Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Everybody's Talkin'... About Windows 7 RC

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Vol. 3, # 71 - May 14, 2009 - Issue # 80 
 Everybody's Talkin'... About Windows 7 RC

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Everybody's Talkin'... About Windows 7 RC
    • Follow-up: PC's death has been greatly exaggerated
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Zune phone rumors revived - then disowned
    • Windows 7 might currently be free, but that doesn't stop people from pirating it
    • Facebook for Windows Mobile
  4. How to: Using the New Vista Features
    • How to disable the Caps Lock key
  5. Vista Security
    • May Security Patches for Windows
  6. Vista Question Corner
    • Where is the Vista Start Menu folder?
  7. Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • Messages stuck in the Windows Mail Outbox
    • Get rid of the Windows.old folder
  8. Windows 7 Preview Corner
    • What's missing from Windows 7?
  9. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  10. Product of the Week
    • PC Tune-Up - Single Click Performance and Tune-Up Solves PC Problems Easily.

Your Current (free) Antivirus Costs You $200!

Huh? Yes, you read that right. Do the math with us for a sec. We recently asked you how much you paid for your Personal Computer and peripherals. The vast majority answered that it was about $1,000 total. Now, the average old-style antivirus (paid or free) you install, hijacks about 20% of that PC, in CPU and Memory. Bingo, there's your lost 200 bucks! Time to switch don't you think? Get VIPRE. It's not a resource hog, does not slow down your PC, and is only $30 per year. Get your 15-day eval here and experience VIPRE for yourself:

Editor's Corner

Everybody's Talkin'... About Windows 7 RC

Fire up your favorite search engine and do a search for "Windows 7" and you'll see that everybody's talking about it. I got back 82 million hits. If I narrow my search to "News," there are still more than twenty thousand. Everybody's talking about the new OS, and why not? The Release Candidate was made available to the public for download last week and will be on Microsoft's web site at least through July. There will be no limitation on the number of product keys available.

Many folks who weren't comfortable installing a beta on their machines are willing to try the RC. For one thing, it doesn't expire until June 2010, so you'll have plenty of time to enjoy it and decide whether you like it before you have to think about paying for it. For another, Microsoft has said there will only be one release candidate, so "what you see is what you get" - no worries about needing to replace it with a new version in a couple of months. If you are running the beta, you'll need to switch to the RC before the beta expires this summer. If you haven't already, you can get the RC here, in both 32 and 64 bit versions:

However, if you're waiting for it to hit the shelves, it looks like the final release will be here long before the RC gives up the ghost. According to numerous reports this week, Microsoft has confirmed that Win 7 is on track to ship this year - in time for the holiday shopping season. In fact, we are likely to see the Release to Manufacturing (the RTM is the completely finished product) in about three months, which would put it sometime in August.

Windows 7 has received mostly positive reviews since the release of the public beta, most notably for its better performance, better compatibility and lower use of system resources in comparison to Vista. I found the Windows 7 beta to be the most stable beta OS I had ever used, and arguably more stable than the final release of Vista (pre-SP1). I downloaded the release candidate when it became available to MSDN and TechNet subscribers in April, and I've installed both the 32 bit and 64 bit versions on my Dell XPS (in a multi-boot configuration).

My first reaction to the RC was mixed. Performance seemed to be a little snappier, and I didn't have the problems with Flash and some other Adobe programs that I experienced with the beta. However, I surprised to find that a couple of devices that worked immediately after installation in the beta weren't recognized in the RC; I had to go hunt down drivers for them on the web. In the 32 bit version, everything worked fine after I installed the drivers. In the 64 bit version, I still have not been able to get my sound card working properly. If it were some off-brand, this might be understandable, but it's a Creative Soundblaster X-Fi - an extremely common card. The beta Windows 7 drivers for it on Creative's site won't install at all. I get a message saying no sound device can be found. I was able to install a Vista driver for it, but the sound was garbled and distorted and unusable. I'm hoping to be able to solve the problem without buying a new sound card. Meanwhile, I'm forced to do most of my work in the 32 bit instance, since sound is somewhat important in today's media-centric computing environment. You can read more about my adventures with the RC and a few other oddities I encountered in my blog post at

Several of the problems I encountered during the first week have resolved themselves or have been solved by making adjustments to configuration settings. And there are a number of things that I like about the RC, as compared to the beta. The biggest is that my HP Officejet printer now has full functionality back. With the beta, I was unable to select Fast Draft printing; everything printed slowly and at high quality, whether I needed that quality or not. I never did get PhotoPaint 10 to work, but after all, it is an ancient piece of software. I bit the bullet and bought CorelDraw x4, which includes the newest version of PhotoPaint, and that works on Win 7.

One change in the RC that I didn't like was the new logon screen/shutdown screen wallpaper. I guess Microsoft was trying to project a cheerful and carefree image, with the little bird and the sprig of greenery, but it doesn't look nearly as professional to me as the simple darker blue background in the beta. Luckily, it's very easy to change that, either by manually editing the registry or by downloading a program called Logon Changer. You can find out more about that and see my "before" and "after" pictures in my blog post at

Most of the changes in the RC are pretty subtle. Lots of folks will be happy to learn that the anti-piracy technology is a bit less intrusive than in Vista. It also has a new name; instead of being called Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA), it's now labeled Windows Activation Technologies (WAT?). Keyboard junkies will be pleased that the RC gives us even more keyboard shortcuts, and there's a cool new feature called Remote Media Streaming that lets you stream media to PCs over the Internet.

There has been lots of buzz about the new XP Mode for running XP applications in a virtualized window on the Windows 7 desktop. It will make it easier for companies to upgrade to Windows 7 and retain compatibility with old programs, but it only works with Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate editions, and only on computers with processors that support virtualization and have VT enabled. It doesn't actually come with the RC, but has to be downloaded separately. If you want to try it out, you can get it here:

To see a demo showing more of what's new in the RC, view this video on the MSDN blog site:

Tell us what you think about the Windows 7 RC. If you were running the beta, have you switched to the RC? If you didn't run the beta, will you now give the RC a try? Do you like the changes in the RC? Are there any changes that you don't like? Let us know what you think; write to

Follow-up: PC's death has been greatly exaggerated

In last week's editorial, I discussed the idea being put forth by some pundits that the death of the "fat client" PC as we know it is close at hand. I disagreed with that premise, and apparently so do many of our readers. In fact, this article generated more mail than we've received in a long time.

Some folks didn't quite "get" what I was saying, though. Randy G. wrote: "I'm going out on a limb here, but maybe you should do a better job of forming an opinion. On Tuesday you projected the internet to slow to a crawl (see attached email). Today you project the death of desktops because netbooks are all we need. If the internet slows to a crawl, netbooks become expensive paperweights. Does your left hand know what your right hand is writing?" The problem is that I didn't predict either of those things. I reported that some tech pundits are making those predictions, and in fact the point of both editorials was that I explicitly disagreed with those predictions. Please read just a little more closely.

Robert N. offered a very good analysis of the situation: "no, it [the PC] won't die, but the future does look a bit troubling and it will be troubling as long as developers will just focus on whatever the mainstream is instead of catering to each need/niche/market separately. There is a purpose for PCs, there is a purpose for regular laptops and there is a purpose for netbooks. There are different kinds of people who desire each (I for one stick strictly to PCs, thank you very much, I'm not going anywhere to need the portability), or the same person might desire all of them for various purposes (like I see you do), it's no 'one size fits all' thing."

And Jim R. said, "The market is obviously subdividing. I have a hard time recommending a $1,500 laptop to somebody who just wants to create reports, presentations, surf the internet, email, etc. For these people, I'm starting to recommend netbooks. On the other hand, I can't live without a 'big iron' luggable for programming and scientific data processing (i.e. a $2,500 laptop). Two different markets. Admittedly, I'm concerned that the powerful laptop market might be neglected by the manufacturers as they chase the netbook market. On the other hand, I think that there will always be enough power users to sustain the high-end market indefinitely at a somewhat reduced level."

Quite a few of you expressed the same sentiments as Barry in Peru: "With all due respect to those who think that 'cloud computing' is the future, I have to tell you that it will NEVER happen in the world in which I live." And Ken C. wondered, "Could it be that the ones that make the netbooks are also the ones that say the PC's demise is imminent? Seems like a bunch of made up hype to me."

Some of you do like your netbooks. John R. wrote: "My netbook has replaced a laptop, because I found that I could still do correspondence, e-mails, surf etc. on it, the battery life was double, it weighed a lot less & still happily synchronised with my desktop PC at the end of the day. It has a 10" screen which is still adequate for purpose & I will definitely not bother going back to a 'normal' laptop, though it will never replace my desktop PC."

John M. offered this perspective: "I've been a Systems Builder for over 10 years now. I'm also a Microsoft Partner and Small Business Specialist and an AMD Solutions Provider. I feel that the resulting inevitable demise of the PC is quite emminent. The feedback I'm getting from my Business & Gaming customers is this: Business customers want an assurance that before they migrate to the NAS that their data will not only be secure, but that it may be available from anywhere in the world- without additional costs as they're already paying a hefty fee for this service. Gamers- this diehard group will not give up their Gaming Towers!"

Jim C. said, "I don't like the idea of the 'thin client' PC. I don't want to have to depend entirely on the Internet for ALL my computing needs. This is a single-point of failure, and depends entirely on the local network, router, modem, cable/DSL and ISP. There are too many things that can go wrong, and prevent any use of the computer. As it is now, if the Internet is not available, I can't do email or research, but still have access to word processing, spreadsheets, games, photos, movies, music, etc."

Finally, for all those who wrote to tell me that "thirdary" should have been "tertiary," I guess that joke didn't go over too well. Oh, well. I thank all of you who wrote on this topic.

'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

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Quotes of the Week

Don't throw away the old bucket until you know whether the new one holds water. - Swedish proverb

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not, but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for. - Epicurus (341 BC - 270 BC)

Why not go out on a limb? Isn't that where the fruit is? - Frank Scully

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 computer. 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, you can tell the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to look carefully at the data leaving your browser, so that sensitive information like your credit card numbers, email address, bank account, social security number and PIN code do not get stolen by hackers!

Cool Tools


WhiteSmoke 2009 is an innovative proofreading and editing tool with a single aim - to help you write better

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

Why backup when you can syncronize? Synconizations is easier and faster than backing up. Try it!

I need a program for autofilling my passwords, shipping info, personal info - not a toolbar widget. Roboform is the real deal!

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

Eliminate your online traces with CyberScrub. Privacy equals security.

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 run all day. Why? To get your speed back!

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

News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Zune phone rumors revived - then disowned

Are they or aren't they? Microsoft has, in the past, denied that they're planning to make a Zune-based mobile phone, but now a post from a Twitter account that appeared to belong to someone from Microsoft has revived the rumors all over again. The microblog post references a new product launch, says to hold off on buying an iPhone and mentions "an important month for Zune lovers." The company says the posts are fake, so don't get your hopes too high. Just goes to show that you can't believe everything you hear in a tweet.

Windows 7 might currently be free, but that doesn't stop people from pirating it

What's the point of downloading a pirated version of an operating system when the real thing can be downloaded free from the vendor's site? Apparently somebody's doing it. ComputerWorld reported that a pirated version of Windows 7 is out there on the Torrents and newsgroups - and it comes with a little bonus feature: a Trojan that allows the attacker to take control of your computer. Read more here:

Facebook for Windows Mobile

Last week, Microsoft announced a Facebook application for Windows Mobile 6.x phones that will allow you to upload a video to Facebook directly from your phone, along with updating your status, tagging photos, sending messages and all the other things that you can do on Facebook. Interestingly, also in relation to Windows Mobile, Microsoft made it known that their new application store will (like Apple's) prohibit programs that enable VoIP over cellular networks. Find out more here:

How to: Using the New Vista Features

How to disable the Caps Lock key

Do you ever actually use the Caps Lock key? I can't remember the last time I did. But it hasn't been nearly that long since the last time I accidentally hit it and ended up with all caps that I didn't want. That can be a real problem with some laptops whose keys so small that you hit Caps Lock when you're trying for Shift or Tab. Want to disable it? Here's how:
  1. Open your registry editor and navigate to the following key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SYSTEM \ CurrentControlSet \ Control \ Keyboard Layout
  2. In the right pane, double click the value Scancode Map. If it doesn't exist, create a new Binary Value and name it "Scancode Map" (without the quotation marks).
  3. Enter the following binary data in the value data field: 00000000 00000000 0200000000 00003A00 00000000
  4. Close the registry editor.
This remaps the key to "nothing." You can also remap it to serve the function of another key, such as the SHIFT key. If you often hit Caps Lock when you really want SHIFT, you might want to do this. In that case, enter the following value in the value data field: 00000000 00000000 02000000 2A003A00 00000000

Vista Security

May Security Patches for Windows

This month's batch of security updates is out and includes a Critical (for PowerPoint 2000) or Important (for later versions of PowerPoint) fix for a set of bugs that allow an attacker to take over your computer through a modified PowerPoint file. To find out how it works and to learn about other updates this month, see Justin James' overview on TechRepublic at

Vista Question Corner

Where is the Vista Start Menu folder?

I recently bought a computer with Vista installed. I like it for the most part but I'm still confused about some things that were changed. In XP, I could go to Documents and Settings, Default User, Start Menu and remove things from the start menu. I can find it in Vista. Is there still a way to do this? Thanks! - Richard K.

Vista has changed the path for that data; it's now in the Users folder instead of Documents and Settings. The full path is: Users \ Default \ AppData \ Roaming \ Microsoft \ Windows \ Start Menu

If you want to modify the Start Menu for your own user account (rather than all users), there's an easy way. In the Search box on the Start menu, just type: shell:start menu

Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting

Messages stuck in the Windows Mail Outbox

If you use Windows Mail on Vista, you might find that sometimes messages get stuck in the Outbox and you can't send or delete them. Yet whenever you close the program, you get told that you have unsent messages. What's up with that? It's a known problem, but there is an update that should fix it. You can find a link to the update and what to do if that doesn't resolve the problem in KB article 941090 at

Get rid of the Windows.old folder

If you installed a new instance of Vista on the same partition where an operating system was already installed, the installation sequence created a folder called Windows.old, where it put folders and files from the previous version of Windows. To free up disk space, you can delete this folder, but first check to be sure you've copied any important data (especially from the old Documents, Music and Pictures folders). You can then find out the best procedure for removing the Windows.old folder in KB article 933212 at

Windows 7 Preview Corner

What's missing from Windows 7?

Win 7 hasn't even gone RTM yet, but Microsoft is already hiring folks to work on the next version of Windows. It does bring up the opportunity to reflect on what's missing from Windows 7 that you'd like to see in Win 8 (somehow that doesn't have the same "ring" to the name). Even though Windows 7 is coming across to almost everyone as a pretty great OS, there's always room for improvement. This article takes a look at what Microsoft should do differently next time:

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

PC Tune-Up - Single Click Performance and Tune-Up Solves PC Problems Easily.

This highly recommended utility delivers on the promise of easily and safely tuning your PC. Highly recommended! Are you frustrated every time you have to reboot your PC? You are not alone. Most people don't know that these annoying issues can actually be fixed with the click of a button. PC Tune-Up brings your computer back to life by removing the items that can cause crashes, slow speeds, freezing, & impact the overall health of your computer. A perfect tool for novice users & experts alike, PC Tune-Up will improve your computer's speed and reliability. Breathes life into your computer. PC Tune-Up will walk you through four easy steps to clean your PC, optimize your settings, and keep it running smoothly. Plus, the exclusive Magic Button will do all the work for you with one single click. Speeds up your computer, helps eliminate freezing! Forget about rebooting your PC to get it running smoothly again. PC Tune-Up will have your computer running smoothly with just the click of your mouse. Download the free evaluation and see what it can do for your computing performance.

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