In this article and accompanying gallery, I list 10 Windows programs I use every day. Every one adds a feature that makes Windows easier to use or can help make you more productive. Most are free; for those that aren’t a trial version is available. All of the programs in this list run on XP and Vista. I've been using every program on this list for long enough to recommend it without reservation.
The Ed Bott Report
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For nearly a year, Jeremy Toeman has been chronicling his experiences with Windows Vista running on a pricey high-end Sony Vaio. In a word, it has sucked. (He's now replaced his Sony with a MacBook.) So we worked out a deal. Jeremy’s sending the infernal Vaio to me, and I’m sending him a Dell notebook that's running Vista without issues. My goal is to restore the factory Vista install on that Sony and see its suckiness up close and personal. Can its problems be fixed, or are Sony’s engineers just clueless?
I am amused by the current lovefest going on with Windows XP. It’s the greatest operating system ever, in the minds of some, especially compared to the allegedly bloated, slow Windows Vista. Ironically, some of the biggest defenders of XP were singing a very different tune a few short years ago.
With the release of Service Pack 1, the Vista "kill switch" is now officially dead. An announcement earlier today by Microsoft reveals details of a new update that will detect two widespread activation cracks. What happens when your copy of Vista gets flagged as non-genuine? The answer isn't what you might expect.
Most of the technical reviews of Windows Vista I've read recently focus on speeds and feeds. But does that granular approach miss the real point of owning and using a PC? Can any stopwatch-based measurement of isolated tasks performed by individual hardware and software components really measure the worth of a technology investment? I don't think so. What really matters is usability, a subject I've been thinking and writing about for nearly two decades now. But what's the best way to measure usability? The answer isn't as simple as you might think.
When I read my colleague Adrian Kingsley-Hughes’ epic account of his benchmark tests of Windows Vista SP1 versus Windows XP SP2, the first thing that struck me was how far apart his numbers were from those I was seeing. In fact, I went back and redid all my tests to confirm that I hadn’t missed anything along the way. They checked out completely. On my test bed, with only one exception, Vista SP1 was consistently as fast as or faster than XP SP2. Why the difference? I have a few theories.
Earlier this week I posted a FAQ on Windows Vista Service Pack 1. In the Talkback section of that post and via e-mail, I got a few additional questions. In this follow-up I explain why you don't need a product key and why slipstreaming a copy of SP1 into your existing Vista installation media is (almost) impossible. I also show how to reclaim disk space used by the backed-up copies of your old system files.
How many bug fixes are included in Windows Vista Service Pack 1? By Microsoft’s count, SP1 rolls up 551 separate hotfixes, in addition to 23 security updates rated Important and already delivered via Windows Update. A handful of those hotfixes were previously released via Windows Update, but most were available only to corporate customers and OEMs. If that sounds like a lot, well, it is. But it’s not out of line with the number of fixes that went into the first two service packs for Windows XP. I've got the full breakdown by category.
I’ve been working with Windows Vista Service Pack 1 for several months now, in beta releases and, for the last two weeks, in the final released code. I’ve put together this post to answer some questions I’m frequently asked about this long-awaited update. And if you're frustrated at the thought of waiting until March to get your own copy, skip to the end, for some good news about a possible change in the release schedule.
On Wednesday, FedEx delivered DVDs containing the final, RTM bits of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 to three ZDNet bloggers. My colleagues posted their results (and in one case an extensive correction). Here's my report: Six successful installations, with no problems to report.