Business- and home-users will find the brand-new interface extremely helpful with the use of its integrated search functions. On Windows XP, you can click your "Start" button, and then "Search" and choose whether you want to look for files and folders on your computer, places on the Internet or contacts in your address book.
Vista takes it two steps further. In addition to searching the way you do now, the new Windows will integrate a search bar on every "Windows Explorer" display.
You can type a product name, like Adobe, and it will return only results that are in Adobe's PDF format – no more shuffling through an endless list of programs to find the one that opens the file.
The familiar and ever so helpful "My Documents" folder is included with Windows Vista as well, but this time Microsoft added something called "Virtual Folders," which collect related files and file types that are spread throughout your hard drive.
Think of what's in your "My Documents" folder now – a mishmash of Word and Excel files, a bunch of Adobe Acrobat documents that you downloaded and maybe some Power Point presentations that you've created this year for work. Windows Vista can automatically sort everything and place your files in virtual Word, Excel and Power Point folders so you know exactly where to look when you need them.
A Safe Bet?
If you're thinking that this new version is going to be full of security holes like Windows XP, think again. Microsoft says this will be its most secure version yet. The entire framework of Windows Vista is designed around its security and user-manageability functions.
To protect users, Windows Vista comes built-in with "Windows Defender," Microsoft's spyware protection software and a new feature called "User Account Control." UAC, as it is referred to, gives users an additional level of security against the threat of malware and Trojan-horse viruses distributed over the Internet, by requiring passwords and special privileges to perform administrative functions like installing new software or making other major changes to the operating system.
In addition to the large variety of security improvements, Windows Vista includes a number of new programs designed to make your computer perform better and run more efficiently. According to Microsoft, "Windows SuperFetch helps manage memory to get the most out of available RAM while Windows ReadyBoost helps make PCs more responsive by using flash memory devices (like USB thumb drives) to boost performance. Windows ReadyDrive takes advantage of new hybrid hard disks – hard disks with integrated flash memory – to help improve battery life, performance and reliability."
The list of visual improvements and additional features can go on forever. If you really want to get a good look at it, take a look at the Microsoft Vista Web site at: www.microsoft.com/ windowsvista. They even say that they will be releasing a downloadable public beta version of Windows Vista through its "Customer Preview Program" in the near future.
Just be careful if you can't wait for the public release and decide to install the preview version on your home PC. It will be a beta version of the program, which means it's still in testing, and may contain bugs that can crash your system.
As usual, make sure you back up all of your important data before you begin.
Michael Trantas is CEO, e-Safe Solutions, Inc., and can be reached at: [email protected]