By Matt Brady 

We've been talking a lot of Vista lately, but what if you are an XP user, like myself (I have it installed on my home PC), and looking to get more out of it?

This afternoon, I collected a glossy copy of Microsoft Windows XP: The Official Magazine (they are available free of charge every month to people at Microsoft) to pick up a new trick or two, especially as my computer has been performing somewhat strangely lately (thumping and restarting the machine didn't solve the problem).

The magazine has a new look, with tutorials that are "bigger, clearer and easier to follow".  Somewhat amusingly, one of these tutorials is named "Give Windows XP the Windows Vista look" and shows the reader how to add a Vista-style Sidebar to XP (why?).  Another article explains how to speed up your Wi-Fi connection (I suspect that an opportunistic neighbour had something to do with my sluggish speed not too long back).  A new page at the back introduces a different person every month who's had a life-changing experience with their PC ("My great Windows XP experience").

Other than the main features, there are interesting bits n' bobs that draw the eye, such as this reader's tip:

If you find a USB flash drive on the street, don't plug it into your PC, as hackers are using them to access data on computers.

It has to be said, I have never, ever discovered a USB stick on the street before, but I know now what I mustn't do should I find one. 

As always, there is a DVD with the magazine, offering useful utilities and anti-virus software (BitDefender 9).  Plus, another goodie: a book containing 232 Free PC Power Tips (though why 232 in particular?).

Worth a peek at least if you spot this edition on shop shelves this month.