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How Microsoft Windows Vista Works
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How Microsoft Windows Vista Works

by Michael Miller, Eric Lindley

Windows Vista is the long-awaited upgrade to the Microsoft Windows operating system, and it's a lot different from the Windows you're used to. What's new in Windows Vista–and how do all those new features work?

How Microsoft Windows Vista Works is the first book to take you inside the new Windows Vista operating system and show


Windows Vista is the long-awaited upgrade to the Microsoft Windows operating system, and it's a lot different from the Windows you're used to. What's new in Windows Vista–and how do all those new features work?

How Microsoft Windows Vista Works is the first book to take you inside the new Windows Vista operating system and show you how all the pieces and parts work. With clear and simple explanations and illustrations that say, "You, too, can understand this," How Microsoft Windows Vista Works gives you detailed information on the hidden workings of Windows Vista–from the new Aero interface inside to the Windows kernel. It's a four-color, highly visual explanation of everything that matters about Windows Vista, including:

  • How Windows Vista differs from Windows XP
  • How Windows controls your computer
  • How User Account Control protects your system
  • How virtual folders and instant search work
  • How Windows Vista renders graphics
  • How the Aero interface and the Windows Sidebar work
  • How Internet Explorer 7's tabbed browsing works
  • How Windows connects to a wireless network
  • How the new Windows Photo Gallery manages your digital photos


Introduction xi

Part I: What Windows Vista Is–and What It Does 2

Chapter 1 Understanding Windows and Other Operating Systems 6

Chapter 2 How Windows Vista Differs from Windows XP 14

Chapter 3 What Windows Vista Does 26

Part II: Basic Operations 32

Chapter 4 Powering On and Powering Off 36

Chapter 5 Managing System Resources 48

Chapter 6 Managing System Information 62

Chapter 7 Managing Users 70

Chapter 8 Managing Data 76

Chapter 9 Managing Applications 92

Part III: Windows Vista Graphics 100

Chapter 10 Understanding Vista Graphics 104

Chapter 11 The Vista Interface 112

Chapter 12 The Vista Desktop 122

Part IV: Digital Media 130

Chapter 13 Windows Media Center 134

Chapter 14 Digital Music 150

Chapter 15 Digital Images 166

Chapter 16 Digital Video and Movies 174

Part V: Networking and the Internet 182

Chapter 17 Windows Vista and the Internet 186

Chapter 18 Windows Vista Networks 204

Part VI: Security and Maintenance 220

Chapter 19 Windows Vista Security Features 224

Chapter 20 Routine Maintenance 238

Glossary 252

Index 266

Product Details

Publication date:
How It Works Series
Product dimensions:
7.96(w) x 9.94(h) x 0.55(d)

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Read an Excerpt


Five years in the making, and here it is—another new version of Microsoft Windows.

Windows Vista is the latest in a long line of Windows operating systems, carrying the tradition first started in 1985 with the appropriately named Windows 1.0. That first version of Windows is only vaguely familiar to today's users, as Microsoft has made a lot of improvements since those humble beginnings. Of course, a lot besides Windows has changed in the past twenty years; the one constant is that a Microsoft operating system remains the face of personal computing.

It's that face users will first notice when they power on a PC running Windows Vista. Put simply, Vista looks different from previous versions of Windows. Oh, there are the expected windows and icons and taskbars and the ever-present Start menu, but they're a lot fancier in Vista than they were in Windows XP or prior operating systems. That's because Vista uses a totally new graphics engine—one that harnesses the massive graphics processing power of today's PCs to create a three-dimensional desktop with glass-like windows and sophisticated animation effects. It still looks like Windows, but it's more lifelike, if such a thing can be said.

The improvements in Vista don't stop with the interface. There are a lot of new or improved utilities to be found on the Start menu, including some fairly major changes in Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player. And then there are all the changes behind-the-scenes, where Vista has been beefed up, made faster and more dependable, and given increased security against viruses, spyware, and other forms of computerattack. You won't notice a lot of changes, except in the form of fewer crashes and less worry about malicious intrusions.

As is the case anytime Microsoft releases a new version of its core operating system, there is a lot of interest about the new features in Windows Vista—what they are and how they work. That is where this book comes in. How Windows Vista Works is a descriptive title for a book that both shows you what's new and improved in Vista and gets "under the hood" to illustrate what does what and how.

And I do mean "shows you." What's unique about this book is that it doesn't offer the typical text-based descriptions of the topics at hand; instead, it shows you what you want to know, via a series of detailed four-color illustrations. Want to know what the Aero interface looks like? Curious about how Internet Explorer protects against phishing scams? Well, this book answers all those questions and more, visually. It's the kind of sophisticated visual approach that is required to explain a sophisticated visual operating system.

To make it easier to find what you're interested in, this book is divided into 20 separate chapters, organized into 6 major sections. It's easy to go directly to any given topic; you can skip around as you like or read the book from front to back—whichever works best for you.

Part I, "What Vista Is—and What It Does," explains just what it is that an operating system does, as well as how Windows Vista is similar to—and differs from—previous versions of Windows and other operating systems. Turn here to discover all the new features of Windows Vista.

Part II, "Basic Operations," gets down to the nitty-gritty of how Windows Vista controls your computer hardware and software. You'll learn how Vista manages system resources, system settings, user accounts, data, and applications.

Part III, "Windows Vista Graphics," turns a sharp eye to what makes Vista look as good as it does. You'll learn all about the Vista Aero interface, Windows Flip3D task switching, the Sidebar and Sidebar gadgets, as well as how to personalize the Vista desktop.

Part IV, "Digital Media," is all about music, movies, and photos. As a bonus, you'll learn about Windows Media Center, the so-called "ten-foot interface" that's now built into Windows Vista.

Part V, "Networking and the Internet," shows you how Vista goes online and connects with other computers. A lot of new Internet-related features are included in Vista, and they're all covered here— including tabbed browsing in Internet Explorer, a new pop-up blocker and anti-phishing filter, an integrated RSS feed reader, browser-based search, and new Windows Mail and Windows Calendar applications.

Finally, Part VI, "Security and Maintenance," covers what makes Windows Vista more secure—and more reliable. You'll learn about Windows Service Hardening, the Windows Firewall, the new Windows Defender anti-spyware utility, and a lot more. And you'll rediscover the Windows Backup utility, back for all to use with a lot of useful new features.

By the time you're done reading this book, you'll be acquainted with all the new features of Windows Vista and have a much better understanding about how they all work. If you're already a Vista user, you'll have a greater appreciation of how the operating system does what it does. And if you're not yet a Vista user, I guarantee that you will be soon—there's a lot to like about Windows Vista, as you'll see in the pages of this book!

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Michael Miller has authored more than 75 best-selling books over the past 15 years, including Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Computer Basics, Microsoft Windows XP for Home Users, Making a Living from Your eBay Business, Googlepedia: The Ultimate Google Resource, and How Home Theater and HDTV Work. Mr. Miller has established a reputation for clearly explaining technical topics to non-technical readers and for offering useful, real-world advice about complicated topics.

Eric Lindley is recognized as an innovative illustrator and photographer infusing realism into his distinctive style of digital imagery. His work has appeared in collateral for editorial, corporate, and publishing clients throughout the U.S. With an inquisitive mind and an array of digital experiences, he continues to stay on the leading edge of technology and develop his vision for an ever expanding global market. His work has appeared in this series of "How it Works" books, including How Personal & Internet Security Work and How Wireless Works.

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