Windows is the most widely run computer program in the world, and Windows Vista is the latest version of Windows. Most of the software written for personal computers-indeed, most of the software written for any computer-is written for computers running Windows.
This chapter explains what Windows Vista is and explains the objects you see on the Windows screen-the desktop, icons, the taskbar, the Start menu, and windows. It also explains the Control Panel, a collection of programs that enables you to control how Windows and your computer work. Many Control Panel programs run wizards , special programs that step you through the process of creating or configuring an object on your computer. Properties are another way of choosing settings for the objects in your computer. This chapter also describes how to start Windows, shut it down, and suspend Windows operation when you're not using your computer.
If you've used Windows 95, 98, Me, 2000, or XP you can probably skip this chapter since you already understand windows, icons, and the desktop. Just skim through to see what's changed!
Windows Vista is the latest desktop version of Microsoft's Windows series of programs. It's the upgrade to the consumer versions of Windows (95, 98, Me, and XP) as well as to the business, server, and power- user versions (Windows NT, 2000, and 2003). Windows is an operating system , a program that manages your entire computer system, including its screen, keyboard, disk drives , memory, and central processor. Windows also provides a graphical user interface , or GUI , which enables you to control your computer by using a mouse, windows, and icons. You can also use the keyboard to give commands; this book describes both methods .
You can upgrade to Windows Vista from Windows XP, or you can do a "clean install" to replace any previous version of Windows on your computer. You can also buy a computer with Windows Vista preinstalled . Once Windows Vista is installed, you can run Windows-compatible application programs (programs for getting real-world work done).
For years , Microsoft has produced two editions of Windows, one for desktops (that is, for individual users, including for use on laptops) and one for servers (computers that provide services over networks). The desktop versions were Windows 3.1, 95, 98, Me, and XP and were intended for workstation use-that is, on computers that people used directly. The server versions were Windows NT 4, 2000, and 2003, and were intended for use on servers (computers that provide services to other computers on a network) as well as by high-end users.
Windows Vista is designed to work for individuals and power users, and comes initially in five versions:
Windows Vista Business For businesses and organizations
Windows Vista Enterprise For large corporations that have complex information technology infrastructures
Windows Vista Home Premium For home users who use computers for entertainment, Internet and e-mail tasks , and homework
Windows Vista Home Basic For home users who need a computer to do just the basics
Windows Vista Ultimate Includes all the best business, mobile, and entertainment features of the other versions of Windows Vista
This book describes Windows Vista Ultimate. The Microsoft web site contains details about Windows Vista at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/editions/default.mspx.
Windows Vista comes bundled with many programs, most of which aren't actually part of the operating system, including Internet connection software (dial-up connections), an e-mail program (Windows Mail), a web browser (Internet Explorer), a simple word processing program (WordPad), a calendar program (Windows Calendar), local area network (LAN) support, utilities that help with hard-disk housekeeping, and dozens of other programs.