When you buy a copy of Windows Vista, the most important part of the purchase is the 25-character product key, which you use to activate your installation. In the first installment of my Vista Hands-On series, I explain how to use two tools - an obscure VBScript file included with all Vista editions and a free third-party utility - to find out important details about your product key.
The Ed Bott Report
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Ed Bott is an award-winning technology writer with more than two decades' experience writing for mainstream media outlets and online publications.
Last year, I published two collections of tips for beta testers of Windows Vista. Now that Vista is officially released, I've gone back and selected the five best tips from those two posts and expanded them to cover the version you can buy today. (And don't miss my 30 days of brand-new Vista tips and tweaks, beginning next week.)
Should you upgrade to Windows Vista? Sorry, there's no one-size-fits-all answer to that question. But I can put to rest some myths about how well Vista runs on older hardware, and I've found three killer features that haven't received nearly the attention they deserve.
A story making the rounds this morning says that Microsoft is about to annoy Vista upgraders with a new form of media that can't be used to do a clean install. The story is based on a single, incomplete Knowledge Base article. Maybe it's worth waiting a day or two to actually test the upgrade process before jumping to conclusions.
Planning to stick with Windows XP for a while? Microsoft just gave home users a gift of three additional years of support. For XP Home and Media Center editions, the "extended support" clock continues ticking till 2014, the same as it does for business users.
The official Vista launch event is still a week away, but online retailers have already begun selling single OEM copies of Windows Vista. The surprising news is that consumer editions are selling for roughly the same as their XP counterparts, although business buyers may see a slight price increase. The real question is whether PC buyers will pay up for the pricier Ultimate edition.
My colleague George Ou notes that many Windows Vista upgraders are in for a rude shock when they find that their flash RAM devices don't work well with the new ReadyBoost feature in Windows Vista. As part of the research for my new book, Windows Vista Inside Out, I discovered the secret location where Vista hides the performance details for these drives. Here's the exclusive report.
I spent an hour at the Windows Mobile pavilion at CES looking at Smartphones. I would choose any of them over the iPhone, as would just about anyone I met with at CES. Here's why the iPhone is not a smart choice.
Earlier this week, I spoke with Michael Dell about the crapware installed on Dell's consumer PCs. Now, CBC is reporting comments from an anonymous Microsoft source expressing concern about what these "craplets" will mean for the launch of Windows Vista. Is there really anything to worry about?
At CES, smaller companies get tucked into the corners of the large exhibit halls or shunted off to the "overflow area" at the Sands. I spent Monday morning looking at some of the exhibits in these off-the-beaten-track locations and found four interesting and inexpensive gadgets designed to solve common problems.