Here's three downloadable apps that will improve your Vista experience.

This article appears as part of the April 07 issue of PC Advisor, available now in all good newsagents

Start me up

There's a real variation in quality among the numerous Vista emulators out there, but one that seems to have found general approval is Launchy. This alternative to Windows' Start menu makes accessing programs a matter of a couple of keystrokes. Start typing the program's name and it immediately finds it.

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Acrobat leaps in

Surprisingly, considering every manual and many marketing brochures are distributed this way, there's no PDF reader built-in to Vista. Thankfully, Adobe has already made its Vista version of the free Acrobat Reader 8.0 available for download. One of those invaluable applications you're bound to need.

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On the defensive

One of the main ways Microsoft will be pushing Vista is with its strengthened security setup. At the core of its Security Center is Windows Defender, a two-way firewall that provides antivirus protection and squishes both spam and spyware. Download a free copy for Windows XP.

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