Windows 7 on the Go

When I first got access to the Windows 7 preview back in October 2008, the first form factor I installed it on was a laptop. Since then I have tried it on a few desktops and workstations, but I am particularly impressed by the benefits that users of portable computers such as Netbooks, Notebooks, desktop replacements can get by running Windows 7. Out of the box, the first thing I noticed was the improved performance of Windows 7 running on my laptop. Prior to this I was running Windows Vista Ultimate x64, Windows 7 x64 in comparison is a snap, boot time, log in, sleep, resume from sleep, hibernate, resume from hibernate all see enhancements when running Windows 7, its ‘fast"! I can’t emphasize that enough. The Windows Team went back to the fundamentals and worked on some key areas of the operating system to achieve these welcome improvements.

Battery Life and Power Management

It’s a fact that more people are using laptops, not mainly for mobility reasons, but for personality and style. They want to carry it with them wherever they go and be able to use it without having to be an expert in power conservation or play find the power socket. Windows 7 features exceptional Power Management enhancements that include increasing the idle time for the processor, automatically dimming the display, and more efficient playback of DVDs. There are also better information tools to keep you up to date about the state of your battery life when on the go. The Windows Team worked to increase the efficiency of battery life in laptops by reducing the amount of background activities by supporting the trigger-starting of services, when you are doing a task that requires a particular service, Windows 7 will provide that service on demand.

Adaptive Display Brightness automatically reduces display brightness after a certain period of inactivity similar to cell phones. Less power is required to watch a DVD because Windows 7 requires less processing power which leads to a more efficient way to spinning the disk, this leads to benefits such as watching a full length movie on a single battery charge. In Vista, Wake on LAN could only be done over a wired network connection, in 7, you can now Wake on Wireless LAN which provides the same capabilities over a wireless network connection. For IT environments, this minimizes power costs for such systems for scenarios like maintenance and applying patches.

Today, mobile PCs send energy to parts of the computer when they are 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 when the cable is disconnected and restores power when the cable is connected. Making users aware of the battery life status is key improvement in Windows 7 for a better; the Battery Life Notification Area applet provides prominent, timely information to ensure that you can use your notebook in tight situations where there is no power. A new utility called Power Config detects problems across devices, policies, firmware, system settings, applications, and other common areas where settings can reduce power efficiency delivering that information to you in an easy to understand report.

Getting the mouse out of Windows – 7 Tips and Features.

1. Conserve Energy Automatically.

Conserving energy is very important these days and its something we need to be conscious about. One of the ways I have found to efficiently preserve battery life in Windows 7 is to control the actual Windows 7 experience. Sometimes I might have a power outage, but I want to use my laptop until electricity is restored, task like listening to music and tweeting are some of the things I will do to occupy the time.


What I did was have Windows 7’s Power Options set to Power Saver when there is a power outage. This allows me to get more juice and be able to use my laptop for longer periods. This is not only great for Power Outages of course, but when you are somewhere that you cannot get access to a power socket, it comes in very handy. So when a power outage occurs, Windows 7 automatically does things like change the Windows 7 theme from Aero Glass to Aero Standard. Its a lovely feature and shows the intelligence built into the system.

Here is a geeky tip my friend Kristan M. Kenney told me about, PowerCfg.exe. This lets you get a report of how energy is being used so you can fine tune and configure your laptop to use less power.

Click Start, type: CMD

From the search results, right click CMD and click Run as Administrator

At the command prompt type the following:
 powercfg.exe /energy /output "%USERPROFILE%\Desktop\Energy Report.html"

A 1 minute scan will be ran across your system and a report will then be generated, check your Desktop, it will be stored in an HTML file. As you can see, I had a few errors.

Windows 7 will display an analysis of the report with recommendations for what corrective measures you can take.


2. Quicker Access to Networks

Windows 7 makes viewing and connecting to all of your networks simple and consistent with the new View Available Networks floating dialog in the Notification Area. You’ll always have one-click access to available networks, regardless of whether those networks are based on Wi-Fi, Mobile Broadband, Dial-up, or your corporate VPN.




3. Improved Support for External Displays.

If you have a mobile PC, you may want to connect it to an external display—for example, to watch a movie at home or give a presentation at work. Windows 7 makes it easier to connect to external displays because all of the common display-related features are consolidated in one place, under Display in Control Panel. And with Windows 7, you can press the Windows key + P to toggle between your laptop screen and an external display.

4. Mobility Center

What Mobility Center does is provide a one stop location to configure all settings related to laptops. Instead of hunting down through various menus and applets, Windows provides this one applet that makes it convenient and centralized for you to adjust all appropriate settings when on the go.

  • Brightness: Move the slide to temporarily adjust the brightness of your display.
  • Volume: Use the slider to adjust the speaker volume of your laptop, or select the mute check box.
  • Battery Status: View how much charge remains on your batter or select a power plan from the list.
  • Wireless Network: View the status of your wireless network connection or turn your wireless adapter on or off.
  • Screen Rotation: If you are using Windows 7 on a Tablet computer, you can use this to change the orientation of the on the fly from either landscape or portrait or vice versa.
  • External Display: Connect an additional monitor to your laptop, or customize the display settings.
  • Sync Center: View the status of an in-progress file sync, start a new sync, set up a sync partnerships, or change your settings in the Sync Center.

5. Flexible Start Menu Power Options

The Windows 7 Start menu power options are more flexible. Back in Windows Vista, the default was Shutdown, in XP, it was the Turn off Windows dialog that you had to invoke. Users can change the default Power Options button to something you regularly use, such as Sleep or Hibernation. To do this, right click the Taskbar, click Properties > click the Start Menu (tab) > in the Power button action: list box and select the desired option you would like to see every time you click Power Button on the Start menu.

6. Integrated Fingerprint Readers and Logon

Fingerprint scanners are becoming more and more common in standard laptop configurations, and
Windows 7 helps ensure that they work well. It’s easy to set up and begin using a fingerprint reader, and
logging on to Windows using a fingerprint is more reliable across different hardware providers. Fingerprint reader configurations are easy to modify, so you can control how you log on to Windows 7 and manage the fingerprint data stored on your PC. Clubhouse member Tarun Chachra recently did an article about setting up Biometric Devices in Windows 7, a worthy read!

7. Utilize BitLocker to protect your laptop

With Windows Vista, Microsoft introduced us to BitLocker, an encryption technology to protect your personal data and operating system files on the hard disk on which Windows is installed. This is a great feature if your computer is stolen or unauthorized individuals try to access your computer.

To learn more about how to setup BitLocker, check out the following Microsoft TechNet Guide:

BitLocker Drive Encryption Step-by-Step Guide for Windows 7

Windows 7 provides a holistic experience when working with your portable computer. Especially when on the go or in tight situations where you need to conserve battery life. The Windows Teams focus on efficiency is a major highlight for users too. From ease of use, management to security, running Windows 7 on your laptop, Tablet, Notebook, Netbook is a must.


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