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New to Windows Vista? Check Out the Welcome Center

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Christian Cawley•updated: 6/14/2009

If you're new to Windows Vista and feeling a little overwhelmed, visit the Welcome Center. From here you can transfer files and settings from another PC, connect to the Internet, add users, see what's new in Vista, and much, much more.

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    When you first start Windows Vista, the Welcome Center opens. [See Image 1] If you don’t see it and want to access it, click the Start button, click All Programs, click Accessories, and click Welcome Center. Alternately, you can find it in Control Panel, under System and Maintenance (click Get Started with Windows).

    You'll see two sections in the Welcome Center: Get started with Windows and Offers from Microsoft. If you purchased a new computer from a big box store, you may see other sections are icons not included here. (The company that manufactured your computer may have added their own icons or sections to help you find your way around the stuff they've installed on it.)

    If you're new to Vista, visit these parts of the Welcome Center:

    * Check out View computer details to find out what Windows Vista Edition is installed on your PC. It's probably Basic, Home Premium, or Ultimate., but may also be Business or Enterprise. You'll also see the processor type and speed, the amount of memory (RAM), the type graphics processor, computer name, and other details.

    * Under Transfer files and settings you can access Windows Easy Transfer, an application that helps you transfer user accounts, files and folders, program settings, Internet settings and Favorites, and e-mail settings, contacts, and messages from an older computer you own to your new one. However, if you have a new computer, see if you can get away without using this. Not only will it transfer the items you need, but also all of the stuff you don't, including data that was causing your old computer to bog down.

    * If you want to add new users, this is the place. Choose Add new users to create user accounts for each person who will access your PC. When each person has their own account, documents, email, photos, and other data is kept in a separate place on the hard drive, and is secure from other users. You can also configure parental controls here.

    * If you need to connect to the Internet, choose Connect to the Internet. Here you can access wizards to help you choose an ISP and create a connection. You can also set up the Internet connection using an ISP you've already subscribed to.

    * If you have Windows Ultimate installed, check out Windows Ultimate Extras. Here you can access new programs, services, and publications specifically for Vista Ultimate users.

    * Check out What's new in Windows Vista to find out what's been added since Windows XP. You'll learn about keeping devices in sync, backing up and encrypting files, faxing and scanning documents, and creating, saving, and using Search folders.

    * Don’t forget to personalize your PC with Personalize Windows. If you aren't sure how, you can change the picture that appears on your Desktop, change your screen saver, personalize sounds, and change fonts, all from this helpful icon.

    Note: If you can't see all of the items listed here, click Show All Items under Get started with Windows.

    * If you want to register your copy of Windows, which you don't have to do, click Register Windows online. Once registered you will receive tips, hints, and best practices for using Windows Vista, all of which will come in the form of e-mails.

    * Click Windows Media to set up Windows Media Center. Yes, there is a setup process! Make sure to set aside a half hour or so for this task.

    * To change computer settings click Control Panel. Control Panel offers a gateway to computer settings including but not limited to system and maintenance, security, network and Internet, hardware and sound, appearance, startup programs, and more.

    There are a lot of options for learning to use Windows Vista too.

    If you're interested in learning the basics, Windows Basics is the place to be. Here you can learn the simple stuff like using the mouse and keyboard, working with files and programs, using e-mail, but also more complicated tasks like connecting to the Internet, surfing the Web, and working with digital pictures. Click Back Up and Restore Center to learn how to back up important files, and click Windows Vista demos to watch videos that teach you to work with programs, files, and folders, use e-mail and the Internet, print documents, secure your PC, set up user accounts, and solve problems, among other things. The demos are great; they open automatically in Windows Media Player and include sound as well as video. You can pause, stop, rewind, and fast forward through the video, enabling you to learn at the pace that suits you. [See Image 2]

    The Welcome Center offers a place to get acquainted with Windows Vista, so if Vista's new you to or if you're having problems getting started, finding new tools, or connecting to the Internet, this is your one-stop shop for information.

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    The Welcome CenterVideos open in Media Player