An In-Depth Look at Vista, Part 1
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Searching and the Preview Pane

An important feature in Windows Vista Beta 1 is Search. Type the search keyword into the search text box (see Figure 4), and the items in the current window are filtered accordingly. Note that this search is performed only on the items in the current window; if you want to search the entire computer; you need to click on the Search button and select the Search the Computer button.

Figure 4
Figure 4. Performing a search

In Windows Vista Beta 1, the preview pane dynamically changes to reflect the content of the folders. Figure 5 shows the content of a folder that shows some of the images contained within the folder.

Figure 5
Figure 5. Previewing a folder

One of the inconsistencies in the display is that as you navigate from one folder to another, the preview pane is sometimes displayed on the right and sometimes at the top (see Figure 6).

Figure 6
Figure 6. The preview pane displayed at the top

Virtual Folders

A new feature in Windows Vista Beta 1 is virtual folders. Before we look at examples, it helps to think of virtual folders as shortcuts in Windows XP. A shortcut is basically a file that points to the actual location of a file. Shortcuts allow you to quickly locate a file without needing to know where it is physically stored. Microsoft has brought this concept to Windows Vista in an attempt to make the organization of files easy to understand. Unfortunately, I think this is likely to confuse many new users, and it took me some time before I really understood how it works. And there are still times I think I am a little confused.

To see virtual folders in action, click on the Start menu and you will see the Documents, Pictures, and Music folders (see Figure 7). These all point to virtual folders.

Figure 7
Figure 7. Virtual folders

For example, if you click on the Music item, the Albums virtual folder will be displayed as shown in Figure 8. Note that in my case, my Albums folder contains three items.

If you click on the space as shown in Figure 8, you will see its absolute path (see Figure 9).

Figure 8
Figure 8. Displaying a virtual folder

Virtual folders are stored in the C:\Users\<username>\VirtualFolders directory (see Figure 9).

Figure 9
Figure 9. A virtual folder's absolute path

Note that the virtual folder does not actually contain the files as shown, but rather references to the items. The items are located in other physical locations. For example, the Turnaround item displayed in the Album virtual folder is actually stored in C:\Users\Administrator\Music\Westlife (see Figure 10).

Figure 10
Figure 10. Actual location of files

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