Setting Windows Vista Straight After A New Install
When Windows Vista is first installed, it is wrong; even more wrong than
Windows XP. The following steps will help to make Vista more proper.
1. For some reason, by default, Windows Vista decides to maintain a "sidebar"
on the right-hand side of your screen which serves no purpose except to take
up space. The only useful item on this sidebar is a clock, but since there's
a perfectly functional clock on the right side of the taskbar already,
right-click on this sidebar and click "Properties", then un-check "Start
Sidebar when Windows starts" and click OK. Then right-click on the sidebar
and click "Close Sidebar". This will free up some much-needed screen space.
2. Right-click the desktop, then click "Personalize". Click "Window Color and
Appearance", then un-check the checkbox labeled "Enable transparency". This
will turn off window transparency, which is a useless feature designed to
make your computer run slower while simultaneously making Vista more
appealing to people who gauge a computer's value by how many useless visual
effects it incorporates.
3. In the same window as the "Enable transparency" checkbox, click the link
at the bottom of the window which says "Open classic appearance properties
for more color options". Select the "Windows Classic" color scheme. Notice
that this changes much more than just the colors of Windows; it makes it look
more like Microsoft Windows, and less like Windows Vista, the default
appearance of which Microsoft worked hard on to make even more offensive than
that of Windows XP.
4. In the same window where you selected "Windows Classic", click on the
"Effects" button. Un-check the checkboxes which say "Use the following method
to smooth edges of screen fonts" and "Show shadows under menus". Then click
5. Right-click on the taskbar and click "Properties". Un-check the checkbox
which says "Group similar taskbar buttons". This will prevent programs from
getting hidden because more than one instance may be running at once.
6. In the same window, click on the "Start Menu" tab, then click the "Classic
Start menu" option. This will rescue you from the latest Start Menu, which
seems to get progressively worse with each new version of Windows.
7. In the same window, un-check both "Store and display a list of recently
opened files" and "Store and display a list of recently opened programs".
This will tell Vista to not helpfully track every file and program you open.
8. In the same window, click on the "Notification Area" tab, then un-check
"Hide inactive icons". This will prevent Windows from hiding running programs
from the system tray.
9. In the same window, click on the "Toolbars" tab, then turn on the checkbox
which says "Desktop". This will enable a toolbar on your taskbar which allows
you to access items on your desktop without having to minimize all open
windows, which is just about the only useful feature Windows Vista has, which
explains why this is disabled by default. Click OK.
10. Disable User Account Control (UAC). This is a security feature designed
to make your computer more secure by not allowing you to do anything with it.
To begin disabling UAC, run regedit. Notice that this step incurs UAC, which
requires you to approve running this program before it can be permitted to
run. Don't stagger too much at the lost productivity that would be required
to approve running regedit every time you needed to change a registry key;
we'll soon turn UAC off. Continue by navigating to the following registry
Once there, find the "EnableLUA" value and set it to 0. This disables UAC.
This will also rapidly incur a warning from Windows telling you that you have
made your computer vulnerable by enabling it to do things, but ignore this
warning for now; we'll soon turn off such idiotic hand-wringing on Windows'
You must reboot before this change will take effect, so reboot now and be
glad you'll never have to endure UAC again on this installation of Vista.
11. Click on the Start button, point to "Settings", and click on "Control
Panel". Click "Classic View". This will prevent Control Panel from burying
its sections in inaccessible places to prevent you from being able to use
12. From within Control Panel, double-click the "Security Center" icon. This
will take you to the very bad place in Windows, where it tries to convince
that you should disable your computer so nothing bad happens to it. Click on
"Windows Update" in the upper-left, then click "View advanced options". Click
"Never check for updates (not recommended)", then click OK. This will prevent
Windows Vista from silently downloading things from Microsoft without your
permission or knowledge. Close the "Windows Update" window.
13. Still within Windows Security Center, click on "Windows Firewall" in the
upper-left, then click "Change settings", then "Off (not recommended)", then
OK. This will turn off the Windows Firewall, which exists to protect your
computer by not allowing it to use network connections. Close the Windows
14. Still within Windows Security Center, open the "Malware protection"
section and click "Show me my available options" under "Spyware and other
malware protection". Then click "I have an antispyware program that I'll
monitor myself". This will prevent Windows Vista from thinking that its own
"Windows Defender" functionality is relevant.
15. Still within Windows Security Center, click "Change the way Security
Center alerts me" on the left-hand side of the window, then click "Don't
notify me and don't display the icon (not recommended)". This will prevent
Windows Vista from insulting your intelligence by suggesting that you can't
look after your own security. Close the Windows Security Center window.
16. Within Control Panel, double-click on "Administrative Tools", then
double-click on "Services". Scroll down and right-click on "Windows
Defender", then click on "Stop" to stop the now-irrelevant Windows Defender
from running. Then right-click on "Windows Defender" again, and click on
Properties. Change "Startup type" to "Disabled" and click OK. This will
prevent Windows Defender from automatically running in the future. While
we're here, let's do the same for the Windows Firewall service; right-click
on "Windows Firewall", then click "Stop". Right-click on "Windows Firewall"
again and click on Properties. Change "Startup type" to "Disabled" and click
OK. Close all open windows.
16.5. While you're in the Services window, I recommend you also stop and
disable the Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) service, as it does a
lot of weird things in the background without telling you exactly what it's
doing. You'll notice that Microsoft's description of this service claims "If
this service is stopped, most Windows-based software will not function
properly." This statement is an outright lie; I have yet to find a single
program which will not work when WMI is disabled. The only things which seem
to not work if WMI is disabled are (surprise!) Microsoft contrivances, such
as the Dependencies tab in the Services console, or the System Properties
window. Certainly, DOSBox and Firefox work fine when WMI's not running, which
is all the Windows-based software you really need, since you can emulate all
your other software within those environments. The one caveat I would add to
this is that some badly-programmed hardware drivers may be written in such a
way that they depend on WMI. If you're planning on installing new hardware
soon, you may want to hold off on this step, but if you already have all the
hardware in your computer installed and running, try disabling WMI as a test,
then ensure that all your driver-dependant hardware still works. If it does,
you should be able to safely disable WMI. After you've disabled WMI, you
should delete as much as you can in the C:\Windows\System32\wbem directory,
as Windows' implementation of WBEM (Web-Based Enterprise Management) is
closely related to WMI, and deleting the wbem folder seems to make it
impossible to start WMI again, so if you delete the wbem folder, you can help
prevent a rogue process (like Windows) from restarting the WMI service.
17. Right-click the taskbar, click "Properties", click the "Start Menu" tab,
and click the "Customize" button. Turn on the "Display administrative tools"
check box; this will prevent Windows Vista from hiding its most important
control panel from the Start menu. While we're here, let's also turn on the
"Display log off" check box, which is not only useful because it shows on the
Start menu who you're logged in as, it's also useful for quickly logging out.
Also, turn off the "Use personalized menus" check box; this will prevent
Windows Vista from hiding Start menu items that it thinks you won't need.
Click OK twice.
Optional Bonus Step: Uninstall Windows Vista and install Windows XP. If
Windows Vista had one lasting achievement, it was that it was so bad, it
actually made Windows XP look good by comparison.