Advice for New Vista Users

First, congrats on upgrading to Windows Vista. You’ll have fun with it, and over the long term, the upgrade will make you more productive.

You’re officially an early adopter, though, and whether you’re buying a car in the first model year or installing a newly released operating system, problems are much more likely during the first year of production use. Here are some tips to make your first weeks with Vista as fun and productive as possible:

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Activate Windows


If you skipped entering the product key when setting up Windows, or you chose not to immediately activate, Windows will eventually make you activate by showing the dialog above. Go ahead and click Activate Windows online now–even if there’s a problem, you’re not going to get into trouble.

If it doesn’t appear automatically, you can manually activate Windows by following these steps:

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Should I install 32-bit or 64-bit Windows Vista or Windows 7?

Update: use 64-bit if you have at least 2GB of RAM. If you have the choice between Windows Vista and Windows 7, use Windows 7.

The original article (written in 2007) is included for your reference below. It discusses the problems with 64-bit versions of Windows, some of which still exist, but to a much lesser degree. I’m using 64-bit Windows 7 on just about all my computers now, and it’s working great. I have quite a variety of hardware, too, and haven’t run into any compatibility problems.

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How to get Windows Vista Ultimate with Software Assurance

Businesses often use Software Assurance, a licensing plan from Microsoft, to manage their Microsoft licensing. Unfortunately, Windows Vista Ultimate isn’t available through Software Assurance. Ultimate really isn’t intended for businesses, because it has many features that you can’t manage by using Group Policy (like Media Center). But, Microsoft knows that IT guys don’t want to be told they have to use a limited feature set, so they’re giving Software Assurance customers a way to get Vista Ultimate.

Basically, have your Microsoft Volume Licensing administrator head over to your volume licensing site and order the Vista Ultimate media (you can’t download it).

Detailed instructions are available from Eric Ligman here and here. Eric also provides instructions for downloading Vista Enterprise (if you’re a Software Assurance customer)–the version of Vista that really is intended for business use.