We have learned a lot about Windows XP in the last seven years. I can work deeply in Windows XP with confidence, and I’ve developed a pretty good collection of tools for troubleshooting – some from third parties but a lot that are included with Windows XP and tucked out of sight in nooks and crannies.

Over the last eighteen months, I’ve begun to accumulate the same kind of knowledge of Windows Vista, and I’m still finding new tools that do amazing things – it’s possible to get a lot of information together about a Windows Vista computer using well-designed programs that are all included on every Vista computer, waiting for someone to discover them.

vistatool1 This article describes some of the built-in Vista tools for troubleshooting and maintenance. I recommend it for anyone supporting Vista as well as anyone curious enough to look under the hood!

Vista can easily display a beautiful list of the details of the computer’s major subsystems – processor, system make and model details, memory, storage, video, and network.

There are enhancements to Task Manager that let it reveal far more useful information than in Windows XP.

The Resource Monitor provides information visually that was not available anywhere in Windows XP.

Not mentioned in the the article, but don’t overlook Vista’s Reliability and Performance Monitor, which keeps track of every software install/uninstall, every program or OS crash, every update, and every hardware failure, then displays the information visually and in tables.

vistatool2 One more tool: Vista’s Event Viewer is completely different than the rudimentary program in previous versions of Windows. Here’s an article that describes some of the new ways to filter and group various kinds of events, as well as a brand new display with summaries and detailed information about various kinds of errors in the logs.

Good luck out there!

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