March 15, 2007

Retro Vista

I was silly enough to buy a new computer just as Microsoft was launching a new operating system – Windows Vista.

One of its annoyances is the removal of XP’s ability to easily associate more than one program with a single file extension. I found this feature, which Windows 98 had as well, rather useful. With htm, jpg and gif files, I think the best program for editing is not the best for viewing.

It is possible to get Vista to associate more than one program with a single file extension, but you must be prepared to either delve into the registry or buy third party software. A work-around, which reminds me of that days before Graphical User Interfaces, is to start with the program and then select the file rather than the other way around.


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  1. Steve Rumsby

    You can use the “Send To” menu to acheive the same effect. Just put links to your favourite programs in your “Send to” folder and they appear in the “Send to” menu when you right-click on a file.

    That said, my copy of Vista RC1 (which of course may well be different from the released version in this respect – I haven’t yet seen a copy of the “real” Vista) behaves the same was as XP. There’s an “Open With” menu when you right-click a file, and if you select a new program it appears in the menu for that file type from then on.

    Does this not happen in the released version?

    15 Mar 2007, 14:00

  2. Thanks. The “open with” is in Vista as well as XP, but it’s not so convenient as being able to nominate two default programs, one which runs when “edit” is selected and one which runs when the file-name is left-clicked.

    Some programs do distinguish between editing and viewing (e.g. Mozilla suite), but the user might want to use totally different programs for the two functions. jpg is a good example – photoshop for editing but something which supports slide shows for viewing.

    The Sendto folder is new to me. Since it applies to any file type, I suspect the number of possible programs appearing in the list might soon become rather large and lead to a messy appearance.

    After some time using XP, there’s six programs to choose from when I try “open with” on an .html file.

    15 Mar 2007, 16:40

  3. Steve Rumsby

    Ah! Now I understand. I have actually made use of this is XP in the past, but ultimately ended up preferring the flexibility of “open with…”, which lets you have multiple editors and viewers if you want, and sometimes I want! So I forgot you could do it.

    Apparently this functionality has been “improved” in Vista. It is still there, and is better than XP in the sense that the settings are now per-user whereas in XP they are system wide. For example, on my PC at home I’d like to have Firefox as my default browser but can’t because everybody else wants to use IE. With Vista my settings are independent of everybody else’s so I could do this. If I had Vista at home (I don’t. Because my PC is too old to be powerful enough to run it, and anyway a Vista upgrade is too expensive). And there’s an API that programs can use to manage this stuff better.

    But there’s no end-user interface to it!

    So, as you say, you have to hack the registry to do it. Or buy a program that provides such an interface. It wouldn’t surprise me if this is “fixed” in SP1

    15 Mar 2007, 17:16

  4. Re Vista. One of my ISPs reports

    As people buy new PCs and laptops that come with Vista installed, this is causing some problems for people with USB modems. Many of these modems are not Vista compatible, so be warned, if you want to upgrade to Vista you may also need to upgrade to a router!

    03 Apr 2007, 09:39

  5. Steve Rumsby

    The same thing happened with Windows XP. Peripheral manufacturers didn’t always produce XP-compatible drivers for pre-XP hardware. When I bought my current PC (about 5 years ago now) I had to replace my scanner because I couldn’t get drivers for the old one. I also had to retire some software that wouldn’t work under XP (mostly, but not exclusively, CD-based games for the kids). This effect is nothing new.

    I’m sure there will be USB modems that have Vista-compatible drivers, so while you may have to replace your ADSL modem if you can’t get drivers for it, you should be able to replace it with another modem if you don’t want to switch to a router.

    03 Apr 2007, 09:55

  6. I’ve a box with four ethernet ports which contains a router/modem combination. I’ve used it since my PCI modem was destroyed by the secondary effects of a lightning strike.
    I gave up trying to get my PCI modem to work with Linux, while having those four ports on the router/modem means I can connect up to four computers together.
    Many say that ethernet is a better interface than USB.

    03 Apr 2007, 10:40

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