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I post at SearchCommander.com now, and this post was published 12 years 7 months 12 days ago. This industry changes FAST, so blindly following the advice here *may not* be a good idea! If you're at all unsure, feel free to hit me up on Twitter and ask.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I have avoided Windows Vista since it first came out.

Although I’m a Microsoft Action Pack subscriber and received my first version of Vista well over a year ago, I’ve continued to function in an XP environment not only because it works, but because I KNOW it.

I spend far too many waking hours using a computer to take the time to learn something new if it’s not a Macintosh completely necessary, especially when the majority of the world seems to agree that Vista pretty much stinks.

Just like I did with Windows ME, my intention was to skip it entirely, or at least wait a couple of years until Vista service pack 3 gets undoubtedly had things working properly.

Stuck with Vista for Christmas
Since my wife’s computer died about a year ago, she’s been happily using my laptop, which I rarely need to use myself.

This past few months though, I’ve been out of town so much that she’s really found it to be inconvenient to have to go into my home office to use my desktop. She’s mentioned in a couple of times now, so I figured, “Hey there’s a Christmas gift idea” so I’m happy to do it.

I began looking about two weeks ago for something I could buy, and my plan was to simply wipe it out and put on my own legal copy of Windows XP.

Unfortunately, of the four different sub $600 models which I had narrowed down , not a single one of them was compatible with Windows XP.

Had I been smart about it I would’ve pre-ordered something from Dell and paid the extra money to “downgrade” to Windows XP, but here it is December 20, and the time has come where Vista really is a necessary evil.

So, yesterday I got an amazing deal on a laptop with two gigs of RAM at Best Buy, with a 160 gig hard drive, and Intel Dual core Duo processor, and a 15+ inch widescreen. All that for 429 bucks – so this morning I set about the task of getting it ready to as a Christmas gift.

Since my initial plan to give it a Vista-ectomy was out the window, all I had to do was transfer all her data from her latest backup over to the new computer, then reinstall her software, and I’d be back in business.

It really should’ve taken less time, but there are quite a few things that are so dramatically different in Vista that it was quite a learning experience.

It’s no longer “Mine”
The first thing I noticed was that there is no more “My” anything. It took me awhile to get used to calling them My Folders, but I do, and I don’t intend to stop. I guess the reason they got rid of it was because it did sound pretty stupid when you verbalizr the name of a file in the “Scott’s My Documents My Datasources folder”, but I’ve gotten used to it

Workgroup Settings
Getting it on the wireless Internet was pretty easy, but getting it on my home network was a challenge. I used to know what I was doing in peer to peer networking, but in Vista, I felt completely lost.

In Windows XP, joining a network was simple, because “Network” did not mean your wireless home Internet connection. Apparently Microsoft has redefined what the average person thinks of as a “network”, so it took me a while to figure out how to change the workgroup name, to get the new computer on our home network for file sharing.

In the end, I was able to go to the… Umm… “Button formerly known as Start” – and highlight the word “Computer”, then right click Properties. Poking aroung there and finding network options got me nowhere, but I was able to click on a link called “advanced system properties”.

From there I was able to will go to the left tab, “Computer Name” and I could see the name of my workgroup that I wanted to change, and a button to “Change” the actual name of the computer. By deciding to rename the computer, by deciding to rename the computer, I accidentally stumbled across the way to change the name of the workgroup.

I’m sure this is not how Microsoft intended me to find it, but I found it and renamed it to our home network workgroup, and a subsequent reboot brought up all of my local network files computers and folders. Hooray!

File Structure Completely Changed – Again
Everything is in a different place with Windows Vista, and that’s extremely frustrating.

In changing from the Windows 98/98 environment to XP, Microsoft trained us to use what I call the “Documents and Settings” structure. I’m sure there’s an official name for it, but I think you know what I’m talking about.

In the old 95/98 environment everything was in one folder and was pretty simple to figure out.

Then in Windows XP, “Everybody’s stuff” got organized by user in the C:\Documents and Settings folder and from there you could get to each individuals documents, desktop, favorites etc.

There were suddenly multiple folders to hassle with, and although it made structural sense, you had to actually know how to UN-hide files in Windows to get to any individual Application Data or Local Settings.

The simple task of reinstalling and importing your old Outlook became a complicated IT task for newbies, but we accepted it because we had to. Fine.

Now along comes Windows Vista, where just like with Office 2007, they have made changes for no apparent reason, that so far, at least in my first couple of hours dinking with it, seem to benefit nobody.

It’s almost as if (again like Office 2007) things were rearranged because somebody had nothing better to do, and millions of people are forced to learn something over again for no reason.

So, the file structure in Windows Vista is c:/users/username, and all the file folders inside are named differently too, with “My” everything now missing. This means my elaborate and detailed pain free back up and restore software won’t work easily, and so I’m now manually moving all of her stuff over as I write this.

Luckily for me, my wife and I planned to spend the day shopping together, but we’re completely stranded at the bottom of a steep unplowed hill in a rare Portland snow & ice storm, and so have nothing better to do than learn Vista on this last weekend before Christmas.

Oh, the things we do for the ones we love… Merry Christmas.

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