Windows Vista

Windows Vista replaced Windows XP as the main operating system from Microsoft.  It is primarily used for personal computers including home and business environments.  Microsoft Vista was released to the market on November 8, 2006.

There are a lot of new and exciting features in this operating system.  However we are going to focus on a handful of topics. We will not cover the Desktop or the Start button here.  If you would like to know more about those topics, please visit that the Desktop Basics page here. Instead today we will be focusing on the following topics:

Programs and Applications
Windows Explorer and Documents
Working with media
Control Panel
Searching for files
Miscellaneous topics

One of the new features in Windows Vista is the ability to start programs and applications without knowing the complete hierarchal path.  Let us say that you tend to use PowerPoint a lot to create presentations.  In the previous versions of Windows, you would have to browse to Programs, Microsoft Office and then Microsoft PowerPoint, not anymore! Let me show you a quick and easy way of finding the program instead.

When you click on the Start button, right below All Programs you will see an area that reads Start Search.  Go ahead and enter PowerPoint in this location and click Enter.  You will notice that the computer will go ahead and search files and programs with the word PowerPoint in it.  The first option on the top under Programs is Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007, go ahead and select it.  This will launch Microsoft PowerPoint in just one step. Very Nice!

Here is what it looks like on my computer monitor, notice the Start Search area is highlighted in red.

Uing the Start Search  method, not only are you able to find Programs and Applications, you can also look for files and related documents We saw this in action above when it found files and communication related to PowerPoint.  In this manner you can work efficiently in Vista operating system than you could in previous Window environments.  Pretty cool!

Let us do the same thing to launch the WordPad application next. In the Start Search area, simply type wordpad. Under Programs you will see WordPad, go ahead and launch the application. This is shown in the figure below.

In the about screen shot, we have highlighted different sections which are common in a typical windows application. 

The top portion where it reads File, Edit .. is known as the "File menu" (in red). This menu can be used to do a number of tasks like opening or closing a document, changing the font properties, format options, browsing through the Help section etc.

Right below the File menu is what’s known as “the Toolbar”. This contains a lot of commonly used commands.  For example in order to save a file, you can use the File menu, or you can simply click on the Save icon which is highlighted in green square. You will notice the ruler below the Toolbar which is helpful from a printing point of view. 

Next you will notice the big white space where you will be entering the actual information.

One last thing, on the top right corner you will notice three icons. These let you control the behavior of the actual program window. The first one is used to minimize the program that you’re working in, the second one (square) is used to restore the program to its original size and the last one (x) is used to close the application.

We just felt necessary to cover some of the basic of working with windows programs and applications especially if this all new to you.

Windows Explorer and Documents

Now that we have covered how to start an application and how to manage the environment, let us move on two working with files and folders.  In order to work with your files, you will need to use windows explorer.  It can be found under the start menu. When I did this on my computer, it went ahead and took me to the Documents folder.  This is considered to be the default location where Windows Vista will store your files. 

Here is a screen capture of what it looks like on my computer display.

You will notice that the windows explorer area above is split into two panes (sections).  The one on the left is the navigation pane and the one on the right is the details pane.  The navigation pane is further broken down into Favorite Links and Folders.  You can easily browse to the needed location by double clicking on the desired folder.  As you click on these folders, the detail area will change accordingly and will list different files and folders.  On the right side you can see detailed information on the files and folders.  This can include things like name of the file, when it was modified, what type of document it is so on and so forth.  Also observe that our files are listed by the modified date the descending order. 

From the details pane, you can simply open up the necessary document by either double clicking on it or using right click and then selecting Open.  One of the things that I find myself doing is customizing the look and feel of Documents folder.  I typically like to see the file extensions and also want to see the modified date on the left side.  First let us move the modified date to the left.  You can select the column heading and holding the left mouse button you can simply drag the column to the left.  This will rearrange the details pane and now you’re left most column would be modified date. 

Here’s the result of this action.

For the next step, you need the file menu which currently is not visible.  Go ahead and select Alt + F which will make the File Menu visible. Next select Tools menu. You will see a drop down like the one below and select Folder Options.

This is capture in this screen shot here.

This will launch a new dialog box titled folder options.  Go to the view tab and under Advanced settings check the option Hide extensions for known file types-Off.  Go ahead and click on Apply and then select OK. 

We have included the screen shot of this step as follows. By the way you can always revert back to the original settings by clicking on Restore Defaults.

This time when you open up windows explorer, you will notice that the first column is Date modified and for that file names, you will notice extensions like .docx (Microsoft Word), .xlsx (Microsoft Excel), etc. 

This is what it looks like on my computer.

Searching files/folders

We have already seen how easy it is to search for programs earlier. Next we will search files and folders using Windows Explorer.  Let us say that you are starting to do some job hunting and would like to pull up all your resumes that are floating around on the computer, I know I have a few of them around!  How do you do that? 

You can simply click on the Start button and then select Windows Explorer.  In the left plan, select Computer from Favorite Links. In the detail pane you can see all the fixed and removable storage devices. You will also see a Search bar in the top right corner (highlighted in red). This is where you can type resume and hit Enter. The computer will go ahead and search all the documents with title or text that includes resume.

The next two computer snapshots show what we are talking about.


While it is searching for documents, you do not need to wait for it to finish. If you notice the file that you are looking for, you can double click on it which will open it.

I will say one more thing about searching files and folders.  In the past I have preferred using Google Desktop over the native search tool as it was a lot faster.  However in the new version of Windows, the search capability has improved considerably.

Working with media

Media can include a number of things like music, videos, digital pictures and external sources like TV, cameras etc.  We will go over some of these options.  When you are trying to play an audio CD or a DVD, first thing you will need to do is put the CD/DVD in the video tray.

Next you will see a similar dialog box to the one shown below.
Figure 10 (work)

If you find yourself using the same application all the time, I would go ahead and check the box so that it does not prompt you again.  Go ahead and select windows media player and then click OK.  This should launch windows media player and start playing your music CD or DVD.

The next thing we will a cover is working with USB devices. Let us say that you are trying to copy some files from your computer to a CD/DVD or a USB drive.  We will show you how you can work with a USB drive also known as a Thumb drive.  You can stick to your thumb drive into one of the many USB ports on a typical computer. 

When you did that you will get the following dialog box.

Go ahead and choose Open folder to view files and then click OK. It will go ahead and open Windows Explorer and let you browse files and folders. We are going to copy one of my resumes from the Documents folder to the Removable Disk J. We browse to the documents folder, select the correct resume and choose Copy from the Edit menu. 

This is shown in the figure below.

Next go back to the Removable Disk which is J our case.  We select Pate from the Edit menu to copy the resume to the new location.

We have included the screen capture of this step.

Control Panel

We are not going to go into a lot of detail on the Control Panel as there are several topics here.  We do have some video training with details on the Control Panel features in Windows XP so feel free to check it out also.  For today we will be covering Administration Tools, Program and Features, and Security center.
You can launch Control Panel by selecting Control Panel from the Start menu.  This is what it looks like on my computer

Figure 14

First we are going to take a look at the administration tools which can be used to control services, be in advance, perform computer management etc.  Let’s go ahead and look at the computer management.  When I clicked on this option, I got the following dialog box which is in place for as a security mechanism.  You have to click on OK to proceed to the next at
Figure 13

Administration Tools

One ended that I was given a you window which is also known as a Mc Microsoft management console.  Here you will find a lot if options for our that will let you control your computer and apply different settings and configurations.  And the once I typically use are the event viewer which will look at any particular errors that may be occurring at the application level Orent either system failures.  The reliability and performance step is a call feature that will let you look at subsystems like CPU, memory, network so you could troubleshoot any bottle likes.  The device manager will let you will review your current hardware components.  If you are having written a specific thank you can use this to fix the configurations.  Finally the services will let you start clause and stop up acacia’s are not needed.

Program and features
2 figure
Security Center
2 figure

Control Panel

We are not going to go into a lot of detail on the Control Panel as there are several topics here.  We do have some video training with details on the Control Panel features in Windows XP so feel free to check it out also.  For today we will be covering Administration Tools, Program and Features, and Security center.
You can launch Control Panel by selecting Control Panel from the Start menu.  This is what it looks like on my computer

Figure 14