Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Welcome to Win7News!

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Vol. 1, # 1 - Sep 9, 2009 - Issue # 1 
 Welcome to Win7News!

This issue of Win7News is sponsored by
  1. Editor's Corner
    • Welcome to Win7News!
    • Follow-up: How will you future-proof your home network?
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Before official release, Windows 7 market share close to that of Linux
    • Which icons look better: Win7 or Snow Leopard?
    • When do we get the "other" Windows 7?
    • Does more RAM always mean better performance?
    • 10 cool tools that you get with Windows 7
  4. How to: Using the New Win7 Features
    • Encrypt a flash drive in Windows 7
  5. Windows Security
    • Newly discovered vulnerability can crash Vista and Windows 7 RC computers
  6. Win7 Question Corner
    • Taskbar icons are too big - what can I do about it?
  7. Win7 Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • How to do a custom installation of Windows 7
  8. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  9. Product of the Week
    • Free PC Matic - Performance & Security Scan

Free PC Matic - Performance & Security Scan

PC Matic is a collection of PC Pitstop's award winning technologies in one integrated architecture. Including the world renowned OverDrive scanning technology with over 200 million scans run. No other product on the market today will do as much to improve the overall performance, security & stability of your PC.

Run Free PC Matic Scan now to see what this incredible new application can do for your computer.

Editor's Corner

Welcome to Win7News!

As promised a few weeks back, our newsletter now has a new name and a new website at But if you're planning to stick with Vista for a while, don't despair - we will still be addressing many topics that pertain to both operating systems, and when a procedure is different, we'll note how to do it in Vista, as well.

We know many of you are already running the Windows 7 release candidate or RTM, and many more are gearing up to install it when it's officially released on October 22. Others will be buying new computers in the coming months, and will get a taste of the new operating system then. We think most of you will be pleased with the upgrade. If you've been using Vista for a while, Windows 7 won't present any drastic interface changes - just some nice tweaks and UI additions that make navigation easier.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is preparing for the launch in a number of ways. Want to win prizes such as seven pizzas or seven pounds of candy? Personally, I'd prefer to win seven new Xeon-based workstations, but that's not on the list. Still, if you live in the U.S. and you're 18 or over, you're eligible to enter Microsoft's Windows 7 sweepstakes, which started on September 4 and will go through October 22 (Windows 7 launch day), lasting for - you guessed it - seven weeks. Find out how to participate here:

But there's more fun than that in the works. The official kick-off event on October 22 is expected to be held in New York City, with Microsoft CEO presiding, according to Microsoft pundit Mary-Jo Foley:

If you don't get an invitation to that party, you can still celebrate the launch in your own hometown. Microsoft is sponsoring thousands of private launch parties to be hosted by Windows 7 enthusiasts in their own homes in late October. Over 10,000 selected hosts in the U.S., Europe, Mexico, Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, India and Australia will get a party pack with party favors for attendees, game prizes and the like. There are different party themes, focused on different aspects of Windows 7 (for example, Media Center features). Hosts will get a free copy of Windows 7. You can apply to be a host through the HouseParty website at:

Microsoft has also been working closely with Intel to ensure that Windows 7 will run smoothly on the hardware. Of course, one of the reasons that Macs have been able to boast better stability is the fact that Apple controls both the hardware and the software. That's not Microsoft's business model, but by collaborating more closely with hardware vendors, they can achieve better reliability, performance, security and energy efficiency. Thus Windows 7 takes advantage of new features in Intel's Nehalem architecture (currently available in the Core i7 desktop computers and Xeon 5500 servers). You can read more about their collaborative efforts here:

This week, Intel announced more new processors that are designed for Windows 7 computers, the Core i5 and Xeon 3400 series:

Get ready to see new computers preloaded with Windows 7 soon. Mobile phone vendor Nokia has already announced a Win7 based netbook, the Booklet 3G, that promises a whopping 12 hours of battery life and also delivers a ten inch 1280x720 resolution screen and built-in GPS, all weighing in at two and half pounds. It also is SIM card capable so you'll be able to use it on GSM network's like AT&T's, but for a netbook, the price is a tad high. Read more about it here:

Some of the new computers will take advantage of Windows 7's touchscreen capabilities. NextWindow, a New Zealand company, makes optical touchscreen overlays for Dell and HP computers and within the last few weeks, five leading computer vendors have been reported as planning Windows 7 touch-enabled PCs. Find out about that here:

Welcome news for families with more than one PC (and we'd guess that includes a majority of them these days) is the Windows 7 Family Pack licensing being offered by Microsoft. It gives you three Home Premium upgrade licenses (for computers running a previous version of Windows) for under $150. More good news is that contrary to earlier announcements, the Family Pack will be available in Europe as well as the U.S. Several online vendors have the pack available for pre-order now. Find out more about that here:

There's even going to be a Windows 7 based embedded OS for specialized devices. It's called Windows Embedded Standard 2011 and will be used on thin client systems, kiosks, point-of-service and medical devices and even printers. The embedded version won't be a stripped down operating system; it even supports Aero, as well as multi-touch, terminal services and the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). You can read more about it here:

Hardware vendors are getting ready for the Win7 release in other ways, too. A few weeks ago, Dell released Windows 7 drivers for its commercial desktops and laptops. Lack of hardware drivers was one of the big issues that drew complaints when Vista was released.

A number of companies that chose not to deploy Vista are already making plans to upgrade their Windows XP systems to Windows 7. Most recently, luxury automobile maker BMW said they intend to upgrade their 85,000 XP machines to Windows 7, starting this year and reaching full deployment by 2011.

Let us know how you feel about the new Microsoft operating system. Have you already installed it on all your computers and left Vista behind? Are you waiting for the official release in October? Do you plan to wait until you buy new computers with Win7 preinstalled? Are you going to hang onto your current OS (XP or Vista) as long as possible? Would you host or attend a Windows 7 launch party? Would you buy a high end Nehalem based computer for its features that are complimentary to Windows 7? Are you looking forward to a Windows 7 netbook? Will you pay a premium for a touch-enabled Windows 7 system? Does your company plan to upgrade to Windows 7 sooner rather than later? We invite you to discuss all these questions in the forum at

Follow-up: How will you future-proof your home network?

In last week's VistaNews editorial, I gave some of my thoughts on home networking, Ethernet vs. wireless, copper vs. fiber, etc. Several readers weighed in on the topic in our forum. One thing that I should have mentioned is that the cost for dropping cable can vary widely, depending on your geographic location, one does the work (i.e. a "freelancer" or a company devoted to that sort of work), whether your municipality or other governmental entity requires you to get a permit, and similar factors. Some reported a cost of as low as $45 per jack; in other circumstances, it can cost $100 or more per drop.

Although a few of the discussion participants are relying primarily on wi-fi, there seems to be little argument when it comes to the technology that's better (if "better" means faster and more secure): wired wins every time. Some of you brought up some interesting issues that I didn't touch on in the original article, though. For instance, there was some discussion of using conduit to run the wires. It's almost a necessity to run the cable through conduit when you're going outdoors, but there are also benefits to putting conduit in the walls. It can offer extra protection against electromagnetic interference (if you use the shielded type) and from little teeth (if you have rats, possums, squirrels, etc. in your attic or basement where the cables go). It's also a good idea to use conduit to protect against fire if you're using non-plenum grade cable. This article is several years old, but the art of pulling cable hasn't really changed much, and it has some good tips for installing cable both with and without conduit:

Others brought up HPNA (Home Phoneline Networking Alliance) technology, which uses Ethernet standards to transmit data over phone lines. This can be handy since most homes already have copper phone wiring in place, and as one reader mentioned, it has a greater distance range so it can be run between buildings more easily and inexpensively than fiber. The drawback is lower speed, but at 10 Mbps it's still faster than most cable or DSL Internet connections. To find out more about it, see

Powerline networking is another option that at least one of our readers is using with success. Like HPNA, it uses wiring that already exists in your home or business - in this case, your electrical wiring. The cool thing about this technology is that devices such as television sets, DVD players, DVRs and so forth can be made that will automatically connect to your home network when you plug them into an electrical outlet. It's relatively inexpensive and super easy to install - but again, the connection is slow compared to typical Ethernet networking (around 14 Mbps), and performance can be degraded by other devices using electrical power in your home or building. To find out more about using your powerlines for networking, see

The great thing about home networking today is that we have plenty of choices. Thanks to all of you who joined in this discussion.

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

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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 Win7News fan page on Facebook!

Quotes of the Week

It's fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure. - Bill Gates

The number one benefit of information technology is that it empowered people to do what they want to do. - Steve Ballmer

You know you're a geek when ... you try to shoo a fly away from your monitor with your cursor. That just happened to me. It was scary. - Juuso Heimonen

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:

Cool Tools


PC Matic: Performance, Stability & Security The World's Most Comprehensive PC Tune Up Scan is Free
PC Mantic

ExpertPDF 6.0: View, Create, edit and convert any PDF document. Discount for VistaNews readers!
ExpertPDF 6.0

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

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.

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.
Driver Genious 9

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

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
Your Uninstaller 2008

Kill the background tasks belonging to (legitimate) software that run all day. Why? To get your speed back! But which ones can I kill? Try this:
Ultimate Troubleshooter

News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Before official release, Windows 7 market share close to that of Linux

It's not even officially available yet, and Windows 7's market share is almost equal to that of all versions of Linux, combined. According to the August report by W3Counter, Linux had a 1.97 percent share and Windows 7 came in at 1.69 percent. Windows XP is still the market winner with 60.55 percent, and Mac OS X has 7.11 percent (or, if you count the iPhone version of OS X, 7.51 percent). See all the numbers here:

Which icons look better: Win7 or Snow Leopard?

Since Windows 7 and the newest version of Mac OS X, Snow Leopard, are being released around the same time, it's inevitable that the two will be compared. This article takes a look specifically at the desktop and folder icons in the two operating systems, and you can see large size images of each and how they stack up against one another. Of course, which are "better" is mostly a matter of personal preference and the icon style also reflects the fact that Windows is more business-oriented than the Mac OS. Take a look and tell us which you like better:

When do we get the "other" Windows 7?

By now, everyone probably knows that Microsoft's latest desktop operating system, Windows 7, will hit the shelves on Ocober 22. But those of us who like to do our computing on the go are eagerly awaiting another new OS - Windows Mobile 7. An interim version, 6.5, will be coming out in October along with its "big brother" OS, but the company has been close-mouthed about timing for its next major upgrade. Now rumor has it that WM 7.0 might be coming sooner than we thought. Nothing official yet, so we'll just have to wait and see. Meanwhile, read more here:

Does more RAM always mean better performance?

It's well known that one of the big advantages of using a 64 bit operating system instead of its 32 bit counterpart is the ability to utilize more RAM; no matter how much physical memory you have installed, 32 bit Windows won't use more than 4 GB. But will loading on the RAM give you better performance for your OS and applications? Well, that depends. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes tests the same system with different amounts of memory and posts his results on his blog here:

10 cool tools that you get with Windows 7

Sure, you've read about new Win7 features like jump lists and libraries, but what else do you get with the new OS? Here's an article I wrote for TechRepublic that describes (and shows screenshots of) some of the new and enhanced utilities that come with Windows 7. Some of these, like PowerShell 2.0, will be of interest to IT pros and power users. Others, such as the ISO burner, are useful for just about everybody. Check it out at

How to: Using the New Win7 Features

Encrypt a flash drive in Windows 7

One of the most useful new features in Windows 7 (Enterprise and Ultimate editions) for security-conscious folks is BitLocker to Go, with which you can encrypt USB flash drives. Since they're small and portable and always getting lost, it's imperative that any sensitive data you put on them be encrypted. Here's how you do it:
  1. Insert the flash drive.
  2. Click Start | My Computer
  3. Right click the flash drive's icon.
  4. Select "Turn on BitLocker...".
  5. Wait for BitLocker to initialize the drive and then enter a password for unlocking the drive. You can also select to use a smart card.
  6. Select to either save the recovery key to a file, or print it. If you save it as a file, it should be on a drive other than the one you're encrypting (duh).
  7. You'll see a message that says your recovery key has been saved.
  8. Click the Start Encrypting button; how long it takes depends on the size of the drive.
  9. When encryption is complete, the drive icon will change to display a lock and key.
  10. If you need to change the password, re-save or re-print the recovery key or otherwise manage BitLocker encryption on the drive, right click the icon and select from the option list.
When you plug the drive into a Windows 7 computer, you'll be prompted to enter the password (or insert the smart card). You can also read (but not change or add to) the drive in Vista or XP; you'll be prompted to launch the BitLocker to Go Reader tool first.

Windows Security

Newly discovered vulnerability can crash Vista and Windows 7 RC computers

A SANS researcher has reported finding a Samba file-sharing flaw in Windows that can be used to cause a "Blue Screen of Death" (BSoD) in fully patched Vista machines or Windows 7 Release Candidate computers when a malicious packet is sent to port 445. For more information, see

However, contrary to some reports, this vulnerability does not affect the final (RTM) version of Windows 7:

Win7 Question Corner

Taskbar icons are too big - what can I do about it?

I love Windows 7, except for one thing. If I put icons on the taskbar for the programs that I like to use often, it's soon completely full because of the large size of the icons. In Vista, I had a separate Quick Launch toolbar (my regular taskbar was at the bottom of the screen and my QL bar was across the top) which let me put many more program icons at my fingertips. Is there a way to do this in Windows 7 or some other solution? Thanks! - Victor J.

This is actually one of my few gripes about Windows 7, too. You can add the Quick Launch bar back in Windows 7. For instructions on how to do that, see my blog post at

Another solution is to reduce the size of the taskbar icons. Right click an empty space on the taskbar (if you can find one, with all those large icons), select Properties, click the Taskbar tab and check the box that says "Use small icons." My problem with this is that it makes the icons a bit too small. I would really like an option for medium sized icons.

Another possible fix is use a third party utiilty to "stack" your programs on the taskbar. 7stacks from Alastria Software is a free program that allows you to create stacks of related icons that are represented by a single icon in the taskbar. It creates a mini menu for each stack. For example, you could have a Microsoft Office icon on your taskbar where you stack all the different office applications. Find out more about it here:

Win7 Configuration and Troubleshooting

How to do a custom installation of Windows 7

If you haven't yet had the experience of installing Windows 7, we think you'll be pleased. Generally the installation is relatively quick and straight forward. But when you're doing something new, it's always comforting to have step by step instructions so you'll know if you veer off the beaten path at any point. This editorial, with screenshots, shows you how to install Windows 7 either from within your current version of Windows or by booting the Windows 7 installation DVD. If you're new to Win7, check it out:

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

Free PC Matic - Performance & Security Scan

PC Matic is a collection of PC Pitstop's award winning technologies in one integrated architecture. Including the world renowned OverDrive scanning technology with over 200 million scans run. No other product on the market today will do as much to improve the overall performance, security & stability of your PC.

Run Free PC Matic Scan now to see what this incredible new application can do for your computer.

 About Win7News

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