Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Taking Windows 7 on the Road

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Vol. 1, # 3 - Sep 24, 2009 - Issue # 3 
 Taking Windows 7 on the Road

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Taking Windows 7 on the Road
    • Follow-up: Lucky 7
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Windows 7 Launch Parties: the Inside Story
    • Windows 7 netbook previews
    • How to use Windows 7 bootable VHDs
    • Classic Start Menu for Windows 7
  4. How to: Using the New Win7 Features
    • How to disable the sidebar in Windows 7
  5. Windows Security
    • Mac security guru says Windows 7 is more secure than Snow Leopard
    • Automated tool to disable SMB 2
  6. Win7 Question Corner
    • Can I open Explorer in My Computer instead of in the Libraries?
  7. Win7 Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • Some DVD drives don't work with Windows 7 RTM
  8. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  9. Product of the Week
    • New DownloadStudio 5.1. - More Features, More Downloads, More Speed

Kiss Your Antivirus Bloatware Goodbye

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Editor's Corner

Taking Windows 7 on the Road

I've talked to many, many folks who installed the Windows 7 beta and/or release candidate and most of them put it on desktop systems. Only a few said they had installed the pre-final code on laptops or notebooks. I guess that makes sense; portable computers tend to be a little more finicky and drivers for their components are sometimes more difficult to find. If I install a new operating system on a desktop system and its sound card isn't supported, I can always go out and buy a new sound card that does work with the OS. That's not as easy to do with a portable.

Today, many people are dependent on their portables to get work done at home or when they're traveling - whether on a 1000 mile trip or just to the branch office across town. There's a reluctance in some quarters to put a beta OS on a machine that you rely upon to get your work done (and indeed, Microsoft recommends that you not do so). In fact, many of those folks who installed Win7 on desktop machines put it on an old computer rather than their primary system, or installed it in a virtual machine.

Many of those who did put Win7 "on the metal" on their main computers did what I did: installed it in a dual boot configuration alongside the previous OS so they could boot back into Vista or XP if necessary. That's harder to do on a laptop, too, because they often have smaller hard drives that aren't divided into multiple partitions (although this is less of a problem with newer laptops that can have hard drives up to 500GB for a reasonable price, with the ability to repartition drives within Vista without losing data).

Now that the Release To Manufacturing (RTM) is available to many businesses, as well as individuals with MSDN or TechNet accounts and those who participated in the technical beta, folks are starting to get brave and put it on their laptops. This is, after all, the final code that will be in the retail version, and people are getting comfortable enough with the stability and performance of Windows 7 to trust it. And that's a great thing, because Win7 is proving to be a great OS for portable computers. That even includes low powered netbooks, most of which couldn't run Vista acceptably, if at all.

I have been running Windows 7 RC on my Sony VAIO TXN for months, and just this week I upgraded it to the RTM. This little notebook was a high dollar model ($2199) that has a gorgeous display, tiny form factor (weighs only 2.7 lbs.), and an excellent keyboard for such a small machine. It came installed with Vista Business edition, which ran excruciatingly slowly - to the point that I was ready to return it. Installing Service Pack 1 helped tremendously, but I still wasn't thrilled with its performance. With Windows 7, it runs the way it always should have, despite the fact that it still scores a lousy 2.0 on the Windows Experience Index rating, due to the built in graphics adapter.

Like Vista, Windows 7 has a Control Panel applet called Windows Mobility Center, which gathers settings that are most often used in mobile computers and puts them all in one interface. Here you can configure display brightness, volume control, and presentation settings, and view battery status, external display information, sync settings and networking settings. One of the most useful functions here, for those of us who do a lot of presentations, is the ability to turn on Presentation Mode, which automatically disables your screensaver, switches your IM client to "do not disturb," sets the volume to a preconfigured level and changes the wallpaper to one that's appropriate for giving presentations (that you select in the Presentation settings). When in presentation mode, the computer doesn't go into Standby or pop up system notifications or otherwise embarrass you in the middle of your killer PowerPoint show. Turn off Presentation Mode and your previous settings are instantly restored.

Something that's new in Windows 7 is the ability to quickly and easily configure your laptop for presentations without going into the Mobility Center. Just press the Windows logo key + P and you'll see the DisplaySwitch interface, which gives you four choices: display on the laptop's built-in screen only, display a duplicate of what's on the built-in screen on the projector or external monitor, extend the desktop across both the built-in and external display, or display on the external screen only. Changing the setting is quick and easy, and a real godsend when you're setting up your laptop in front of an audience and don't want to spend a lot of time messing around with the settings.

Another thing that's important for laptop users is power management. Many users are finding that they get better battery life with Windows 7 than with Vista on the same portable computer. Thanks to a number of "under the hood" improvements, Windows 7 consumes less power when idle, which increases battery life. The Unified Background Process Manager (UBPM) helps extend the battery by better managing background activity such as disk defragmentation, antivirus scans and such that can prevent the computer from going into low power idle.

Adaptive display brightness can dim the screen after a period of inactivity, to save power, but it doesn't interfere with presentations and full-screen media playback. Power management features for devices saves battery life, too, by putting some devices into low-power mode when they're not being used. Windows 7 mobile PCs also reduce the incidence of battery-draining wake events. Even though Windows 7 is aggressive about putting the system into sleep mode when idle, it's done intelligently so as not to disrupt the user experience. For example, if Media Center is recording a TV program, it will not go to sleep, and Windows Media Player prevents the display from turning off when you're watching a DVD.

I said many times that Vista was a great operating system for a powerful desktop computer, but not so great for portables. Windows 7 fills that gap, giving us all the great GUI features of Vista (and more) with the kind of performance that we enjoyed from XP, and better battery life to boot. I actually look forward to traveling now that I can take Windows 7 on the road with me.

You can discuss this Editor's Corner on the forum here:

Follow-up: Lucky 7

In last week's editorial, I asked if readers think 7 is going to be Microsoft's lucky number - both in terms of their new desktop OS and the upcoming Windows Mobile 7 for phones. Many of you seem to think Win7 is going to be a winner, in part because many people who have stayed with XP are now ready for a change.

Comray expressed disappointment over the lack of an email client built into the operating system. I think Microsoft made the right decision by leaving out those programs that many people never use, to reduce bloat, but I think they need to do a better job of letting new users know that Windows Live Mail, Photo Gallery and such programs are available as a free download for those who want them. Just go to

Click the More button at the top, and click Downloads. Here you'll find Messenger, the mail client, Photo Gallery, the Live Writer blogging client, and more.

Michael A. (Freeop) noted that for some users, drivers may be an issue - and indeed, driver compatibility (or the lack thereof) was one of the reasons some people avoided Vista. He said, "And a lot of developers and techies have all the latest hardware that their companies can buy. What about all the Regular Users that are going to get Win7? Microsoft is touting this version to be easier on the hardware requirements, so they better be ready for a lot of Driver Problems." I think he has a point, although in my experience it's mostly techies who install a new OS on their existing computers, whereas most regular users wait until they buy a new computer with the new OS installed. However, there will always be some who are more adventurous, and even though Win7 will work with less powerful computers better than Vista does, there are bound to be some compatibility issues. As Michael points out, often you can overcome those by running the installation program in compatibility mode - but many folks don't know that.

Merlin asked, "why is BitLocker only restricted to the Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Windows 7? Wouldn't it benefit users of all editions? Even home users have personal info that they don't want other people to see." The only answer I can come up with is that the higher end editions obviously have to have something extra that will serve as an incentive to buy them. I love BitLocker and especially the new BitLocker to go in Windows 7. While I can understand the reasons for not including them in the Home editions (since not all home users need or want that level of security), I do think they should have been part of the Pro edition.

Thanks to all of you who participated in this discussion.

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

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Quotes of the Week

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experiences of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. - Douglas Adams (1952 - 2001)

It's wonderful what we can do if we're always doing. - George Washington (1732 - 1799)

The problem with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it. - Franklin P. Jones

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Cool Tools


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Search for a driver and you get a ton of Driver Software offers instead. But how do you know which one is good? Try Driver Genious 9.0. Free scan.

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

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

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News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Windows 7 Launch Parties: the Inside Story

In our first edition of Win7News two weeks ago, we told you that Microsoft would be sponsoring mini launch parties hosted by Windows 7 fans around the country, on or around the official launch date in late October. As someone who has been through the launch party host application and approval process (which was handled by third party site House Party, Inc., I have to say it wasn't the easiest or most pleasant experience I've ever had - but I did finally get my host status confirmed so my party is official. You can read more about that process in my blog post at

Windows 7 netbook previews

They're not on the retail shelves yet, but the new netbooks running Windows 7 are right around the corner. Will this tiny form factor become even more popular when we're able to get Win7 models? Here's a preview of some of the more interesting offerings that are expected from vendors such as ViewSonic, Samsung, and others:

How to use Windows 7 bootable VHDs

One of the more interesting new features in Windows 7 Pro, Enterprise and Ultimate editions is the ability to boot from a VHD file. VHD stands for virtual hard disk, and by creating bootable VHDs, you can run multiple operating systems without partitioning your drive as you do to dual/multi boot and without using a virtual machine program like Virtual PC or VMWare. To find out how it works, check out this article from Greg Schultz over at TechRepublic:

Classic Start Menu for Windows 7

Most of the people I've talked to like the new Windows 7 Start menu, but there are a few diehards who have voiced complaints about not having the option to go back to the old look and feel. A company from the Ukraine called OrdinarySoft has felt your pain, and created a replacement for the Windows 7 Start menu that retains important functionality such as the Search box, but looks more like the old classic Start menu. You can find out more about it here:

How to: Using the New Win7 Features

How to disable the sidebar in Windows 7

What? You thought there was no sidebar in Windows 7? Well, you're sort of right. There is no visible bar running down the side of the screen, but sidebar.exe is still there, in the Program Files\Windows Sidebar folder on the drive where Windows is installed. By default it loads at startup and runs in the background to manage the gadgets that you put on your desktop. But if you don't put any gadgets on your desktop, it's just taking up memory for no reason. Here's how to keep it from starting and recover that memory:
  1. Click the Start button (or press the Windows logo key) to open the Start menu.
  2. In the Search box, type regedit.exe to open the registry editor.
  3. Navigate to the following key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Run
  4. In the right pane, find the REG_SZ key named Sidebar
  5. Right click and select Delete
  6. Close the registry editor As always, be sure to back up the registry before making changes to it.

Windows Security

Mac security guru says Windows 7 is more secure than Snow Leopard

Apple has a new commercial out that implies, again, that PCs are horribly unsafe and Macs aren't. Yet a well known Mac security expert, Charlie Miller, says that even the latest version of OS X, Snow Leopard - despite security improvements over its predecessor - is not as secure as Windows 7 or even Vista. Read more here:

Automated tool to disable SMB 2

If you've been keeping up with the news, you know that Windows 7 RTM (which is the same final code that will be in the upcoming retail version) isn't vulnerable to the SMB 2 exploit that's being talked about lately - but if you're running Windows 7 RC or Vista, you need to take steps to protect your computer by disabling SMB 2. Microsoft has now released an automated tool to help you do that. See

Win7 Question Corner

Can I open Explorer in My Computer instead of in the Libraries?

I know you've said you like the Libraries in Windows 7 Explorer, but I don't. I want Explorer to open up in My Computer (showing my drives) instead of to the libraries. Is there any way I can do this? Thanks! - Evan C.

Yes, if you don't like the Libraries view that opens when you click the Explorer icon in the taskbar, there is a way to change that. Here's how:
  1. First, unpin the existing Explorer icon from the taskbar. To do that, right click it and select "Unpin this program from taskbar."
  2. Now make a new Explorer shortcut on the desktop. Right click an empty area, click New | Shortcut and in the location box, type: %windir%\explorer.exe /e
  3. Click Next.
  4. Give it a name (e.g., Explorer) and click Finish.
  5. Right click the new shortcut and select "Pin to taskbar."
  6. Delete the one that's on the desktop if you want.
Now when you click the Explorer icon on the taskbar, it will open to Computer instead of to the libraries.

Win7 Configuration and Troubleshooting

Some DVD drives don't work with Windows 7 RTM

Most devices made within the last couple of years work great with the Windows 7 RTM, but some folks are finding that after installing this latest (and final) version of the OS, their DVD drives no longer work. What's up with that? Microsoft has identified at least some of the drives that are affected. For some, a firmware update will fix the problem. If there is no update available, Microsoft has come out with a workaround that involves disabling the ALPM (Adaptive Link Power Management) feature. If you've run into this problem, or if you haven't installed the RTM yet and are wondering if your DVD drive is one of those that it impacts, see

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

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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.