There's no doubt Vista changed the face of operating systems, whether you think for better or for worse. However, the OS hasn't been without its problems. We've answered the three most common questions regarding Vista to help you decide whether you love it or hate it.

Microsoft's Windows Vista is responsible for one of the biggest divides in IT industry. You either love it or you hate it.

But even with Vista's biggest fans, there are still a number of nagging questions that need answering. We've taken the three most common questions about the operating system that Microsoft expected to take over the world and offer up a solution for you.

Should I keep Vista or go back to XP?

For many users, choosing an operating system is a highly personal matter. You have many factors to consider, and there's no clear-cut answer. But here are some arguments for both sides, beginning with a few good reasons to go back to Windows XP.

Hardware reliability: A year-and-a-half after its release, Vista still has a lot of hardware issues, even with new gear. Plug-and-Play works especially haphazardly, as does waking up from sleep mode or hibernation.

Speed: Given the same hardware, XP is faster than Vista. That's only to be expected; just as hardware speeds up with each new generation, software slows down with the addition of new features.

Vista advantages, without Vista: You don't need Vista for fast, indexed searches. Just download the free (for personal use) Copernic Desktop Search. And Microsoft's own Windows Live Photo Gallery improves on Vista's Windows Photo Gallery, yet runs on XP.

The UAC: Vista's User Account Control, the annoying thing that constantly pops up asking your permission for what you've just said you want to do, is a classic example of a good idea badly executed.

Yes, a 'Do you really want to do this, and, by the way, are you an administrator?' type of query is appropriate for some actions, but loading your backup program and changing the time aren't among them.

On the other hand, there are good reasons to stick with Vista.

Prettier looks: Okay, that sounds irrelevant. But you're looking at that screen all day, and it makes a difference.

Better security: Vista comes with a better firewall, a more secure version of Internet Explorer, the above-mentioned UAC, and better encryption than XP has.

A lot of cool, little user interface improvements: Flip 3D, which you access with a press of Windows Tab, is a great way to move between open windows. If you use a webmail client such as Gmail, the 'Copy as Path' feature (Shift-right-click a file and select Copy as Path) makes attaching files to email much easier. And Vista's own indexed search integrates with the user interface in all sorts of slick ways that Copernic could never manage.

Fixes for shortcomings: You can improve performance by shutting off the Sidebar and other user interface 'improvements'. And you can turn off UAC although you're arguably safer with it on.

Sheer laziness: Vista is already on your PC. Changing it will be a major hassle.

NEXT PAGE: What to remember if you decide to abandon Vista

  1. Stick with Vista, or 'downgrade' to XP?a
  2. What to remember if you decide to abandon Vista
  3. Why doesn't Vista's System Restore actually restore the system?

Related articles:

Windows Vista review

Visit PC Advisor's Windows Vista Spotlight for the latest news and opinion on Microsoft's latest desktop OS

There's no doubt Vista changed the face of operating systems, whether you think for better or for worse. However, the OS hasn't been without its problems. We've answered the three most common questions regarding Vista to help you decide whether you love it or hate it.

Backpedalling instructions

If you decide to abandon Vista and move back to XP, there are some great resources to help you on your way, but you'll need a copy of Windows XP on CD-ROM.

If your PC had XP out of the box, then you'll be fine, but if your PC came with Vista, you have to acquire a copy of XP. That means a CD with its own unique product key (the long number you have to enter when you install Windows). If someone else is using the product key, you won't be able to activate Windows.

On June 30, 2008, Microsoft stopped manufacturing the OS and, although it makes it harder to purchase XP, it's not impossible. Remember that selling or buying a used copy is legal as long as the original owner is no longer using the software.

And some PC makers are taking advantage of a Microsoft licensing loophole to offer downgrades to XP with the purchase of a new Vista PC.

Can I add XP-like expanding folder shortcuts to Vista's Start menu?

Unfortunately not. In XP, all you have to do is drag a folder to a desired place in the Start menu, and you get a submenu of that folder's contents. Not so with Vista.

You have a number of workarounds for this problem but this, in our eyes is the best one. It places your folder on the Start menu's right pane, along with Documents and Control Panel, so you can open it via a pop-up submenu.

Right-click the Start button and select Properties. In the Start Button tab, click the Customise button next to the 'Start menu' option. Scroll down the list of options in the resulting Customise Start Menu dialog box.

Consider the various folder options; those with sub-options let you choose whether to display them as a link, a menu, or not at all. Find one you don't need, and for that folder, select Display as a menu. Click ok to close both dialog boxes.

Click Start, right-click the folder you selected in step 3, and select Properties. (Unfortunately, this won't work with the Games folder.) Click the Location tab and type in the path of the folder you want easy access to. Click ok.

We'll leave it to you to decide whether to move any files from your former Music, Photos or Games folders to your new, basically fictitious one. Click Start, and right-click the folder whose location you just changed. Select Rename and then rename the Start menu's pointer to the appropriate folder name.

NEXT PAGE: Why doesn't Vista's System Restore actually restore the system?

  1. Stick with Vista, or 'downgrade' to XP?a
  2. What to remember if you decide to abandon Vista
  3. Why doesn't Vista's System Restore actually restore the system?

Related articles:

Windows Vista review

Visit PC Advisor's Windows Vista Spotlight for the latest news and opinion on Microsoft's latest desktop OS

There's no doubt Vista changed the face of operating systems, whether you think for better or for worse. However, the OS hasn't been without its problems. We've answered the three most common questions regarding Vista to help you decide whether you love it or hate it.

Why doesn't Vista's System Restore actually restore the system?

Poor system restoration is one of Vista's most vexing problems. Some utilities, usually big security suites that must be on at all times to protect you, interfere with System Restore's ability to do its job.

The simple workaround is to run System Restore in Safe Mode. Reboot your PC and press F8 before Windows starts loading (you may need a few tries to get the timing right). Select Safe Mode. Once Windows is up, try System Restore.

Is a long-term solution available? Uninstalling your security software might help. There's no guarantee, however, and of course you'll need to replace that software with something else. Trying to uninstall it is probably not worth the trouble unless the program is giving you a lot of other problems.

You can try disabling and re-enabling System Restore as a possible fix. But do that only after you have successfully restored your system or completely given up, as the action erases all of your existing restore points. Here's how:

Click Start, type sysdm.cpl, and press Enter. In the resulting System Properties dialog box, click the System Protection tab. You'll see the Available Disks list. Uncheck all that are checked. When you attempt to uncheck C:, a warning will ask if you want to turn System Restore off. Click Turn System Restore Off.

Back in System Properties, click Apply. Wait while Windows processes that command. Recheck the box next to C:, and then click Apply again. Click Create to make a new restore point.

  1. Stick with Vista, or 'downgrade' to XP?a
  2. What to remember if you decide to abandon Vista
  3. Why doesn't Vista's System Restore actually restore the system?

Related articles:

Windows Vista review

Visit PC Advisor's Windows Vista Spotlight for the latest news and opinion on Microsoft's latest desktop OS