After reading my tips on Vista's Snipping Tool, reader Clayton Chinn noted that he couldn't find the Snipping Tool on his computer and wondered whether he had the wrong edition of Vista--in his case, Vista Basic.
If you have Vista Basic, you have the wrong edition all the way around. Vista Basic is essentially Windows XP with a pretty face, and not even the attractive Aero interface that comes with other Vista editions. Also missing are Vista's Shadow Copies feature, its scheduled backups, and the Snipping Tool.
Sorting out all the differences between the other Vista editions isn't easy, though some sites do offer to help you compare features. The comparison charts on Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows are my favorites. But Vista itself has a feature that can help: Open Control Panel and launch Windows Anytime Upgrade. At the bottom of the window, click Compare versions for details that match your flavor of Vista against those that you can upgrade to.
If you have a version of Vista other than Home Basic, you already have the Snipping Tool screen capture utility: Choose Start, All Programs, Accessories, Snipping Tool. If you don't see it there, it may not be activated. Go to Control Panel and open Program and Features (you may have to click Programs first). In the task pane on the left, click Turn Windows features on or off. If necessary, click Continue when prompted by User Account Control. Scroll through the list of features, check the box next to Tablet PC Optional Components, and click OK. Turning on these features gives you not only the Snipping Tool, but also the Tablet PC Input Panel, Windows Journal, and other stylus-related features.