Monthly Archives: August 2009

New Office 2010 build showcases new branding elements

A new build of Office 2010 purported to be beta 1 has leaked to the net, showcasing some major branding improvements such as a new Office logo along with new Office 2010 application icons. The interface themes have been refreshed with a lighter color scheme. Check out the following screenshots:

The most notable changes to the icons are their color schemes, featuring a lighter palette, along with letters from the alphabet for most icons from the Office family, example: A for Access, X for Excel, P for PowerPoint. Its quite different but more self explainable I guess.

The new logo features a universal bright yellow/orange instead of the classic 4 colors Red, Blue, Yellow and Green with accented outer edges. The center of the logo is more stylish removing the four squares found in the previous Office logo.

The Office Template gallery features unique branding with more detailed icons and Office OneNote 2010 features a new welcome screen.

Office 2010 definitely focuses on the user experience, but improved functionality has also been added, the beta adds modifications to backstage preview technology and a new Office Upload feature possibly for integration with Office Web Apps. For corporate deployments of Office 2010, volume license customers can expect to see Microsoft Key Management Service added for activating installations of Office 2010. I personally am hoping to see more integration with Jump List and interactive thumbnail previews. There is so much potential for synergies between Office 2010 and Windows 7.


A look at the new Office 2010
Office 2010 Technical Preview Screenshots
Office 2010 Team Blog now up



Filed under Office Productivity

Language Packs for Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise now Available

With Windows Vista, Microsoft introduced two SKU’s called Ultimate and Enterprise which included unique functionality for enterprise customers and power users. One the features was Worldwide interfaces languages which included the ability for IT Professionals to configure a disk image that includes all Microsoft user interface languages. Today, Microsoft announced the availability of 35 languages Packs for Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise, here is what Microsoft SpringBoard Series Blog author Stephen L. Rose had to say:

As of this morning, August 25th, the following language packs are available for download from Windows Update. Please note Traditional Chinese –Taiwan will be released at a later date.

These language packs are available to our enterprise customers running Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 7 Ultimate RTM versions only. Customers on the Windows 7 Release Candidate are not eligible for these language packs.

Learn more here

You can download these language packs from within Windows Update Control Panel on Windows 7 Ultimate or Enterprise. What are some of the benefits of Multi-lingual User Interfaces?

  • A single, multi-lingual disk image enables worldwide deployment to all PC form factors (desktop, laptop, tablet, etc).
  • Significant cost savings by reducing the number of images an IT department needs to deploy and maintain.
  • End users can toggle between languages installed on the PC – great for multi-lingual homes if you are running Windows 7 Ultimate.

Remaining Ultimate Extra Language Packs Released!
Windows Vista Ultimate language pack release information


Filed under 7 Journal

Windows 7 Team blog: Update on Windows 7 in Europe

This morning, Brandon Leblanc, provided us with an update about availability of Windows 7 in Europe along information about a wider market availability for Windows 7 Home Premium Family Pack upgrade. Here is what he had to say:

I want to provide a couple of updates for my friends in Europe today in regards to Windows 7.

I want to start off with an update to our plans for the Windows 7 Family Pack. As I mentioned last month, starting with the launch of Windows 7 on October 22nd, customers will be able to buy a Family Pack in the US & Canada. This allows users to install Windows 7 Home Premium on up to 3 existing Windows PCs for a reduced price. It’s an easy and cost effective way to get customers entire household on Windows 7.

I can now tell you of several more countries that will have a chance to take advantage of this great deal: the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands and Sweden. This will also be a limited offer, but is just one more way that our customers can save on Windows 7.

Read the entire article here

Excellent news for customers around the world who have multiple PC’s in the home. Multiple PC’s running Windows 7 on a home network can take advantage of some powerful capabilities such as HomeGroups, Media Streaming and Libraries which makes sharing information and resources such as a Printer simpler.

Brandon also talked about changes to Windows 7’s web browser, users will now have a ballot box choice that will allow them to choose a third party web browser instead of the default Internet Explorer. This of course means the initial Windows 7 E product will not be offered and customers will instead be offered full and upgrade versions of Windows 7 with Internet Explorer 8. Customers who pre-ordered Windows 7 in Europe prior to September 1st will be able to get a full version of Windows 7 at upgrade pricing.

Windows 7 E was provided as a temporary solution until Microsoft was able to provide a possible upgrade path for Windows Vista with Internet Explorer to Windows 7 without Internet Explorer. Microsoft has since come to a resolution with third party web browser developers and the European Commission to resolve this issue through the new ballot box selection instead.


Windows Anytime Upgrade and Family Pack Pricing details revealed
More information on Windows 7: Pricing and Availability
Windows 7 Editions – More detailed information
Official: Microsoft Confirms Windows 7 Editions


Networking made easy with HomeGroups in Windows 7
Windows 7 Anytime Upgrade – Unlocking more benefits with less effort


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Filed under Windows 7

Final Notice: Important info for Hotmail customers on Outlook, Outlook Express, or Entourage‏

Received an email this evening from the Windows Live Hotmail team notifying me about changes coming this September to various products and services. Here is what they had to say:

Dear Windows Live Hotmail Customer,

You are receiving this note because you have used Microsoft Office Outlook, Outlook Express, or Entourage to view your Windows Live Hotmail®. Microsoft is changing the way these programs access Hotmail e-mail which will require you to take action.

To continue to receive e-mail from your Hotmail account, please select one of the alternative solutions below before September 1, 2009. After this day, new e-mail can only be delivered to your mail programs through the following alternative solutions.

If you use Microsoft Office Outlook to view Hotmail, you can download free Office Outlook Connector to continue accessing your Windows Live Hotmail within Outlook 2003 or 2007. If you’re using Outlook 2002, you will need to change the settings on your program to access your Hotmail. Click here to learn more.

If you use Outlook Express to view Hotmail, you can choose to download free Windows Live Mail (recommended) or change the settings on your program to access your Hotmail within Outlook Express. Click here to learn more about your options.

If you use Entourage to view Hotmail, you can change the settings in your program to view your e-mail. Click here to learn more.

Don’t know what you’re using to view Hotmail? Have more questions? View the FAQ page or visit the Community Forum.

Why is this happening? Outlook, Outlook Express, and Entourage use a legacy communications method (known as the DAV protocol) to access Hotmail. Because the DAV protocol is not optimally suited for programs to access large inboxes such as Hotmail which now provides users ever-growing storage*, new alternatives have been built. Last year, customers asked us to postpone plans to retire the DAV protocol until more options were available. Now that these options (including the POP3 protocol) are available, we are ready to retire the DAV protocol.

Thank you for using Windows Live Hotmail.

Your Windows Live Hotmail Team

If you fall into any of these categories of users who use the available resources to continue using Hotmail normally.


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Filed under MSN Spaces Microsoft Windows 7 FAQ Page – Updated (Revision 2.0)

The ActiveWin Frequently Asked Questions page for Windows 7 has been updated with Answers to the most commonly asked Questions about Microsoft’s latest block buster. The over 100 question FAQ covers everything you need to know about Microsoft’s new operating system. Here is a snippet:

Q: What is Windows 7?

A: Windows 7 is the official name for the release of Windows that follows Windows Vista and latest version of Microsoft’s Windows client operating system. Windows 7 which is currently in development, started immediately after Windows Vista’s release. Windows 7 features a drastically improved desktop experience that focuses on new core experiences such as Windows Touch introducing support for multi-touch technology inherited from the Microsoft Surface. Windows 7 also supports improved Accessibility and Global Support, handwriting and Ink recognition. Windows 7 provides an enhanced Taskbar, rich application experiences with superior improvements to managing files and personal data.

Q: What is the strategy Microsoft is employed in creating Windows 7?
A: Key Goals:

  • Reduce Compatibility problems and bring investments in Vista forward

  • Reduce disk foot print and memory foot print

  • Improve performance

  • Secure, predictable

  • Make the Windows and PC Experience easier

  • Exceptional hardware and software support

  • Bring future releases to market faster

  • Personalized experience that defines you

  • Superior mobility through reliable performance, power management

Q: What is the thinking behind the name Windows 7?
A: With Windows 7, Microsoft is delivering a foundation for unmatched customer experiences across applications, services, and devices. Windows 7 builds on the substantial investments Microsoft made in Windows Vista to improve security, reliability and performance. At the same time, Windows 7’s enhanced PC manageability introduces compelling new experiences, delivering an operating system that is nimble, highly reliable, and more secure, optimized for today’s powerful hardware, and easily connects with the devices people use today.

According Mike Nash (Vice President, Windows Product Management) the decision to use the name Windows 7 is about simplicity. Over the years, we have taken different approaches to naming Windows.  We’ve used version numbers like Windows 3.11, or dates like Windows 98, or "aspirational" monikers like Windows XP or Windows Vista.  And since we do not ship new versions of Windows every year, using a date did not make sense.  Likewise, coming up with an all-new "aspirational" name does not do justice to what we are trying to achieve, which is to stay firmly rooted in our aspirations for Windows Vista, while evolving and refining the substantial investments in platform technology in Windows Vista into the next generation of Windows.

Simply put, this is the seventh release of Windows, so therefore "Windows 7" just makes sense.

Q: Who is Windows 7 For?

A: In Windows 7, Microsoft focused on delivering improved experiences for end users in three key areas:

Works the Way you want. Windows 7 delivers the fundamental performance, reliability, and security features you expect—and it is designed to be compatible with the same hardware, applications, and device drivers as Windows Vista®. New features help protect your privacy and data, make it easier to keep your PC running smoothly, and enable you to recover from problems more quickly.

Everyday Tasks are Faster and Easier. Windows 7 streamlines and simplifies the tasks you do most often. Improved navigation and a streamlined user interface put commonly-used resources within easy reach. Sharing data across all your PCs and devices is easier too, whether you’re at home, in the office, or on-the-go. Windows 7 and Windows Live™ help you stay connected to the people and things you care about, and Internet Explorer 8 provides a faster, safer, more productive Web experience.

Q: What new experiences does Windows 7 offer for users?

A: New Things Possible. Windows 7 gives you more choice in how you interact with your PC, with options that include multi-touch gestures, handwriting, and voice. Windows 7 makes it easy to use your home audio-video system and other networked media devices to play music, watch videos, and display photos that reside on your PC. An enhanced Windows Media Center offers one-stop access to your favorite TV shows, whether they’re on-the-air or on the Internet. And Windows 7 offers more options than ever for you to customize and personalize your PC with styles that match your personality.

Read the entire FAQ here


Frequently Asked Questions /Quick Guide Windows Vista



Filed under 7 Journal

For the ‘former’ Windows XP User – Welcome to Windows 7!

So you have finally made the move from Windows XP to Windows 7, everything is working great, but a few things have changed. Yes indeed, there is a new look, but a familiar experience along with numerous changes and improvements since the release of Windows XP back in October 2001. For some persons, it might be a bit overwhelming, to help make the transition a smooth one, here is a quick guide to help familiarize yourself with some of the changes and benefits:


As with every new install or first time use of Windows, the first interactive experience is logging in. Depending on how your PC is setup, you might or might not see the Account Screen when you start your Windows session, for those who do, here is a look at some of the changes:


When Windows XP was released back in 2001, it was seen as a major upgrade that focused on ease of use and friendliness, the Welcome sequence and log on screen featured warm, inviting thumbnails that easily identified your account and log in name. With Windows Vista, Microsoft made a few changes by changing the layout and removed a few things. Your accounts are displayed in horizontal layout, instead of the vertical view from XP. Some other functionality introduced in XP such as your amount of unread email notifications are not displayed in Windows 7. A nice welcome optional feature is CTRL-ALT-DEL command, which adds secure log on protection that can be managed through Group Policy (depending on the edition of Windows 7 you have installed) when unauthorized individuals or key loggers attempt to steal your account information. Also, you cannot take a screenshot of the Account Screen like you did in Windows XP. The Classic NT/2000 Log On dialog is not an option in Windows 7 for obvious reasons, if you log on to Domain to access a business network, there are some slight changes click here learn more.



The first thing you see when you log on with your credentials is the Desktop, you will of course notice familiar experiences like your personal background. But you might see some other differences, like Gadgets. With Windows Vista, Microsoft introduced Sidebar Gadgets which are small (some cases) web based applications that provide quick access to information such as the latest news from your subscribed website’s, a slide show, Clock, CPU/Memory monitor, Weather and others that are included by the manufacturer of your PC. Gadgets are fun to use and you can get many more from, you can position them anywhere on the Desktop, resize them or just snap them to any side of your screen. You can quickly access them when you are within an application by using the hot keys ‘Windows key + G’ or ‘Windows key + space bar’ to see them on your desktop.

Taskbar & Start menu

The Taskbar first introduced in Windows 95 has been significantly enhanced, instead of features like Quick Launch, and labeled buttons, the Taskbar uses detailed icons to represent shortcuts and running applications. If you would like to learn more about the Taskbar, read my tutorial here.

Tip: Want a more familiar look to Windows XP? You can achieve this by right clicking the Taskbar, click ‘Properties’ > Taskbar (tab) > check under Taskbar appearance ‘Use small icons’. In the Taskbar buttons: list box, click ‘Never combine’ > click Apply and OK.

The Start button has been redesigned using a universal symbol that every PC user can understand. Instead of translating the word ‘Start’ in hundreds of languages, a simple effective pearl logo represents the keypad to accessing your programs and files. With Windows 7, Microsoft has removed some of the legacy that you have been seeing in previous releases. For instance, the Start menu does not include the option of Windows Classic anymore and with good reasoning considering the clean look in addition to its accessible design, along with its built in Instant Search capabilities the Windows 7 Start menu is much friendlier and easier to use.

All Programs

Along with the Start menu, is the All Programs Group, in Windows XP, you had cascading menus, that would often go off the screen if you had many applications installed. Windows Vista introduced a hierarchical view that makes it easy to browse through all the programs installed on your computer. With Windows 7, you don’t even have to go to the All Programs group, just search for the program name using the built in Instant Search box integrated into the Start menu.

Certain menu functions have been hidden such as the Run menu, which you can easily access by using the Windows Key + R command or you can find it under the Accessories menu. The ‘Connect To’ menu which stores all your available network connections in Windows XP has been replaced by the more convenient and more accessible (View Available Network) connections menu situated in the notification area. Simply click the display icon and you will see a list of all your available connections: Dial-up, Hi-speed Broadband, VPN etc.

Network Notifications

Back in Windows XP, Network notifications were identified by two blinking displays. Windows 7 displays only a single Monitor (display) icon. I personally don’t like it, I thought Vista’s Network icon was just perfect and quickly identified when you were connected to the Internet, Network or not connected at all.

The Recent Items menu is no longer displayed because the Start menu intelligently handles this through Jump List which displays a list of the recently accessed or created files in the programs you recently used on the Start menu or shortcuts on the Taskbar when you right click them. Another menu link that is not displayed is Favorites, you can Search the Start menu for your favorite website links or go to your User folder > Favorites to access all your website links.

Tip: If you would like the option of displaying these menus on the Start menu, simply right click the ‘Taskbar’, click ‘Properties’ > select the ‘Start Menu’ tab > click ‘Customize’ > in the dialog displayed, check off the appropriate menu links ‘Connect To’, ‘Favorites’, ‘Recent Items’ and the ‘Run’ command.

User folder

Windows Vista introduced some changes to the account folder structure. If you are familiar with the Documents and Settings folder which stores all the accounts on the computer along with your personal folder data such as My Documents, My Pictures, My Music, My Videos etc, it has now been replaced by  ‘User’. Just like in Windows XP, within each account folder you will find your personal folders such as Documents, Music, Pictures and local settings such as AppData which stores user settings such as cookies, dictionaries, and different types of data for applications you might have installed on your computer.

Another change you might see coming from Windows XP is the Public folder, this replaces your Shared Documents folder where you store information for other users on your computer or network can access. The relevance of Public folder itself has decreased in Windows 7 with the introduction of Libraries which makes it easy to share files and resources with other users on your home network simply by using a password. 

What happened to ‘My’

Instead of using the ‘My’ prefix as a part of personal folders, common content locations are simply represented by their names Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos etc. Former Microsoft employee and Vice President of Platforms, Jim Allchin gave the reason for removing ‘My’:

The company introduced the “my” prefix in part to give users obvious places for storing their own files, Allchin said. (Although users can rename the standard folders, and create their own, many tend to stick with the default Windows naming structure.) He acknowledged that the company also was aiming to make the experience more personal.

But now, the “my” prefix has become so ubiquitous in the technology industry that it’s no longer the distinguishing characteristic the company hoped it would be. In part, Allchin attributed the situation to the tendency of software developers to adopt the common Windows terminology when making programs that run on the Microsoft operating system.

“People got carried away,” Allchin said in a recent interview. “Anytime Microsoft does something, everybody wants to do it. … It became a worthless descriptor.”

Explorer & Address Bar


Windows Explorer has changed significantly, adding more consistency and simplicity across folders. The Standard toolbar and Drop Down menu you are accustomed to seeing have been replaced by the Command Bar, which features contextual task and quick options for managing your folder views. If you want to do occasional task such as copy and move files, you can quickly invoke the Drop Down menu by pressing ‘Alt’ on your keyboard or use drag drop by expanding the folder tree in the Navigation pane.

The Address Bar works more intelligently in Windows 7/Vista, displaying quick shortcut paths within a folder hierarchy called bread crumbs. The enhanced Address Bar features drop-down menus along the current navigation path, enabling you to easily backtrack or navigate forward, anywhere along an address location. Search in Explorer is a major feature, the Instant Search capabilities makes it easy to find files within a folder, Windows 7 in particular introduces some major innovations, you can learn more here

The Task Pane in Windows XP has also been replaced by the Command Bar, previous functionality can be found there and in the preview pane situated at the bottom of the window which displays file size along with picture, video thumbnails and meta data information. The Navigation pane introduced in Vista features a clean design, divided into 5 common locations such as your Favorites for commonly accessed folders, Computer environment which stores your hard disk, optical media and removable storage. Libraries stores your data folders and aggregates all your personal files there for documents, pictures, music and videos. Network displays all the available computers you can access and shared locations.

Some other common functions and changes you might experience is how files are organized, some quick improvements you will notice include how files are grouped along with changes to things you often did in Windows XP.

  • You cannot move around files using drag and drop.
  • Alphabetical grouping is now ranged, meaning, instead of listing every file name from A-Z they are conveniently grouped by A-H, G-K etc.

Other file view changes include the removal of Film Strip view, instead you can view large quick previews of your files by clicking the view menu option to the left of the command bar or use your scroll wheel mouse and hold down the Control key to resize files and see large thumbnail previews of pictures and videos.

Customize and Personalize

Customizing your Windows experience is a huge part of Windows 7, Windows XP users are probably accustomed to changing their color scheme from Blue Luna, to Olive Green or Silver every now and then along with a wallpaper that came bundled with the OS or from personal pictures or off the Internet. You might even use third party themes. Windows 7 makes the out of box personalization experience richer, increasing the number of theming capabilities many times over from what was included in Windows XP. For example, you can change the color of your Taskbar/Start Menu/windows from the available collection of 16 different colors, expanded themes and wall papers have increased to 8 and along with that you can download many more from a dedicated website provided by Microsoft. The Windows Team have even personalized the themes based on your country and language. Still not satisfied, just create your own, its simple. Along with that you can have multiple wallpapers display at timed intervals. Windows 7 also includes 13 new sound schemes to add a personal touch to common notifications the OS might give out.

As far back as Windows 95 up to Windows XP, we had the Display Properties dialog which hosted the various options such as Themes/Background, Desktop, Screen Saver, Appearance and Settings for customizing your user experience. Windows 7 includes a more convenient vision, instead of a dialog, a natural explorer shell Personalization interface is presented to user with quick access to the various options for customizing the look and feel of Windows. So, if you have a hard time looking for Display Properties, you now know where to look.

How do I manage my programs?!?!

Looking for Add/Remove? Just look under the new item in Control Panel named ‘Programs and Features’. Introduced in Vista, it features a clean, informative Explorer based shell that gives you quick details and options for managing all your installed applications and program updates too. You can view your programs in a number of ways similar to working in the Documents Explorer, program icons can be viewed as tile, list or even very large if you want. Programs and Features provides links to all the updates that Windows installed called ‘Installed Updates’, you can even uninstall an update if you experience a problem. Along with that, you have access to ‘Turn Windows features on or off’ which makes it easy to disable features that come bundled with Windows that you are not using.

Windows Update

In Windows XP, you updated your computer using multiple mechanisms, whether through the individual applications such as Microsoft Word for instance or through the Microsoft Windows Update site. With Windows Vista, Microsoft introduced a dedicated Explorer shell just for Windows Update which provides a broader set of options for downloading, managing updates for not only Windows, but other Microsoft products such as Office and Windows Live products and even hardware drivers for devices such as your printer, video card and networking card.

 User Experience – Aero

Windows XP was the first release in years to introduce a significant change to the interface through its Luna theme, which offered a lighter palette, large, communicative icons and a more friendly design. With Windows Vista, Microsoft took bold steps to make Windows look much sleeker and lighter while also bringing more information to the screen and making it easier for you to focus on the content. Aero Glass depending on if your video card supports it adds a clean design to windows, putting clear emphasis on content. Window frames feature semi-transparent realism, making the interface not only cool but productive to use.


Windows 7 is exceptionally secure and includes a host of built in technologies you won’t find in Windows XP or cannot be provided through a update or Service Pack. When you create an account, you are not given complete privileges, meaning, you are not the sole Administrator of the system. Windows 7 creates what is called a Standard Administrator account with a fair amount of privileges to do common power user task such as installing programs, updates, create other accounts, set restrictions and so on. Microsoft encourages that your daily activities should be performed in a Limited User account for added security.

Where is Outlook Express, Movie Maker, Windows Messenger, MSN Explorer etc…?

Windows 7 did some house cleaning, prioritizing what’s most important, especially in today’s Internet based world. As far back as Windows 95, users have come to expect Windows to include a default email program. Microsoft has taken a different approach by moving programs such as Email and Video Editing to a suite of free services called Windows Live Essentials. Outlook Express has been succeeded by Windows Live Mail, which features a built in calendar, clean interface, easy setup and strong integration with Windows Live which is the successor to MSN Explorer providing an end to end experience from the Windows desktop to the web for managing email, storing personal files and sharing photos with family and friends and a whole lot more. Windows Messenger as you probably would know has been succeeded by both Windows Live Messenger for consumer instant messaging as well as Office Communicator in Enterprise settings. You can find both Windows Live Messenger and the new Windows Live Movie Maker included with Windows Live Essentials and many other services.

If you are interested in learning about Windows Live Essentials, check out my summary here

I hope this introduction to some of fundamental improvements in Windows 7 will have you up and running. Windows 7 is faster, simpler and more efficient all around. The Windows Team went back to the fundamentals with this release. Users will appreciate both the small and big changes in this release.


Windows 7 has finally RTMed! – A Look back over the past 10 months



Filed under 7 Journal

Update: Windows 7 Beta and Release Candidate

Just a reminder, Windows 7 Release Candidate will expire tomorrow August 20th. Stephen L. Rose of the Microsoft Springboad Series blog provides us with some details about Release Candidate availability and resources:

I just wanted to take a moment and post a few quick reminders.

Read the entire article here

Download Windows 7 Release Candidate here



Back in January, Microsoft released the Public beta for the next version of Windows. Since then, the Windows Team received a tremendous amount of feedback that has been engineered into the recent Release Candidate. Persons however are still running the beta, which is possibly a sign of the high level of quality that has gone into engineering Windows 7. But, regardless you might love running the beta, you cannot do so forever, starting this July 1st, Windows 7 will start to enter a reduced functional mode which will trigger a series of Shutdowns by hourly.

If you need some help with making the move to the Release Candidate and continue enjoying the new features and experiences Windows 7 offers, I along with other Windows Enthusiast from around the world have prepared guides and stories that will help you make the transition along with tutorials for getting the most out of Windows 7 at 

Getting your PC ready for Windows 7 Release Candidate
Upgrading: Starting the Move to Windows 7 Release Candidate
Installation: Starting the Move to Windows 7 Release Candidate
The Complete Guide On How To Install Windows 7 RC by AboKevin
Windows Easy Transfer: Starting the Move to Windows 7 Release Candidate
Windows Easy Transfer: Lessons Learned

A Look at Windows Backup and Windows Update in 7
How to successfully burn or write an ISO-image to cd or dvd

and most important, download the Windows 7 Release Candidate HERE



Filed under 7 Journal