Windows Vista New Features Training

Windows Vista is the next Microsoft operating system after Windows XP. Beginning with the Summer 2008 Faculty Roll, new PCs at Luther will have Windows Vista installed on them. To effectively use these computers, it is important to have a working knowledge of how to use Windows Vista. This LIS training article helps you learn more about the new features of Windows Vista.


Upon completion of this 1-on-1 training, you will be able to:


Before your computer can do anything exciting, it should be turned on. If it’s not already on, press the Power button on your computer.

After Windows Vista starts up, you will be presented with a login window. You may need to press CTRL + ALT+ Delete to begin.

Log in

If your name already appears in the User Name field, type your Norse Key password in the Password field. Press the Enter key or click on the arrow to the right of the password, and you will be logged on to Windows Vista.

If your name does not appear in the user name field, click on the Switch User button and type your Luther user name in the User Name field. Then enter your Norse Key password in the Password field and press Enter.

On this screen, there is an Ease of access button in the lower left corner that you can click to customize your experience. The options available include:

  • Hear text on screen read aloud (Narrator)
  • Make items on the screen larger (Magnifier)
  • See more contrast in colors (High Contrast)
  • Type without the keyboard (On-Screen Keyboard)
  • Press keyboard shortcuts one key at a time (Sticky Keys)
  • If I press key repeatedly, ignore extra presses (Filter Keys)

Welcome Center

Once your computer is logged in, you will see the Welcome Center screen in the middle of your desktop.

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The information here will help you become familiar with Windows Vista. Click on Show all 9 items which is located at the end of the Get started with Windows section. The three items most helpful in learning about Windows Vista include the following:

  • Windows Vista Demos – Watch video demos to learn how to get started with Windows Vista. It is highly recommended that you watch these demos.
  • What’s new in Windows Vista – Discover new features that can help you be more productive, stay safe, and have fun.
  • Windows Basics – Learn the basics of using Windows, including how to use the mouse and keyboard, and how to work with files and folders.

You can uncheck the box Run at startup found at the bottom of the screen if you do not want this window to display each time you start your computer. You can always find it again at Control Panel > System and Maintenance.

Windows Vista Demos

There are several demos on your Windows Vista computer in the Welcome Center, as mentioned above. If you have a computer with Windows Vista already on it, we highly recommend that you view these demos.

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If you do not yet have a computer with Windows Vista on it, you can watch the demos even before you receive your Vista computer by going to Windows Help and How-to Demos. Click on a topic on the left side of the window, such as Files and folders to view the list of demos. Then select one, for example Working with files and folders. You can either watch the demo or view the transcript of the demo.

The Desktop

If you have used the Windows XP desktop, the Windows Vista desktop will look very familiar. However, you will notice the Windows Vista Sidebar on the right side of the screen. This is new to Windows Vista and contains small programs called gadgets. You can decide whether or not to have a sidebar, and what programs you want to be included in your sidebar.

The Sidebar

The Sidebar is new to Windows Vista. It contains small programs of your choice and can be easily customized. By default, it contains the Clock, Slide Show, and Feed Headlines gadgets.

To remove an existing gadget, mouse-over the gadget and click on the “x” in the top right corner. To change the properties of a gadget, mouse-over the gadget and click on the wrench icon in the top right corner.

To add a new gadget, click on the “+” symbol on the top right of your screen. This will display the following window from which you can double-click on any gadget to add it to your sidebar.

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You can also click Get more gadgets online to find additional gadgets to add to your sidebar. If you have more gadgets than can display in one column, the forward and backward arrows found in the top right corner of the screen become available for scrolling.

RSS Feeds

An RSS feed is a file that contains frequently updated information, such as news headlines, blog posts, and in the case of podcasts audio and video, that is specially formatted in a way that allows it to be subscribed to using a variety of programs called feed readers. Windows Sidebar has it’s own program for displaying RSS feeds called Feed Headlines.

Note: You must use Internet Explorer and not Firefox to add RSS feeds to Feed Headlines.

To add a feed, navigate to the page you want to subscribe to and click on the arrow next to the feeds icon in the toolbar. Click on the feed you would like to add.

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You will be redirected to a feed page with a yellow box near the top. Click on the Subscribe to this feed link. A dialogue box will appear. Rename the feed if you wish, and then click Subscribe.

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Another page will appear with a yellow confirmation box. The Feed Headlines gadget will automatically update every few minutes with new information, but because of this your newly added feed may not appear immediately.

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The Start Menu

The Start menu is designed to give you quick access to almost anything on your computer, no matter what program you have open or what you’re doing. If you are more familiar with how the Start menu looked in previous versions of Windows, you’ll notice that Windows Vista’s Start menu has been redesigned to give you quicker access to things that you use a lot. On the left side of the Start menu you will find shortcuts to programs on your computer. The ones on the top are pinned to the Start menu, and the ones below the divider are ones that you frequently use or have used recently. If you want to run one of the programs or open one of the folders, just click on what you want. If there is a program that is in the list of frequently and recently used programs that you don’t want there, you can right-click it and choose “Remove from this list.”

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Moving your mouse onto All Programs will change the display on the left side of the Start menu to include the programs and folders in your Start menu. From here, you can select a program, or click on a folder to view the programs within that folder. Clicking on the folder a second time will collapse the list of options. Notice there is a scroll bar if the list becomes too long and there is also a Back button for navigation.

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New to Windows Vista is the Search box within the Start menu. You can type the name of a program or file into this box and Windows Vista will find all matching items for you. For example, you can type word and Microsoft Office Word 2007, WordPad, and all files that you’ve created that contain the text “word” in the name will display in the list. You no longer need to drill down through menus to find a particular application, or hunt for your files. At the bottom of the search results are two additional options: See all results and Search the Internet.

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When you select See all results, a view of your computer will appear with details on the search results. From here, you can to perform an Advanced Search. This is a toggle that switches the advanced search options on and off.

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In Windows Vista, you can save your searches so they can be run another time. Select Save Search. Also, if you want to perform an Advanced Search and the option isn’t displaying in the top right corner, click Search Tools > Search Pane.

Shutting Down

When you are done with your computer for the day, it’s time to shut it down. Click on the Start button and then select the arrow in the lower right hand corner. From the menu that appears, select Shut Down.

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Additional Resources

Review the Help within Windows Vista

Most, if not all, of the screens within Windows Vista contain a question mark icon that you can click to receive help related to the topic at hand. In addition, you can click on the Start button and then select Help and Support to receive assistance on a variety of topics.

Review the Technology Help Desk web site

Contact the Technology Help Desk