Monthly Archives: September 2009

Windows 7 Forums: Community based Support now Available!

Microsoft today unleashed the Microsoft Answers Windows 7 Forums where users of Windows 7 can get help with a number topics related to the new operating system, whether its Installation, troubleshooting, configuration, networking, security and many others, you name it. You can find a helpful bunch of folks from Microsoft, Microsoft MVP’s and Windows Enthusiast sharing their experiences ready and willing to help you:

In conjunction with the Windows Live Forums, users can get the most out of their technology investments and computing experiences. Not to forget, the Microsoft Clubhouse is also a great resource for users to even get more insight into using Windows Live and Windows 7 together in real world scenarios.

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OEM Availability of Windows 7 on New Egg!

I am sure there are many persons out there who like to build computers, or do so for a living. Well, System Builders can now pre-order Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate OEM versions of the OS from popular technology retailer New Egg. Here is what PC Magazine had to say to about the availability:

Missed out on the early preorder discounts? Popular retailer Newegg.com has listed the OEM prices for Windows 7, which will be offered at less than half what Microsoft will charge for a retail copy.

Newegg hasn’t listed any prerequisites for buying the OEM version, such as the purchase of any additional hardware. Past OEM copies have prevented users from taking advantage of Microsoft’s support options, however, and the packaging and instructions are usually minimal.

Read the entire article here

Edition Cost
Windows 7 Home Premium 32 and 64 bit $109.99
Windows 7 Professional 32 and 64 bit $134.99
Windows 7 Ultimate 32 and 64 bit $174.99

Three-pack Licenses

Edition Cost
Windows 7 Home Premium OEM $309.99
Windows 7 Ultimate OEM $549.99

Users should note that OEM (which means Original Equipment Manufacturer) software is licensed differently from retail versions of Windows. The License Agreement allows it to be sold with a qualifying piece of hardware to which it is tied such as a motherboard making the license non-transferable. An OEM version of Windows 7 cannot upgrade previous versions of Windows either. An OEM version of Windows 7 does not require that you have a qualifying version of Windows, it is an entirely full version of the OS.

Learn more here

Resources

System Builder
Windows 7 Upgrade Program
Windows 7 Student Offer
Windows Anytime Upgrade and Family Pack Pricing details revealed
Dell Windows 7 Option Upgrade Program
More information on Windows 7: Pricing and Availability

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Updated Windows 7 Anti Virus partners

Rob Margel who works in Windows International at Microsoft in the UK, talks about an updated list of Windows 7 Antivirus partners now available. With Windows 7 coming next month, consumers and businesses will have numerous updated certified security solutions to choose from.

A while back I mentioned the list of Windows 7 Anti Virus partners which was way back during the RC I think.  Well we have updated the list  at http://www.microsoft.com/UK/windows/antivirus-partners/windows-7.aspx  and it now includes (in no particular order):

Learn more here

Resources:

Windows 7 security software providers
Checking out Microsoft Security Essentials BETA

 

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Conscious Environmentally Friendly Decisions for Today’s PC User

Back in the 90’s, I could count on one hand how many people I knew had a computer, or just had access to one. With the fast pace of changes such as Moore’s Law and affordability of computers and hardware over the past 10 years, everybody I know has a PC or are upgrading one, buying their second or third computer. With current buying trends comes certain responsibilities. We need to be thinking about how our purchasing decisions are affecting the environment around us in addition to persons living in other countries. If you want to start making a contribution to saving your environment, you can start by changing your buying habits.

The above logos can help guide you in your future buying decisions. Green Computing is a hot topic these days and many consumers are consciously looking into how they can help improve the environment by buying products that are Green certified.

What is Green Computing?

Green computing involves reducing the electricity and environmental waste while using a computer. Computers use and often waste resources such as electricity and paper. The industry has become aware of this problem and is implementing important measures to combat it. Personal computers, displays, and printers should comply with guidelines of the Energy STAR program, which was developed by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and United States Environment Protection Agency (EPA).

This program encourages manufacturers to create energy efficient devices that require little power when they are not in use. For example, many devices switch to standby or power save mode after a specified number of inactive minutes or hours. Computers and devices that meet ENERGY STAR guidelines display an ENERGY STAR label.

What can we do with old computers?

You might have an old computer, printer or some other device you are not using anymore. Either its obsolete or just doesn’t meet your needs anymore. You can start by not storing obsolete computers and devices in your basement, storage room, attic, warehouse or any other location. Computers, monitors, and other equipment contain toxic materials and potentially dangerous elements including lead, mercury and flame retardants. In a landfill, these material are released into the environment. There are some options available such as refurbishing or recycling the equipment. Just yesterday, I was listening to a call in radio program, a student who just started a Data Operations course at an institution was pleading for some assistance because she doesn’t have a computer and wouldn’t mind getting a second hand PC just to practice Word Processing, Spreadsheet and Database Management. So, even if that old computer is not useful to you anymore, there might be a student or school who might just need it for basic task.

Local governments are working on methods to make it easy for consumers to recycle their old equipment, but you can also help by altering some habits now, here is a list of ways you can contribute to a healthy, more energy efficient environment:

  • Use computers and devices that comply with ENERGY STAR program or recognized Green Computing initiatives. You will often recognize this by a logo featuring a green leaf or similar branding.
  • Do not leave the computer and devices running overnight. I admit, this is a bad habit of mine, but I am cutting it out these days.
  • Turn off your monitor, printer, and other devices when not in use. In fact, I haven’t used my printer at home in months, so you know I did I plugged it out.
  • Use paperless methods to communicate – Windows Live services from Microsoft are helping to make this initiative a reality, free electronic email services and programs such as Windows Live Hotmail/Mail, Skydrive, Photos make it easy and convenient to share files with colleagues and memories with family and friends. Check out Clubhouse member Ali’s story about how Skydrive saved the day here
  • If you must use paper, ensure that old papers are recycled and ensure that the paper you buy is recycled.
  • Recycle toner cartridges.
  • Recycle old computers and printers.
  • Shop online – there are so many online stores and services these days, cut out the unnecessary travel.
  • Telecommunication is also a great way to help protect the environment. Windows 7 includes tools such as Remote Desktop that allow you to access files and other resources at the office.
  • Download instead of going for the boxed copy. Do you really need to have a physical box or DVD copy? Thick manuals are even more useless, since they become obsolete the moment you pull the box. Online resources and help forums are all the manuals you will need and they always have the latest information "a live person". Especially with today’s enormous external hard disk on the cheap, just buy one and store your digital downloads on them for backup purposes. Millions of packaging world wide are simply thrown away each year, don’t add anymore to if you can.

If you are going to donate a used machine, don’t just leave it on the doorstep somewhere. A little planning will ensure that the machine goes to a good cause. Before you give it away, make sure you’ve removed your personal data – letters, financial information etc. onto your new computer using migration tools such as LapLink or Windows Easy Transfer or backup your data to DVDs/external hard disk.

If you plan to keep the software you were using before, you should remove it from the computer you are giving away. When you are ready to give the computer away, call the school, church or organization first. Some will be unable to use the model you’re offering even if it works well. Some groups, however, welcome computers of any age and in almost any condition, but you should still call them before donating. Here are list of organizations you can donate your computer to and give it new life and purpose.

California

Donate a Computer to Computer Recycling Center
CompuMentor Home Page

Connecticut

National Cristina Foundation

Additional resources:

Computer disposal, donation, and recycle information
HP Environment: Product recycling
eCycling | Common Wastes & Materials | US EPA
Where Can I Donate or Recycle My Old Computer and Other Electronic
Computer recycling – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Home : ENERGY STAR
The Electronics Recycling Superguide

Windows 7 helps too

Windows 7 extends battery life for your mobile PC, helping you be productive longer while still getting great performance. Power-saving enhancements include increasing the idle time for the processor, automatically dimming the display, and more power-efficient playback for DVDs. With Windows 7, you’re also kept better-informed about battery status.

Get Idle and Stay Idle Longer. An idle processor reduces battery life. Windows 7 reduces background activities and supports the trigger-starting of system services, so your computer’s processor can be in an idle state more often.

Adaptive Display Brightness. The display on a typical mobile PC consumes more battery power than any other part of the computer. Windows 7 automatically reduces display brightness after a period of inactivity, much like cell phones do today. And Windows 7 intelligently adapts to your activity. For example, if the screen dims after 30 seconds and you immediately move the mouse to brighten
the display, Windows 7 will wait 60 seconds before dimming the display again.

Power-saving DVD Playback. Your PC will use less power when playing a DVD. Windows 7 requires less processing power than previous versions of Windows and is more efficient when it spins the disc, so you’re more likely to get through a full movie with a single battery charge.

Wake on Wireless LAN. Having your computer go into Sleep state when idle is a good way to conserve power, and Wake on LAN provides a way to “wake up” a computer that’s in Sleep state over the network when you need to access it remotely. However, in Windows Vista, waking up a computer that’s in Sleep state could only be done over a wired network connection. Wake on Wireless LAN in Windows 7 provides the same capabilities over a wireless network connection.

For example, if you have a PC in your kitchen that’s wirelessly connected to your home network and want to view a photo on that system from your laptop in the bedroom, the computer in the kitchen can be in Sleep state and wake-up to allow you to see the photo. Similarly, in an enterprise environment, IT administrators can wake up wirelessly connected computers to apply software updates or perform other maintenance. In this way, IT administrators can minimize power costs for wirelessly connected systems.

Smart Network Power. Today, your mobile PC sends energy to parts of your computer when they’re not being used—such as sending power to the network adapter when you don’t have an Ethernet cable plugged-in. Windows 7 automatically turns off power to the network adapter (subject to adapters and drivers supporting this feature) when the cable is disconnected and restores power when the cable is connected. IT professionals can take advantage of this feature to reduce power costs.

Battery Life Notification. Windows 7 provides more prominent, timely, and accurate battery life notifications, helping you remain aware of power consumption and remaining battery life.

Power Efficiency Diagnostics. In Windows 7, the PowerCfg utility is updated to detect problems across devices, policies, firmware, system settings, applications, and other common areas where settings can reduce power efficiency. The information is provided in an easy to understand report. Although this feature is designed primarily for developers and system integrators, it can also be useful to tech-savvy users.

Performance improvements start under-the-hood. Windows 7 is designed to reduce background activity
and adds support for trigger-starting of system services, starting them only when they’re needed instead of ahead of-time. For example, the Windows Bluetooth service is only started when a Bluetooth device is connected. This means that Windows 7 runs fewer services by default than Windows Vista while offering increased functionality.

A couple key areas where you’ll notice improved performance in Windows 7 include the following:

Startup and Shutdown. Windows 7 is ready when  you are. It’s designed to start, hibernate, and shut down faster than Windows Vista, although individual user experiences will vary based on specific hardware and software configurations.

Resume from Standby. When resuming from Standby, Windows 7 is designed to reconnect to your wireless network faster than Windows Vista, so your PC will be ready to use in seconds. You’ll spend even less time waiting for your computer to be ready if you use the Sleep mode.

All of these improvements from Windows 7, to the types of computers and components we purchase can affect our environment for the better, cleaner air, cleaner water and a better life!

Resources
I’m a PC, running Windows 7 & I’m Green!
Sorry Kermit, But It Can Be Easy Being Green
Configuring Windows Home Server For Energy Savings
Sharing jokes and funny pictures is a lot more Earth-Friendly than it used to be.

 

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ActiveWin.com Windows 7 Ultimate 32 and 64 bit Review

This October Microsoft will release Windows 7 world-wide, the successor to Windows Vista and Windows XP (again), a major upgrade that promises to further improve the user experience on different PC form factors such as the popular Netbook. For the past couple of weeks I along with members of the ActiveWin.com Team spent some time testing the Windows 7 (RTM) Release to Manufacturing build, which is the final build that will be available in stores and new PC’s around the world (that goes for Intel Macs too).

Because the review is 26 pages long, I won’t be able to post everything here, but I want to give you a snippet. Here is the final comments from the review:

This review was just the tip of the ice berg, Windows 7 is a major release that innovates and performs. As noted throughout this review, Microsoft went back to the basics of what made Windows great in the first place; the operating systems focus on performance has paid off. End users will appreciate significant improvements in areas such as boot time, resume from sleep/hibernation and faster connection to networks. Windows 7 also focuses deeply on mobility, products like the Netbook form factor, which has become highly popular with consumers over the past couple of years. Windows 7 users can appreciate improvements in battery life while also being able to experience the web in a more seamless way through Windows 7’s out of box support for technologies such as 3G and simplified access and setup of Networks.

 

Should you upgrade? Most certainly, there is no on the fence, if’s or buts about it. This is a major upgrade both Windows XP and Vista users will certainly see benefits from. Vista was of course a hard sell because of the major architectural changes it introduced, Windows 7 reaps the benefits. The investments both businesses and consumers have made in it over the past three years has come forward. In my final comments of ActiveWin’s Windows Vista review, I recommended potential customers move to Windows Vista on new PC’s. Of course with Windows 7 it’s also a great way to upgrade, but existing systems can definitely benefit from Windows 7 with just an upgrade. Running the OS on an AMD Sempron 1.6 GHz machine, 512 MBs the performance is just exceptional, I see Windows 7 breathing new life into many old systems as far back as 2003 (with a few upgrades of course). Windows 7 has the edge here; this is something I can’t see Apple’s Mac OS X Snow Leopard doing because of the architectural changes.

 

With fundamental improvements to how you navigate and interact with your devices and applications, Windows 7 provides an experience that’s cohesive and forward thinking. It makes application switching intuitive while also enhancing the general user experience of working with your programs in a more convenient way. The Taskbar has come a long way since the days of ‘it works just like switching channels’. Users expect a rich experience and the compelling aesthetics such as interactive thumbnail previews and enhanced search functionality will bring a major boost to productivity. Subtle changes to Search and customization themselves make Windows 7 a joy to work with on a daily basis. Businesses will appreciate the new experiences when accessing resources and staying connected to corporate networks in more simplified ways. When combined with the free Windows Live Essentials, Windows 7 shines further, and proves that Microsoft is focusing on delivering real innovation and value to consumers.

Users today have an overwhelming amount of information stored on their PCs and various devices to contend with, keeping it all organized and accessible can be a chore. Windows 7 takes the complexity out of such scenarios and I think it’s the gem of this release a lot of users will discover they could never do without.

Read the entire review here

ActiveWin.com:

Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer 8 – Review
Microsoft Windows Live Essentials – Review
ActiveWin: Windows 7 FAQ/Quick Guide
Microsoft Windows 7 RC Build 7100 Preview
Microsoft Windows 7 Beta Build 7000 Preview
Microsoft Windows 7 Pre-beta M3 Build 6801 Preview

Related:

Microsoft Windows Vista RTM – Review
Microsoft Windows XP Professional – Review
Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition – Review
Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional Edition – Review
Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition – Review

Microsoft:

Windows 7 Team Blog
Engineering Windows 7
Microsoft Answers Windows 7 Forums
Windows 7 home
Windows Live Team Blog

 

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Update for Windows 7 (KB974332)

Overview

Install this update to resolve issues with non-compatible applications for Windows 7. For complete details of this update, see Knowledge Base Article KB974332. After you install this item, you may have to restart your computer.

System Requirements
  • Supported Operating Systems: Windows 7

Download here

 

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Checking out Office Word Web App

Yesterday Microsoft announced the technical preview of Office Web Apps. A suite of Microsoft’s popular desktop programs Word, Excel and PowerPoint that are now built into the web browser allowing users rich fidelity of documents anywhere, anytime, any device. Microsoft Office Web Apps will be delivered as part of the next generation of Office products and services (Office 2010). With this announcement, its also official that Office Web Apps are now a part of the Windows Live which I am excited about. Yesterday evening, I had a chance to check out these applications and so far I am very impressed with what I have experienced. Let me get this out of the way right now, Office Word Web kicks Google Docs to the curb. From performance to the richness of viewing documents. Microsoft has a hit on their hands here and I can’t wait to see more functionality added to the service over the next few months. Microsoft Office Web Apps support the following web browsers: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Apples Safari.

Setup & Access

End User License Agreement

To use Office Web Apps, you will need to have a Windows Live ID (Hotmail, Live, MSN) account with access to Windows Live Skydrive. Once you have your account setup, simply go to a folder containing Office documents such as Word, Excel or PowerPoint or upload some files to your Skydrive (http://skydrive.live.com). When you open a folder with Office files in it, you will see a banner for the first time announcing a request to "Join our preview program to create, edit, view, and share Office documents online!" Once you click this link, you will be asked to accept a EULA which is currently a Technical Preview (Beta).

 

Selecting your Office document to view or edit

After setting up the service, select a document from your library, which will display a gallery of options, such as View, Edit, Download, Delete, Move etc. Right now, you are limited to viewing Documents, no editing which will be coming soon. My interest is primarily to see if the formatting is preserved in the web browser. After clicking View, your document will be loaded and that’s it!

How does it look?

 

A table rendered beautifully in Microsoft Word Web App

Well, its just like viewing in Microsoft Word on the desktop. Boring I know and that’s a good thing. You will notice that you are limited with you can do for now, but documents are rendered just like you would have them in Microsoft Word 2007, the same fonts, paragraphs and even tables are displayed correctly. 

 

Functionality available in Office Web Word app now are limited to viewing, searching the document, printing and scan through documents quickly. The interface maintains some similarity with the desktop versions in particular Office 2010. If you are limited on screen real estate, you can click the pop out button (located in the upper left hand corner of the screen), which will display your document in a separate window minus the web browsers file menu and toolbars. Alternatively, you can gain more real estate in either Firefox or Internet Explorer by hitting the F11 key on your keyboard. Performance is quite good, I was able to load 1.7 MB Word Document in under a minute, considering its 29 pages of text and, complex table and numerous images.

Office Web Apps are limited for the time being, but more functionality is expected soon!

 
Seaching a document in Microsoft Office Word Web App
 

Suggestions and Conclusion

Right now, as much as I love the Windows Live wave branding, I think it takes away a lot of real estate, this is not a problem on high resolution monitors. But for me, I would like to see more of my document, so possibly making the banner that reveals the path to your document in the Skydrive much thinner in height would be nice. Just like the desktop version of Microsoft Office apps, I would prefer if the file name is displayed in the title bar "Microsoft Office Web App (Technical Preview) – File Name" to maintain some consistency in look and feel. These are minor suggestions anyway, but I like what I see and it should open up a new world of productivity for users. For instance, I am working on the "ActiveWin: Windows 7 Ultimate Review" which is 67 pages of content, the most frustrating part is being told I have to make a few changes here and there. This means, I need to load up Microsoft Word, make the change then upload it back to my Skydrive Collaboration folder. With Office Word App, I don’t need to do this anymore, I can make changes or the person with whom I am sharing/collaborating with on the document can do this if necessary from within web browser with no need to download or re-upload. If you need to make more complex changes, you can always download the file back into Office Word on the desktop and apply changes. Its clear benefits like that I see Office Web Apps making a huge impact.

Resources

A look at the new Office 2010
The Microsoft Office 2010 IT Blog
Microsoft Web Apps: Microsoft Office goes to the web
 

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