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What are the Best Features of Windows Vista?

written by: Jennifer Claerr•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 7/26/2011

Windows Vista has many useful and valuable features that can save you time and effort. Find out about the best features of Windows Vista and learn how to take advantage of them.

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    Overview of Windows Vista Features

    Ever since Windows Vista was released in 2006, many users have complained about all the bugs in the operating system. People tend to overlook the useful features of Windows Vista that make our computers easier to use and more effective. Some of these features come with all versions of Windows Vista; others are only available if you have a more advanced version such as Windows Vista Home Premium, Business, Ultimate or Enterprise edition. If you love Windows Vista, these features will just give you more reason to celebrate. If you miss Windows XP, these features will help you to like Windows Vista a little better.

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    Windows Aero

    Windows Aero provides a way to customize your desktop and give Windows Vista a sleek, futuristic look. Windows Aero is available in Windows Vista Home Premium, Business, Ultimate and Enterprise editions. To change the settings in Windows Aero, select the "Start" button in Windows Vista, then click "Appearance and Personalization." Click "Personalization" and then "Window Color and Appearance." Select a color from the list of colors at the top of the screen. Then move the slider to change the color intensity. Check the box beside "Enable transparency" if you want to use transparency in Windows Vista. Otherwise, uncheck the box to make the windows in Windows Vista opaque. Click "Show color mixer" to adjust the hue, saturation and brightness of your Windows Aero color scheme.

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    Windows Vista Sidebar

    The Windows Vista Sidebar is a stationary bar that can display useful gadgets such as a clock, a calendar, games, local weather information, stock tickers, news headlines and much more. There are several gadgets that come with Windows Vista, and you can easily add to the Windows Vista Sidebar. You can also download additional gadgets from the Microsoft Windows Vista Sidebar gallery. There are many additional Windows Vista Sidebar gadgets that are not made by Microsoft, but that have ratings and comments from users who have downloaded and tried them. Using these ratings and comments, you can get an idea of which Windows Vista Sidebar gadgets are the best and the safest. It's also a good idea to always scan third party gadgets with a virus scanner after downloading them.

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    Windows Vista Search

    The Windows Vista Search Bar appears at the bottom of the Start Menu when you click the "Start" button. It beats Windows XP's Search Companion, since it's much quicker and easier to use. When you type a search term in the box, Windows Vista instantly finds the term in the file name or text of programs and files on your computer. The results show up in the search bar organized into categories. Windows Vista also has an Instant Search box at the top right corner of explorer windows such as the Documents Explorer, Pictures Explorer and Music Explorer. Simply type your search term in the box to view the files which contain the term.

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    Windows Media Center

    Windows Media Center is a versatile program that you can use to play DVDs, CDs, listen to online radio, watch Internet TV or videos, play games or browse files on your computer. You can also use Windows Media Center to burn CDs, sync your computer with an external device such as an MP3 player and subscribe to online media services such as movie download services. Windows Media Center comes with Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate editions. If you have a TV tuner installed on your computer, you can use Windows Media Center to watch and record live television. There are also many freeware programs available for Windows Media Center that extend its functionality.

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    Windows Defender

    Windows Defender, an anti-spyware program that was available as a download for Windows XP, comes as an integrated part of Windows Vista. Windows Defender can do a quick scan or a deep scan of your hard drives to find hidden threats. Windows Defender also provides detailed information about your computer in Software Explorer. It monitors startup programs, currently running programs, network connected programs and winsock service providers and looks for problems that might affect the security and privacy of your computer. With Windows Defender tools you can also quarantine items that are a potential threat to your computer, and allow items that you don't want Windows Defender to scan for.

    Sources:

    "Windows Aero," http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-vista/features/aero.aspx

    "Search and organization," http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-vista/features/search-and-organization.aspx

    "Windows Media Center," http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-vista/features/media-center.aspx

    "Windows Defender," http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/defender/default.mspx