Apps and Utilities
Q. Are Vista's built-in apps any good?
A. Some of them definitely cross the threshold into any goodness, though Microsoft Paint remains as lame as ever, and the backup program may be the worst application ever packed into an operating system. Windows Calendar, on the other hand, is a winner; and Windows Mail (nee Outlook Express) has received a facelift that makes it far easier to use. The Windows Photo Gallery is a nice tool for people interested in organizing their photos conveniently and performing quick-and-dirty photo editing.
Q. What does the Sync Center do?
A. It's supposed to synchronize data on your PC with other devices and with data on other PCs. If you want to sync with a Windows Mobile device, you won't have to install ActiveSync desktop software.
Q. Has Windows come up with apps to match those in Apple's iLife suite?
A. Yes and no. The nifty duo of Windows Movie Maker and Windows DVD Maker greatly simplify the tasks of editing, assembling, and burning your own videos to DVD. And Windows Photo Gallery provides nice tools for organizing pictures and doing basic photo cleanup. But there is no Microsoft equivalent of GarageBand. iLife still has a leg up on Windows Vista.
Q. Will there be a Plus Pack for Vista, or Power Tools?
A. Microsoft hasn't announced any plans for a Vista Plus Pack, but the company hasn't ruled out the idea either. The Ultimate Edition of Vista provides access to Vista's Ultimate Extras, a set of downloadable features that may resemble what you'd find in Plus Pack. One of the few extras we know about is a feature called Motion Desktop that would let you use an animated screen saver as a desktop background.
Power Toys, a popular set of XP add-ons that included such gems as TweakUI and ClearType Tuner, should reaappear in a Vista edition, most likely around its January retail release date.