NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, August 2008
Moving on to Vista – Part 8
by Neil Stahfest, Librarian, Tacoma Area PC User Group, Washington
ncstahfest(at)msn.com (click to email author)

Obtained from APCUG with the author's permission for publication by APCUG member groups.

Windows Vista is becoming more popular every day, but there are still several special features that few people are aware of! Besides the energy saving features I mentioned last month, there's another feature that goes largely unnoticed by the average user. It's about displaying time in multiple time zones using Vista's system clock. It works very well, particularly since we work with countries all around the world and are no longer confined to one time zone. It also helps when you intend to chat with a friend or family member who lives in another part of the country. Now, instead of calculating different time zones in your head, you can have a handy toolbar on your Vista computer that will tell the time for you.

    1. The first step is to right click on the clock in your system tray at the bottom of your desktop.
    2. Select Adjust Date/Time.
    3. Click on the Additional Clocks tab at the top of the window.
    4. Choose the checkbox that you want to show the additional clock.
    5. Next, pick a time zone and give it a title.
    6. You can add up to two additional time zones this way.
    7. Apply your changes.

To see the additional times, just hover your mouse over the clock in the system tray. Vista's Service Pack 1 is out, if you have automatic updates enabled on your PC its should already be installed. So what does SP1 do? Microsoft previously announced that Service Pack 1 would improve the operating system's performance and security. It would speed up file copying, waking up from sleep and hibernation faster and add and extract files from compressed folders faster.

When you install SP1 it apparently checks to see if you have installed previous updates and if it doesn't find them it installs them. Then in proceeds to install it's ?new ? features. I had used automatic updates to keep my installation current and Service Pack 1 installed quickly on my laptop without any apparent problems.

Did I see any improvements? Not really. I saw no noticeable improvements in performance. As far as I could tell start-up time was the same and file copying was the same but the file copy ?fix? I had previously installed (see Moving Up to Vista – Part 7). Other people have reported similar impressions. One person reported Vista with SP1 compressed files faster than without SP1 but it is still slower than Windows XP.

What about new features? Frankly, the only one I looked for and found was the disk defragmenter. Pre SP1 when you selected the defrag function you had no choices. The function simply defragmented your all of your hard drive. With SP1 installed, the defragmenter first examines your computer and makes a suggestion as to whether your drives and partitions need to be defragemented.

There's also an option to schedule defragmenting at regular time intervals. I don't remember if this was available pre-SP1. If you select the ?button? to defrag your hard drive, you see a new screen which gives you the alternatives to defrag all of your partitions and drives or select specific partitions and hard drives to be defragmented. As with pre-SP1 Vista, you can defrag your hard drive(s) while continuing to use your computer. There is no specific information that tells you how badly fragmented your drives are or how much space is used. In my opinion, the disk defragmenter in Windows XP was more useful. For that kind of detail you'll need to use a third party disk defragmenter. I would say that Vista's deframenter with SP1 is improved but still a disappointment.

And that's my general impression about Vista SP1. I'm disappointed. The speed improvements that were predicted just don't seem to be there. Maybe the security is improved but it’s not obvious to me. Maybe Service Pack 2 will be better...

This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).

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