oes the world need Windows Vista? It does, if you look at the way it improves security, adds new features like better multimedia tools and a vastly improved search engine, and boosts stability and reliability. But do you need to upgrade to Vista to get those improvements? The answer is no, and we're going to show you how to get a lot of Vista's functionality in XP.
Why not just upgrade to Vista itself? First, the upgrade isn't cheap - around £100 for Vista Home Premium. Vista's quite resource-hungry too, so you may find the cost starts to spiral as you discover your PC requires a major upgrade to satisfy Vista's demands. Plus, after all the problems with Windows XP, you may feel justifiably reluctant to rely on Vista before its early bugs have been ironed out.
Whatever your reasons for sticking with XP, it still makes sense to take advantage of the improvements that Vista offers if you're able to incorporate them into your existing installation. That's where we come in.
What you'll do
Our aim is simple: get as many of Vista's features into XP without breaking the bank. In most cases we've managed to track down completely free tools and tweaks to help you get XP closer to Vista, but some functionality will cost, which is why we've tracked down the cheapest solutions we can.
We'll start by beefing up XP's security so it rivals Vista's. That doesn't just mean installing security software like Windows Defender - it also involves trying to emulate Vista's User Accounts Control feature for restricting access to your PC and helping to keep malware locked out. We'll also reveal how to add Parental Controls and drive encryption technologies for free.
We'll then turn our attention to the user interface. Sure, we'll reveal how to make XP's desktop look similar to Vista's, but we'll also look at ways of getting some of those neat new features in Windows Explorer too, such as the vastly improved search facility and desktop sidebar.
Vista has made waves with its multimedia-friendly options, so we'll look at how to get those added to XP for little or no cost. Whether you're installing an open-source alternative to Media Center or looking at different ways of burning CDs and DVDs, we've got the answers.
We'll then throw in a load of tips and tweaks that help to further close the gap between Vista and XP. The result is a more secure, friendly operating system that will serve you should you be unwilling or unable to upgrade. Turn the page to start crafting your XP-Vista hybrid now....