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Vista Countdown: 6 Days - Tips and 20 Qs

Windows VistaI wasn't planning on doing a countdown to Windows Vista until yesterday, and though there are piles of articles out there I could link to about Vista's failings, it seems unfair to focus on that for the week leading up to its release. Maybe I'll alternate days. Today I bring some tips and info for those who are all jazzed for Redmond's new baby.

First a tip from the How-To Geek on the Built-in Quick Launch Hotkeys in Windows Vista. Here's how it works: When you have some programs in your Quick Launch menu, each one will automatically be assigned a number--1, 2, 3, etc. from the leftmost icon to the right--and pressing the Windows key and that number will launch that program. Head over to the How-To geek for a more thorough explanation. Handy!

Another handy feature is Vista's built-in Snipping Tool, about which Lifehacker gives us the low-down. It's a huge improvement on Windows 95 and XP's nearly nonexistent screenshot functionality, though not, as Lifehacker's Gina Trapani points out, as robust as some third-party tools like the venerable SnagIt or my lightweight and free favorite FastStone Capture. Still, for basic screen-capping needs, the Snipping Tool is an invaluable and obvious bundled app.

Finally, you may have heard some of the huffing and puffing over Vista's thoroughly integrated DRM technologies. I won't get deep into it now, but if you want an overview Wikipedia is, as ever, a great resource. If you're concerned about Vista's DRM, you may want to check out Windows Vista Content Protection - Twenty Questions (and Answers) at the official Windows Vista Blog. In it, Dave Marsh, Vista's Lead Program Manager in charge of video technologies, says "It's important to emphasize that while Windows Vista has the necessary infrastructure to support commercial content scenarios, this infrastructure is designed to minimize impact on other types of content and other activities on the same PC." It's a pretty one-sided article, as you might imagine, but I suggest you read it and judge for yourself.

Tags: commercial, drm, hotkeys, microsoft, osupdates, quick launch, QuickLaunch, screen capture, ScreenCapture, snipping tool, SnippingTool, tips, vista, vistacountdown, windows