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When you first bring up the new Start Menu, you’ll notice that a lot has changed since Windows XP. The picture below shows the start menu:
The first item on the left below the Internet Explorer icon and the E-mail icon is what’s called the Welcome center, and at a glance it tells you a lot about your computer and where to go to find information about it.
At the top, you see there is just a forward and backward button, similar to Internet Explorer version 7. Unlike the Explorer of old, there is no longer a button to go up one directory; the way that is done now is through the address bar that’s to the right of the forward and back buttons. For example, the words “System and Maintenance” can be clicked on that bar to go to the System and Maintenance window:
Windows Vista calls it “breadcrumbs.”  Essentially it’s the way to get back to where you started.

The next option on the Start Menu (at least on my system; everyone’s will probably be a little different) is the Windows Media Player. It is Version 11, and it came out for XP already, so if you’ve been keeping your installation up to date, you probably already are familiar with it. Here’s a screenshot below from the XP version, which is very similar
There’s a lot written about Media Player already, so I’m not going to go into an in-depth discussion here. I think it’s a very nice looking player myself, I don’t know if I like it as much as iTunes, but if you’re interested in an alternative, I think Media Player is just fine. I have not tried Urge yet, which is the subscription service Microsoft is pushing in conjunction with the player.

The next entry in the menu is from what’s called the Windows Photo Gallery. If you have a lot of pictures stored up on your computer, this is an incredible application that makes it simple to do just about anything you’d like with those photos.
These are some of the photos that Windows Vista includes with the installation, they’re very nice to use as a desktop background.

As you’ll see in a lot of the screenshots, Microsoft has done away with the typical File, Edit, View paradigm that has been a trademark of GUIs in general for many years now. The menu bar at the top has the following entries:
We’ll discuss the options in detail in a later article. A couple to point out for now, though, is the “Burn” option, which allows you to copy your pictures to a CD or DVD. The other option is “Make a Movie”, which allows you to make a slideshow of the pictures that can be viewed on any DVD player. It is really a nice feature to include as part of the OS itself, and I suspect people will use it quite a bit in the future.


The final entry I’ll talk about in this article is what’s called the Snipping Tool, and to tell you the truth, I could not get it to work correctly for me. I was trying to take screenshots of the menu bars with it, and it would not work, even though I followed the instructions in the Microsoft Help file. My suggestion is to get a third party utility to do this, I am currently using Gadwin PrintScreen (, which is freeware for the basic version.

In the next installment, I’ll continue talking about the Start menu, including some of the new tools that now come standard with Windows Vista.


See also
Part 1:  Laying The Foundation For The Aero Interface
Part 2:  Selecting The Right Hardware
Part 3:  Installation And First Look

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