There's lots to like in the newest version of Windows. Vista's look is stunning, the OS should be more secure, and finding things is often easier. But Windows wouldn't be Windows without those aspects, big and small, that just drive you nuts with frustration. Here's our list of Vista features that just make us wonder, "What were they thinking?"
The cheapest version of Vista, Home Basic, is so crippled it can't run the Aero interface. Theoretically, that's a boon for owners of machines that aren't capable of running Aero.
But it's time for some tough love, people: If your PC can't run Aero, you have no need for Vista. Period. On machines that aren't Aero-capable, the rest of the OS will run slowly enough that you're better off sticking with XP until it's time to buy a new Vista PC. So why does Home Basic exist? So Microsoft can say that Vista costs "as little as $100."
Not fixable: Unless you consider not buying Vista Home Basic a fix.
Ahhgh! My Screen Blacked Out!
Okay, Microsoft. We get that Vista is all about security. We get that you've sensibly limited what programs can do without explicit approval. We can even buy the idea that there's probably a good reason behind the incessant prompting from the User Access Control code built into Vista, warning about everything from installing software to changing fonts. So clearly you'd want a UAC alert to stand out a bit--to be something a user couldn't simply ignore. That's fine. But blacking out the entire screen as if the monitor were switching resolutions? That's the best you could do?
We thought you guys spent all this time designing a nifty new hardware-accelerated interface for your new OS. And you couldn't come up with something that looks even remotely 21st century for the UAC alerts? Really?
Seriously, UAC is a decent enough idea, but Vista's implementation pulls in two different directions. On one hand, the appearance of a UAC alert looks like the end of the world (or at least the end of some bit of computer hardware). On the other, the alerts' all-too-frequent appearances encourage users to give the warnings rubber-stamp approval. We're way too close to boy-who-cried-wolfsville here.
Somewhat fixable: You can turn off UAC alerts if you wish, but you give up a measure of Vista's enhanced security by doing so. Head to the User Accounts section of the Control Panel and click Turn User Account Control on or off. Uncheck the box labeled Use User Account Control (UAC) to help protect your computer, and then reboot your system. The UAC prompts will be gone.
The Large-Print Edition
If you like your current desktop-icon layout, you won't like what you see when you upgrade to Vista. Perhaps overly enamored with Vista's new photo-realistic icons, Microsoft went all AARP-friendly on us and bumped up the default size for desktop icons. That's okay, we guess. Plenty of people want bigger icons. Problem is, Vista's upgrade installation makes this layout-destroying change without asking you. And if you want to move all your icons back to their appointed places, you'll have to find the icon-size setting in its new location.
Fixable: Right-click your desktop and choose View, Classic Icons. Then spend far too long dragging your icons back to their proper positions. When you're done, you'll notice that the shortcut arrow now covers approximately a quarter of each supposedly beautiful new icon.