Let's face it: in the last few
, all the fun went out of using a PC. Viruses, spyware, spam, pop-ups, and other Web nastiness had turned us all into cowering system administrators, spending far too much time trying to shore up our computers rather than using them to get things done.
Why on earth didn't Microsoft do something?
Of course, now we know: Microsoft
doing something. It just took five years to finish doing it.
That something was
Vista, a new version (well, OK, five versions) that comes with every porthole sealed, every backdoor nailed shut, and every design flaw reworked by a newly security-conscious squad of Microsofties.
Microsoft won't go as far as saying that Vista is invulnerable; nothing with 50 million lines of code could possibly be bulletproof. The bad guys are going to do their best.
But it's safe to say that Vista is by far the most secure Windows yet, and that the sociopaths of the Internet will have a much, much harder time.
That's not all Microsoft accomplished in writing Vista, though. As you'll notice within the first 5 seconds, the company also gave the operating system a total
, both in its capabilities and its look. Vista is the best-looking version of Windows ever.
You thought Windows XP was bad, with its two different versions (Home and Pro)?
Windows Vista comes in
different versions: Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate. And that's not even counting the Starter edition, sold exclusively in poor
outside North America, or the two "N" versions (like Home Basic N), which are sold in Europe to
with a different set of antitrust laws.
This book series, "for Starters," has nothing to do with Windows Vista, Starter Edition. In fact, we thought of it first. :)
Microsoft says that each version is
attuned to a different kind of customer, as though each edition had been somehow conceived differently. In fact, though, the main thing that distinguishes the editions is the suite of programs that comes with each one. For example:
comes with Movie Maker (edit your camcorder footage), DVD Maker (
home movies into simple video DVDs), Media Center (displays your photos and
on a TV set), and
controls (lets you limit what your kids do online and what programs they use). None of this is included with the Business or Enterprise versions, on the assumption that busy corporate executives don't have
, camcorders, or TVs at work.
versions, on the other hand, come with certain
that are most useful in corporations. They include Complete PC Backup (makes a snapshot of your entire hard drive), password protection for individual files and folders, Windows Fax and Scan (for faxing and scanning, of course), Remote Desktop (lets you control another PC from across the Internet), and lots of hyper-technical networking features.
And then there's the expensive
version, which, as you'd guess, includes everything from all versions.
Except where noted, every word in this book applies equally well to every Vista version. Meanwhile, if some feature makes you salivate, fear not. Microsoft is only too happy to let you upgrade your copy of Windows Vista to a more expensive edition,
"unlocking" features for a fee.
Vista Enterprise is not sold in any store. It's sold directly to corporations for mass installation by highly paid network
About This Book
Windows Vista comes with no printed
guide at all. To learn about the thousands of pieces of software that make up this operating system, you're supposed to read the online help screens.
Unfortunately, as you'll quickly discover, these help screens are tersely written, offer very little technical depth, and lack examples. You can't even mark your place, underline, or read them in the bathroom.
The purpose of this book, then, is to serve as the startup manual that should have accompanied Windows Vista. In these pages, you'll find step-by-step instructions for using almost every important Windows feature.
About the Outline
This book is divided into seven
, each containing several chapters:
The Vista Desktop
, covers everything you see on the screen when you turn on a Windows Vista computer: icons, windows, menus, scroll bars, the Recycle Bin, shortcuts, the Start menu, shortcut
, and so on. It also covers the juicy new system-wide, instantaneous Search feature.
The Pieces of Vista
, is dedicated to the proposition that an operating system is little more than a launch pad for
. Chapter 6 describes how to work with programs and documents in Windowslaunch them, switch among them, swap data between them, use them to create and
files, and so onand how to use the new micro-programs called
This part also offers an item-by-item discussion of the individual software nuggets that make up this operating system. These include not just the items in your Control Panel, but also the most important free programs that Microsoft
in: Windows Media Player, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, and so on.
, covers all the special Internet-
features of Windows, including setting up your Internet account, Windows Mail (for email), Internet Explorer 7 (for Web browsing), and so on. Chapter 8 also covers Vista's Internet
features: the firewall, anti-spyware software, parental controls, and on and on.
Beyond the Basics
, describes the operating system's relationship with equipment you can attach to your PCscanners,
, disks, printers, and so on. It also explores Vista's greatly beefed-up backup and troubleshooting tools.
The Vista Network
, is for the millions of households and offices that contain more than one PC. These chapters show you how to build your own network. File sharing, accounts and passwords are here, too.
At the end of the book, three appendixes provide a guide to installing this operating system, the "Where'd It Go?" Dictionary, which lists every feature Microsoft moved or deleted on the way to Windows Vista, and a master list keyboard shortcuts in Vista.
Throughout this book, and throughout the Missing Manual series, you'll find sentences like this: "Open the Start
Local Disk (C:)
Windows folder." Thats shorthand for a much longer instruction that directs you to open three nested icons in sequence, like this: "Click the Start menu to open it. Click Computer in the Start menu. Inside the Computer window is a disk labeled Local Disk (C:); double-click it to open it. Inside
window is yet
icon called Windows. Double-click to open it, too."
Similarly, this kind of arrow shorthand helps to simplify the business of choosing commands in menus, as shown in Figure I-1.
You're invited and encouraged to submit corrections and updates to this book's Web page at www.missingmanuals.com. (Click the book's
, and then click the Errata link.) In an effort to keep the book as up-to-date and accurate as possible, each time we print more copies of this book, we'll make any corrections you've suggested.
Even if you have nothing to report, you should check that Errata page now and then. That's where we'll post a list of the corrections and updates we've made, so that you can mark important corrections into your own copy of the book, if you like.
In the meantime, we'd love to hear your suggestions for new books in the Missing Manual line. There's a place for that on the Web site, too, as well as a place to sign up for free email notification of new titles in the series.