Stories by Preston Gralla

Vista SP1 RC targets Vista's innards

The just-released Windows Vista SP1 Release Candidate (RC), like the previous beta, does more to improve the internal plumbing of Windows Vista than it does to make any major changes to the interface.

Review: The good, the bad and the ugly of Facebook apps

A little over a year ago, social networking site Facebook opened its doors to nonstudents, and since that time, businesspeople and the computer-savvy have flocked to it. A big reason for the site's allure is not just the number of people who use it, but also the thousands of applications on the site -- mini applets that use the power of social networking for everything imaginable.

The tweaker's guide to the Windows Registry

If you plan on tweaking any version of Windows, you're going to have to get friendly with the Windows Registry, a database of information that defines how your PC works, including every part of Windows and its applications and interface. Editing the Registry is often the best way to tweak Windows. In fact, it's the only way to make certain changes.

Vista SP1 offers no features, focuses on tweaks, security

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), just delivered to a group of approximately 12,000 beta testers, offers no dramatic interface changes, nor does it add new features to the operating system. Instead SP1 focuses on improving performance, reliability and application compatibility, and it extends support to emerging hardware such as the exFAT file system that will be used by flash memory storage and consumer devices. However, SP1 does change the way Windows search works, allowing third-party programs such as Google Desktop Search to integrate more easily into the operating system.

Vista SP1 beta brings changes to search function

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), the beta of which was just released by Microsoft, is designed to improve Vista's performance, reliability and security. And even though Microsoft doesn't publicize the change, SP1 also alters the way Vista's search works, allowing you to substitute an alternate search tool of your own for the one built into Windows.

How to protect your wireless network

Bad guys don't target just big, corporate networks. If you have a Wi-Fi network at home or in a small office, intruders may be after you, such as casual "war drivers" who troll city streets, looking for unprotected wireless networks.

Sound off: Why you need wireless protection

If you've got a wireless network at home or at your business and don't take special care to protect it, well, you're playing Russian roulette -- and the chamber is loaded with multiple bullets.

Best Vista downloads

Looking for software to get the most out of Windows Vista? As yet, there hasn't been a flood of great downloads designed specifically for Microsoft's latest operating system. But that didn't stopped us from searching high and low for the best free Vista apps available -- and we've come up with 20 real keepers.

New Vista firewall fails on outbound security

Microsoft has touted Windows Vista as giving significant security improvements over Windows XP, and it offers the Windows Firewall, with its new two-way filtering feature, as one reason for that better security.

Windows Vista: 15 reasons to switch

Windows Vista is almost here. To anyone who has been sitting on the fence over whether to upgrade to Microsoft's new operating system, I'll say it loud and clear: It's time to make the jump. There are plenty of reasons to leave Windows XP and install Vista, and below are my top 15 favorites.

Wireless hot spot protection

Wi-Fi hot spots in airports, restaurants, cafes and even downtown locations have turned Internet access into an always-on, ubiquitous experience. Unfortunately, that also means always-on, ubiquitous security risks.

Internet Explorer: Top dog for good reason

Common wisdom holds that it takes Microsoft three versions to perfect a product. That's not quite the case with Internet Explorer -- it's taken Redmond all the way until version 7 to get it right. But now that IE7 is here, there's little reason to use any other browser.

Computing in the cloud

Amazon.com is making a big bet, but it's not on selling books, CDs or holiday gifts. Instead, it wants to sell you all the processing power you can eat. Rather than competing with your local bookstore, it's taking on the likes of IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems.

Just say yes to Internet Explorer 7

It's been a long time coming, but Internet Explorer 7 is here at last. If you're dying to get your hands on the new browser, you can go download it right now, but there's really no need -- IE7 will soon come knocking on your door.