The writing may have been on the wall when Windows Vista was released to the public, but it's only after many, many years we're starting to hear the stories of those who worked on the ill-fated operating system, providing insight into exactly what went wrong. Like any complex project, there wasn't just a single point of failure.
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When we look back at the history of Microsoft, as with many other large businesses, there are moments you can see where the company clearly got things wrong. Apple's collapse, before the return of Steve Jobs was precipitated by the battle fought between the rival Lisa and Mac camps. And in Redmond, Windows Vista was a turning point.
This week, Microsoft ended support of Windows Vista, ten years after it arrived on our computers in frosted-glass splendor. Was it bloated? Perhaps. The demands of the interface were unforgiving on old hardware. But it felt like a glimpse of the future.
Microsoft is not as Service Pack happy as it once was. While Windows XP and 2000 had three and four SPs respectively, Windows 7 had just one while Windows 8 went with a versioning approach instead, in the form of 8.1. Microsoft now looks like it's bringing Service Packs back for older platforms, except they're called 'Convenience Rollups'.
Everyone has their own bag of diagnostic tricks when Windows decides to chuck a wobbly. While OS corruption isn't as big a problem as it used to be thanks to journalled file systems and tools such as System Restore, you can still be caught with your pants down by malware, viruses and other nasties. In those cases, a utility called SFCFix might get you out of trouble where other options fail.
You've shared a folder on your Windows machine and set up the permissions, yet, when a networked user attempts to view the directory's contents, they're given an access denied dialog instead. Sharing a folder and setting up users should be enough, but sometimes it isn't. Here's how to fix this annoying problem.
It's nice when a Windows program asks you whether or not it should run at startup, but there are a few out there (I'm looking at you, Apple software updater) that feel the need to hide themselves in Task Scheduler, away from the more common areas of the user's Startup folder or the registry. Fortunately, disabling or deleting these tasks is a simple process.
If you occasionally plug/unplug your notebook from a second monitor, you've likely found some of your windows still on the other screen... and inaccessible. Closing the program can solve the issue, but many programs save their locations and won't return to their defaults, even with a restart. Fortunately, there are a few shortcuts you can employ to get those windows back into view.
Windows Vista only: Ultimate Windows Tweaker makes no bones about its source of inspiration—the uber-specific, XP-customising Microsoft tool TweakUI—and does pretty well by it. There's more than 130 changes to make from this stand-alone, no-install utility, including some seriously helpful User Account Control hacks and sliding timers for application killing, along with all the other tweaks for menus, Explorer, and shortcuts TweakUI users will find familiar. Another great feature: A big, prominent "Create System Restore Point" button to hit before you get to tweaking, which is always a good idea. Ultimate Windows Tweaker is a free download for Windows Vista systems (32- and 64-bit) only. Thanks, How-To Geek!
Windows only: If you're in no hurry to adopt Windows Vista but you've taken a shine to the Vista Sidebar, Joshoon over at Deviant Art has uploaded a port of the actual application to Windows XP. Using a combination of resources such as Alky for Applications, a Windows Vista to XP compatibility client, and the sidebar extracted from Vista the port allows XP users to run Vista Sidebar. Users can grab additional sidebar gadgets directly from Microsoft and experience the same functionality as they would with the sidebar on a Vista system. If you're running Windows XP and looking for something to round out real estate on your widescreen monitor this might just be it. For other sidebar candidates and general Vista goodness, check out how to get the best features of Vista in XP. The Windows Vista Sidebar pack is free, Windows XP only.