Complete PC Backup and Restore - Bigger Backup File, But Speedy Restore Times
Complete PC Backup and Restore (found in Ultimate and Business editions) performs both tasks creditably, according to Tom's Hardware, which tested it against Symantec's Norton Ghost 12.0 and Acronis True Image 11.0 in a comparison of "Bare Metal" disaster-recovery backup and restore solutions. Although Ghost created the smallest backup file size and True Image performed the fastest backup, Complete PC Backup and Restore provided the fastest restore time, beating Ghost by two minutes and True Image by nine minutes (20 GB data set).
Mark's Take: I've found Complete PC Backup and Restore to be useful both for disaster recovery and for moving a Vista install to another hard disk.
Windows Live Photo Gallery Speeds Past Google Picasa
A veteran user of Google Picasa and Windows Live Photo Gallery (the update to Vista's Windows Photo Gallery) likes the speed of Photo Gallery and its improved transfer features, but prefer's Google's support for dual-display screen savers and ability to select multiple images from different file folders.
Mark's Take: I prefer Windows Live Photo Gallery's editing and tagging features, and like its speed as well.
Windows Movie Maker HD Not So PG About Playing Nicely with Others
Windows Movie Maker HD (aka Movie Maker 6) adds support for HD video input, HD video output, and lots more editing features, but is often crippled by problems with various third-party codecs. Unfortunately, these problems often don't show up until you have your movie ready to output to DVD. If you're running Windows Movie Maker, be careful what you have installed, and check the WindowsMovieMakers.net website for help.
Mark's Take: I haven't had any problems with Windows Movie Maker HD or DVD Maker, but I don't have a lot of third-party codecs running on my Vista system. With the strides Microsoft has made in adding third-party codec support for digital camera RAW files, it would be good to see the same care given to the video side.