Windows Vista includes a new graphics system known as AERO. Microsoft has done away with vector graphics on icons and thumbnails in Windows Explorer. Here, you see actual images of the photos in a folder on Windows Vista. Other image enhancements include the ability to preview open tasks along the taskbar, more stable DVD playback, and the ability to flip through a stack of open tasks using the Tab key plus the Windows key. Read full review
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Included within all editions of Windows Vista is built-in search and tagging. This allows you to create virtual folders of searched content. Say you're doing a report on mountains, any file that is keyword-enabled to include "mountains" will be grouped into a virtual folder without requiring you to physically drag that file to a new location. The downside is that older files (say, you upgraded your system from Windows XP or imported data from an earlier version of Windows) will have to be retroactively metatagged to be searchable. Read full review
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Windows Media Center, using an extender on a Microsoft Xbox system, allows you to play rich multimedia content from your computer on your home gaming or theater system. The new Media Center can also record TV shows, subscribe to online-only TV broadcasts, and view or play images or music stored in libraries on any Windows Vista computer on your home network. Read full review
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Although the ambitious new WinFS file system was scrapped early on, Microsoft hints at its future functionality within Windows Vista. Gone are the backslashes and the directory-tree structure. Now you can save your favorite searches as virtual files to create ad hoc collections without dragging and dropping files. You can also make files public to share with others. Read full review
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Perhaps the first feature you'll notice is the new sidebar on your desktop and the three default Gadgets, Microsoft's version of Apple's Widgets. The default Gadgets display the current time, photos from the library, and any Internet Explorer 7 RSS subscription feeds, with an option to add more Gadgets to suit your needs. Read full review
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