Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Windows 7 Launch Problems: That's What You Get For Outsourcing

Published by Sunbelt Software FORUMS | RSS | MY PROFILE | PRIVACY  

Vol. 1, # 8 - Oct 29, 2009 - Issue # 8 
 Windows 7 Launch Problems: That's What You Get For Outsourcing

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Windows 7 Launch Problems: That's What You Get For Outsourcing
    • Follow-up: Graphics Gone Wild
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Kindle Application for Windows 7
    • Core i7 laptops are here
    • Windows 7 on an Apple
    • Windows 7 Anytime Upgrade and Family Pack
  4. How to: Using the New Windows 7 Features
    • How to adjust the space reserved for System Restore files
  5. Windows 7 and Vista Security
    • Why you shouldn't disable UAC
  6. Question Corner
    • Can I install Windows 7 on my netbook without a DVD drive?
  7. Windows 7 Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • When you configure power options, changes aren't reflected in Control Panel
    • Group policy settings used with BitLocker
  8. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  9. Product of the Week
    • PCmover Windows 7 Upgrade Assistant

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Editor's Corner

Windows 7 Launch Problems: That's What You Get For Outsourcing

Overall, the release of Windows 7 was a big success. As Paul Thurrott reported on Monday, consumers lined up to buy the retail version of the operating system and most reviews have been positive - even from Mac users. Wow.

The main launch event in New York city went off well, with Steve Ballmer kicking off the show and a very special guest: Kylie, the five year old who has starred in a number of Windows 7 commercials that, no doubt, endeared the new OS to grandmothers all over the world. You can read the transcript of Steve's and Kylie's remarks here:

A key part of the Windows 7 launch was Microsoft's attempts to make it a "grassroots movement," with small neighborhood launch parties taking place all over the globe. We hosted such a party at our house Saturday, October 24, and we had a great time as friends and family gathered around our 65 inch Sharp Aquos that's hooked up to an HP quad core system to see my demonstration of some of the new features in Windows 7 and especially in Windows Media Center.

We had a "Happy Birth Day to Windows 7" cake, snacks and drinks, and I supplemented the coupons and cards that Microsoft provided for the goodie bags with various party favors. The hit of the evening was the Microsoft Trivia game that I created as a PowerPoint slide deck, with fifty multiple choice questions about Microsoft and its founders, the history of Windows and Windows 7 features. I had prizes for the winners, including the Windows 7 branded cards and puzzle that were in the party pack, along with 4 GB USB drives that I provided. You can see photos from our party on my blog at

According to the tech press, though, not all of the parties turned out as well as ours did. In Tony Bradley's PCWorld article titled "Windows 7 Launch Parties Fizzle," he calls the whole concept a "complete and utter failure" and talks about people who got so few responses to their invitations that they cancelled the parties.

I disagree that the concept itself was flawed. I think it was a great idea and our experience proves that it could work. All our guests seemed interested and left exuding enthusiasm about what they'd seen. A couple asked many serious questions about how they could replace their cable DVRs with Windows Media Center.

However, one of the quotes in Tony's piece does hit on the probable reason that some of the parties fizzled. Microsoft outsourced the handling of the launch parties to House Party, Inc., and therein lies the problem. In fact, I almost didn't sign up to host a party myself, when I saw all the information that they were asking for in the application form. It especially bothered me that they wanted you to give your date of birth over a connection that was not encrypted.

It was bad enough that party hosts were asked for all this, but the real obstacle was that when they clicked to RSVP through the official site, even the guests were asked to sign up with an account and give personal information. This almost certainly deterred many people from responding; I made sure to send messages to all the people I invited, telling them to feel free to email me or call me with their responses if they weren't comfortable with doing it through the web site. Maybe that's the reason people actually came to my party.

The House Party site was also annoying in that when someone did RSVP on the site, they sent me an email saying "somebody has responded to your party invitation" but not telling who it was, thus requiring me to go to the site to find out. They should take a tip from Facebook, which includes the full information in its notifications (for instance, when someone comments on your status update, they don't just send an email saying "someone responded" - they tell you in the message who responded and include the text of the response).

The videos that purported to explain to you how to host a party were the object of much ridicule in the tech press, and inspired a number of parodies and "remixes" such as this one:

According to what I read, those videos weren't produced by Microsoft, but were also outsourced. In fact, it seems as if everything that the company handed over to someone else to do got messed up. Another case in point was the special promotion that offered deeply discounted prices on some editions of Windows 7 to college students ($29.99 for Home Premium or Professional). It was a great idea, but soon the news headlines started popping up: "Download Problems Plague Win7 Student Version."

Once again, if you look deeper, you see that Microsoft didn't handle this themselves but instead partnered with Digital River to distribute the software. The primary problem seems to be that people were trying to upgrade 32 bit Vista to 64 bit Windows 7, something that requires a clean installation. It seems it would have been pretty easy to make that clear on the web site; instead Microsoft is now having to offer exchanges for those who purchased a 64 bit version that they can't use to upgrade.

Of course, some of this bad PR is just the tech press being its usual negative self, along with a sudden influx of clueless computer users who can't or don't want to follow instructions. It's notable that during the beta and release candidate testing, you heard of very few problems with installing Windows 7, whether upgrading Vista or doing a clean installation. Now that the product has been released, we're seeing articles like this one that proclaim, "Windows 7 Upgrade Woes Mount: Endless Reboots and Product Key Problems."

Is the final code that much worse than the betas and RC? I don't think so, since I've installed the RTM on quite a few machines without any problems. Or is it that most people who install beta and RC software have at least a modicum of technical knowledge and experience? Maybe Microsoft should think twice about "outsourcing" the installation of operating systems to people who don't know anything about computers, too.

Tell me what you think. Has the media overblown the problems with the Windows 7 launch activities and with Windows 7 itself? Is it a matter of the "good news is no news" philosophy of today's journalists? Should Microsoft listen to the old adage that "if you want something done right, you should do it yourself?" Or are these problems real? Do you know of a Windows 7 launch party that "fizzled?" Did you get invited to a party, but were put off by the House Party legalese and required information on the forms? Have you run into problems trying to download and/or install Windows 7? Has the press decided to try to do to Windows 7 what they did to Vista? Or was the bad press Vista got justified? We invite you to discuss these topics on our forum at

Follow-up: Graphics Gone Wild

Last week, I got into the changes in graphics support in Windows 7, and some of the technologies that third party vendors have come up with to take advantage of new graphics handling features. Several readers weighed in on that topic in the forums.

One point that was brought up was multiple monitors vs. one large monitor. Although OldMillXxX sees a cost saving in using a single large monitor, in my experience you can get more screen real estate for your buck with multiple monitors. The typical large screen TV doesn't have the resolution of monitors made for the desktop and those that do are expensive. We paid $3500 for the 65 inch Aquos HDTV; you can get six HD quality 22 inch monitors for about half that. More importantly, I don't want to sit on the sofa 10 feet away from the screen to write white papers and answer email. That experience is wonderful for watching videos/recorded TV or looking at photos. It's two different setups for different purposes.

I have to wonder whether those who say they aren't fans of multiple monitors have ever tried working with dual or triple screens. As another reader said, once you have, it's hard to go back to a single monitor. As for the "green" aspect, multiple monitors can actually be more energy-friendly than one gigantic monitor because if you're doing something that doesn't require all that screen space, you can turn one or more of them off. If I just want to quickly check email, I only turn on one of my three monitors. If I were using one big one, I would have to use the whole thing no matter what I'm doing.

Thanks to all of you who discussed this topic!

Thanks to all of you who wrote this week!

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

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Quotes of the Week

Experts agree that the best type of computer for your individual needs is one that comes on the market about two days after you actually purchase some other computer. - Dave Barry

Any teacher that can be replaced by a computer, deserves to be. - David Thornberg

Don't anthropomorphize computers - they hate it. - Anonymous

There are three kinds of death in this world. There's heart death, there's brain death, and there's being off the network. - Guy Almes

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Cool Tools


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News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Kindle Application for Windows 7

I will never stop buying paper books because I love the look of them lined up on my shelves. But I like the idea of ebooks, especially for traveling; you can tote 20 or 200 books with you on the plane, on a tiny card that weighs almost nothing. What I don't like is the need to carry around yet another device to read them on. I already have a phone that's a handheld computer and, usually, a laptop. So despite the success of Amazon's Kindle, I was never very interested. Until now. Amazon has wised up and listened to my lament, and now they're making a Kindle application for the PC. Install it on your laptop or, even better, Tablet PC and you have a built-in reader that's better than the original, as it supports multi-touch and displays photos in color. Now you're talking. See it here:

Core i7 laptops are here

We've been enjoying the advantages of the new Nehalem technology on our desktops for a while now, but there haven't been many portable computers that use Intel's fastest desktop processors. The first one to do so, Eurocom's D900F Phantom, was reported to have only a one hour battery life. Ouch.

Now that's changing, as hardware vendors are beginning to release laptops based on the Core i7. One example is Lenovo's IdeaPad Y550P.

Unfortunately, battery life still seems to be an issue in the new Core i7 mobile machines. This article sings the praises of the new mobile processor's performance. Battery life? Not so much:

Windows 7 on an Apple

Want to install Windows 7 on your Mac? Before Sony released the just-as-thin and even sexier VAIO X, my dream was to buy a Macbook Air and install Windows 7 on it. Apparently Apple realizes that many of their customers are going to want to do the same, so they've announced that sometime before the end of the year, they'll update their Bootcamp multi-boot software in Snow Leopard to support installation of Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional or Ultimate edition.

Meanwhile, if you want to run Windows 7 inside your OS X operating system instead of having to shut down the Mac OS and boot into 7, you can do that, too. Parallels, maker of virtualization software for the Mac, has announced that they have an update for their program to allow you to run Windows 7 on your Apple.

Windows 7 Anytime Upgrade and Family Pack

Got Windows 7 Home Premium but decided you need the domain support in Professional edition or BitLocker in Ultimate? Microsoft makes it easy to upgrade with the Anytime Upgrade program. Or maybe you have two or three computers in your home running Vista and you want to upgrade them all to Windows 7. Shouldn't you get a special "volume discount" for that? Well, now you can save over $200 with a Family Pack license. Read more about both of these here:

How to: Using the New Windows 7 Features

How to adjust the space reserved for System Restore files

In Vista, you had to use the command line (with an administrative command prompt) if you wanted to change the amount of space that was set aside for System Protection files. You can use the same Vssadmin command in Windows 7, but you don't have to. Now there's a GUI setting that makes it much easier. Here's how to use it:
  1. Click Start | Control Panel
  2. Open the System applet
  3. In the left pane, click System Protection
  4. In the Protection Settings list, click the partition for which you want to adjust the settings, and click the Configure button
  5. Under "Disk Space Usage," adjust the slider to the percentage of disk space you want to be used (the size in GB will also be shown).
Note that by default, System Protection is enabled for the drive on which Windows 7 is installed. You can also turn on System Protection for other partitions.

Windows 7 and Vista Security

Why you shouldn't disable UAC

Due to its overly intrusive nature and the fact that you couldn't easily modify its behavior, many tech savvy Vista users chose to disable User Account Control (UAC) altogether. Generally, that's not a good idea because when UAC is disabled 1) Internet Explorer doesn't run in Protected Mode, 2) administrators don't run with a standard user token, and 3) you don't get a warning if a malicious program attempts to perform an action that could have a negative impact on your system.

In Windows 7, it's easier to control how UAC behaves and you can make UAC less intrusive without disabling it, by using the slider control in the User Account Control settings dialog box. To there, Type uac in the Search box on the Start menu and then click Change User Account Control Settings. Find out more about the settings here:

Question Corner

Can I install Windows 7 on my netbook without a DVD drive?

I have a netbook that has Windows XP. I want to upgrade to Windows 7. Problem is, it doesn't have a DVD drive. Can I do this? If so, how? Do I have to buy a USB DVD drive? (Something I'd rather not as they cost over $50). Thanks. - Jeremy R.

First, remember that you can't do an in-place upgrade from XP to Windows 7; you need to do a clean installation. With that in mind, the good news is that you don't have to go out and buy a DVD drive to install Windows 7 on your netbook. Microsoft has released a USB/DVD Download Tool that you can use to easily create a bootable disk image of Windows 7 on a USB thumb drive. You'll need a USB stick that's at least 4 GB in size (I recently bought one of those for less than $10) and you'll need to set the netbook's BIOS boot order to boot from the USB drive. You can find out more here:

Windows 7 Configuration and Troubleshooting

When you configure power options, changes aren't reflected in Control Panel

If you configure power options for the current power plan in Windows Vista or Windows 7, the changes may not be reflected on the System Settings page in the Power Options applet in Control. This happens because the settings that appear on the System Settings page are derived from the registry settings for the preferred power plan (which, by default, is the Balanced plan). Find out more about configuring power plans in KB article 915799 at

Group policy settings used with BitLocker

System administrators can define group policies for specific BitLocker protected drives in a domain or on a local computer running Windows Enterprise or Ultimate editions. To find out more about these Group Policy settings and how to use them, 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.