Thursday, February 5, 2009

Should All the "Extras" Be Removed from Windows?

Published by Sunbelt Software Manage Your Profile Privacy Policy
Vol. 2, # 57 - Feb 5, 2009 - Issue # 66 
 Should All the "Extras" Be Removed from Windows?

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Should All the "Extras" Be Removed from Windows?
    • Follow-up: Cloudy Days ahead?
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Six flavors for Windows 7
    • Over a third of online gamers are running Vista
    • Skype 4.0 for Windows provides better picture and sound quality
    • Printed manuals or online Help files? You tell us.
  4. How to: Using the New Vista Features
    • How to make the Vista taskbar look more like Windows 7
  5. Vista Security
    • How secure is Safari?
  6. Vista Question Corner
    • How to clear the clipboard
  7. Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • Can't find your file when you search a Vista computer
  8. Windows 7 Preview Corner
    • WEI score may change when you install Win 7
  9. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  10. Product of the Week
    • It's a Perfect 10! Brand new PerfectDisk defrag

VIPRE and AVG Resource Usage Shoot-Out

Many of you asked how VIPRE compares to the popular AVG. Well, we ran the tests and posted the results. The numbers tell the story. VIPRE took only 28% as long as AVG doing the deep scan. VIPRE takes only 38% of the CPU compared to AVG, and AVG takes 1.5 times the Memory compared to VIPRE. In short: both AVG "Free" and "Paid" use A LOT more resources to do the job, which can slow down your PC dramatically. Here are the details and the graphs:

Editor's Corner

Should All the "Extras" Be Removed from Windows?

One of the biggest complaints about Vista, when it was released, was slow performance. Many attributed this to "bloatware," the fact that the OS includes many features and built in applications. If you're old enough to remember way back to Windows 3.x, you might recall that there were few extras included: you got a text editor (Notepad), a very simple word processor (Write), a simple graphics program (PaintBrush), a calculator and a few games (Reversi, Solitaire). That's about it. Windows for Workgroups 3.1/3.11 added SMB file sharing and the game of Hearts. You even needed to use a third party Winsock program if you wanted to connect to the Internet and a third party browser if you wanted to access the web.

Subsequent versions of Windows have become more "robust," with more and more extras included with the operating system. Windows 95 originally shipped without Internet Explorer, and TCP/IP wasn't installed by default. Service Release 1 (released to OEMs) was the first to include IE. Built in networking support made setting up an Internet connection much easier. A more sophisticated word processor (WordPad) was included. The Microsoft entertainment pack added more games such as Freecell, Blackjack, Tai Pai, Tetris and more, and Windows 98 added the Outlook Express email client and 98 SE included Windows Media Player. OSR2 added NetMeeting for real time communications.

Windows XP truly tried to be a "feature complete," OS, offering an instant messaging client (Windows Messenger), a built in fax and photo viewer, CD burning software, DVD maker video editing software, a firewall, a disk defragmenter and other applications and utilities that had previously required installing third party programs.

Many saw Windows Vista as the peak of this "all things to all people" trend. Microsoft added calendaring and contacts programs, an anti-spyware program (Windows Defender), a faxing and scanning program, Meeting Space (a replacement for NetMeeting), a more sophisticated screen capture utility (the Snipping Tool), Windows Movie Maker (a replacement for DVD Maker), Windows Photo Gallery, and new games (Chess Titans, Purble Place, Mahjong Titans and Inkball. The Home Premium and Ultimate editions also include Windows Media Center, for organizing and playing music, viewing photos and videos and (with a tuner card installed) watching, recording and playing back TV programs.

Naturally, the inclusion of so many functionalities that previously required buying or downloading third party programs pleased many Windows users and displeased third party software vendors who found it more difficult to sell their own products when the same feature was built into Windows. In addition, some users complained that there were too many features included that they didn't want or need, making the OS bigger (in terms of disk space and system resource requirements) and slowing it down. Indeed, Microsoft recommended at least 15 GB of free disk space to install Vista. Compare this to the 55 MB of disk space required to install Windows 95. Even Windows XP Pro only required an average of 1.5 GB of space - one tenth that recommended for Vista.

Presumably in response to the complaints, Microsoft has removed a number of the built in programs from Windows 7, at least as of the public beta (the beta is generally considered to be feature complete, but it's not impossible for features to be added before the final release). Missing are the email client, the calendaring and contacts programs, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker and the messenger client. You can download these apps (selecting only the ones you want) from the Windows Live web site, along with other useful programs such as the Live Writer blogging tool.

Interestingly, even though Windows 7 has omitted these applications, Microsoft's recommended disk space requirement for the Win 7 beta has actually increased slightly, to 16 GB. These requirements are listed on the beta download web site at

It's important to understand that in both Vista and now Windows 7, a significant amount of disk space is consumed by critical system recovery and security features. For example, System Restore can use up to 15% of the physical drive to create restore points. Additionally, the Hibernation feature creates a file that's roughly equal in size to the amount of RAM installed in the machine. The page file (virtual memory) can also take up quite a bit of disk space. For an excellent technical discussion of how virtual memory works and how large the page file should be, see Mark Russinovich's blog post at

Does disk space even matter anymore? Yes and no. If you're using a traditional platter-based disk drive, the cost per gigabyte is incredibly low. I remember paying more than $300 for a 1 GB drive back in the 1990s. Today you can buy a 1 TB drive - 1024 gigabytes - for less than $100. That's less than a dime per gig. You can have a very reasonably priced system with 2 or 3 TB of internal storage (not to mention the ease of adding USB or IEEE 1394 drives). When you have thousands of gigs of space, it's hard to get excited about Windows needing a mere 16 GB.

However, recently solid state drives (SSDs) have started to become popular. They're smaller, faster and less fragile than traditional disks since they have no moving parts. They also operate without making any noise, unlike traditional disks, some of which can be quite noisy. SSDs are now being included in laptop/netbook computers. The problem is that solid state storage is quite a bit more expensive than traditional disk space. In comparison to that $99 price tag for a 1 TB traditional drive, an 80 GB SATA solid state model comes in at around $400 to $500.

Thus, most of the SSDs that come with computers today are in the 32 GB to 64 GB range. When you have only 32 GB of storage space, devoting almost half of it to the operating system becomes more of an issue.

The 16 GB disk space requirements for the Windows 7 beta pertain to the Ultimate edition (the only edition in which the beta is available). This week Microsoft announced that the OS will come in six different editions (see the details in the News, Hints, Tips and Tricks section below). It's likely that the Starter edition, which is expected to be designed for low powered netbooks, may have lower all-round system requirements. Since it will not include the Aero interface, Mobility Center, Media Center and many of the other features in the higher end editions, it's logical to assume that it may require less disk space.

Some folks believe that Windows should be pared down even more, that the OS should contain essentially no application programs at all. Thus Media Player, Media Center, fax and scanning programs and so forth would all have to be installed as add-ons or third party programs. The European Union already forced Microsoft to create an edition that doesn't include Media Player. Now they want to force the company to remove Internet Explorer from Windows, too:

What do you think? How far should Microsoft go in slimming down the next OS? Do you want to have to go out and find and install programs for playing music, faxing and scanning, and browsing the web, or do you prefer that those applications come with Windows (with, of course, the option to install others you like better)? Were you glad to see Windows Mail, calendaring, contacts, Movie Maker, Photo Gallery, etc. removed from Windows 7, or do you miss them and wish you didn't have to download them? Would you prefer to have more full featured software (not just the operating system) even if it takes up more disk space, or do you want your OS and applications to stay "lean and mean?" Should the EU be able to make OS vendors leave features out of their operating systems? Someone recently suggested to me that Microsoft should make a Windows 7 Core, similar to their Server Core OS, that's command line only with no graphical interface. What do you think of that? Tell us your opinions at

Follow-up: Cloudy Days ahead?

In last week's editorial, we looked again at the phenomenon of cloud computing, this time from the perspective of how we all seem to be moving in the direction of more web-based services all the time, maybe without even realizing it. Quite a few of you wrote to comment.

Some of you are adamant about your refusal to join the cloud computing craze. John B. wrote: "I do not intend to use resources residing on someone else's computer. IT folks miss the good ol' days of mainframes and terminals. PCs brought computing to the individual- and I like it that way." Steve M. expresses similar sentiments: "Not me, I can't see my way around in a cloud. Plus the wind changes direction and the cloud is gone. That is the part that worries me - it disappearing." And Wes S. agrees: "The day the Personal Computer stops being just that, is the day I quit all of this."

Mike S. brings up several concerns: "In the case of keeping data in the cloud, who actually owns the data? This needs to be clearly established, and all other policies and procedures of companies offering cloud services need to look back at this as a central defining guideline, a prime directive, that governs how everything else is done. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't it illegal for a software company to 'poison-pill' an application if, for instance, the customer stopped paying for support? How would this apply to a cloud service provider that denied you access to your data due to lack of payment? The data is still yours even though you might have relinquished the right to access it through their application."

Most of you just don't trust the cloud, at least not at this point. Bob Y. said, "While 'cloud' based applications may be all right for non-critical use, it is much too risky/chancy for critical applications. There is no replacement for the reliability and security of accessing your data on your machine with your copy of the application. 'Cloud' based connections are not as reliable as hardware, and the security element is much too risky."

Leonard H. agrees: "I trust nobody with my data nor do I wish to be dependent on an internet connection to access it or use it. That's my data. Were I working for a company, I really do not care what happens to their data. Not my problem, unless I am the CTO or CEO." And he goes on to say, "one just has to see a few of the 'template based' do-it-yourself websites from Gmail, Yahoo, Lycos, etc. to understand just how tacky the cloud is getting. The lining is NOT silver!"

W.S. sees the cloud as downright dangerous: "The computer is essentially an extension of one's brain; to relinquish the entire contents of it to some unseen party will always be a gargantuan privacy risk. Additionally, in an era in which politicians are openly advocating censorship of dissenting opinions, and given the fact that the Internet has always been a government mechanism, the potential for political repression of 'incorrect' viewpoints expressed publicly or privately (i.e., simply stored in the 'cloud,') is enormous and chilling."

Dwight R. brought up this point based on his experience: "I work in the Health Care Industry where applications are more and more being served up on the web. Some applications are provided via private network, with servers that are local and others with servers located half way across the US, and others are through secure socket layer. There are always some bandwidth issues. Cloud computing companies need to work on transparent downtime."

And Darryl A. said, "For me, I'll never rely on cloud computing. Perhaps cloud storage as a convenient remote access site. But I'll still maintain home-based copies. It's true that you may pay more for a local copy of software as you continually upgrade, but it will always work even when cloud rains away!"

Bruno S. offers this explanation of why the cloud may gain in popularity: "An analogy to the cloud really is our every-day life. There was a time when our parents and even those of us who are a bit older did much of our own work. We did our own repairs around the house, serviced our own vehicles and even did major builds for things we wanted. Now we pay exorbitant fees to specialists to do what we once took pride in doing ourselves. That idea of convenience or is it laziness now carries into every facet of our lives. Rather than take responsibility for our own lives, we continue to let so-called convenience creep in."

And Jim S. sums it up thusly: "Actually, the term cloud for applications on line is a good one, for a cloud is simply vapor. Much like the use of on line applications. I'm too old and have seen too much in this computer world to put my trust in vapor ware. I want software in my computer that will run even if the internet is down. When we can't have that, then my computer days will be over."

There are a few (but very few) readers who like the cloud, at least in small doses. Brian M. wrote, "I don't like the thought of "renting" my applications, but I do love Windows Live Mesh. I'm too nervous about security to put any of my personal data on the mesh, but I have found a lot of excellent uses for it. I write some windows applications and I work from my home desktop, and my laptop. When I was done coding for the day, I used to copy the project over to my USB drive or to SkyDrive and then, if I wanted to work on it on another machine, I would have to remember which one had the latest version and hope that I don't overwrite anything and hope that I actually remembered to copy it to the USB drive or SkyDrive. Now I don't even have to think about it. Any time my project files change, they are automatically synced to all my machines and I never have to wonder where the latest version resides."

And some are embracing the cloud for business usage. James B. wrote: "We are a small organization with minimal IT staff who have significant duties outside our own facility. I am trying to find ways to outsource the more technical internal apps since they only service them occasionally and lose the skills as fast as they gain them. Exchange is the most likely candidate for now. I don't want to / can't afford to move to a new version with all the hardware and other changes required, including significant training that will be nearly forgotten six months later. If I can find this service in the cloud for a bit less than what I'd have to put out to own/install/manage it, I will be working very hard to convince management that outsourcing is the way to go. 'Outsourcing' is a less scary word to them than 'in the cloud'."

And Matt D. said, "My corporate email is the only thing that I use MS Office for. All Docs, Spreadsheets and Powerpoints are created in Google Docs. My company is seriously looking at Google Apps to replace our local Exchange server just based on price and the functionality that we don't use/need in Exchange."

Overall, our mail ran about 10 to 1 against the cloud for any critical computing needs. Thanks to all those who sounded off on this one.

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication for XP users called WXPnews? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:

And for IT pros, there's our "big sister," WServer News, at

Quotes of the Week

By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong. - Charles Wadsworth

You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence. - Charles Austin Beard

It isn't that they can't see the solution. It is that they can't see the problem. - G.K. Chesterton

Keep The Bad Guys Out With The Sunbelt Personal Firewall

Why do I need a firewall? Together with antivirus and antispyware, a firewall is a "must" to protect your PC. PC Magazine gave the Sunbelt Personal Firewall a "Very Good" rating with 4 Stars and a conclusion of "good protection". Check out the Reviews on the site and it will be clear why you need the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to protect your PC. One good example; Unlike the Windows XP and Vista Firewall, The Sunbelt Personal Firewall looks carefully at the data leaving your computer, so that sensitive information like your credit card numbers, email address, phone numbers, and social security number do not get stolen by hackers!

Cool Tools


Ever use a download manager? You might not know what your missing, try this one!

Rip DVDs for your iPhone, iPod touch, Apple TV, or iPod Video Nano. Bundle includes video converter too! Free Trial:

Advanced Vista Optimizer does a great job tweaking Vista for Max performance.

Eliminate your online traces with CyberScrub. Privacy equals security.

Backups? We don't need no stinking backups! Synchronization isn't anything like backing up, it's better! Easy too!

Your Uninstaller! 2008 takes the place of the clunky Windows Control Panel "Add/Remove Programs" and offers many other useful functions

Kill the background tasks belonging to legitimate software that runs all day. Why? To get your speed back!

One easy to remember password gives automatic access to all my online passwords and usernames. I love the autofill feature.

News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Six flavors for Windows 7

Well, those who were hoping that they'd have fewer editions to choose from when Win 7 comes out may be a little disappointing - but what's not disappointing is that this time, each progressively more expensive edition includes all the features that were in the lower priced ones, so you don't lose features by going up from Home Premium to Professional (replacement for Business) as you did in Vista. Read more about it in my blog post at

Over a third of online gamers are running Vista

The tech press has never let up on Vista, continually calling it a failure, but it seems that a significant number of online gamers - who tend to be especially demanding of their systems - are now using the OS. Perhaps even more importantly, corporate networks are now migrating to Vista as well. Read more about it here:

Ed Bott speculates that Vista may be getting a "halo effect" from Windows 7, but also notes that XP didn't reach 50% market share until four years into its lifecycle, either. Maybe Vista isn't such a failure, after all.

Skype 4.0 for Windows provides better picture and sound quality

If you're a fan of Skype's voice and video over IP service, you may want to try out the latest version, Skype 4.0, which provides enhanced performance and better quality video and voice. You can read more about it here:

Printed manuals or online Help files? You tell us.

Remember when all software programs came with a thick printed manual. Today many give you that manual on disc in PDF format instead of on paper, and many more do away with the manual altogether in favor of contextual Help files. Which do you prefer? Take our survey at

How to: Using the New Vista Features

How to make the Vista taskbar look more like Windows 7

If you like the look of the Win 7 taskbar with its larger icons and no text, you can give a similar look to Vista. Here's how:
  1. Right click an empty space on the taskbar.
  2. Uncheck the box labeled "Lock the Taskbar."
  3. Right click the taskbar again, and select Toolbars, then Quick Launch.
  4. Click and drag the Quick Launch bar's right handle to make it larger.
  5. Right click an empty space in the Quick Launch bar and select View, then Large Icons.
  6. You can whatever program icons you want by dragging them from the Start menu to the Quick Launch bar.

Vista Security

How secure is Safari?

Considering running Apple's Safari web browser for Windows on your Vista computer? Before you do, read this assessment which concludes that "security isn't Safari's strong point" and notes that over the last year, 26 separate vulnerabilities have been found in it and a third of those would allow complete system access. Find out more:

And for a security smackdown between all the leading browsers (IE, Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari), see this article by Roger Grimes in InfoWorld:

Vista Question Corner

How to clear the clipboard

I have to share a computer at work with several other people. Sometimes I copy things to the clipboard that I'd rather not have there for others to see. Is there a way to clear the information in the clipboard? Thanks. - Juli M.

You can create a shortcut that you can click to clear the clipboard. Here's how:
  1. Right click an empty space on the desktop and select New, then Shortcut.
  2. In the Create Shortcut dialog box, under "Type the location of the item:", type the following:
    cmd /c "echo off | clip"
  3. Click the Next button.
  4. Under "Type a name for the shortcut," enter: Clear Clipboard
  5. To make it easier to identity, right click the new shortcut on click Properties.
  6. Click the Change Icon button.
  7. Click the Browse button and navigate to the following folder: Windows\System32\shell32.dll
  8. Browse through the icons and select the one that looks like a clipboard
  9. Click OK.
Now to clear the clipboard at any time, just double click the shortcut icon.

Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting

Can't find your file when you search a Vista computer

If you aren't able to find files that you know are present on your Vista computer, there could be a number of reasons for the failure. The new indexing and search methods may be confusing for users who aren't familiar with them. KB article 932989 suggests several possible causes of the problem and provides resolutions.

Windows 7 Preview Corner

WEI score may change when you install Win 7

If you've installed the beta of Windows 7, you may have been disappointed to see that your Windows Experience Index (WEI) score showed to be lower than it was in Vista on the same machine. On the other hand, if you have a super machine, you may find that the score is higher than it was in Vista - in fact, higher than the top score that was possible in Vista. What's up with that?

Well, first of all the scale has been expanded so that now the maximum possible score, which was 5.9 in Vista, is now 7.9. This reflects the performance of top end hardware that's now available. However, because the scoring rules for some devices has changed, your overall score might have gone down. According to the Windows 7 engineering team blog, this is usually because of your disk performance. That's what happened to me and I thought it was because I installed Win 7 on a different physical disk than the one Vista was installed on, but apparently this can happen even if you put it on the same disk because of a cap placed on scores for drives that exhibit certain behaviors. You can read all the details here:

Fav Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Disclaimer: VistaNews does not assume and cannot be responsible for any liability related to you clicking any of these linked Web sites.

Product of the Week

It's a Perfect 10! Brand new PerfectDisk defrag

PerfectDisk 10 has officially arrived and everything you need to make your system so much faster and cleaner is ready to take out for a free evaluation. If you've ever used PerfectDisk in the past, or any other defrag tool, you will not believe how much system performance you'll gain after running PerfectDisk 10 just once. Customers already using the new release tell us they absolutely love the brand new look and can't believe how much faster everything is. Windows 7 support, new virtualization support, and more. Save today with our special offer.

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