In-Depth

The Windows Vista Resource Guide

Here's a quick, handy guide to some important resources for working with Microsoft's newest operating system.

Although Windows Vista has been out about six months, it's still in many ways an unknown quantity, especially among businesses. Corporations are very conservative about OS rollouts, and often wait until the first service pack to make the move. In Vista's case, that should be early next year.

In the meantime, there are lots of resources out there to help with getting up to speed on Vista.

The obvious place to start is Microsoft's Vista Home page. Knowing that there are lots of questions about hardware compatibility (since it's well known that Vista uses more system resources than its forerunner, Windows XP), Microsoft has added a section just about drivers and hardware. It can also help you sort out among the potpourri which version is right for your home or business.

Staying in the Microsoft realm, those who want to track what's happening day-to-day with Vista should check out the Vista team blog. It's updated daily, and has lots of tips, breaking news and other Vista-related stuff. It's also reliable, given that it's written by the folks developing and marketing it.

IT pros and the more technically minded will want to visit the Windows Vista TechCenter on Microsoft's TechNet site. It's chock-full of information on planning for Vista, deploying it, securing it and managing it. Make sure to take a look at the Script Elevation PowerToys, to work with Vista's uber-secure -- but incredibly annoying -- User Account Control feature. Those pop-ups requesting authorization to do most anything could drive a man to drink.

Third-party vendors or other developers will like the Vista Developer Center. It includes a learning center to get the uninitiated up to speed, downloads like the latest version of the .NET Framework and a community section with links to forums and newsgroups.

One of the most valuable tools for any Microsoft OS is the Resource Kit. Amazon.com has it on sale right now for less than $38; the Resource Kit would be a bargain at twice the price, filled as it is with insights, advice, how-tos, scripts and tools for making the Vista admin's life less harried.

One of Vista's most interesting new features is Gadgets. Gadgets are small programs that stay on your desktop (in what's called the Sidebar, usually on the right-hand side of the screen). Gadgets can show a big clock, calendar, RSS feeds or basically anything else you'd like to keep on your desktop. To learn more about Gadgets -- either what's currently available, or how to build your own, say "Go go Gadget" --- click here. Of course, if you're gonna use Vista, you've gotta pay for it. Licensing has been a sore spot for Microsoft for years; they change their licensing programs often, so you might want to bookmark its licensing site. So, once you've got Vista installed, what do you do when it breaks? The "Tech Support Guy" is one Web site you can turn to for help. People with real-world problems are getting assistance there every day.

That's a site for support, but there are a number of Vista forums out there where you can meet other Vista users and trade war stories or just chat in general. Three of the most popular are The Vista Forums, Windows Vista Forums and the wonderfully named Vista Babble. And, of course, for the latest breaking news concerning Vista -- without the Microsoft spin -- there are no better sites on the Web than ENT magazine, Redmond magazine online, Redmond Channel Partner magazine online, and Redmond Developer News magazine online. But you already knew that, didn't you?

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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