The computer helper: Addressing Vista's annoyances
By Jay Dougherty May 14, 2007, 3:24 GMT
Washington - There's no doubt about it: visually, Windows Vista visually a vast improvement over XP. Most who install Vista are impressed with the strides Microsoft has taken to improve usability through interface changes alone.
That doesn't mean that Vista's changes can't sometimes be annoying. There are warnings that pop up repeatedly, asking you whether you wish to continue, conformation prompts at places where they did not used to be, and problems installing software that should run fine under Vista. Read on for tips on how to solve some of Vista's more common annoyances.
Q: I recently installed Windows Vista. I tried to install several Windows programs that worked fine under XP, but Vista will not allow me to launch the setup program, saying that the application is not compatible with Vista. These are not games or programs that rely heavily on graphics or other things that Vista obviously changed. Do I have to buy all new software?
A: Most software written for Windows XP and even earlier versions of Windows will run fine under Vista, but as you've experienced, getting those applications installed is not always easy. That's unfortunate, too, since the 'incompatibility' messages that Vista sometimes throws in front of users rarely explain the nature of the incompatibility. Often the only thing that's really incompatible with Vista is an application's installation program itself, which might check to see which version of Windows you're running and present an error message because it doesn't recognise Vista.
The way around this is to try 'compatibility mode' when you're attempting to install an application that you believe should run under Vista. Note that using compatibility mode to install an application simply allows the installation routing to see Vista as a previous version of Windows that it understands. It doesn't necessarily mean that, once installed, your application will run with any impediments.
To use compatibility mode, locate the setup.exe file on your installation disk, and right-click it. Select Properties from the pop-up menu. In the resulting Properties dialog box, select the Compatibility tab, and under the Compatibility Mode section, select the check box labelled 'Run this program in compatibility mode for,' and then use the drop-down to select the version of Windows that should be emulated. Start with Windows XP (Service Pack 2) if you're attempting to install a program that used to work fine under XP.
Click OK to save your changes and exit the Properties dialog box, and then double-click the setup.exe file. Chances are good that your application will not install properly.
A word of caution: You should not try this with applications in the following categories: antivirus, firewall, media players, system utilities. Chances are good that these kinds of programs will need to be updated to work properly under Vista.
Q: I installed Vista on my three-year-old PC, which contains a sound card from Creative Labs. Vista didn't recognise the sound card, and Creative doesn't seem to want to provide drivers for Vista. Is there any way I can get the sound card to work?
A: Yes, try using compatibility mode to install the driver that came with your sound card, as explained above. Just be sure to use Vista's System Restore utility to create a restore point prior to proceeding with the driver installation. You can learn about System Restore by consulting Vista's help system.
Creative has not been good about updating its driver software for older products to be compatible with Vista, and in many cases the company has no plans whatsoever to make Vista-compatible installation and driver software for older products such as the popular SoundBlaster Live! series of sound cards.
Q: I do not like the way Vista constantly asks me whether I want to 'allow' procedures that I initiate, such as installing programs. These prompts are driving me mad, and I'm considering removing Vista if I can't figure out how to get rid of this feature. Can you help?
A: What you're experiencing is life with Vista's User Account Control, otherwise known as UAC. UAC is one of Vista's new security feature, designed to prevent unauthorised processes - including viruses and malware - from running or being installed on your system. While the goals of UAC are admirable, the implementation is frequently annoying, as you've discovered.
You can, however, disable UAC. To do so, press the Windows key and the letter R on your keyboard to open the Run dialog box. Type 'msconfig,' without quotation marks, into the Run dialog box, and press Enter. The MSConfig utility will launch. Click the Tools tab, and scroll down the list of items displayed until you find 'Disable UAC.' Select that line, andthen click the Launch button. Close MSConfig, and reboot your computer. From that point on, you should no longer receive the confirmation prompts.
Keep in mind that if you disable UAC, you will have removed one of the primary new security safeguards in Vista.
--- Have a computer question? Send it to the Computer Helper at email@example.com.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur