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Windows Vista hints and tips

Run as administrator

In Windows XP we all got into the habit of logging on as as administrator. That's because it was needed for quite a lot of software. Vista run as administratorHowever, it's a bad habit because viruses, spyware and other malware can easily install and damage the system. It would be much better if everyone used a limited account and then many malware programs would not function as well, if at all.

With Vista Microsoft decided to wean us off administrator accounts and even if you log on as an administrator you are actually logged on with a standard (limited) account. That's why User Account Control (UAC) warnings pop up - it's a program that needs administrator access in order to perform a task and Windows asks your permission. It's also why some software that works fine on XP doesn't work on Vista.

You can avoid UAC warnings and also enable XP software to run properly in Vista by right clicking a program on the Start menu or the program file in an Explorer window and selecting Run As Administrator.

If you're logged in as an administrator with a password, it will just run, but if you are logged in with a standard account you will be prompted to choose an administrator account and then enter the password.

Upgrade for free

Most people get Windows Vista by default when they buy a new computer, but for those people that buy the retail version on disc so that they can upgrade an existing computer, there is a bonus. Every version of the operating system is on the disc, including Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate, Business and others. What's more, you can install any one you like, so you could buy Home Basic, but install the Ultimate edition with all the extras!

There is a catch though, when you buy Vista you get a product key in the box and that can be used to register only the version you paid for. However, you can use any version for 30 days and, with the next tip we'll give, you can use it for up to 120 days. So if you don't mind re-installing Vista every four month's, you can have any version you like for the price of the cheapest edition.

Here's what to do. Boot up from the Vista disc or run setup on it in your current version of Windows. When you are prompted to enter the product key, ignore all the requests and warnings, and kjust continue anyway. You will then be presented with a list of the various editions of Vista and you can select the one you want to install.

When Vista is installed, don't enter the product key and ignore any request to activate it online. It will run just fine for 30 days, (see the next tip though).

Use Vista for free

open a command prompt windowIf you followed the last tip you will have installed Vista without the product key. You have 30 days use of any version of Windows and when the time is up, you must enter the product key and activate Vista or it will stop working (well, almost).

However, there is a way to get another 30 days use of Windows.

Open an Explorer window and navigate to C:\Windows\System32. Right click cmd.exe and select Run as administrator. You'll get a command prompt window (like old Dos) and if you enter:

slmgr.vbs -rearm

you will be able to continue using Vista for another 30 days. Just before the 30 days is up, repeat the process to get another 30 days, and so on. You'll get several months free use of any version of Windows.

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