I can't believe that I've got an article on here called "Various Vista Goodies"

If you are still using Windows VISTA then we suggest that you GET RID OF IT! You would be MUCH better off by upgrading to windows-7 or windows-8. Microsoft stopped supporting Vista LONG before they stopped supporting Windows-XP because even they acknowledge that Vista was a backward step. However, if you MUST use Vista then reada on ...

Changing your Vista computer's WEI rating manually

When you first install and run Windows Vista, it will calculate your Windows Experience Index score to evaluate your computer's speed and graphics capabilities. Microsoft defines the Windows Experience Index as the following:

"The Windows Experience Index is a new feature built into Windows Vista that is designed to help you better understand how well Windows Vista and other software will perform on your PC.

Your computer, running Windows Vista, is assigned a rating number called a "base score" that is achieved by measuring the capability of your computer's hardware configuration. This base score rating will help you to more confidently buy additional hardware, programs, and software that are matched to your computer's base score."

WEI has been a point of contention for many Windows Vista users because the WEI scores tend to be extremely low. Unfortunately, some software requires your WEI score to be above a certain threshold for all the features to work. Fortunately, it is easy to artificially raise your WEI score by modifying the configuration file.

The first step is to check your current score. In order to check your WEI score, go to to Start >> Computer >> System Properties >> Performance

Click Rate this computer. It will take a few minutes while Windows evaluates your computer.

Your baseline WEI score will now be set.

In order to raise this score, navigate to the following directory: C:\Windows\Performance\WinSAT\DataStore

Note: You will need to have your UAC temporarily disabled to proceed with the rest of these steps, if you have not done that please read "Disable UAC in Windows Vista".

You will notice one or more XML files. Every time the WEI test is run, it will create a new XML file. Open the most recent file in Wordpad (Start >> All Programs >> Accessories >> Wordpad). Lines 14 - 21 have a simple score on each line with XML tags. You can manually change these scores to whatever value you want.

Re-save the file with the same name and close Wordpad. If Windows prevents your from saving the file, ensure that you have disabled UAC. When you check your WEI score again, you will now notice a major improvement. Start >> Computer >> System Properties >> Performance

Your new and improved Windows Experience Index will be permanently saved until you rerun the performance test. Any features of software relying on your Windows Experience Score will now be enabled. Don't worry if you accidentally mess up the file. You can delete the file and rerun the performance test and Windows Vista will recreate the file automatically.

How can I disable the User Account Control (UAC) feature on my Windows Vista computer?

Windows Vista has the built-in ability to automatically reduce the potential of security breeches in the system. It does that by automatically enabling a feature called User Account Control (or UAC for short). The UAC forces users that are part of the local administrators group to run like they were regular users with no administrative privileges.

Although UAC clearly improves the security on Windows Vista, under some scenarios you might want to disable it, for example when giving demos in front of an audience (demos that are not security related, for example). Some home users might be tempted to disable UAC because of the additional mouse clicking it brings into their system, however I urge them not to immediately do so, and try to get used to it instead.

Anyway, if required, you can disable UAC by using one of the following methods:

Method #1 - Using MSCONFIG
  1. Launch MSCONFIG by from the Run menu.li
  2. Click on the Tools tab. Scroll down till you find "Disable UAP" (this should probably change to UAC in next Vista beta builds and in the RTM version). Click on that line.
  3. Press the Launch button.
  4. A CMD window will open. When the command is done, you can close the window.
  5. Close MSCONFIG. You need to reboot the computer for changes to apply.
  6. Note that you can re-enable UAC by selecting the "Enable UAP" line and then clicking on the Launch button.
Method #2 - Using Regedit
  1. Open Registry Editor.
  2. In Registry Editor, navigate to the following registry key:
  3. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System
  4. Locate the following value (DWORD):
  5. EnableLUA
  6. and give it a value of 0.
  7. Note: As always, before making changes to your registry you should always make sure you have a valid backup. In cases where you're supposed to delete or modify keys or values from the registry it is possible to first export that key or value(s) to a .REG file before performing the changes.
  8. Close Registry Editor. You need to reboot the computer for changes to apply.
  9. In order to re-enable UAC just change the above value to 1.
Method #3 - Using Group Policy
  1. This can be done via Local Group Policy or via Active Directory-based GPO, which is much more suited for large networks where one would like to disable UAC for many computers at once.
  2. If using Local Group Policy you'll need to open the Group Policy Editor (Start > Run > gpedit.msc) from your Vista computer.
  3. If using in AD-based GPO, open Group Policy Management Console (Start > Run > gpmc.msc) from a Vista computer that is a member of the domain. In the GPMC window, browse to the required GPO that is linked to the OU or domain where the Vista computers are located, then edit it.
  4. In the Group Policy Editor window, browse to Computer Configuration > Windows Settings > Security Settings > Local Policies > Security Options.
  5. In the right pane scroll to find the User Access Control policies (they're down at the bottom of the window). You need to configure the following policies:
  6. You'll need to reboot your computers.
Method #4 - Using Control Panel
  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Under User Account and Family settings click on the "Add or remove user account".
  3. Click on one of the user accounts, for example you can use the Guest account.
  4. Under the user account click on the "Go to the main User Account page" link.
  5. Under "Make changes to your user account" click on the "Change security settings" link.
  6. In the "Turn on User Account Control (UAC) to make your computer more secure" click to unselect the "Use User Account Control (UAC) to help protect your computer". Click on the Ok button.
  7. You will be prompted to reboot your computer. Do so when ready.
  8. In order to re-enable UAC just select the above checkbox and reboot.

How can I install Windows Vista without supplying the product key?

Well, you can, sort of.

You can configure Windows Vista to install without having to manually enter the product key during the setup process. This is quite useful if you find yourself in need to perform an installation of the OS but without having the (legal) product key with you at that very moment. Unlike previous Windows versions where you had to have a CD Key handy during the installation of the OS, the Windows Vista setup process only makes it appear as if you have to enter a product key to install it.

During the setup program's progress you will reach a dialog box that will ask you to enter a valid product key. Here is where the fun part starts. You can actually leave it blank!

Next click No in response to the "Are you sure" dialog box. You will now be presented with a list of all the different Windows Vista versions available on the DVD. Yes, the cool thing about the Windows Vista DVD is that every DVD has every version of Vista available for you to pick from, and the product key you own is the only thing that tells the setup process what version of Vista it should install.

You can now pick any one from that list and use it for up to 14 days without any having any issues. After 14 days you will need to enter a valid product key or do a fresh install from the beginning.

This "feature" will in fact help you if you'd like to test the different versions of Vista before deciding which one to buy.

How can I quickly open Command Prompt (cmd) with elevated credentials in Windows Vista?

As you've learned so far, Windows Vista has the built-in ability to automatically reduce the potential of security breeches in the system. It does that by automatically lower the administrative rights of users that are part of the local administrators group, and forces them to run applications and commands like they were regular users with no administrative privileges.

For example, if you ran CMD as a user that was a part of the Local Administrator's group, or even as the Administrator himself, you'd get a nice Command Prompt window:

Now try to run any command that requires administrative rights, for instance use the following command as a test:

net user administrator MyNewP@ssw0rd!

Lamer note: This command will change the administrator's password to "MyNewP@ssw0rd!", don't run it, it's just an example. And if you do run it, change the password to whatever string you want. Don't come crying that you can't logon to the computer anymore after changing the password!

Note that the command refuses to run because of permission issues.

So how do we perform administrative tasks in Windows Vista?

In order to gain your administrative rights you need to use the RUNAS command from the command prompt, or from the Graphical User Interface (GUI) by right-clicking the required application and selecting the "Run as administrator" option:

After selecting that option you need to pass the UAC prompt by pressing "Continue" (unless you've already disabled it. Read What's User Account Control in Windows Vista? and Disable User Account Control in Windows Vista for more info)

Instead of using the RUNAS command from the command prompt or the GUI "Run as administrator" option you can perform the following trick:

Note: This tip seems to only work with .EXE files, and does not work for shortcuts.

Click on the Vista logo (used to be the "Start" button.

In the "Start Search" box type the name of the program you want to run as administrator. For example type CMD or CMD.EXE.

Do NOT hit ENTER. Instead hit CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER. It seems that this key combo triggers user account elevation and is identical to the RUNAS command or the GUI "Run as administrator" option.

You will be prompted by the UAC warning window. Click on CTRL+C or click on the "Continue" button.

Note that the CMD window has an "Administrator:" appended to the window title.

You can now perform any administrative tasks you want.

How can I quickly copy error messages and other type of messages in Windows 2000/XP/2003?

Did you ever find yourself staring into your computer screen and see that long, hard to understand error message? Did you ever need to copy that loooong error or information text found in one of Windows' error/warning/information windows? Did you ever want to copy a command's output directly into your clipboard, and later to paste it into a different program or search engine (such as Google, TechNet etc.)?

If you've answered yes to any of these questions (and we all do) then you'll love the following tips:

Copying Error / Warning / Information / Confirmation windows

Try this nifty trick:

  1. When faced with the error message window, click on the window's title bar to highlight it. I've used Active Directory Sites and Services and created a new site, which generates an information message:
  2. Next, press CTRL + C, just like you do when you want to copy a text string or a file.
  3. Now, open Notepad.exe from the Run menu, and paste the message by using CTRL + V.
  4. Copying a Command's Output to the clipboard
  5. We all know that you can easily direct a command's output to a text file by using the ">" character:
  6. ipconfig /all > c:\ipsetting.txt
  7. However, although this can be very useful when searching for a string or when documenting a setting, if you only need to copy the output into a different program, you can try this trick:
  8. On Windows Server 2003:
  9. Open Command Prompt by running CMD.EXE from the Run menu.
  10. In the CMD window, type your required command. I've used IPCONFIG for example:
  11. ipconfig /all
  12. Do NOT press ENTER after the command, instead, add the following command to the end of your command:
  13. ipconfig /all | clip
  14. Lamer note: This is not the "i" letter, nor the capital "I" letter, is it not the "l" (non-capital L) letter, nor is it the number "1". The "|" is obtained by pressing SHIFT and the "\" button on your keyboard.
  15. Now, open Notepad.exe from the Run menu, and paste the clipboard's contents by pressing CTRL + V.
  16. Go tell your friends how great this site is...
  17. On Windows XP/2000:
  18. The same tip applies here, but first you must copy the CLIP.EXE file from a Windows Server 2003 into your system's path (best if placed in %systemroot%\system32 folder).

You can also get the file from www.petri.co.il/software/clip.zip (14kb)