Microsoft Monday

With the introduction of Vista came a whole new set of unfamiliar features and terms. This article will be a set of questions and answers that define what some of the new features are which will help you make the most out of Windows Vista.

What is UAC?

We’ve mentioned UAC several times before. It’s an abbreviation for User Account Control, and it’s one of Microsoft’s newest ways to improve security and safety on your computer. At times, as some of you have probably experienced, it can be annoying. However, it’s there for a good reason.

How does it improve security and safety on your computer? The job of the UAC is to prevent unauthorized software from making changes to your computer. It’s a little over-protective it at times, but generally it’s a good thing to keep enabled.


If you find yourself frustrated with this new feature while you’re installing a lot of software at once (e.g., when you’re setting-up your computer for the first time), a good way to resolve this issue is to temporarily disable Vista’s UAC.  You can do this without needing to restart your PC with a program called TweakUAC.

What is ReadyBoost?

ReadyBoost is a new way to add memory (RAM) to your system. Adding additional RAM to your computer is often a great way to increase the performance of your PC, however, some of you may have run into the problem of not having enough room to do so.

ReadyBoost allows a user to add additional memory to your system using “non-volatile flash memory” like what you would find on a USB flash drive or memory card. To use ReadyBoost, just insert your removable memory device like the USB flash drives as mentioned, and Windows will check to ensure that it’s fast enough to work with Ready Boost. If it is, you’ll be given the option to use all of the memory, or part of it.

I tried it with my 2 GB USB drive and it displayed a message saying “this device does not have the required performance characteristics for use in speeding up your system.” Should you receive that message, there is a work-around for it so that you’ll be able to use any USB Drive or Memory Card.

What is SuperFetch?

The whole idea of SuperFetch was to improve performance of Windows Users with a faster loading experience. SuperFetch works by analyzing your behavior like which applications you use the most. Then it automatically puts those apps in available memory so that when you go to use them, they will be “superfetched”

For example, each morning when I wake up I open Firefox, FeedDemon, and Microsoft Word, usually in that order. SuperFetch would recognize this and have those apps ready to go for me in available memory so that the process of opening all of those programs is much quicker.

This idea is by no means new, and in fact, Windows XP had a feature called Prefetcher which had a similar idea behind it, but it was much more limited than the SuperFetch in Vista.

Wrapping it up

UAC, ReadyBoost, and SuperFetch are only three of many new terms and features introduced with Vista. We’ll cover more of these terms in the future, and hopefully this will help you get the most out of your operating system.