Best Practice Ezine #65 New Features in Windows Vista
Whenever you see a new operating system, such as Vista, it is always worth taking a tour of the new features. My problem is prioritizing the new features. Here is what people said; my uncle Jack believes AERO is the best feature in Vista. Meanwhile ‘Mad’ Mick tells that what he likes most is the new Virtual Folders. All ‘Barking’ Eddie wanted to know was does Vista run Edlin, but I would have thought Eddie was unwell if he had raved about the benefits of Microsoft’s User Account Protection or ClickOnce.
12 New Features for Vista
AERO delivers a new graphics engine to produce stunning new icon, menu and desktop visuals. Vista’s AERO achieves that rare feature of combining work with pleasure. Enjoy the visual effect while you click smarter.
With Vista you get a brand new Windows Explorer’s. You will immediately see the benefits of the upgraded icons, toolbars and navigation structure. You can sense all the ergonomic research that has resulted in the best ever Windows Explorer. Appreciate the enriched file information.
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Virtual Folders are part directory and part the result of a file query (Search). One recurring theme in Vista is that way that one feature enhances another. In this case, it’s a only a tiny point, but the AERO displays virtual folders in blue. Discover the knack of creating your own Virtual Folders.
Super Run – A Box for Program names
In many ways this dialog box, which I call the Program box, is a smarter version of the ‘Run’ command. The idea of this dialog box is that if you type in just one letter then Vista lists all the programs beginning with that letter. For example, I wanted to execute Paint Shop Pro. Therefore, I typed ‘P’ in the dialog box. Vista instantly produced a list of all the programs beginning with ‘P’. (See the diagram to the left.) Naturally, you can thin down the list by typing a second or third letter.
I regard this Program box as my Vista friend, which reminds me of programs I have available, and in my case, how to spell them. However, I have heard dissenting voices saying this box is rubbish. As I mentioned earlier, whenever I review new features it’s always a case of one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Find and test this new program dialog box.
In XP, you may have seen but avoided ‘Run As..’, well User Account Protection is an improved system for encouraging you to only use the minimum privileges and so making Vista more secure from rogue programs. Before you reject UAP, check how you can hack the registry, and thus reduce the hassle to just clicking OK.
Developers use Visual Studio to make installing programs easier – just ClickOnce. You may have already seen Authenticode messages if you install programs over the internet. ClickOnce combines with UAP (see above), certificates and BITS to provide a fast, easy and secure installation experience. Watch out for the benefits of ClickOnce.
In Windows Vista task dialogs replaces the error message box. In a nutshell, Task Dialogs include troubleshooters and links to help you cure the problem. Related to Task Dialogs are a new generation of built-in diagnostics. For example, help connecting to a network, or warning of impending disk failure. When you have a problem with Vista, seek the Task Dialog.
For any given event, Vista has improved both the quality and quantity of information. As a result there is a better chance of understanding the problem and even more importantly, coming up with a solution. Better logs mean there is no excuse for not troubleshooting a fault.
Guy Recommends: The Free IP Address Tracker (IPAT)
Calculating IP Address ranges is a black art, which many network managers solve by creating custom Excel spreadsheets. IPAT cracks this problem of allocating IP addresses in networks in two ways:
For Mr Organized there is a nifty subnet calculator, you enter the network address and the subnet mask, then IPAT works out the usable addresses and their ranges.
For Mr Lazy IPAT discovers and then displays the IP addresses of existing computers. Download the Free IP Address Tracker
PNRP is the one genuine new technology in Vista
Peer Name Resolution Protocol (PNRP) is like a poor man’s DNS in that it allows hosts to discover one another. PNRP uses the Winsock 2 Namespace Provider API. Apparently PNPR only works on IPv6. Could be used for applications to find and connect with each other.
4 Other Network Technologies that have been extended or improved
Previously, if you added another snap-in to your MMC it appeared at the bottom of the list. It must have only taken 10 minutes for the developer to add the Move Up / Move Down buttons, but it will save people like me hours of frustration. A tiny improvement, but I love it.
Sell your shares in Ghost and test XImage instead. Deploy new versions of Vista with XImage. What’s new is a non-destructive concept whereby the image does not necessarily destroy all previous files. Get ready for Vista by practicing your installs with XImage.
The number of forced reboots has dropped dramatically since NT 4.0. Vista now has the Restart Manager, which shows Microsoft’s commitment to improving ‘Up Time’. The Restart Manger is an Automatic version of what I have been preaching for sometime.
The only downside of the Restart Manager, is that once a reboot cured everything, now a reboot rarely cures anything.
Summary of Vista’s New Features.
Get the most out of Vista and actively seek benefits from the new features. Vista achieves the rare trick of increasing fun while increasing productivity. With Vista, you don’t get lost so often, moreover you absorb more information.
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