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The Five Best and Worst Things About Vista
Pages: 1, 2

Five Things You'll Hate About Windows Vista

User Account Control

There's no doubt about the thing you'll likely hate most about Vista: the dreaded User Account Control (UAC) prompt. UAC is a perfect example of a good idea gone bad…in fact, gone very bad. UAC prompts you to type in a password or click OK before you can take certain actions, such as adding or removing user accounts, or turning the Windows Firewall on or off. You'll know ahead of time that you'll get a UAC prompt; there will be a small shield next to any links or options that will summon it.

Figure 7
Figure 7. The most annoying thing about Windows Vista: The UAC prompt

There's some good logic behind the use of the prompt. It keeps you safe in two ways. First, it protects against malware. If you're infected and the malware tries to do something harmful, such as turning off your antivirus so that it can't be detected, UAC will stop it. And, UAC is designed to protect you against yourself, so that you don't make any changes that may harm your system.

That's not a bad idea. But the prompt runs rampant. Why should you have to go through a UAC just to change Windows' font size? Or change the name of your computer? You shouldn't, of course. You can at least turn it off, though. Go to Control Panel-->User Accounts and Family Safety-->User Accounts, and click the "Turn User Account Control on or off" link.


Remember the backup program in Windows XP? A pretty sorry piece of work, wasn't it? Well, the backup program built into Windows Vista will make you absolutely pine for it. It's one of the worst utilities you'll ever use--although it's such a poor piece of work, it's likely you won't bother to use it.

You can't use it to back up individual files or files, or even certain file types. Instead, you have to back up every file in a generic group of files, such as "Documents" or "Pictures." So if you want to back up only a select group of .doc files, or of folders, for example, you can't do it. You have to back up all your .doc files, as well as all of your .ppt files, .xl* files, .pdf files, and the new format .xps files as well. You can't pick and choose. Making things worse is the fact that you can't back up only certain folders--you have to back up every single folder on your entire hard disk.

Let's say, for example, you want to back up several folders, and they each have .doc files and .jpg files in them. There's a total of 75 megabytes of files you want to back up.

You can't do it. Instead you'll have to back up every single document and every single graphic on every folder on your entire hard disk, and that includes graphics files of every type and document files of every type. Worse yet, that backup will also include graphic files that Windows uses for its operations, which probably come to several hundred megabytes.

Figure 8
Figure 8. Windows Vista's backup program may be the worst utility ever packed into an operating system.

That means that in order to back up 75 megabytes of files, you'll actually have to back up several hundred megabytes, and most likely more, depending on what's on your hard disk.

Fewer Power User Features

Microsoft has tried mightily to make Windows Vista easy to master for the average user, but they've also made changes along the way that power users won't be happy about. For example, in Windows XP, you were able to customize to a remarkable degree what actions should be taken when you open or view a file; you can't do that any longer unless you dig extremely deep into the Registry. Similarly, you used to have a great deal more control over multiboot options than you do now.

Navigation Confusion

The redesigned Control Panel in Windows Vista is better organized than the one in Windows XP, and there are a variety of new "Centers" in it, such as the Network and Sharing Center, the Windows Mobility Center, and the Sync Center, which are quite useful.

Unfortunately, though, there's a good deal of navigation confusion as well. You'll find plenty differently named links that, for some odd reason, bring you to the same location. For example, if you're on the Network and Internet Control Panel applet and click on "Network and Sharing Center" or "View network status and tasks" or "Set up file sharing," you'll be sent to the same location--the Network and Sharing Center. This kind of thing happens at every level of the Control Panel and various centers. So even though you'll always be able to get where you want, sometimes the path there can be confusing.


There are multiple versions of Windows Vista, but if you're a power user, you'll certainly want Windows Vista Ultimate. To get it, though, you're going to have to pay through the nose. It'll set you back $259 for an upgrade, or $399 for the full version, a very hefty sum. You may instead want to settle for Windows Vista Home Premium, which will cost about $100 less.

Preston Gralla is the author of Windows Vista in a Nutshell, the Windows Vista Pocket Reference, and is the editor of He is also the author of Internet Annoyances, PC Pest Control, Windows XP Power Hound, and Windows XP Hacks, Second Edition, and co-author of Windows XP Cookbook. He has written more than 30 other books.

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