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Virtual PC is free
I’ve had a number of inquiries recently about virtual machine software. It seems that a lot of folks either want to run Vista in a VM instead of installing it outright on their computers, or they have upgraded to Vista and want to run XP in a VM so they’ll have access to some old applications that don’t work with Vista. You’ll be happy to know that Microsoft’s Virtual PC (VPC) VM application is now a free download. You can install VPC 2004 on XP and run Vista in the VM, or you can install VPC 2007 (beta) on Vista and then install XP in the VM. Find out more here.  There are also various free options at Vmware, here

Vista: Hail the new Reliability and Performance Monitor
A new and useful feature in Windows Vista is the Reliability and Performance Monitor, which is a more sophisticated version of the Performance tool in XP Professional. You can open it in the same way: in the Run box, type perfmon, or you can click the Resource Monitor button on the Performance tab in Task Manager.


The top level node (Reliability and Performance) provides a nice resource overview, with graphs showing CPU, disk, network and memory usage. The Performance monitor is similar to XP’s; you can add counters for various performance objects (for instance, your processor) and measure performance in real time on a graph or output the performance information to a report. The “new guy on the block” is the Reliability Monitor, which shows software installs and uninstalls, application failures, hardware failures and Windows and miscellaneous failures. For example, the Monitor on my Vista machine shows that Outlook had a failure on October 21.  A more technical overview is available here. (Thanks to Microsoft for the screencap above).

How to keep tabs on the mouse pointer
Sometimes it’s difficult to find the pointer arrow on certain desktop backgrounds, especially if you have vision problems. You can make it easier to keep up with the pesky pointer by following these steps:

  1. Click Start | Control Panel.
  2. In Classic View, click the Mouse applet. In Category view, click Printers and Other Hardware, then click Mouse.
  3. Click the Pointer Options tab.
  4. Check the box that says “Show location of pointer when I press the CTRL key.”
  5. Click OK.
  6. Now when you hit the Control key, an animated circle will show you the location of your pointer.

Is Anti-Virus Software Ineffective?
Joanna Rutkowska, the same researcher whose BlackHat presentation last summer resulted in all the headlines alleging a security flaw in Vista (the vulnerability turned out to be in AMD’s virtualization technology) now is making headlines again. According to Rutkowska, she’s “not impressed” with any of today’s existing anti-virus solutions and wants to see a solution based on integrity checking of all system components. Read more here.

How to turn off the “New Programs Installed” notice
Whenever you install a new program in XP, the operating system may pop up a balloon saying that a new program has been installed and then the program itself is highlighted on the Start | All Programs menu. If you’re annoyed by this feature, it’s easy enough to turn it off.  Just follow these steps:

  1. Right click the Start button.
  2. Select Properties.
  3. On the Start Menu tab, click the Customize button.
  4. Click the Advanced tab.
  5. Under “Start Menu Settings,” uncheck the box that says “Highlight newly installed programs.”
  6. Click OK.

You’ll also find a number of other Start menu items that you can configure here, such as how to display the Control Panel, My Documents, My Computer, and which items to include or not include on the Start menu.

Windows Media Player has encountered a problem and needs to close
If you get an error when you try to start Windows Media Player in XP, it may be because a third party application has installed an incorrect version of the Wmpui.dll file. Luckily you can fix the problem by registering the dll. For step by step instructions on how to do so, see KB article 555494.

Access denied when you delete folders from a mounted drive
If you try to delete folders that are stored on a mounted drive and send them to the Recycle Bin, you may receive an error message that says “Cannot delete : Access is denied. The source file may be in use.”

There are a couple of workarounds you can use to solve this problem. Read about them in KB article 243514.

You get an “access denied” message if you try to move files at the MS-DOS prompt
If you try to copy or move files to a CD-R or CD-RW drive using a command at the MS-DOS prompt, you may get a message that access is denied. Instead, you’ll have to use a different method to copy or move files for staging. You can find out what your options are by reading KB article 279118.

Deb Shinder, MVP