Review: Windows Vista Business (Upgrade) - Additional Software

Page 4 of 5: Additional Software

Additional software
Many of the programs that shipped with XP have seen a significant upgrade, or have been replaced altogether. The photo viewer of XP is now replaced by Photo Gallery. If your familiar with Media Player then you will immediately feel at home. The left hand pane allows you to drill down through your photos and videos by media type, keyword, date, rating or folder name.The omni-present search field provides more immediate searching. Basic photo editing tools are also included, such as crop, brightness/contrast adjust and red-eye removal, although it falls short of some of the features found in free products such as Google's Picasa. Nevertheless it provides a quick, slick way to view, categorise and manipulate your visual media.

Photo Gallery

Where XP shipped with Windows Movie Maker Vista includes an additional app that will take your edited efforts and burn them on DVD. The editing aspect has also been beefed up, with more visual effects and interface enhancements. HD video is also supported, and in fact Vista won where a third party application failed - it successfully connected to my Sony HD camcorder where a current leading video editing package failed to. While the video and DVD editing may lack the finesse of applications such as Adobe Premiere Elements they will be more than enough for the casual user and include enough templates and special effects to make even the most mundane of videos stand out from the crowd.

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Vista Business and Ultimate include an enhanced backup and restore application, which for me is a real plus. Backing up data is one of those tasks that we all hate, but we've all had that  moment when we realise that we've lost a precious file that there's only one copy of. Vista can back up a complete image of the computer - OS, applications and settings - in one go. This can be scheduled to occur automatically and can also back up to a network location. Shadow Copy, another feature of Vista automatically creates copies of files while you work, saving incremental changes. Just right click on a file and select 'Restore Previous Versions' to roll back.

Enhanced Backup Centre

Vista Alternatives
There are a number of plugins available for XP that will emulate some of the features of Vista. Google Desktop not only provides a desktop search facility but also mimics Windows Sidebar. There are several free apps that will replace the XP start menu with the new Vista menu and can emulate the aero interface. Parental control and logging can also be handled by applications such as CyberSitter or NetNanny, and Windows Defender is one of many security programs freely available (SpyBot or Adaware, anyone?). Google's Picasa provides much greater functionality for photo viewing and editing than the Vista offering.

Summary
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