I confess: I use Vista. Every day. It's the only operating system on my main computer. Vista and I have a love/hate relationship. I love the look, the built-in search tool, and the little-known 'Copy as Path' command. But Vista comes with its own special set of problems. Here I answer three reader questions about the operating system that was supposed to take over the world.
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Should I keep Vista or go back to XP?
rknutson, Answer Line forum
For many users, choosing an operating system is a highly personal matter. You have many factors to consider, and there's no clear-cut answer. But here are some arguments for both sides, beginning with a few good reasons to go back to XP.
Hardware reliability: A year and a half after its release, Vista still has a lot of hardware issues--even with new gear. Plug and Play works especially haphazardly, as does waking up from sleep mode or hibernation.
Speed: Given the same hardware, XP is faster than Vista. That's only to be expected; just as hardware speeds up with each new generation, software slows down with the addition of new features.
Vista advantages, without Vista: You don't need Vista for fast, indexed searches. Just download the free (for personal use) Copernic Desktop Search. And Microsoft's own Windows Live Photo Gallery improves on Vista's Windows Photo Gallery, yet runs on XP.
The UAC: Vista's User Account Control--the annoying thing that constantly pops up asking your permission for what you've just said you want to do--is a classic example of a good idea badly executed. Yes, a "Do you really want to do this, and, by the way, are you an administrator?" type of query is appropriate for some actions, but loading your backup program and changing the time aren't among them.
In Video: How to Reinstall Windows XP
On the other hand, there are good reasons to stick with Vista.
Better security: Vista comes with a better firewall, a more secure version of Internet Explorer, the above-mentioned UAC, and better encryption than XP has.
A lot of cool, little user interface improvements: Flip 3D, which you access with a press of Windows-Tab, is a great way to move between open windows. If you use a Web-based mail client such as Gmail, the 'Copy as Path' feature (Shift-right-click a file and select Copy as Path) makes attaching files to e-mail much easier. And Vista's own indexed search integrates with the user interface in all sorts of slick ways that Copernic could never manage.
Sheer laziness: Vista is already on your PC. Changing it will be a major hassle.
If you do decide to abandon Vista and move back to XP, PC World has some great resources to help you on your way.
Jon L. Jacobi provides excellent instructions in "Farewell Vista, Hello XP." But
If your PC had XP out of the box, it came with a tool for restoring that operating system--probably a disc or a hidden partition for returning your hard drive to its factory condition. If that's the case, follow Jon's instructions up to the "Time for Your XP Install" headline. At that point, run your restoration tool. Afterward, uninstall the bundled software you don't want, reinstall your preferred applications, and restore your data from the backup you made following Jon's directions.
If your PC came with Vista, you have to acquire a copy of XP. That means a CD with its own unique product key (the long number you have to enter when you install Windows). If someone else is using the product key, you won't be able to activate Windows.
If you're reading this before June 30, 2008, you can still buy a retail copy of XP. Microsoft will stop manufacturing the OS on that date,