Recently I’ve been paying close attention to the people who say that Vista sucks for what they feel are valid reasons. Sometimes they say that the operating system has issues working hardware inside of the custom-built PC, and that’s something I definitely understand. Or maybe there is a program that they can’t live without that doesn’t run quite right…I understand that, too.

An increasing trend, however, that I’ve been noticing is the people who actually say they hate Vista without ever having used it, or they just tried it out for a few minutes. Sure Vista didn’t turn out to be the operating system that everyone was expecting, but don’t be so quick to judge without taking it around the block.

In my experience Vista has a lot to offer over XP, but many of the benefits may not be visible from Vista’s surface. I’ve managed to round up a list of five “tiny” features that many people, including power users, may never notice if they haven’t tried to see what lies beneath.

  1. Faster File Renaming When Showing Extensions
    I’m the type of person that always likes to see as much detail as possible, and for that reason I always have it show the extensions on all files. That way I can easily tell what type of image a photo is (JPG, PNG, GIF, etc…), and there are many times where it’s nice to be able to edit an extension. In XP whenever I went to rename a file it automatically highlighted all of the text including the extension, but not in Vista! The amount of frustration that this has saved me is insurmountable.
    Vista File Renaming
  2. File Previews
    Windows Explorer has a file preview window that can be enabled by going to Organize -> Layout -> Preview Pane. With this turned on you can view documents, presentations, and the contents of several different types of files without ever having to open them up. In the screenshot below I have a PowerPoint presentation open in which I’ve navigated halfway through the slides by using the scrollbar on the side.
    Windows Explorer File Preview
  3. Hey, that File is in the Recycle Bin! 
    Have you ever deleted a file or program, and when you go to launch it from a leftover shortcut it tries to search your computer looking for the file (you know that stupid flashlight that rolls back and forth). It never finds the file though, and one of the first things you probably do is go check the Recycle Bin to see if it’s there. Vista brings it’s “A game” when it comes to stuff like that, and if the item you’re trying to open is in the Recycle Bin you’ll be notified immediately:
    Restore Deleted Files
  4. Grouping Files in Windows Explorer
    As Ashley’s already pointed out Vista has some advanced sorting, grouping, and stacking features in Windows Explorer that are really helpful. You can group files in a folder that you’re viewing based upon name, size, type, or whatever you want. You can than expand or contract the groups giving you more room to work with in Windows Explorer. In this example screenshot I grouped the files by file type:
    Windows Explorer Grouping 
  5. Advanced Photo Management
    Taking pictures is almost an addiction of mine, and right now I’ve got almost 7GB worth of them on my hard drive. The new Windows Photo Gallery makes it possible for me to tag, organize, fix (crop, color correction, etc…), and create DVD’s of my photos in no time at all. It’s a remarkable addition to Vista, and undoubtedly one of its shining points.
    Windows Photo Gallery 

There are also some features in Vista that I haven’t taken advantage of yet, but would have probably made this list if I had:

  • I don’t have any kids so the parental controls doesn’t do me much good, but it would be nice if I had a family.
  • We all know about the nightmare that was known as Vista speech recognition. I’m more of a typing person myself, but IStartedSomething demonstrated how nice Vista’s speech recognition actually is: