driver conflicts that prevent our laptop system from going to sleep. For example, Vista will listen to your hard drive and report pending problems, giving you ample warning to back up your data.
There's also a Problems Report and Solutions monitor where you can see what problems Vista has encountered, and then go online to find possible solutions. And, have you ever noticed how Windows computers get slower with age? That's because files get separated from each other on your hard drive and require occasional defragmentation. Most of us never do it, in part because it uses too many system resources. In Vista, the process is automatic and runs in the background, so you won't even notice it.
4. Need more oomph? Vista will find it for you
Need more RAM? How about borrowing some from that 256MB or greater USB drive? In Windows Vista, the new Windows ReadyBoost feature can swap flash memory with any large USB device. If your laptop has a new hybrid hard drive, the Windows ReadyDrive can improve your system's overall performance, battery life, and reliability by taking advantage of the drive's built-in flash capabilities.
New Windows SuperFetch can cache on your hard drive frequently used apps based on the frequency of use so that, for example, every Monday morning when you arrive at your desk for work, you can count on Outlook and your Internet browser to launch quickly. Also, finally, there's a new feature called Low-priority Input/Output that should keep you productive: in Windows Vista, user applications will get higher priority with system resources than antivirus or defragmentation processes.
5. Enhanced help
Help used to be limited to a few pithy sentences about the task you want to perform. Windows Vista changes all that. There are more options available within Help inside Vista. For example, you can initiate a remote-assistance session so that someone you trust can take over your PC remotely and diagnose a problem or perform a task for you. You can also go online and search Microsoft's knowledge base or contact Microsoft's technical support.
One really cool feature, however, is labelled Do It Automatically. Here, a task such as checking the version of a driver will be automated, with your desktop going dark as a pointer arrow floats over the screen indicating what to click and where. From time to time, the pointer will stop and a dialog box will require your input before it continues to perform the task. While there are only 15 of these automated help sessions within the current Windows Vista beta 2 release, we hope Microsoft adds more.