Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Is it Time to Say Goodbye to Vista?

Published by Sunbelt Software FORUMS | BLOG | RSS | MY PROFILE | PRIVACY  

Vol. 3, # 82 - Jul 30, 2009 - Issue # 91 
 Is it Time to Say Goodbye to Vista?

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Is it Time to Say Goodbye to Vista?
    • Follow-up: DIY Computer Repair
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Let's make a deal: Microsoft and Yahoo finally tie the knot
    • Cycle through taskbar windows on Vista or XP
    • Browser ballot for EU users will be pushed to Vista and XP
    • What if Microsoft acted like Apple?
    • Vista SP2 RC is available
  4. How to: Using the New Vista Features
    • How to copy Windows errors messages
    • Make an icon to turn Windows Firewall on or off
  5. Vista Security
    • Security patches released
  6. Vista Question Corner
    • Sidebar won't work
  7. Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • Clicking a picture attached to email launches Windows Media Center
    • Takes a long time to open a .tiff file in Windows Photo Gallery
  8. Windows 7 Preview Corner
    • Nvidia says Windows 7 will have much better graphics performance
  9. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  10. Product of the Week
    • DownloadStudio: The Award-Winning Download Manager That Gets Everything On The Web!

Kiss Your Antivirus Bloatware Goodbye

We asked users of antivirus products what they didn't like about their AV software. They told us they are resource hogs and slowed their computer down. They told us that scan times took way too long, and that the AV software nagged them. In short, old-style AV software takes too much Memory and CPU. Time to switch to VIPRE! It gives you malware protection that combines antivirus, antispyware, anti-rootkit and other technologies into a seamless, tightly-integrated product. Even if you run "free" antivirus software, it hijacks 20% of your PC, so it's really not free at all! Get VIPRE now and see how fast your PC can really be:

Editor's Corner

Is it Time to Say Goodbye to Vista?

In response to last week's announcement that next month, VistaNews will become Win7News, I've received a few messages from readers asking whether Vista is going to end up being "abandoned," by us and by Microsoft. Almost since its release, bloggers and forum participants have been urging Microsoft to "dump Vista" and last October, eWeek's Microsoft Watch published a commentary titled "Windows Vista No Longer Matters."

Some analysts have said that the sooner Vista is forgotten, the better it will be for Microsoft. And in May of this year, a top executive at Microsoft was quoted as advising companies that were considering deploying Vista to change those plans and wait for Windows 7.

As many individuals and businesses prepare to upgrade to Windows 7 within the next months - either the RTM code in August/September for those who can get it or the retail release in October - those who just recently bought Vista machines or who have been happily using Vista for a while and have no plans to upgrade soon maybe be wondering if they're about to be left out in the cold. Every week, I hear from readers who are only now starting to use Vista (usually because it came on a newly purchased computer). To them, it's a brand new operating system, and they're a little worried that it's already considered to be outdated even before its successor is released for sale.

Even though Vista has sold pretty well in the consumer market, according to a recent Forrester Research study the business penetration was still in the single digits in the first quarter of this year. That hasn't increased a whole lot, with Windows 7 right over the horizon. In fact, author Scott Lowe in IT World went so far as to call Vista a complete failure in the business market:

On the other hand, some are saying that Vista is making a comeback, with its installed base having grown by 4 percentage points between July 2008 and March 2009. That brings its installed business base up to 11.9 percent. Still, XP is on 86 percent of business computers.

In my opinion Vista got a bad rap. Is Windows 7 better? Yep, without a doubt. But Vista offered many improvements over XP (which itself was/is an excellent operating system). Some say the problem was that Microsoft "rushed Vista out the door." As I noted in response to that claim a couple of weeks ago, Microsoft took more time developing Vista than any OS before or since: five and a half years.

Nonetheless, there were undeniably some problems in the initial release (especially performance issues) but many of these were fixed with Service Pack 1. I've received numerous comments from readers who have bought Vista computers after SP1 and who tell me how surprised they are that the OS works so well. They were expecting horrible things because of all the Vista-bashing they've read in the tech press. In fact, it seems most of the novice computer users I've talked to who have tried Vista loved it. It's the "old timers" who consider themselves experts, who are most likely to declare that "Vista sucks" because they can't do things exactly as they're used to doing them.

I still remember how excited I was the first time I saw Vista (in an early beta form). I was impressed with the sleek new look (I absolutely hated the default XP "cartoon computer" theme) and new features such as Flip 3D and transparent windows (what can I say? I love the look of Lamborghinis and Ferraris, too; I'm a sucker for eye candy). Unlike many of my colleagues, I also eagerly embraced most of the functional changes. I liked the new "breadcrumbs" address bar in Windows Explorer, loved the preview pane, liked the new navigation methods (although I did immediately restore the menu bar to the top). I liked the networking and sharing center, loved the Search box in the Start menu, and appreciated the security upgrades - although, like almost everyone else, I did find User Account Control annoyingly "in my face" at times.

Our very first issue of VistaNews was published on October 25, 2007, a spinoff of our still-popular WXPnews newsletter. That was almost a year after its release to businesses and nine months after it went on sale to consumers, but before the release of SP1. It's interesting that it took that long before we got enough interest from our readers to start a newsletter dedicated to Vista, but for the last six months we've been receiving requests from readers to do a Windows 7 newsletter, before it's even released.

What's the difference? It seems more people participated in the public beta of Windows 7 than did so for Vista, even though there were two public beta versions of Vista and only one for Windows 7. That may be because of all the good press Windows 7 got from private beta testers, or it may just be that, as time goes on, more people become technically savvy and are thus more willing to test beta software.

Another factor is that many people who have been running XP for the past seven or eight years are finally ready for something new. They know that mainstream support for XP has already expired, and even though extended support will still be available until 2014, let's face it: XP is getting a little long in the tooth. Some of the newer applications won't run on the old OS, and once you're used to setting up networking in Vista or Windows 7, you realize what a chore it could be in XP.

So Windows 7 comes along at just the right time for those who have the "seven year itch." But what about Vista users? According to the Microsoft Product Cycle website, mainstream support for all editions of Vista will end in 2012, five years after its release. Extended support for businesses lasts until 2017.

So if you just got a new Vista computer, don't worry. Your operating system is by no means obsolete. And we'll still welcome and answer your Vista-related questions in the newsletter, regardless of the name change.

What do you think? Is it time to say goodbye to Vista, or do you think there's still life in the old gal yet? Do you feel that Microsoft is "abandoning" Vista by ending mainstream support after five years? (XP was released in December 2001 and mainstream support didn't end until April 2009, over seven years later.) Do you plan to upgrade to Windows 7 as soon as it's released, or wait until you buy a new computer that has it pre-installed? Do you think Vista got a bad rap in the press, or were the criticisms deserved? Let us know what you think. Discuss this topic in our forums at

Follow-up: DIY Computer Repair

Last week, I discussed my less-than-heartening experience with HP's tech support, and that inspired quite a few folks to write or post to the forum. Many of you shared both good and bad experiences you've had with support from the major vendors. We have readers who are loyal fans of Dell, HP, or Gateway and others who say they'll never buy another product from one of those vendors. We heard both praise and complaints about Toshiba, Sony, Lenovo and Acer. One read summed it up well when he said the support experience is variable and often a matter of sheer luck.

A number of you wrote in favor of building your own. Others urged me to buy from a small local system builder. These are great solutions for many people, but they have their drawbacks, too. Building your own can definitely save you money, but it takes time, and of course all troubleshooting and repairs are entirely up to you, too. The reason for buying from a major vendor and purchasing an on-site warranty was so someone else could do that work. A good local shop is worth its weight in gold, but there are also many small shops that know little about troubleshooting; their first and sometimes only solution to every problem is to reformat and reinstall the operating system. And in today's economy, you can't be sure a small shop won't be out of business six months from now and its warranty useless.

Several people mentioned that one of the biggest obstacles to effective tech support with the big vendors is the language barrier that results from outsourcing the work to other countries. When you can't understand what the tech support person is telling you, and/or he can't understand you, it makes the experience that much more frustration and makes it less likely that you'll be able to resolve your problem to your satisfaction. Another major complaint is the voicemail systems that make it difficult to get to a real, live support person in the first place.

All in all, it's obvious that there are many people out there who aren't happy with the customer service they're getting from computer vendors, regardless of which vendor they use. There also seems to be a consensus that it's gotten worse over the last two to three years; companies that once provided excellent service have gotten sloppier. And several noted something that I've been saying for a long time: there is a significant difference between the level of service you get if you buy through the small business portal instead of the consumer side.

Thanks to all of you who wrote and participated in the forum discussion of this topic.

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication for XP users called WXPnews? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:

And for IT pros, there's our "big sister," WServer News, at

Look for the VistaNews fan page on Facebook!

Quotes of the Week

Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it. - Peter Drucker

If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6000 friends. - Jeff Bezos

Customer service is not a department, it's an attitude. - Unknown

Keep The Bad Guys Out With The Sunbelt Personal Firewall

Why do I need a firewall? Together with antivirus and antispyware, a firewall is a "must" to protect your computer. PC Magazine gave the Sunbelt Personal Firewall a "Very Good" rating with 4 Stars and a conclusion of "good protection". Check out the Reviews on the site and it will be clear why you need the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to protect your PC. One good example: Unlike the Windows XP and Vista Firewall, you can tell the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to look carefully at the data leaving your browser, so that sensitive information like your credit card numbers, email address, bank account, social security number and PIN code do not get stolen by hackers!

Cool Tools


Why Is Your PC So Slow? Free Online Diagnostics - Over 150 Million Scans Run

WhiteSmoke 2009 is an innovative proofreading and editing tool with a single aim - to help you write better.

Backblaze is the no fuss solution to getting all your data backed up online securely, easily, automatically, and for only $5/month for unlimited storage.

Ever use a download manager? You might not know what your missing, try this one!

Rip DVDs for your iPhone, iPod touch, Apple TV, or iPod Video Nano. Bundle includes video converter too! Free Trial:

Advanced Vista Optimizer does a great job tweaking Vista for Max performance.

Eliminate your online traces with CyberScrub. Privacy equals security.

Backups? Why back up when you can sync? Simply replicate every piece of data to another drive in real-time. Set it and forget it.

Your Uninstaller! 2008 takes the place of the clunky Windows Control Panel "Add/Remove Programs" and offers many other useful functions

Kill the background tasks belonging to (legitimate) software that run all day. Why? To get your speed back!

What was that password again? Organize password and order info with RoboForm. Saves me a ton of time and hassle! Secure password storage:

News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Let's make a deal: Microsoft and Yahoo finally tie the knot

After months of back and forth, the on again, off again relationship between Microsoft and Yahoo in the search venue seems finally be officially a "go." This week, the two companies announced that they have signed a ten-year agreement whereby Microsoft will power Yahoo's search and Yahoo will promote Microsoft's premium properties. This alliance has the potential to pose a real threat to Google's dominance of the search market, but the deal won't actually close until early 2010 and it will take a few more months for Yahoo to transition to the Bing engine. Read more here:

Cycle through taskbar windows on Vista or XP

One of the cool new navigation features in Windows 7 is the ability to use a shortcut key combination to cycle through open windows based on their positions on the taskbar. Now you can do the same thing in Vista or XP, by installing a small utility called ActivateByNum. It's a free open source program. Get it here:

Browser ballot for EU users will be pushed to Vista and XP

It was announced last week that Microsoft agreed to the European Commission's demands that they provide a "ballot" allowing users to select the browser they want in Windows 7 E. Now it appears it won't be limited to the new OS; it's also going to be pushed as an update to Vista and XP users in the EU. Users will be able to choose from up to ten different browsers. Read more here:

What if Microsoft acted like Apple?

I've often noted that Apple gets away with behavior that would get Microsoft excoriated by customers and the press and probably prosecuted by the government. Can you imagine the outcry if Microsoft had total control of the hardware on which their operating systems run? Now someone else has the same thought: what if Microsoft had a Windows App Store and that was the only way you could get applications for Windows? Read the article here:

Vista SP2 RC is available

If you can't wait to get Service Pack 2 for Vista, which fixes a number of problems and improves search, Bluetooth and Blu-Ray compatibility, the RC is "out there" right now for both 32 and 64 bit Vista. However, you have to have SP1 installed before you can install it, and you'll have to uninstall it to install the final release. Still interested? There's a link to the download here:

How to: Using the New Vista Features

How to copy Windows errors messages

When you get an error message in Windows, if you're like most of us, one of the first things you do is type it (or part of it) into your search engine to find out what others are saying about it. Did you know that you don't have to type that text? You can just hit CTRL + C and copy the error message text to the clipboard, and paste it into the search box. A simple solution that might seem obvious, but many folks don't think of doing it.

Make an icon to turn Windows Firewall on or off

If you use the built-in Windows Firewall, you probably have to turn it off occasionally to troubleshooting networking problems. Then you have to turn it back on. Going through the menu to do that can be a hassle. Why not create a shortcut to make it easier? Here's how:
  1. Right click an empty spot on the desktop and select New, then Shortcut
  2. In the shortcut wizard dialog box, under "type the location of the item," type netsh firewall set opmode disable
  3. On the next screen, when you're asked for a name for the shortcut, type Disable Firewall
  4. Repeat steps 1 and 3 but this time type netsh firewall set opmode enable for the location and type Enable Firewall for the shortcut name.
Now you can disable or enable the firewall with a single click.

Vista Security

Security patches released

This week Microsoft released an emergency "out of band" security patch for all versions of Internet Explorer, indicating that the risk from the targeted vulnerability is particularly dangerous. It's related to the Microsoft Active Template Library (ATL) and could allow an attacker to run programs or download malicious code to an unpatched computer. Read more here:

Also, if you're using Windows 7 RC, Microsoft has released security updates for IE 8 to protect against potential attacks/exploits, although Microsoft has stated that exploiting the vulnerabilities on the Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 platforms could be very difficult. You can read more here:

Vista Question Corner

Sidebar won't work

When I boot my Vista computer now, the sidebar will no longer start. I try clicking the icon in the system tray but nothing happens. Any ideas on how to fix this? - Len L.

This is not an uncommon problem and different solutions seem to have worked for different people. First we suggest that you try starting the sidebar by typing sidebar.exe in the Search box in the Start menu and then click on the file when it's found. If that doesn't work, you can try unregistering and re-registering the following ddl files: sbdrop.dll and wlsrvc.dll. Here's how:
  1. Click Start | All Programs | Accessories
  2. Right click Command Prompt and select Run as Administrator
  3. In the command prompt window, type cd "\Program Files\Windows Sidebar"
  4. Type regsvr32 -u ATL.dll
  5. Type regsvr32 -u sbdrop.dll
  6. Type regsvr32 -u wlsrvc.dll
Now to re-register them, do the following:
  1. Type regsvr32 ATL.dll
  2. Type regsvr32 sbdrop.dll
  3. Type regsvr32 wlsrvc.dll
If all else fails, you may want to do a system restore to a restore point that was made before the sidebar stopped working.

Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting

Clicking a picture attached to email launches Windows Media Center

If you're using Vista Home Premium or Ultimate edition, you might click on a photo in an email message and, instead of opening the picture, it launches Windows Media Center. What's up with that? Most likely, the default programs setting inadvertently got changed. You can find out how to fix this in KB article 558127 at

Takes a long time to open a .tiff file in Windows Photo Gallery

If you double click a .tiff file in Windows Explorer to open it with Windows Photo Gallery, you might discover that it takes a very long time to load and/or the computer hangs (stops responding). It doesn't happen if you open the file directly from Photo Gallery instead of double clicking it in Explorer, but that can be a bit of an inconvenience. Luckily, there is a hot fix available to resolve this problem. To find out how to get it, see KB article 956619 at

Windows 7 Preview Corner

Nvidia says Windows 7 will have much better graphics performance

If graphics performance is an issue for you (for instance, for gaming, video editing, etc.), that might be another reason to upgrade to Windows 7 sooner rather than later. According to an Nvidia product manager, the new OS and its new API will make it possible for computers to take advantage of today's powerful video cards in a way that previous operating systems couldn't do. Read more here:

Fav Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Disclaimer: VistaNews does not assume and cannot be responsible for any liability related to you clicking any of these linked Web sites.

Product of the Week

DownloadStudio: The Award-Winning Download Manager That Gets Everything On The Web!

Did you know that Windows XP or other Windows operating systems are not optimized for downloading files? This award-winning program will download files as much as 500% faster and will resume broken downloads - saving you significant time and bandwidth. It will download any file from the web, including programs, images, music, movies, flash, zip files, even complete web sites and ftp sites. DownloadStudio comes complete with an ultra-fast downloader, an offline browser, an interactive web site explorer, an audio/video recorder, streaming media support, flash capture support, full Internet Explorer support, a visual file browser and more. DownloadStudio uses latest internet technologies and is optimized for fast downloading. And you can even record your own favorite radio or streaming broadcasts when you want them. VistaNews readers can order now and get $10.00 or try the free evaluation software. Never miss out on your favorite internet radio ,music or streaming video shows again.

 About VistaNews

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These documents are provided for informational purposes only. The information contained in this document represents the current view of Sunbelt Software on the issues discussed as of the date of publication. Because Sunbelt must respond to changes in market conditions, it should not be interpreted to be a commitment on the part of Sunbelt and Sunbelt cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information presented after the date of publication.


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Personal & Educational Use Only This blog consists mainly of FREE newsletters from computer web gurus that I receive. I thought you might like to see them all in one place than try to discover them on your own. A moderate amount of editing may be done to eliminate unrelated repetitious ads or unnecessary text which bloat the post. However I have given the authors full credit and will not remove their site links because you deserve to see where it comes from and they deserve to get credit for what they have written. Your use of this site is simply for educational purposes. For more computer-related help go to: CPEDLEY.COM for free software, advice and tips on low cost products which are very helpful. If you want to contact the editor, please go CPEDLEY.COM and check the Contact page for email address.