Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Win7 News: It's on the Way

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Vol. 3, # 81 - Jul 23, 2009 - Issue # 90 
 Win7 News: It's on the Way

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Win7 News: It's on the Way
    • DIY Computer Repair: Is this the future?
    • Follow-up: Office 2010
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • All the Upgrade Paths
    • Microsoft hires former Apple Executive
    • Microsoft and Apple are sued for touchscreen technologies
    • Will Microsoft's Office Web Apps beat out Google Apps?
    • Microsoft shuts down Soapbox
  4. How to: Using the New Vista Features
    • Create a keyboard shortcut to power off your monitor
  5. Vista Security
    • New software makes data self-destruct
  6. Vista Question Corner
    • How can I keep the mouse pointer out of my screenshots?
  7. Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • Taskbar (except Start button) does not appear when you move cursor to taskbar area
    • Explorer crashes when you try to remove $WINDOWS.OLD folder
  8. Windows 7 Preview Corner
    • Microsoft confirms Windows 7 family pack
    • Windows 7 RTM date confirmed
  9. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  10. Product of the Week
    • AceReader Pro

Kiss Your Antivirus Bloatware Goodbye

We asked users of antivirus products what they didn't like about their AV software. They told us they are resource hogs and slowed their computer down. They told us that scan times took way too long, and that the AV software nagged them. In short, old-style AV software takes too much Memory and CPU. Time to switch to VIPRE! It gives you malware protection that combines antivirus, antispyware, anti-rootkit and other technologies into a seamless, tightly-integrated product. Even if you run "free" antivirus software, it hijacks 20% of your PC, so it's really not free at all! Get VIPRE now and see how fast your PC can really be:

Editor's Corner

Win7 News: It's on the Way

We've been getting the same question from readers for months: "Are you going to have a Windows 7 newsletter?" Or, more recently, "When are you going to have a Windows 7 newsletter?" Of course, Windows 7 won't be available to consumers as boxed software or pre-installed in new computers until October, but it seems many of you don't want to wait that long for a newspaper dedicated to it. Based on my email, quite a few of you installed the beta back in January and are now running the release candidate, which doesn't expire until next summer, and you're anxious to find out all the tips and tricks that go along with the new OS.

Meanwhile, it seems that many in the tech industry have already written Vista off. If you do a web search for "news" about Windows Vista (with either Bing or Google), you'll find that most of the results returned have titles like "Windows 7 pummels Vista pre-order sales" or "Hasta La Vista, Baby. Hello Windows 7":

At the same time many tech pundits are hailing Windows 7 as all goodness and light in comparison to the dark, dank (if not downright evil) Vista, others are downplaying the differences and describing Windows 7 as "Vista R2" or "just Vista done right." Some have even suggested that Microsoft should give a free copy of Windows 7 to everybody who bought Vista as an apology for "Vista's failure." This demand has been especially prominent in regard to Vista Ultimate, thanks to analyst Michael Cherry. He cites the high cost of Vista Ultimate and Microsoft's failure to deliver on promises to provide Ultimate users with lots of "Ultimate Extras" to justify the higher price as a reason all Ultimate users should get a free upgrade:

Windows 7 has a great many brand new features, both in the interface and "under the hood" that distinguish it from Vista. On the other hand, it is built on the same driver model (the new driver model introduced with Vista created big problems when hardware vendors lagged behind on writing new drivers for their devices, rendering many of them incapable of working with Vista). It's also based on the same kernel (the core operating system code), with some modifications and refinement. That means most of the hardware and software that work with Vista will also work with Windows 7 (and indeed, we've found that some old XP programs that didn't work in Vista do make a comeback from the dead in Windows 7).

Our VistaNews newsletter has become more and more about Windows 7 over the past few months. Judging from my mail, that has pleased most readers, although not all. There are two reasons for the metamorphasis: most of the news that's out there now is about Windows 7 rather than Vista, and more and more of our readers have been asking questions about Windows 7. We knew we needed to start a Windows 7 newsletter; the question was whether to create a third newsletter to go along with WXPnews and VistaNews or to replace one of the existing newsletters with W7News, and if the latter, which newsletter to replace. The decision was made to rename VistaNews to Win7News. Because of the similarities between the two, many of the tips and how to articles will apply to both operating systems, and we'll still take questions from both Vista users and Windows 7 users, but most of the "news" will be about Windows 7. Meanwhile, WXPnews will go on as before, for those who would "rather fight than switch."

Look for Win7News to start up in August. We look forward to bringing you all the news about the next generation Microsoft operating system.

DIY Computer Repair: Is this the future?

I hate to sound old, but darn it, some things really were better in the good old days. I'm old enough to remember when you could buy furniture - at a reasonable price - that didn't come with "some assembly required" and when you could call your utility company and get a real, live person without going through seven levels of voicemail hell. It's a different world that we live in today, and along with the annoyances, there are many good things about it - like PCs that provide mind-boggling performance at incredibly low prices.

But one thing that hasn't gotten better over the years is customer service. This is true in just about all industries, not just the computer industry. Nonetheless, it annoys me that at the same time some products are becoming less and less possible to fix yourself when something goes wrong (I'm thinking automobiles here), computer vendors - like furniture makers - are trending toward making us customers do more and more of the work, whether we want to or not.

Buy a system, get it home and discover that the hard drive is defective or the network card doesn't work and the vendor will likely replace the bad part - but what they want to do is ship you a new one and have you install it yourself. It's bad enough that this is becoming the standard practice under regular warranties, but I recently discovered that even if you pay an extra premium for an "in home" or "on site" service plan, that doesn't necessarily mean somebody will come to your home or place of business to repair your computer when something goes wrong.

Last week, I blogged about my hour and a half phone call to HP tech support when the video card fan in my husband's two-month-old Nehalem computer went south (very loudly). To find out how that all turned out, read my latest blog post, "HP Tech Support Report, Part 2: The Rest of the Story" (there's a link there to Part 1 for those who missed it) at

Have you had a bad (or good) customer service experience with a computer-related company recently? Discuss it on our forums at

Follow-up: Office 2010

In last week's editorial, I did a "first impressions" review of the technical preview of Microsoft Office 2010. There was a mixed bag of opinions from readers who discussed this on the forums. Several plan to stay with Office 2003 (the most common reason given: dislike of the Ribbon). On the other hand, several others have upgraded to Office 2007 and like it. And just about everyone who has actually had a chance to try Office 2010 had positive comments about it, especially about faster performance and some of the improvements to Outlook. Be sure to check out all of the feedback on this topic at

Thanks to all of you who had something to say 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

Look for the VistaNews fan page on Facebook!

Quotes of the Week

I take the view, and always have, that if you cannot say what you are going to say in twenty minutes, you ought to go away and write a book about it. - Lord Brabazon (1868 - 1930)

Another flaw in human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance. - Kurt Vonnegut (1922 - 2007)

Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. - Thomas Edison (1848 - 1931)

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


Why Is Your PC So Slow? Free Online Diagnostics - Over 150 Million Scans Run

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

Backblaze is the no fuss solution to getting all your data backed up online securely, easily, automatically, and for only $5/month for unlimited storage.

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? Why back up when you can sync? Simply replicate every piece of data to another drive in real-time. Set it and forget it.

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!

What was that password again? Organize password and order info with RoboForm. Saves me a ton of time and hassle! Secure password storage:

News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

All the Upgrade Paths

If you're using Windows Vista and you're not in a European Union country, you'll be able to do a direct in-place upgrade to Windows 7. XP users, those running Windows 7 RC, and European Vista users will have to do a clean installation (the latter is because of the new E edition of Windows 7, which doesn't include the IE web browser, because of the European Commission's antitrust laws. You also can't do a direct upgrade from older versions of Windows (NT, Windows 2000) or Windows Server products. Read more here:

Microsoft hires former Apple Executive

As Microsoft prepares to open its own retail stores, they've hired a consultant with creds: a former Apple employee who helped to launch Apple's retail chain. Microsoft has indicated that they intend to open stores near Apple's to compete directly with the folks who brought us the iPhone. Find out more here:

Microsoft and Apple are sued for touchscreen technologies

It seems as if everybody in the tech business has been coming out with touchscreen technologies lately, but a small Texas company named Tsera claims it owns the patent and that Apple's iPhone/iPod, Microsoft's Zune, and products made by twenty other companies used the technology without their permission. This includes MP3 players, voice recorders, portable radios and CD players and similar devices. Read more about it here:

Will Microsoft's Office Web Apps beat out Google Apps?

Along with the release of the traditional software version of Microsoft Office 2010, the company plans to launch a free web-based version of Office early next year. Office Web Apps will be available to users with a Windows Live account and will provide basic word processing, spreadsheet, slideshow and note taking functionality, with the now-familiar Ribbon interface, through the web browser.

Microsoft shuts down Soapbox

Microsoft announced this week that they are shutting down the MSN Soapbox video service at the end of this month. Didn't know Microsoft had a service that hosted user-generated videos? Maybe that was the problem; this competitor to YouTube never seemed to catch on. If you have content there, you will be able to recover it so you can place it elsewhere. Read more here:

How to: Using the New Vista Features

Create a keyboard shortcut to power off your monitor

If you use three monitors, as I do, using the power buttons to turn off the monitors can be a little bit of a pain. Did you know that you can create a desktop/keyboard shortcut to turn them all off at once? You'll need to download a small utility called NirCmd, which you can get here:

After you've done that, create a shortcut to the program:
  1. Right click the desktop and select New
  2. Select Shortcut
  3. Browse to the location where you saved NirCmd.exe
  4. In the Create Shortcut dialog box, where you type the location of the item, put quotation marks around the path, then add this to the end: cmdwait 1000 monitor off (Thus the contents of the box should look something like this: "C:\ Users \ YourName \ Downloads \ nircmd.exe" cmdwait 1000 monitor off)
  5. Click next
  6. To assign a keyboard shortcut, right click the shortcut icon and select Properties
  7. On the Shortcut tab, pick a key combination
  8. You can also change the icon to something more appropriate by clicking the Change Icon button
  9. Click OK
Now you can shut down the monitors by clicking the icon or by pressing the shortcut key combination.

Vista Security

New software makes data self-destruct

The idea of destroying sensitive data before it can fall into the wrong hands is much older than computers; we've all movies where the messenger literally eats the message to make it disappear. There are a number of technologies today that will let you do a "remote wipe" on a portable computer or smart phone to get rid of the data on it after it's been lost or stolen. Now researchers have come up with a new software program called Vanish that will make electronic messages self-destruct after a specified period of time. You can find out more about it here:

Vista Question Corner

How can I keep the mouse pointer out of my screenshots?

On my Windows XP system, I could use the PRTSCN key to take screenshots. In Vista when I do this, the screenshot often includes the mouse cursor. Do you know how to stop this from happening? Thanks! - Richard L.

This happens when you have Aero enabled and you move or resize the window while capturing the screenshot. Because of a change in Vista, it uses a software cursor instead of the hardware cursor to do this. The software cursor is part of the image of the off-screen image of the window and it looks like the mouse cursor. The obvious answer would be "don't move or resize the screen while you're doing a capture" but there is also a hot fix available for this problem. You can find out more info about it at

Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting

Taskbar (except Start button) does not appear when you move cursor to taskbar area

If you enable the autohide option on the Vista taskbar, it will appear only when you hover the cursor over the taskbar area. However, if you have Aero enabled and you do this, then configure the system to use multiple monitors, and then later switch back to a single monitor, you may encounter a situation where only the Start button appears when you move the cursor over the taskbar area. The rest of the taskbar remains invisible. There is a hotfix to resolve the problem. Find out more in KB article 958908 at

Explorer crashes when you try to remove $WINDOWS.OLD folder

The $WINDOWS.OLD folder is created when you install Vista over XP. It is a hidden system folder that contains data from the old (XP) Windows installation. You can remove this folder to clear up space on your hard drive, but if one or more of the files in the folder is corrupted, Windows Explorer may crash when you attempt to remove the folder. To resolve the problem, you can use one of the methods described in KB article 931702 at

Windows 7 Preview Corner

Microsoft confirms Windows 7 family pack

The rumors have been floating around for months, but last week Microsoft confirmed it: they will offer a family licensing package for Windows 7 Home Premium that will allow you to install the OS on up to three computers in the same household. Pricing hasn't yet been announced:

Windows 7 RTM date confirmed

After all the speculation, Microsoft has finally confirmed the date when TechNet and MSDN subscribers will be able to download the Release To Manufacturing (RTM) version of Windows 7. The RTM code is the final version that will be sold to consumers on October 22. The English version of the RTM will be available on TechNet and MSDN on August 6 and other languages by October 1. For more information on availability dates, see the Windows Team Blog at

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

AceReader Pro

Double Your Reading Speed! Double your Learning! Comprehend More! Get the Competitive edge at Work and School.

Do you pronounce words in your mind as you read? Do you find yourself re-reading sentences and paragraphs over and over again? If you answered yes to either of these two questions it is likely that you can become faster reader through learning how to "Speed Read". Ace Reader was again awarded the People's Choice Award for Best Educational Program or Game by the Software Industry Conference held in Boston July 15-18th, 2009. Find out how to cut your study time, get a competitive edge in this cut throat employment market. AceReader Pro really works! The more you practice the better you get. Read the whole story and download the free evaluation to start reading faster. VistaNews readers get an exclusive $5.00 discount with purchase.

 About VistaNews

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Personal & Educational Use Only This blog consists mainly of FREE newsletters from computer web gurus that I receive. I thought you might like to see them all in one place than try to discover them on your own. A moderate amount of editing may be done to eliminate unrelated repetitious ads or unnecessary text which bloat the post. However I have given the authors full credit and will not remove their site links because you deserve to see where it comes from and they deserve to get credit for what they have written. Your use of this site is simply for educational purposes. For more computer-related help go to: CPEDLEY.COM for free software, advice and tips on low cost products which are very helpful. If you want to contact the editor, please go CPEDLEY.COM and check the Contact page for email address.