One of the big features of Vista is the new-and-supposedly-improved infrastructure, including the API, which bring Windows into the 21st Century and take advantage of the ultra-nifty hardware we now have.
In prior versions of Windows, if you wanted to grab a frame of video for later use, the player had to support that feature. You couldn't just stop playback and hit "PrtScrn", then fire up Paint and paste the image. If you did that, you would find yourself with a second playback window. Saving the image would, later, give you a black rectangle.
Prior versions of Windows also treated sound cards such that if you wanted to record "what you hear", you needed an application that supported it. The Creative Labs SB Live! card in my P3 had a recorder applet with such a feature, and it was really useful. But otherwise, you could only record audio from recognized hardware inputs such as Line-In, CD-In, and Mic-In.
Well, Vista does things differently.
First off, you can now PrtScrn video frames, which surprised the hell out of me. I haven't tried it with DVDs yet, just DiVX and AVI files.
Second, you can now use the included Sound Recorder applet to record "what you hear", and you can actually record more than a minute at a time.
Having found a CD burning program which can actually make audio CDs from my audio files helps, too; it came with a freeware audio editor I downloaded when I discovered that Sound Recorder has absolutely zero editing functions.
"Freecell" now has "infinite undo", which means you can back up all the way to the beginning of the game if you want to. Even better, if you move yourself into a corner, it gives you the option either to lose, or to back up and try again--no auto-losing! So as of this moment I've won 355 games in a row, because--let's face it--this error message still applies:
Little by little I am regaining the functionality I had under WinME (boy, doesn't that damn Vista to a particularly nasty Hell!) even though I am having to find freeware applications to do it. I have not yet tried re-installing Neverwinter Nights or Diablo II even though I am told that the former now works. D2 may work in compatibility mode; I uninstalled it before I knew about that. One of these days I'm going to reinstall it and see what happens.
First, though, I want another hard drive. My E drive (which was formerly the D drive from the P3) is almost full, especially since I've been on this anime downloading binge. Also needed--and pretty soon!--is more memory. Vista chokes on half a gigabyte of RAM (this was not entirely unexpected; recall please that when I was trying to build an upgrade system, I got two gigabytes of RAM for the thing).
I am amazed at the plethora of freeware which is available these days. And lots of it is polished stuff, too. Since Adobe Acrobat 4 won't work I found an app called "Cute PDF", a freeware PDF creator. I like it.
I am still really unhappy with Vista, but my unhappiness is diminishing slowly. I think Vista's raging asshat-ery caught everyone by surprise, though; here's how I characterized it in a recent chat with a friend:
Win 3 to Win 95, no problem.
Win 95 to Win 98, no problem.
Win 98 to Win 2000, no problem.
Win 2000 to Win XP, no problem.
Win XP to Win Vista,
I think there may be a lesson there for all of us.