From the Kenosha News on 1-27-08

The Control Panel is Windows Vista takes some getting used to

      Each newer version of Windows seems to have more and more features in the background.  I recently decided to take a look around the Control Panel in Windows Vista, and it's a bit disorienting.  Here are some tips to make your navigating easier.

      Getting to the control panel is about the same as in Windows XP:  Click the Windows button in the lower left corner of the screen (where the Start button used to be in WinXP,) then click Control Panel from the list in the “dark section” on the right.  Once the control panel is open, it shows about 11 main categories of tasks in the large white section on the right.  Most of these do the same functions as in XP, but most have been renamed, so it can be confusing.  In the section on the left, you'll see a link you can click to change to Classic View.  Don't be fooled, this does NOT put things in categories with the same names you were used to in Windows XP; it's closer but not really the same.  For the rest of this column, I'll ignore the Classic View.

      The first section to look at in the Control Panel is the System and Maintenance section.  Note that you will use the back and forward arrows to navigate – as you would in an internet browser.  Of note in this section is the Backup and Restore Center, which offers a few tools to backup data files or your whole computer.  This is also where you will find the Power Options, the Device Manager, and various Administrative Tools for cleaning and defragmenting your hard drive.

      The Security section offers the same options as the Security Center in WinXP:  settings for updates and firewall.  It also includes Windows Defender, which helps with spyware detection.

      The Network and Internet section allows you to set up your network connections, such as wireless,   Click on the Network and Sharing Center option, and the click Manage wireless networks on the left to get to your wireless settings.  (My article from 9-30-07 specifically covered setting up WiFi on Vista.)  You can also change your homepage or delete your browsing history and cookies using the Internet Options item.

      The Hardware and Sound item offers the same functionality as Add/Remove Hardware in WinXP.  It includes items to manage your power, printers, mouse buttons and pointers, etc.

      "Programs" is where you can list your software and uninstall programs – what used to be “Add/Remove programs.”  Click Programs and Features to display the list.  It will show you when you installed it, but it no longer shows you how often it's used or when you last ran it.

      Appearance and Personalization is the section that allows you to manipulate your screen and folder settings.  You can also install or remove a font or a gadget through this item.  Ease of Access is for handicap accessibility options, and Clock, Language, and Region are self-explanatory.  Use "User Accounts" only if you want to define multiple users on your computer.

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 1-27-08