However comfortable you are with Windows XP, you will have no choice but to learn how to work with Vista if you should buy a new computer as they all come pre-installed with Vista. Here are a few tips to make your transition from Windows XP to Vista easier. I am only discussing Vista's Home edition here, as that is the version (or edition, if you prefer) that is imposed on us by Microsoft. (Go here to read about the other versions).
Under Windows XP you know that everything hinges on the Start button at the bottom left corner of the screen. You will not be able to find the Start button under Vista as it has been replaced by the Windows orb logo (without any text on it).
Now how do you go about changing the look of Vista so that you get back to the familiar interface of Windows XP? Start by rightclicking on the Windows orb logo. Then click on Properties and go to the Start Menu tab at the top. Here you're given two choices. If you want your computer to have the same look as the one you had under XP choose the "classic" option. (Note: You will get the same result by going to Start - Parameters - Settings - Taskbar and start menu - Start menu tab and then choosing the "Classic" button there.)
Another thing you have to be aware of in Vista is that My Computer does not exist anymore. It has been replaced by just Computer. It is from here that you will be able to access the different drives in your computer.
If you are the only user at home and want to avoid having to type your password each time Vista opens (which could be a real waste of time) this is how you go about it: Click left once on the Windows orb logo, then click on Run and in the empty box that opens type the word netplwiz in the box. Hit Enter and when a new page opens untick the line that says users have to enter a password to make use of this computer. Validate this by clicking OK and the next time you restart your computer it will not ask you to type your password.
You are used to finding all your recently opened or created files in "My Documents" under XP. You won't find them anymore under "Documents" in Vista (equivalent to "My Documents" Under XP). However you can put this useful function back in Vista. This is how you go about it: Right click on Start (i.e. the Windows orb logo). Click on Properties, go to the "Start menu" tab and under "Confidentiality" put a tick in the box which says "Stock and display a list of files recently opened".
Those of you who have not used a browser like Firefox or Opera before will have a new experience with Internet Explorer 7, the version that comes with Vista. It now allows tabbed browsing i.e. you might open five or six sites but they are all contained within the same framework and if you are not careful (for those who are not familiar with tabbed browsing) by closing what you think is one site, you might be closing the whole lot. If you find it difficult to get used to tabbed browsing, or if you think it sucks, you can disable it (the default setting has it on) by going to Tools - Internet Options - General - Tabs - Settings and unchecking the box "Enable tabbed browsing".
If, like me, you are someone who likes to try out new software and installs new programs quite often, be prepared for numerous encounters with Vista's UAC (User Account Control). For each time you try to install something new it will pop up with a question (is it a question?) since it is telling you that if you have the administrator's right to do so, then go ahead! After that you're faced with a black screen for a second or two before it comes to life again. You can tolerate this unnecessary and irrelevant intrusion into your fundamental right for the first few times but after that it's enough to drive anyone round the bend! (Ok, it is possible to turn off the UAC. Go to Control Panel - User Accounts - Activate/Deactivate UAC then untick where it says "Use User Account Control to help protect your computer" and validate it.)
It is sometimes necessary to locate certain system files that have been hidden in Vista under the default settings. To make them visible click on Computer - Tools - File Options - View then go to Hidden files and folders. Click on "Show hidden files and folders". Then go down and look for Hide file extensions.... If it is already ticked untick it. Do the same for Hide files that are protected by the operating system. All the hidden files will now be visible.
Whereas under XP you just have to go to the Settings folder and look for Install or Uninstall a Program you no longer have this heading under Vista. Instead from the Control Panel you have to go to Program and Features. It is from here that you have to highlight the name of the program you want to uninstall, then click Uninstall.
Windows Defender - a program that acts as a firewall and an antispyware - is incorporated in Vista (there was no such program in Windows XP). You can see its settings by going to Start - All Programs and then clicking on Windows Defender. However, if you already have a firewall such as ZoneAlarm, you will have to decide which one you want to keep, as to have both firewalls running would only lead to conflicts between them. But if you have other antispyware such as Ad-Aware or Spybot you should keep them as they complement each other, each finding out what the other misses. Please note, however, that Windows Defender is not an anti-virus so you will still need to install one if you don't have it.
Yippee! I've finally managed to get rid of Windows Defender as it gave me no end of trouble. I first went to Start, then Run, then typed msconfig and pressed Enter. With the new window I first clicked on the Services tab at the top menu, then unticked the Windows Defender case somewhere near the bottom. To make doubly sure it didn't bother me again I also uninstalled it by going to Start - Settings - Control Panel - Programs - Programs and Features and finally selecting Windows Defender before clicking on Uninstall.
One more thing. Don't try to look for Outlook Express. It just isn't there anymore. It has been replaced by Windows Mail, which in addition to the familiar folders of Outlook Express, has a new folder called Junk email to keep out junk or spam mail from going into your Inbox. However, if you did not receive an email it could be just lying here in this folder!
Some useful short cuts:
To search for a file: Press F3
To refresh (reload) a page: Press F5
To open the Task Manager: Ctrl + Shift + Esc
To lock the desktop (password needed to get back): Press the Windows logo key + L