For all of its new conveniences, improved search capabilities, and good looks, Windows Vista lacks some of the basic maintenance utilities that should come standard with any operating system. The field remains wide open for third-party developers to create system optimizers, cleaners, and customization programs like Vista Manager. This first-generation toolkit for the brand new OS hits all the right notes by pulling most of the usual optimizing tools into an accessible interface.
There are the de rigeur system-information monitors, a disk and registry cleaner, and a wide range of well-organized system settings to tweak. Telescoping menus in a graphical interface organize the options into categories such as Optimization, Customization, and Security buckets. Like many similar tools, Vista Manager provides a direct and centralized way to toggle security settings, such as hiding folders and settings from prying eyes, controlling disk sharing, and customizing elements of your context menus.
There are too many tweaks to catalog here, but Vista Manager is more comprehensive than most programs of its kind. It adds wallpaper and icon managers to the mix and can tweak network performance and split files for easier copying. Our favorite touch is the tooltip pop-up function, which describes most settings in laudable detail when you mouse over them. Although Vista Manager is pretty much just a re-tooling of YamicSoft's WinXP Manager, it does include Vista-specific features like the ability to tweak the User Account Controls.
Vista Manager's best feature is the Process Manager, which annotates the long list of processes the OS runs in background. You can intelligently target and disable the resource-sucking operations your laptop doesn't need. All in all, Vista Manager is a very good first stab at optimizing Vista.
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