Redesigned Desktop, Start Menu, and Extras
It’s no surprise that Microsoft’s design team spent a lot of time on visuals and ease of use. But beyond the cosmetic changes we need to take a look at some of the new features Microsoft incorporated in Vista. After all, this operating system has been almost “completely reworked from the ground up”.
Windows Desktop, Flip3D, Gadgets
The new Windows Vista desktop has been revamped with stunning visuals, beautiful desktop wallpapers, and a nifty gadgets sidebar. Taking one look at the default wallpaper will make anyone wish they were actually there. The screensavers are great too, only adding to Vista’s good looks. Windows Flip 3D (utilized by using the Windows Application Key + TAB) is brand new to Windows Vista. It gives users the ability to “flip through” the various programs which they have open like you would a stack of paper.
Another addition to the desktop is the new gadgets sidebar. This virtually transparent toolbar floats on the right side of your screen by default and features a clock, different wallpapers (constantly changing), and a headlines section which automatically gives you the real-time data and headlines from the news if you are connected to the internet. Other gadgets may be added and the defaults may be removed per user’s choice. Some of the other choices are: a calendar, contacts, a CPU meter, currency calculator, a note pad, a picture puzzle, stocks, and weather. From the link located in the “add gadgets menu” you can be redirected to a website to get more gadgets. Finally, the gadgets toolbar can be docked on the right or left side of the desktop.
Improved Start Menu
When talking about ease of use and Vista, look no further than the new start menu. This sucker can be customized from the ground up, giving you one click access to the most important areas of your operating system.
Microsoft also put a slick search area right at the bottom of the menu, allowing users to type in what they are looking for. As users are typing Microsoft’s advanced indexing service is searching for matches that contain the letter you have typed up to that point.
Also, Vista has much improved startup/shutdown times and the “Sleep” mode located right on the Start menu is a great option for suspending activity of a computer while still being able to get back up and running within a matter of seconds. Think of this feature as a perfect mix of Hibernate and Standby in one. Of course you can always use the traditional way of accessing your programs by navigating through the start menu, but that’s no fun anymore. And that leads us right into the new Start Menu’s “All Programs” structure. It is a bit tough to get used to, especially the pause that is needed to open up more options, but with time users will probably get used to it.