Article, January 2008
Moving on to Vista – Part 1
by Neil Stahfest, Shareware Librarian, Tacoma Area PC User Group, WA
Obtained from APCUG with the author's permission for publication by APCUG member groups.
I tested a pre-release version of Windows Vista last year. I thought that the eye candy was nice but there really wasn't a lot about the program to make it worth upgrading my PC to use it. Since then I've heard stories about problems with Vista that made me even reluctant to upgrade to it. But, things happen. I "needed" a new laptop to demonstrate programs for the Flight Simulator S.I.G.
Many of you will be buying new computers in the next year or so, so I'll share some of my experiences and impressions with you.
I took the plunge in August 2007 and bought a new HP laptop. And of course it only comes pre-loaded with Windows Vista. (Note - If you buy a new PC, make sure you get at least the Vista Home Premium Version. The Home Basic Version is crippled, you wont like it, and the manufacture may even provide the Premium version as a "free" upgrade.)
I opened the box, plugged in the battery charger, turned the PC on (per the instructions) and the computer worked. HP pre-activates Windows Vista saving you from going through the exercise of activating it. I had to answer a few questions of course; name, password, my preference for mydesktop, etc. Nothing too difficult. So now I have Windows Vista and it works.
Connection to my wireless home LAN was important to me; fortunately Vista made that very easy. Just follow the Internet Wizard, a click here, a click there and you are connected. The first thing I used the Internet connection for was to check for Windows Vista updates.There were about 18. I'm not sure what they were all supposed to do, but for now, I decided to trust Microsoft and installed all of them.
The next few days were spent playing with the computer, learning what things did. I sure miss the days when you got a "real" manual with a PC. It took me five days to discover a pressure sensitive strip at the top of the keyboard that lets you increase and decrease speaker volume by sliding your finger over it. Searching the Hewlett Packard web site I located a manual for my computer (in .pdf format) and downloaded it for future reference.
I never have cared for the touch pads that they put on laptop PCs to provide a mouse function but this one works pretty good. Still, I prefer a real mouse. Unfortunately, this laptop doesn't have the standard mouse connector like my old laptop. HP only provides USB connections so none of the mice I have will work on it. A check at the web site of my favorite PC supply store indicated that they were out of stock. As luck would have it, later the same day, I was walking past the writing supplies area in my local Safeway when I spotted a laptop mouse manufactured by Targus. For $19 and change I bought a cute little two button USB optical mini-mouse (no mouse pad required) with a little thing on the connecting wire that lets me pull out as much or as little wire as I need. Problem solved! (Update – I lost my original mouse after about three weeks. I discovered that Office Max sells a variety of mini-mice made by different manufacturers. I bought another Targus mini-mouse.)
Personal computers are very personal. I spent most of the first week that I owned this computer, customizing it. I added utility and application programs that do what I need to do the way I like to do it. Vista may offer “better” ways to organize and present information. If so I'll probably discover them. In the meantime my desktop looks similar to my old Windows XP computer, littered with desktop icons that are shortcuts to various programs.
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