Cool vista tip's
PLEASE REMEMBER TO BACKUP YOUR REGISTRY BEFORE YOU ATTEMPT ANY OF THESE TIPS!
Change Registered Owner of Windows
The registered owner and organization can be easily changed in Windows by changing two registry keys.
Follow these steps to get started:
Do you need to change your product key so that you can activate Windows Vista properly? You can use a great command line tool that will help you do this very easily. Just follow these steps:
Are you a user of Windows Vista Enterprise or Business edition and would like to know the status of activation of a specific computer? Want to make sure that the computer connected properly to the Key Management Server (KMS) or used your Multiple Activation Key (MAK) properly? Or are you a home user and just want to make sure your computer is fully activated?
Included in Windows Vista is very useful utility that will help you check the status of activation of your computer:
Here are a few tips that will help you become a Command Prompt Pro:
The new Network and Sharing Center in Windows Vista is great for the average Windows user but can be a huge headache for advanced users. When I need to make a change to my network settings I don't want to be forced to go through the networking interface for the average non-technical users. I want to go right to the settings screen and make the change.
I am a big fan of the old Windows XP network approach where I could modify all of the network settings and connect to wireless network from the Network Connections screen. In Windows Vista, the Network Connections screen still exists, as shown above, but you have to go through the Network and Sharing Center screen first. Using a very useful explorer trick I discovered when playing with "::" and explorer class IDs, you can create a shortcut that will take you directly to the Network Connections screen.
Create a Shortcut for Flip 3D
Would you like to add a shortcut to your desktop or quick launch bar that launches the new Flip 3D tab replacement?
1. Right click on your desktop and select New and then Shortcut.
2. Copy and paste RunDll32 DwmApi #105 into the location box and hit Next.
3. Enter in a name for your shortcut and hit Finish.
4. Copy/Cut and Paste your new shortcut where ever you want.
Disable Windows startup sound
There was a lot of controversy of the new Windows Start sound in Windows Vista. Originally, Microsoft was planning on making this a mandatory sound that users would not be able to disable. This sounds like a great idea from a Marketing perspective since all Windows users world-wide would hear the same notes when their computer starts up. However from a user perspective this could be a nightmare. Thankfully Microsoft responded to the vocal Microsoft community and gave users the option to disable this sound.
Follow these steps to disable your Windows startup sound:
Windows Easy Transfer Companion enables you to automatically transfer your most important programs from your Windows XP-based PC to your new Windows Vista-based PC. The software will move more than 100 of the most popular programs, as well as many others that you may have installed. You have complete control over selecting which programs to transfer, so only the programs you care about will move. The software will alert you if some programs may not be able to transfer, or may not transfer with high confidence. Most security software is not able to transfer due to technical reasons.
Easy Transfer Companion is designed to be used in addition to Windows Easy Transfer—which is part of Windows Vista and automatically transfers your data and settings. Connecting your two computers can be done with either an Easy Transfer Cable (available online, from retailers, and from PC manufacturers), or a home or small business network. If using an Easy Transfer Cable, you must first install Windows Easy Transfer on your Windows XP-based PC. By using Easy Transfer and Easy Transfer Companion you will be able to quickly and easily setup your new PC with all the data, settings, and programs that matter to you, so you can be productive on your new PC right away.
the Easy Transfer Companion
Fix hibernate after running disk cleanup
I have found my first bug in the final code of Windows Vista. A few weeks ago after my hard drive was getting low on space I ran disk cleanup to try to delete some unneeded files. Since I needed a lot of space fast I also checked the option to clear my hibernation file. It turns out that was a big mistake.
After clearing my hibernation file my laptops ability to hibernate was destroyed. It was so badly damaged that I could not get to the control panel hibernation settings to turn it back on. Thanks Disk Cleanup!
The fix is actually very easy to do.. Since the control panel settings were gone, I simply used the the command prompt to turn it back on. If you have a similar problem, run the follow command at an administrative level command prompt to turn hibernation back on:
Powercfg /hibernate on
After a reboot the ability to hibernate is restored.
Free up Disk Space by deleting backup files
Windows Vista has loads of new backup features such as previous versions of your documents and system state points that are part of System Restore. All of these features are turned on by default and offer you a great deal of backup protection. However, you pay a big price in disk space. Every once in a while when your system is stable and you need to free up some disk space, it is a good idea to clear all of these previous versions of your files and System Restore points from your computer. This is a very easy way to free up a few gigabytes of space across all of your hard drives.
To get started, just follow these steps:
How To: Detect what process is thrashing your hard drive
Every once in a while you notice that your hard drive is working extra hard for what seems like no reason. A background process has taken your hard drive hostage, forcing it to thrash loudly as it struggles to keep up with the high rate of reads and writes. Your computer responds slowly as the process overloads the physical limitations of your drive. What are you to do?
The solution is simple, although a little tricky at times: identify and stop the process that is killing your drive. There are two methods and tools that you can use to identify the process.
How to: Dual boot XP and Vista
Application compatibility remains one of the most annoying issues for Windows Vista users. The ability to upgrade the software to a new Vista compatible version is not always an option. The company that developed the application may no longer be around or the cost to upgrade is too high. In my case, I have a lot of classic PC games that will not run at all under Windows Vista no matter how I configure the compatibility options. In order to play my old games I need to install Windows XP. However, I am not exactly ready to give up all of the advances in Windows Vista just so that I can play my old games once in a while. The answer is to dual boot Windows Vista and XP.
Dual booting Windows XP and Vista on the same computer will allow you to select from a boot menu what operating sytem you want to run. This menu is shown right after you power on your computer. Setting up both Windows XP and Vista on one computer can be a little ticky depending what operating system you have installed first. The next two sections will help you configure both versions on your computer, depending on what OS you have installed first:
Windows XP is installed
If you want to dual boot XP and Vista and XP is already installed on your computer you will not have to do much work to dual boot vista. Just boot to your Windows Vista install DVD, select a custom install and install Vista on a separate partition or physical drive than where XP is installed. This will leave your XP install intact and automatically install a boot menu with both XP and Vista listed.
Windows Vista is installed
If you were like me and compley reformatted your hard drive and wiped out XP when you installed Vista, your setup is going to be a little more complicated. Follow these steps:
Dual boot has now been configured on your computer. You will be able to enjoy the enhancements of Windows Vista without giving up the ability to run older applications that require Windows XP.
Install Windows Vista on your Mac with Boot Camp
Ever since Apple switched over to Intel processor, the same processors that are used in some PCs, it has been possible to run Windows on the Apple hardware. Why would you want to do this? While OS X is a pretty OS, Windows applications will not run on it. The only way to run Windows applications on a Mac is to run Windows in a VM. With the Intel based Macs that changed. It is now possible to dual boot OS X and Windows so that you can simply reboot and startup in Windows. Removing the need for the VM by natively running Windows has a big performance benefit. It also makes it possible to do things that were not possible with virtualization software such a 3D gaming.
To dual boot Windows Vista and OS X without destroying OS X you will need to use Boot Camp that is only included in OS X 1.5 Leopard. To get started, you will need to follow these steps on your Mac:
Make NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices work in Vista
If you are like me and have a NAS device on your network that is not compatible with Windows Vista, now you can tweak Windows Vista to make it work again. You do not even have to wait for your device manufacturer to release a new firmware any more! Just follow these steps below:
Mount a CD/DVD Image
Mounting a CD image is a basic feature of almost every operating system package except for Microsoft Windows. Microsoft has never shipped this feature in any version of Windows including Windows Vista. Mounting a CD image is very useful when you have downloaded a .ISO cd image and you do not want to waste the time or the media to burn a copy. Since Windows Vista does not have this functionality built-in, you will need to download a utility. One popular utility that will mount CD images is called elby CloneDrive. Best of all, CloneDrive is free and easy to use. Follow these steps to mount CD images in Windows Vista with CloneDrive:
Show super hidden files
Even if you turn on show hidden files in Windows Explorer some files will remain hidden. These files are super hidden. Set the registry value below to 1.
"SuperHidden" = 1
You will need to reboot after changing this setting for it to work.
Uninstall / Turn off unneeded features
There are many new features in Windows Vista that are installed by default that you may not need. These extra and unneeded features can slow down your computer and take up more storage space. If you would like to uninstall, or turn off, these extra features, this tip is for you.
Windows Features can be uninstalled using the Windows Features utility. Follow these steps to uninstall applications such as the Windows Fax and Scan and many more:
Verify you have signed drivers
Are you having hardware issues with Windows Vista? Almost all Windows Vista issues such as blue screen and random reboots are caused by third-party driver problems. Microsoft signs device drivers that they test and certify that the driver meet certain quality levels. Using Microsoft certified drivers greatly reduces your chances of having driver related issues. However, often applications will install drivers that were not certified by Microsoft and those can cause issues. To check the installed drivers on your computer you can use a cool utility called the Driver Verifier Manager. This is a hidden tool in Windows Vista that can help you identify potentially bad drivers.
Disable Welcome Center
As soon as you install Windows Vista you are bombarded by the Welcome Center that is designed to help beginner Windows users easily configure their new computer. This new welcome screen is a nice feature the first time you start using Windows vista but quickly becomes annoying.
Disabling the Welcome Center is very easy to do and can speed up your boot as well.
1. Start Regedit.
2. Navigate through HKEY_CURRENT_USER, Software, Microsoft, Windows, CurrentVersion, Run.
3. Right click on the WindowsWelcomeCenter key and select Delete.
The next time you restart the Welcome Center will be gone.
Enhance SATA disk performance
Do you have a SATA disk drive in your computer? If so, you can squeeze a little more performance out of your hard disk. This speeds up the performance of your hard disk by enhancing write caching. However, if your computer is not connected to a battery backup and you loose power you have a increased risk for data loss or corruption. If you have a laptop your chances are data loss or corruption are dramatically less since your laptop battery will kick on if your power source is lost. Let's get started:
Internet Explorer 7 only allows you to download two files from the same server at a time. This is not a software limit but rather a limit imposed based on the web standard. Since this is simply a software setting, it can be modified and you can increase the limit to something much high such as 10. Follow the steps below to increase your max downloads from the same server:
Windows Vista throttles your network bandwidth when you are playing any multimedia file such as an MP3 or a video. This was designed to ensure the CPU has enough free cycles available to play your media without skipping. The down side is that when you are playing a multimedia file you will notice that your network speed of file transfers will decrease on high speed network connections. By default when you are playing a multimedia file your network transfers are limited to 10 packets per millisecond.
In Windows Vista SP1 Microsoft introduces a registry key that allows you to customize this setting.
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Multimedia\SystemProfile] NetworkThrottlingIndexValue You can set Network Throttling Index Value between 1 and 70. If you want to disable set the hexadecimal value to FFFFFFFF.
Microsoft warns that if you increase the value above 10 you may experience playback quality issues. Depending on your network setup, it is worth experimenting.
After making any changes a restart is needed.
Quick aero speed tip
The transparent glass in Windows Vista computer can look very nice. However, on some computers that have underpowered video adapters will see a performance hit when running the transparent glass effect. One way to speed up Windows Vista and still get the benefits of aero, such as flip 3D and taskbar thumbnails, is to disable glass transparency.
Windows Vista includes a new and improved Performance Monitor that will allow you to track many system stats much easier than the traditional performance monitor in Windows XP. Follow these steps to use the new Performance Monitor:
The new animations in Windows Vista look great for the first month or so but then they can become an annoyance since they feel like they increase the amount of time it takes to minimize and maximize a window. If you can live without the minimize and maximize animations that you can bring back the super fast feeling of your windows instantly disappearing and appearing by disabling the min/max animations.
Follow the steps below to make your windows faster:
Windows Vista operates external hard drives that are connected with USB differently than internal drives. Write caching is disabled so that you can safely remove the drive at almost any time. This is a great feature for USB thumb drives that are frequently inserted and removed from your computer. But if you have a large hard drive that is in an external enclosure that you never disconnect from your computer, write caching is also disabled which can decrease performance.
This tweak is going to show you how to increase the performance of your external hard drives by turning write caching back on as well as activating advanced performance. Let’s get started:
Enjoy the increased performance.
Speed up Start Menu Search
When a users enters text in the search box on the start panel Windows automatically searches the file index as well. The file index includes all of the searchable files on your hard drive and can be quite large. One way to speed up searching through your start menu applications is to narrow the scope of the search so that it does not include hard drive files.
Prevent Start Menu Searches from searching the File index:
1. Open Registry Editor (regedit).
2. Navigate through HKEY_CURRENT_USER, Software, Microsoft, Windows, CurrentVersion, Explorer and finally Advanced.
3. Find and right click on Start_SearchFiles and select Modify.
4. Set the Value to 0.
Restart the Explorer.exe process or just reboot your computer.
Speed up Start Menu Search (New Method)
he search box on the new Start Menu in Windows Vista can be very useful for everyday tasks. This search box is very powerful because not only does it search the start menu and control panel, but it also searches your pictures, documents and even your e-mails. The scope of the search is very wide and you can see some performance benefits if you narrow it down to just searching the start menu and control panel. Follow these steps to optimize your start menu search:
When you type in a domain name such as wingeek.com in your browser the computer must resolve the friendly name into an IP address of the server to download the web page and supporting files. Windows uses a DNS (domain name system) server to lookup this information. By default, Windows uses your ISP’s DNS server. Depending on your provider, the performance of their DNS resolving server varies. Some large national providers are known to provide unreliable and slow DNS servers.
The performance of the DNS server you are using is one component that affects the speed of your internet browsing. Since each domain name you type in must be resolved into an IP address, the amount of time that takes will delay the loading of any web page. Some users with overloaded ISP DNS servers can see delays in multiple seconds before web pages start to load.
OpenDNS provides free alternative DNS servers that anyone can use with any internet provider. Unlike many national internet providers, OpenDNS’s DNS servers are very fast and reliable. Using OpenDNS servers instead of your ISP servers will help you speed up your internet browsing by cutting down on the delay between resolving a domain name and getting the IP address so your browser can start loading the web page.
Configuring your computer to use OpenDNS servers instead of your ISP’s is a simple change that works in both Windows XP and Windows Vista:
Speed up wireless WAN connections
In Windows Vista the networking components were designed to be much more intelligent and automatically adjust the network settings to optimize the connection speed. This is a great new feature. Your network components basically tweak themselves for optimal performance. In most situations, these components automatically adjust perfectly for best performance. However, with wireless WAN cards the detection of network conditions is flawed and can result in slower network performance.
To fix this problem, Microsoft has released a hotfix for users affected by this issue. If you have a Wireless WAN device, I suggest you give this hotfix a try.
This problem occurs because of the way that TCP receive window auto tuning is used in Windows Vista for connections that only receive data.
Windows Vista obtains a round-trip time (RTT) estimate at the time of connection setup and every time that a new segment of data that is transmitted. A connection that only receives data is limited to the single RTT sample that is obtained at the time of connection setup. Because the connection only receives data, the connection cannot "converge" to the actual RTT of the connection. For example, because the RTT data may fluctuate for various reasons, a "converge" operation is performed to estimate a meaningful RTT by using blending current and previous RTT data. However, if the connection cannot converge to the actual RTT of the connection, the bandwidth delay product (BDP) estimate that Vista obtains is also incorrect. Therefore, the connection's receive window is limited, and throughput of the connected transmission network is reduced.
Speed up your hard drive by scheduling defrags
The disk defragmenter in Windows Vista was redesigned. I personally do not like the new stripped down interface but one welcome addition is easy defrag scheduling.
Click on the Start Button and type in Disk Defragmenter and hit Enter
Make sure Run on a schedule is checked as shown above.
Click Modify schedule and configure the settings for your computer use. I like to set mine to Daily and late at night since I normally leave my PC on at night.
Start applications on specific CPU core and priority
There is a great little utility that has been around for ages in Windows called the start command. This dos command allows you to start any process with advanced settings. In Windows Vista it is perfect if you want to start an application and tell windows to only run it on one CPU and at a high priority level. For example, let's say that you want to start Microsoft Paint and have it run on your second CPU core at Above Normal priority. The command below will accomplish this:
start /affinity 2 /abovenormal mspaint.exe
You can customize the command above and replace the 2 with the processor number (in hex) that you want the processor to run on. You can also adjust the priority level by using one of the flags below:
There are two ways to stop applications that start when you startup your computer at login. You can use the System Configuration Utility or the new Software Explorer in Windows Defender. Take a look at the two sections to get control over your startup applications and speed up your computer:
Disabling auto-start applications with the System Configuration Utility
The indexing service in Windows Vista is responsible for making those search boxes all over the operating system lightening fast. By default Windows automatically indexes all files in your user profile folders, start menu and any files you have setup for offline access. If you have a lot of files in these locations and the files change often you can be putting a heavy load on the indexing service. For maximum performance when using Windows Vista I recommend disabling indexing for all other locations other than the Start Menu. This will lessen the background work that Windows Vista has to do. It will also slow down your searches of other locations but that is the price you must pay for this performance benefit.
Follow these steps to tweak the indexing locations:
Copy and Paste the following into a .reg file and import it.
Once you import it, restart Windows Live Messenger and under Options you will have a new list item for Add-ins.
Enable Vista Glass on Intel GMA 950 Graphics Cards
Currently Windows Vista does not have WDDM support for the Intel GMA950 integrated graphics card. Even though this card is integrated, it supports all of the requirements for Vista Glass. It is just a matter of getting a driver that is compatible with it and vista.
After doing a ton of research, I found that there is another driver that you can actually use for now. There are some problems with it, such if you have a laptop, the external monitor port does not always work but other than that it works great for me on my Lenovo X60.
This is how I got Vista Glass to run on a GMA950:
Fix iTunes in Windows Vista
If you are an iTunes user and have purchased any songs from the on-line store you may have some issues when trying to authorize your computer to play back your songs. While authorizing your computer to play your purchased songs iTunes will say everything was successful but you will still not be able to play your songs. Why? Because iTunes is being bad and trying to write to a part of the registry that a normal user does not have access to.
Currently Apple has said they are working on a Vista compatible version of iTunes. For now, there is a work around that will help you play your purchased songs in iTunes:
Do you use the web-based VMWare Management Interface to control your ESX server and have problems opening virtual machines in IE7?
Many user have reported that instead of getting the open prompt in IE7 they get a find option instead. To fix this, you need to define the application/x-vmware-console MIME type so IE7 allows you to open the file.
How to install Windows Server 2008 Administrative tools on Vista SP1
With the release of Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista SP1 Microsoft removed the old management tools that shipped with RTM Vista. When you install Windows Vista SP1 you will notice that the Group Policy Management Client (GPMC.msc) and other features are no longer available. They have been uninstalled from your system.
Microsoft replaced the old uitilities with updated version in the Remote Server Administrative Tools (RSAT) package.
Once you have downloaded and installed the administrative tools you need to turn the features on.
Would you like to make a shortcut that will clear all of your personal information from IE7? Using a cool trick it is very easy to call the API's that the Delete Browsing History box in IE7 uses to clear your Temporary Internet Files, Cookies, History, Form Data and Stored Passwords. Follow the steps below to make a shortcut that clears all of these items or just a specific item:
Once you have entered in the command in the location box hit Next.
Type in a name and hit Enter.
When you are finished you can drag your new shortcut to the Quick Launch bar or even into the Startup folder of the Start Menu to make Windows automatically clear your history when you log in.
Make XP computers show up in Vista's Network Map
The new Network Map in Windows Vista allows you to easily create a map of all computers on your network and see how they are connected. This works by using the Link Layer Topology Discovery (LLTD) protocol that is only part of Windows Vista.
To help users of mixed environments of both Windows Vista and Windows XP, Microsoft has released the Link Layer Topology Discovery Responder for Windows XP. This will make your Windows XP computers show up in the Network Map in Windows Vista.
This package contains the Link Layer Topology Discovery (LLTD) responder. The network map on a computer running Windows Vista shows a graphical view of the computers and devices on your network and how they are connected by using the LLTD protocol. The LLTD responder must be installed on a computer running Windows XP before it can be detected and appear on the network map. After you install this item, you may have to restart your computer.
to download the update for Windows XP SP2
Resize Partitions with Vista Disk Management
In Windows Vista it is now possible to resize partitions without any data loss in the new Disk Management console.
Resizing Partitions with Windows Vista:
Stop those annoying registration boxes that won't go away
Have you recently installed a system utility or a productivity application such as Adobe Photoshop or Macromedia Dreamweaver and have been bombarded with registration messages that pop-up every time your start the application? Even when you check the box and tell the application never to remind you ever again?
This happens to me all the time and is very annoying. The culprit of this problem is... you guessed it, UAC!
Your application keeps asking you to register because the registry key that it checks to see if you should still be harassed into registration is never getting set thanks to UAC. When I check the box or hit the Never remind me again button the registry write gets virtualized because the app tried to write to a part of the registry a standard user does not have access to. This is a feature of UAC and it does a great job of redirecting the registry write so the application does not crash out. However, since the application is not aware of this virtualized write location it keeps checking the registry value of the key in the normal location. Since the application has read only access to that location the key will keep getting virtualized every time you check the box and is why the registration boxes keep popping up.
How do you get out of this mess? Real simple, just run the application as an Administrator. This time UAC will not be in the way and the app will be able to write the never annoy me ever again with this stupid registration box key setting.
This simple trick will also work for some applications that pop up other information and do not respect the stop annoying me again option.
Advanced Windows Firewall: Turn on outbound filtering
Windows Vista includes a two-way firewall that has outbound filtering disabled by default. Why? The best explanation that I got was that it was too complicated for end-users to use so they had that feature turned off as well as hidden. In fact, it is hidden so well that many users may think that the two-way firewall was yet another feature that was pulled from the final product. While that is true for other features the two-way firewall made it into the final product, you just need to know how to find it.
To get started, just click on the Start Button and key in wf.msc and hit Enter. This will bring up the comprehensive Windows Firewall with Advanced Security management interface. Here you will be able to configure rules for incoming as well as outgoing connections.
make sure that you set the default action for outbound connections from allow to block. Otherwise the outbound firewall will be useless because it will allow all connections. This can be done from the Windows Firewall Properties link found on the main screen of the management interface.
Create an Account Lockout Policy
how you can protect your computer against anonymous user account attacks by turning on account logon auditing so you could see when someone attempts to remotely logon to your account. Now I am going to help your increase your level of protection with the Account Lockout Policy.
Creating an Account Lockout Policy will protect your account by limiting the number of time a remote application or attacker can try to guess your password. This works by automatically locking out your account after a designated number of incorrect passwords were entered. Your account will remain locked out for a designated period of time before it is automatically unlocked and it can be logged into again. This provides a valuable addition to your account security because it can render brute force password attacks useless. If you have your lockout threshold set to 4 bad attempts and the lockout duration to 15 minutes, an attacker can try to guess your password a maximum of 16 times per hour.
Now that you know how valuable an Account Lockout Policy is, let’s get it setup on your computer:
Disable UAC (User Account Control)
Had enough of the constant UAC Authorization pop-up boxes? And given up. There is a easy way to disable user account control so that you never have to deal with the approvals and requests for consent ever again. Just follow these steps below:
Disable USB storage device write (make them read-only)
In the corporate world, a lot of time is spent on locking down computers to minimize the risk of confidential information leaving the company. With the popularity of USB storage devices in recent years the problem for large corporations has exploded. Almost all users want to use USB storage devices to move data around. With the size of USB storage devices increasing so much in recent years, the risk is increasing as more and more data could possibly be stolen or lost accidentally. In companies, USB storage devices have been banned completely and disabled from use on company computers.
In Windows Vista there is an alternative that will allow your corporate users to be able to read from USB storage devices but not write any data to them. Effectively turning on USB storage devices for all users but making them read-only. This way users can still read information off of USB storage devices that a third-party vendor may provide data on while preventing the employee from writing any data back to the storage device.
To setup read only USB storage device operation, follow these steps below:
Turn on auditing to monitor account attacks
There is no doubt that all of the security features in Windows Vista will help keep your computer secure. However, these features become less valuable when they are not turned on by default. One feature, known as user account auditing, is not turned on by default. With this feature is turned off, anyone with physical access or remote access to through a hole in your firewall (such an opening for Remote Desktop) can use a brute force attack against your user account for as long as they want without getting noticed at all. How? The default audit security policy is configured to not log any account logon events, successful or failed.
This allows an attacker to try to hack your accounts for as long as it takes to break in. There are a few ways to protect against this that I am going to go over in my next article about the Account Lockout policy. But first, it is important to turn on this account auditing so that you can see who may be trying to break into your accounts. After you have adjusted the auditing security policy, you will be able to see any account attacks including the account that they tried to logon with and where the request came from.
Let's get started and turn on audition for failed logon events:
Your computer has now been configured to log all failed user account logon attempts.
Once you have turned on account auditing, you can view the logs in Event Viewer (run eventvwr.msc) under Windows Logs and Security.
Use BitLocker Drive Encryption without TPM chip
Windows Vista includes a new hard drive encryption feature called BitLocker Drive Encryption. BitLocker can be a very useful security feature for businesses and home users that have sensitive and confidential information stored on their computer. Unfortunately, BitLocker Drive Encryption by default requires a Trusted Platform Module (TPM Chip) version 1.2 or later installed in your computer. A lot of the computers and laptops on the market do not come with TPM chips installed since they are typically only found in premium model business computers. If you have Windows Vista Business, Ultimate or Enterprise but do not have a TPM chip, you can still use BitLocker Drive Encryption.
Hidden away in local group policy is a setting that will allow you to turn on the ability to use a USB storage device instead of a TPM key to store the encryption key. This is a great feature for users that don't have the latest high-end hardware because you can still use hard drive encryption. However, every time you turn on your computer, the USB storage device that has the encryption key located on it must be plugged in. Without it, your computer will not boot up. One BitLocker Drive Encryption is setup with a USB storage device, that USB storage device basically becomes the key to your computer.
Follow these steps to turn on the ability to use a USB storage device with BitLocker Drive Encryption on hardware that does not have a TPM device:
Create a 360 degree Virtual Desktop
A new product called 360 Desktop introduces a new way of thinking about virtual desktops. Instead of having different desktops or desktops on a cube why not have a desktop that you can scroll horizontally forever. 360 Desktop converts your desktop into a very wide never ending desktop in the shape of a cylinder. Instead of changing desktops to view different applications just scroll horizontally. 360 Desktop is even better when using one of the 360 degree panoramic wallpapers that it comes with. This will make you desktop look amazing. Best of all, 360 Desktop is free!
Safari for Windows
I never thought I would see this on Windows
"Safari has always been the fastest browser on the Mac and now it’s the fastest browser on Windows, loading and drawing web pages up to twice as fast as Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 and up to 1.6 times faster than Mozilla Firefox 2."
Edit: works on xp sp1,2,3 vista (all) x86 + x64 (32 + 64 bit)
apple safari for windows claims of being faster than mozilla firefox are true. the downside is the lack of free security plugin's. like ad block and no script
Virtual PC 2007 (Free)
Use Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 to run multiple operating systems at the same time on the same physical computer. Switch between virtual machines with the click of a button. Use virtual machines to run legacy applications, provide support, train users, and enhance quality assurance.
Virtual PC lets you create separate virtual machines on your Windows desktop, each of which virtualizes the hardware of a complete physical computer. Use virtual machines to run operating systems such as MS-DOS, Windows, and OS/2. You can run multiple operating systems at once on a single physical computer and switch between them as easily as switching applications—instantly, with a mouse click. Virtual PC is perfect for any scenario in which you need to support multiple operating systems, whether you use it for tech support, legacy application support, training, or just for consolidating physical computers.
Vista Shortcut Overlay Remover
FrameworkX has a great little utility that will help you tweak your shortcut overlay.
Windows Sidebar Styler
Windows Sidebar Styler takes advantage of the new technologies introduced in Windows Vista™ in order to provide extensions to the existing functionality of Windows® Sidebar.
Custom styles allow for resizing and customizing the appearance of Windows Sidebar so that it fits other UI elements, such as the Aero Glass colorization or an actual third party theme. Designers could save their visual styles so that other Windows users could apply them. Designers would not necessarily create these files on Windows Vista - Windows Sidebar Styler is backward-compatible with legacy operating systems as well.
Windows Vista Hardware Assessment Network Tool
The Windows Vista Hardware Assessment is a tool that will find computers on a network and perform a detailed inventory of the computers using Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI). Through use of the detailed inventory data, the tool will assess and report whether the computers can run Windows Vista, where to find drivers for devices on the computers, and provide recommendations for hardware upgrades, where appropriate.
The Windows Vista Hardware Assessment tool does not require the deployment of agent software on the computers being inventoried and assessed. It provides a secure, quick, and easy way to determine which computers, in a networked environment, are Windows Vista ready.
Windows Vista VHD (Virtual Hard Disk for Virtual PC)
Microsoft has released a new virtual hard disk image (VHD) that has Windows Vista pre-installed. Using the hard disk image you will have Windows Vista running in a virtual machine in just a few minutes.
to download the Windows Vista virtual machine VHD image.
to learn more about Microsoft Virtual PC