Category Archives: Vista Tips & Tricks

HOW TO: improve the performance of Vista Media Center

From APC Mag


I’ve been running Vista Media Center (VMC) on two machines for a while now, and so far I have to say that the experience has been pretty good, but not all smooth sailing. Just like XP MCE 2005, VMC is very dependent on the capabilities of the hardware platform, the setup of the operating system and any third-party software which has been installed.

So, I decided to put together a piece detailing the problems I encountered and how I got around them – what worked and what didn’t.

Read the entire article here



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Teching It Easy Vista QuickStart Guide Oct. 2007

Teching It Easy is proud to present you the October 2007 edition of the Windows Vista QuickStart Guide and FAQs for getting up and running quick and easy. Now available as a downloadable document in both Adobe PDF and Microsoft XPS you can read in your own convenience offline. The Guide will also be updated and published soon on and my personal technology blog of course. The Guide covers the common basics for getting Vista on your PC, from system requirements to advance topics such as dual booting/partitioning your system.

Download formats:





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Speaking of Recovery Tools – Windows Vista Backup Center

I just wrote a post about the improved Recovery Tools coming to Vista in the future. Now you can start using the enhanced file and system protection tools built into Windows Vista’s Backup and Restore Center today. If you are a licensed user of Windows Vista Ultimate, Enterprise or Business, you can take advantage of the ability to backup your entire system, yep, everything and restore it back just in case anything should go wrong. I was nearly in such a dilemma the other day, but thankfully I was able to resolve my issue using the Diagnostics mode built into Windows which I will discuss in a future post. So, lets take a look at Backup and Restore Center and how easy it is use.

You can easily access the Backup and Restore center through the Control Panel or type its name in the Search field on the Vista Start Menu and press Enter.

Here you see the Backup and Restore Center explorer which list various task and options for protecting your files and computer. Our aim with this tip is to backup the entire computer. Go ahead and click the "Back up computer" button under "Back up files or your entire computer". A User Account Protection (UAC) dialog will launch, click continue.

Next the Windows Complete PC Backup wizard will begin and start looking for an attached External hard disk if you have one. If it does not find one, the option will be grayed out and the Optical Disk option will be chosen instead. The first step is to choose where you want to store your backup. My recommendation is on an External drive, in my case, the External drive has already been selected, you can also backup to optical media such as DVD’s, but that’s not recommended if you have large amounts of data, for instance, my backup will require 43 GB’s of space.


Click Next, here we are presented with the Confirmation page which gives us some handy information such as the amount of space required and the disk/s that will be backed up. Please note, that if you have Windows Vista installed on a logical partition dual booting with another copy of Windows, the system partition must also be backed up. Click "Start backup" button to begin the backup process.

Depending on the size of the backup, the time it will need to accomplish the process will vary, other factors include Disk I/O and memory. My Backup completed within 40 to 45 min’s. During the backup process you can choose to stop if you want.

After the backup process completes successfully you can close the wizard and be happy that your system is safely backed up and can be restored just in case of an emergency such as system failure, inability to boot or device failure. I recommend doing regular backups if you are constantly creating information on your computer, at least once a week. For Windows Vista Home Basic and Home Premium users, you can take advantage of the new Backup Files and Folders feature. I recommend backing up to an external drive because of the extra safety advantages such as the ability to keep off site.

Doing the Restoration

If you need to do the restoration, here is how you go about it. Start you computer, insert your Windows Vista operating system Disc, and boot from it (Make sure your boot drive is set to the optical drive). You will then be booted into the Windows Recovery Environment.

  1. Choose your language settings, and then click Next.
  2. Click Repair your computer link on the setup page.
  3. Select the operating system you want to repair, and the click Next.
  4. On the System Recovery Options menu, click Windows Complete PC Restore and then follow the instructions.

Things to remember

  • If you are backing up a laptop, make sure its AC adapter is plugged or you will receive an error message preventing you from backing your computer.
  • When you restore your computer from a Windows Complete PC Backup image, it is a complete restoration. You can’t choose individual items to restore, and all your current programs, system settings, and files are replaced.
  • Before starting, make sure that the removable media on which your backup is stored is available.
  • Backups to DVD more than 4.7 GBs will spanned across disk




Filed under Vista Tips & Tricks

Whip Vista Into Shape – PC Magazine

From PC Magazine

Microsoft Windows Vista is a pretty muscular operating system, but it still needs toning. These three utilities give your new OS more speed and endurance.,1895,2188272,00.asp



Filed under Vista Tips & Tricks

Windows Vista In The Know Links – .No 10

Links taken from this months TechNET Newsletter

Support and Troubleshooting

How-to Articles

How to troubleshoot Volume Activation error codes on Windows Vista-based computers

How to move Internet Explorer favorites from an earlier version of Windows to the Internet Explorer Favorites folder in Windows Vista

How to perform a custom installation of Windows Vista on a computer that is running Windows XP


When you exit Windows Media Player 11 in Windows Vista, you may continue to hear music

Knowledge Base Articles

February 2007 cumulative time zone update for Microsoft Windows operating systems

See a selection of new Knowledge Base articles on the TechNet Web site. KB articles feature an Article Translations box in the right column. You can select a language from the drop-down list and read the article in the selected language.

Featured Downloads

Start Planning for Windows Vista with Windows Vista Hardware Assessment 2.0

Download the newly released and free Windows Vista Hardware Assessment 2.0 tool to help you determine your computers’ readiness and the upgrades required for your Windows Vista and 2007 Microsoft Office migration project. See the power of auto-generated readiness reports and migration proposals.


Windows Vista: 6 Month Vulnerability Report

Windows Vista continues to show a trend of fewer total and fewer high severity vulnerabilities at the 6 month mark compared to its predecessor product Windows XP and compared to other modern competitive workstation operating systems.

Microsoft Security Bulletin Summary for July 2007

Security Bulletin Webcast for July 2007

On Demand

Windows Vista: Improve Your Desktop Security and Deployment Strategy

See how Windows Vista is easier to deploy and less expensive to maintain than earlier version of Windows. Tune in to live webcasts to ask questions, stream or download on-demand webcasts to watch when you want, listen to podcasts on the go, or test drive Windows Vista in a virtual lab.

Determine Hardware and Device Readiness Using Windows Vista Hardware Assessment 2.0

The Windows Vista Hardware Assessment version 2.0 deployment tool enables you to determine in a matter of hours whether the computers on your network are ready for the Windows Vista and 2007 Microsoft Office. Listen in and see how Windows Vista Hardware Assessment assesses the hardware and device compatibility of each of an organization’s existing systems across the network.

Case Studies and White Papers

Housing Company Saved $38,000 in PC Replacement Costs During Recent Windows Vista Deployment

Collegiate Housing Services used Windows Vista Hardware Assessment tool and determined that 70 percent of their existing PCs were ready for Windows Vista with only a few minor upgrades, saving $38,000 in PC replacement costs.

Telecommunications Certification Company Found 88 Percent of Existing PCs to be Windows Vista Ready

Sporton International, Inc. in Taiwan determined that 88 percent of their existing PCs could be ready for Windows Vista with a small investment of minor hardware upgrades. Read this success story and learn more about the Windows Vista Hardware Assessment tool that helped get the job done.



Filed under Vista Tips & Tricks

Windows Vista In The Know Links – .No 9

Links taken from this months Windows Newsletter – Volume 82

Stay in touch wherever you go

It’s summer–don’t be tied to your desk! Spend time outside the office or your home and reconnect with people who matter to you. Think you’re too busy? All you need is a mobile PC or mobile phone and the power of Windows.

With Windows Vista on your mobile PC:

Go to work late or leave early: make the most of your commute

Organize and share digital memories while you travel

Connect online on the go

New and notable

Get more from Windows Vista
Already have Windows Vista but want to upgrade to a more advanced edition? Learn about the Windows Anytime Upgrade.

Halo 2 for Windows Vista now available
The legendary game adventure continues, now enhanced for Windows Vista.

Help protect your PCs with Windows SteadyState
Windows SteadyState helps shared PCs run smoothly in schools, Internet cafés, libraries, and other locations–and it’s free.

Get free antivirus, online ID theft, and antispyware protection
For an all-in-one PC security and performance service, try Windows Live OneCare for free for 90 days.

Featured tip for Windows Vista

Create an XPS document
XPS documents are a new archiving format perfect for preserving content and securely sharing information, no matter which program you’re using. To create an XPS document:

1. Open any document in virtually any application and click Print.

2. In the Printer Selection menu, choose Microsoft XPS Document Writer and save the file.

3. Double-click the file to open it in the XPS Viewer, which Windows Internet Explorer 7 hosts.

The XPS document is a pixel-perfect rendition of the original source material.

Visit our Help and How-to website to learn more about using Windows Vista.

More tips for Windows Vista

Master digital music
Want to learn how to rip, burn, sync, share, play, and organize all your digital music? Then check out our Music and Sounds section for Windows Vista.

Kids always online? Time Limits in Windows Vista can help
Windows Vista Parental Controls can help you ensure that your kids aren’t surfing when they should be doing homework or something else.



Filed under Vista Tips & Tricks

Windows Vista In The Know Links – No. 9

Contents and links adapted from this months TechNet Newsletter.

Volume 9, Issue 14, July 11, 2007.

The popular Windows Vista Hardware Assessment deployment tool just got better. And it is now available as a free download. Windows Vista Hardware Assessment 2.0 offers IT professionals a quick way to assess their existing computers’ readiness for Windows Vista without any software agents. In this new release, you will find new features such as a 2007 Microsoft Office system hardware assessment, enhanced scalability for large enterprise networks, selective inventory by organization units and more. Windows Vista Hardware Assessment 2.0 is part of an essential suite of Windows Vista Solution Accelerators including the Data Encryption Toolkit for Mobile PCs, the Windows Vista Security Guide, and the Business Desktop Deployment 2007.
It’s easy to see why the excitement around the Windows PowerShell command line and scripting environment continues to build. It seems like we’ve just begun to discover what can be done using the tool. One of the most talked-about features of Windows PowerShell is its pipeline, but it’s also, unfortunately, one of the most misunderstood features. If you are already a Windows PowerShell user or interested in understanding more about this powerful command line interface, don’t miss Don Jones’s column in TechNet Magazine: Windows PowerShell Rethinking the Pipeline. And don’t forget, you can download Windows PowerShell 1.0 or evaluate it as part of your Windows Server 2008 evaluation. There are several introductory videos that demonstrate the various capabilities of Windows PowerShell, including Introduction to Windows PowerShell, Windows Vista and Windows PowerShell, and Windows PowerShell and IIS 7.

Top Stories and Featured Content

TechNet Magazine: The ActiveX Installer Service in Windows Vista

How do you secure the desktop against malicious ActiveX controls without limiting application compatibility? We’ll take you on a tour of the ActiveX Installer Service (AxIS) in Windows Vista that addresses this issue with a new way to manage ActiveX controls.

Discover How to Modify Boot Configuration Parameters

In the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) Editor FAQ, find out what the BCD store is, why it was created, where it’s located in the registry, how to modify it, and more.

Support and Troubleshooting

How-to Articles

How to troubleshoot Volume Activation error codes on Windows Vista-based computers

Knowledge Base Articles

After you apply security update 929123, you may be prompted by a dialog box that requests more input about how to continue when you browse a Web site

Problems with the network, hard disk drive, or storage drivers cause a program to stop unexpectedly in Windows Vista

A red "X" appears in the icon for a mapped network drive in Windows Vista, even though you can successfully access the drive

See a selection of new Knowledge Base articles on the TechNet Web site. KB articles feature an Article Translations box in the right column. You can select a language from the drop-down list and read the article in the selected language.

Featured Downloads

Start Planning for Windows Vista and 2007 Microsoft Office System Migration Using Windows Vista Hardware Assessment 2.0

It’s time to take advantage of Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office system. Download the new and improved Windows Vista Hardware Assessment 2.0 tool to help you determine your computers’ readiness and the upgrades that may be required for your migration project.

Upcoming Webcasts

Get Ready for Windows Vista and 2007 Microsoft Office with Windows Vista Hardware Assessment 2.0

Wednesday, July 18, 11:30 AM Pacific Time
Join this webcast to find out if your existing computers are ready to fun Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office system using the newly-released Windows Vista Hardware Assessment 2.0.

Virtual Labs

Windows Vista Virtual Labs

Windows Vista Virtual Labs have recently been refreshed. In these labs you’ll learn to manage network security, deploy operating system images using Windows Deployment Services, configure User Account Control for standard and administrative users via group policy, and more.

Solution Accelerators

Best Practices on Managing Windows Vista Desktops

Get best practice guidance for managing Windows Vista desktop operations. Windows Vista Service Life-Cycle Management (WVSLM) provides concise guidance to help minimize the total cost of ownership of desktop infrastructure. Process guidance and document templates help make service management concepts from the IT Infrastructure Library and the Microsoft Operations Framework tangible and easily implementable by focusing on a single and common IT service.
WVSLM is part of a family of Windows Vista Solution Accelerators, including the Windows Vista Hardware Assessment, Business Desktop Deployment 2007, Windows Vista Security Guide, and the Data Encryption Toolkit for Mobile PCs.

PCs Infected? Get the Malware Removal Starter Kit

This free kit provides a comprehensive plan to combat malware, and gives you tools to uncover ‘stealthy’ malware and restore infected PCs — so users can safely get back to work.

Case Studies and White Papers

Windows Vista Deployment Case Studies

Collegiate Housing Services
Housing Company Saved $38,000 in PC Replacement Costs During Recent Windows Vista Deployment

Sporton International, Inc.
Telecommunications Certification Company Found 88% of Existing PCs to Be Windows Vista Ready.

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The TechNet Flash is full of pointers to in-depth technical information that we encourage subscribers to forward to friends and co-workers. If you’ve received this issue from someone via e-mail and would like to receive the free TechNet Flash newsletter biweekly, all you have to do is register.



Filed under Vista Tips & Tricks

Opening the Windows Vista Box Update

Last month, Microsoft news source Mary Jo Foley of All About Microsoft reported about the difficulties even Microsoft employees were facing trying install Windows Vista.

"This is one for all of you readers who’ve had trouble installing Windows Vista. Don’t feel bad. Even some Microsoft developers — who have the Vista team on premise — can’t manage to upgrade to Vista.

Microsoft developer Andy Pennell wanted to install Vista at home. (Pennell is a developer on HDi, the interactivity layer for HD DVD.)" Read the entire article here

Well it seems Microsoft is getting more aware of this problem and decided to put up a tutorial on its Community based Windows Help site to show customers how to open the new type of product boxes they introduced in January with the launch of Windows Vista and Office 2007 correctly.

"The Windows Vista box opens with a swing-out section that holds your DVD and manuals. The box has two security seals that need to be cut or removed before it can be opened." Read the entire tutorial here

The trickest part based on my experience opening the Vista box is the trasparent sticker that holds the two parts together, once you remove that, you should be good to go.



Filed under Vista Tips & Tricks

Windows Vista Tips & Tricks collection

Hi everyone,

As we approach Windows Vista’s 6 month anniversary, I decided to provide a summary of tips and tricks I have written and collected for the operating system from various sources since the start of the year so far. Its small and the intention is to grow it. The list covers a range of topics, from tweaking to securing Windows Vista. In addition to this, there is already my popular Windows Vista Quick Start Guide and FAQ, which covers preparing for the operating system, getting up and running with it, be sure to check that out.

Thanks, Andre


  1. Talking about Logging on locally using Vista
  2. Adding Folders and Programs to the ‘Send To’ Context Menu in Windows Vista 
  3. Get organized with Windows Vista folders 
  4. Working with files and folders 
  5. See details about your PC’s performance using Task Manager 
  6. Windows Vista Tip: Excluding Directories From Vista’s Built-In Backup 
  7. Windows Vista tip: Recovering from a damaged system 
  8. Create unique custom calendars on your PC 
  9. Get calendar templates from Microsoft Office Online
  10. Share your calendars over the Internet 
  11. Slow Copy and Move in Windows Vista


  1. Changing the Windows Explorer Layout 
  2. Changing the Windows Vista user interface to Windows Classic 
  3. Enable the Menu Bar in the Vista Explorer Shell 
  4. Where did the ‘Run’ command go in Windows Vista?


  1. A list of Antivirus software that works with Windows Vista RTM 
  2. Set up your PC so it’s safe for kids 
  3. Windows Vista Tip: Using Windows Defender


  1. Windows Vista Tip – Don’t Display Ad-hoc Networks
  2. What you need to set up a home network


  1. Windows Vista Capable PC Hardware Guidelines 
  2. Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor 
  3. Windows Vista Public Newsgroups 
  4. Hey, don’t have a DVD drive but want Vista? 
  5. How to open your Windows Vista Product Box by Brandon Leblanc


  1. Windows Vista compatible version of Adobe Acrobat 8 now available 
  2. Hiding Vista’s Partition from XP

User Experience

  1. How to enable Windows DreamScene
  2. Personalize Windows Vista Even More!
  3. How to install Windows Vista on a new PC
  4. Change your desktop background
  5. Customize Windows Sidebar 
  6. Make the text on your screen larger 
  7. Liven up the colors on your PC



Filed under Vista Tips & Tricks

New Resource: Windows Vista Demos

Adapted from this months Microsoft Mindshare Newsletter

The Windows Vista team has posted a number of demos online that you can share with your group on topics ranging from the basics ("Learning to use the mouse") to more advanced ("Security Basics"). Click here to go to the demos page and see whether there’s a topic that would fit into your next meeting agenda.



Filed under Vista Tips & Tricks