11. Better graphics with Windows Photo Gallery
Finally, with Windows Photo Gallery Microsoft has shipped a graphics utility that's worth using. It's a kind of jack-of-all-trades -- you can view graphics and create slide shows, for example. But it also includes a surprisingly good set of simple-to-use image editing tools, including one for eliminating red-eye and another that cleans up photos with a single click.
12. Become a director With Windows Movie Maker
Windows Vista comes with a new version of the much-maligned moviemaking tool Windows Movie Maker, and it's a big surprise -- you'll actually want to use it. Importing video and music, creating transitions between scenes, and syncing music with video are easy. When you're done, you can burn your creation to DVD with Windows DVD Maker.
13. Better notebook support
In previous versions of Windows, the mobile-computing features seemed bolted on after the fact. That's not true with Windows Vista, as the Windows Mobility Center puts all the tools you need in one place.
You can turn your wireless adapter on or off, change your battery settings, and connect to an external display from a single location. And the new Presentation Settings feature is a big leap forward for anyone who often gives presentations with a notebook. You can customize settings -- such as the resolution, mute, background, and so on -- and then save them. Afterward you can switch from normal mode to presentation mode in a snap.
14. File sharing and syncing
With Windows XP it was possible to share files among PCs on your network -- possible but often impossibly hard, it seemed. That changes with Windows Vista. The Network and Sharing Center lets you turn on and configure file sharing with single clicks. And the Synch Center lets you automatically synchronize files and folders among separate PCs. You won't have to do anything to keep them in sync; Windows Vista will do it for you.
15. Protect your kids with Parental Controls
Worried that your children may be exposed to inappropriate content online? Want to make sure they're not playing violent games? Parental Controls put you in the driver seat. Not only can you determine the kinds of sites they visit and games they play, but you can also enforce rules about when they'll be able to use the computer at all.