Monthly Archives: December 2009

Seasons Greetings from Teching It Easy

I would like to wish Happy Holidays and a Happy/Prosperous 2010 when it comes to all readers of Teching it Easy.

Andre

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Taking Advantage of Action Center in Windows 7

Making your operating system communicate with you can be a daunting task. Its something researchers have been working on for many decades now. Microsoft with Windows 7 might have just found a solution. The way Windows has communicated a problem for many releases has varied over the years. We are all aware of the blue memory dump screen affectionately called the blue screen of death or random dialogs featuring stop sign or exclamation triangle with some unintelligible text. Windows has evolved over the years by making the experience more friendly and human, with Windows XP some problems or items that needed attention were moved to tool tip balloons in the Notification Area. Users complained they were annoying and a bit too intrusive at times. Vista focused on centralizing messages the system gave out through the Problem Reports and Solutions Control Panel item. This was a respectable effort that made finding and managing the problems associated with a variety of aspects of your system (hardware, software) less daunting, there still existed the problem of tool tip notifications and scattered experiences across a variety of activities associated with Windows.

Enter Action Center, a new Control Panel item in Windows 7 that integrates Problem Reports and Solutions,  Security Center, Windows Update, Windows Defender, Network Access Protection, Backup and Restore, Recovery, User Account Control consolidating numerous notifications into one centralized environment for maintaining and keeping your PC secure and running smoothly. Lets learn a bit more about these tools:

 

To access Action Center, click Start, type Action Center, hit Enter.

As you can see in the above screenshot, Action Center shell features a clean well organized layout categorized into two main areas Security and Maintenance and additional quick links to Troubleshooting, Recovery and other available options under the Control Panel Task Pane.

Security

The Security Area of Action Center provides vital information about your security status, with colored notifications that indicate the severity of a problem. As you can see, my current status is red along with a summary noting that my Antivirus program is out of date. With one click I can immediately update my Antivirus right there to resolve that problem.

 

Red indicates that there is a security threat or potential for loss of data if the problem is not corrected.

Yellow indicate that you should attempt to fix the problem but there is no risk to your computer if you don’t.

 

If I need additional information, simply click the chevron button, this will reveal information regarding areas of the system such as Network Firewall, Windows Update, Internet Security settings, User Account Control and Network Access Protection. The key aspect here is the centralized summary of the systems health which makes it easier to manage and maintain. For consumers and business users, User Account Control and Network Access Protection provide greater ease of use when working with your computer and simplifies the security experience for users who connect to a business Network. If your Administrator has enabled support for NAP, when you connect your PC, it is checked to see if it is in compliance with standards implemented by the Administrator, such as software, settings and updated Antivirus. If everything is not updated, your access to the network can be limited until all those outstanding issues are resolved.

User Account Control notifications can be better controlled when it comes to notifying you about changes to your system. If you had upgraded to Windows Vista, you will remember the numerous User Account Control dialogs you had to contend with, whether its accessing an area of the system, installing a program or doing some random task.

Windows 7 provides a more passive experience with UAC, you will still see a few, but it’s not triggered for every action taken. UAC also gives the user more information about why it does what it does. For instance, an application is shown which part of the system it needs to access or need to write to. UAC is still annoying, but it’s not in your face. The enhanced settings provide users the option of controlling how they are notified of potential changes to the system. Similar to Internet Explorers ‘Security level for this zone’ setting, users have a choice between Never and Always Notify.

 

  • Never Notify is the most drastic option and is pretty much similar to turning of UAC all together. I don’t think you want to choose this option because UAC still has a place in Windows, just that it needs to be more intelligent. For this there are more flexible options.
  • The option to only be notified when programs attempt to make changes to the system, but exclude user initiated actions. It kind of defeats the original premise of UAC protecting novice users from themselves, but for those who are novices and experts who find UAC in its current state too intrusive should find this to be the right balance.
  • Two other options, ‘Always Notify Me’, notifies the user, but does not wait on a response from the user, which the obvious ‘Always notify me and wait for my response’ does.

Overall, I consider this to be progress; users finally have choice on this critical area of the system. Its clear Microsoft has listened and users should feel more confident with changes they make to UAC. In Vista there is this nagging paranoia even for those who willingly turn it off, with Windows 7, its all about choice and confidence.

Maintenance

This area of Action Center deals with Problem Reports/error messages that the system has encountered. If you have not submitted them yet, you can click the Check for Solutions link that might be available to resolve the problem. Backup is also featured here and notifies you about out of date backups or files that need to be backed up. When you click the Chevron button, it reveals additional details such as whether you need to check for updates or if an action is required for a particular problem you might be experiencing.

Check out Notebooks.com Windows 7 backup tutorial here

Problem Reports and Solutions which was introduced with the release of Windows Vista is now a part of the Action Center shell. Whenever your computer encounters errors software or hardware related, Problem Report keeps a log of all these problems. If you click the ‘View problems to report’ link under Maintenance you might see a backlog of problems that you can check for possible solutions.

 

Problems are organized into categories that allows you to easily associate an issue with a particular area of the system. As you can see in the above screenshot, I have multiple issues related to my Antivirus program, Network, third party application installer and the Windows Explorer shell. You have the option to pick and choose how you want to report problems. If you want to check for solutions to all problems, just check the ‘Select All’ box, if you consider some problems to not be detrimental you can check for solutions on a case by case basis. Other factors can include your Internet Connection, because a lot of diagnostics data is sent to assist with the resolution of the problem, it can take some time to send the information.

In addition to these main aspects of the Action Center, you will find additional tools such as Troubleshooting and Recovery. In our Troubleshooting Heroes article, we discussed the benefits of this new experience which bundles packaged wizards to help diagnose and resolve up to 27 of the most common problems with additional troubleshooters available from Windows Update. We also took a look at the new Recovery Options included in Windows 7, which provides more effective options for correcting issues whether its associated with reinstalling Windows or repairing your computer if it is not starting properly.

Accessibility and Notifications

This probably is the highlight of Action Center in Windows 7, the subtle notification experience and quick access to items that need attention. Situated in the Notification area of the Taskbar is the Action Center Flag, if you hover your mouse pointer over the icon, you will see a tool tip revealing the amount of pending messages that need attention. When clicked it reveals additional details and you can click an individual message to resolve the issue right away or just open the Action Center to review all messages.

Options

Another thing I like about Action Center it is very customizable, you are not restricted to doing what the program says. If you click on the Action Center settings link under Control Panel Home, you will see the option to fine tune what types of items you would like to receive reports and messages about or what type of information you would like Windows 7 to diagnose and send to resolve.

Conclusion

If you have not checked out Action Center, now is the time to do so. The centralized experience makes it seamless for managing and maintaining the health of your PC. The simplified convenience of the interface, ability to customize and mitigate issues quickly makes this addition to Windows, a definite winner!

 

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FAQ: Some things to know before and after installing Windows 7

Its been over a month since the general availability of Windows 7 world wide. Since then there have been numerous experiences shared about upgrading to the new OS. If you have not upgraded yet, but planning to or about to upgrade, here are some tips based on experiences installing the OS with some first hand knowledge about what you should do before or after installing Windows 7.

1.) Windows 7 Checklist:
* Back up your files to an external hard disk, DVD, CD or USB flash drive. For assistance in backing up your files, pleas visit windows.microsoft.com/upgrade-windows-xp.

Also check out Notebooks.com detailed article about using Windows Easy Transfer for backing up your personal files and settings here

* Make sure your PC is connected to the Internet, so you can get installation updates. (If you don’t have an Internet connection, you can still install Windows 7).

* Check the Windows 7 Package to make sure your PC meets the system requirements.

* If you have Windows XP on your computer, you will have to completely replace Windows XP with Windows 7. Before you begin, make sure you have the original installation disks for your programs. After you install Windows 7, you will need to manually reinstall your programs and restore your files and settings.

2.) If your PC is currently running a 64-bit version of Windows, use the 64 bit disc. To find out which version your PC is running:
1. Click the Start button
2. Right-click Computer or My Computer
3. Click Properties. You’ll see the version listed next to System type.

– Find your 25-character Windows product key. It’s inside your Windows package.
– If needed, first update your antivirus program, then follow these steps:

1. Run your Antivirus program
2. Turn it off by choosing to disable it.
3. After you install Windows 7, remember to turn it on again by choosing to enable it. Or, install new antvirus software that works with Windows 7.

Resources:
Windows XP and Windows 7 Activation procedures:
Windows XP users who are performing a clean upgrade to Windows 7 are advised not to enter their product key when prompted during installation. Rather, they should move on to the next step and only enter the key once full installation is complete.

Start the Installation:
1. Turn on your PC.
2. When you get to the Windows desktop, inset the Windows 7 installation disc. Setup should launch automatically. If it does’t, just:

– Click the Start button
– Click Computer or My Computer
– Open the Windows 7 installation disc on your DVD drive.
– Double-click setup.exe

3. On the Windows "Install Windows" page, click Install Now and follow the instructions.
4. When you’re asked "Which type of installation do you want?. choose of the following:

* Click Upgrade if you are running Windows Vista to keep your files, programs, and settings and install Windows 7.
* Click Custom if you are running Windows XP or want to completely replace your current version of Windows with Windows 7. You will need to manually reinstall your programs and restore your backed up files after installation. Visit Windows.microsoft.com/upgrade-windows-xp for details.

5. Continue to foll0w the instructions to complete the setup.
6. When you’re finished, you’ll see the Windows desktop.

Resources: How to Upgrade to Windows 7

If you are experiencing problems or seeing error messages, try the following in your existing version of Windows (XP or Vista) before continuing with the Upgrade:
1. Disable any security software before attempting to upgrade or do a clean install.
2. Make sure your computer is updated (devices and applications)
3. Disconnect any non-essential devices before installing.
4. Check your hard disk for any errors:

Click Start
Type: CMD, from the results, right click CMD
Click ‘Run as Administrator’
At the Command Prompt, type: chkdsk /r
When you restart your system, your computer will be scanned for errors and attempts will be made to correct them.

Click Start
Type: CMD, from the results, right click CMD
Click ‘Run as Administrator’
At the Command Prompt, type: sfc/scannow

This will check for any integrity violations

Restart your system

Run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor which you can use to help determine which features and editions of Windows 7 will run on your computer; visit http://windows.microsoft.com/upgradeadvisor.

3.) How do I receive Technical support for Windows 7?

Call: United States: (866) 234-6020, Canada: (800) 668-7975

Digital River Support: 1-877-244-8653

Microsoft Store: 1-877-my-ms-store

Digital River support.url

4.) How do I enable Windows Virtual PC with XP Mode?
There is no product key necessary to enable Windows XP Mode. You simply need to have a CPU (processor) that supports hardware based virtualization: Intel-VT or AMD-V, you need to install two files:
1. Windows6.1-KB958559-x64 or x86 depending on the architecture you are running
Restart the system, then install:
2. WindowsXPMode_en-us

Please follow these steps to enable hardware virtualization:
    – Restart the computer and enter BIOS setup.
    – Search virtualization setting in BIOS and enable the setting.
    – Save BIOS settings.
    – Power off the computer, wait for few seconds and start the computer.

Both Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC can be downloaded from http://www.windows.com/business/downloads.
For more information on system requirements, go to http://www.microsoft.com/virtual-pc

Notebooks.com Using Windows Virtual PC with Windows XP Mode

5.) If you are experiencing difficulty Activating Windows or entering your product key:
Try Activate Windows 7 manually:
1. Click Start, and in the Search box type :  slui.exe 4

2. Press ENTER on your Keyboard

3. Select your Country.
4. Select the Phone Activation option, and hold on for a real person.

At the enter your product key page, do a keyless installation (do not enter a key).
Once you have reached the desktop, click Start, type: CMD
Right click CMD, click ‘Run as administrator’
At the command prompt, type, regedit
Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersionsetup/OOBE
/mediabootinstall

changed its value to 0
Go back to the Command Prompt, type the following:
slmgr /rearm
Restart the pc and use the activate windows to re-enter my product key

For more information on Windows Product Activation, please see http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/Activating-Windows-frequently-asked-questions.

6.) What is the Windows 7 Family Pack?
For information on the Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade family pack, please see: http://store.microsoft.com/microsoft/Windows-7-Home-Premium-Upgrade-Family-Pack/product/87DFFF11.

Notebooks.com A Look at the Windows 7 editions

7.) What is the difference between Windows 7 OEM and Windows 7 retail licenses?
OEM versions of Windows 7 are identical to Full License Retail versions except for the following:

– OEM versions do not offer any free Microsoft direct support from Microsoft support personnel

– OEM licenses are tied to the very first computer you install and activate it on

– OEM versions allow all hardware upgrades except for an upgrade to a different model motherboard

– OEM versions cannot be used to directly upgrade from an older Windows operating system

8.) I installed Windows 7 successfully, but its starting up with a blank screen?
Run Windows Low-resolution

1) Detach all non-essential peripheral devices from your computer, such as printers, scanners and removable storage devices.

2) Restart the computer.

3) Keep pressing the F8 key until the Windows Startup menu appears.

4) Choose Enable Low-resolution video (640*480) option, and press Enter.

5) Then install the right display card driver compatible with Windows 7 in Windows Low-resolution mode.

Note: In Low-resolution Mode, your system display and Desktop will look and perform differently than in Normal Mode. This is only temporary.

You might go to Device Manager, right click your hardware device in the list and select Update Driver Software; then click Search automatically for updated driver software.

Note: Drivers on the Windows Update site are directly provided by hardware manufacturers. Microsoft tests drivers in various environments before they are published; however, we cannot guarantee all drivers will work on all hardware platforms as there are too many different models, although their hardware ID are the same as the standard version. In some cases, due to hardware modifications by different manufacturers, the driver updates may cause some error.

If it does not work on your issue, I’d suggest you installing the Vista driver in Compatibility mode. Remove and rescan that hardware device in Device Manager, right-click on the driver executable/installer file -> Properties and select the Compatibility tab; click the checkbox before Run this program in Compatibility mode for option and select Windows Vista in the list-down box; then try installing the device driver via Run as administrator. In addition, you can use the Windows XP driver for testing.

9.) How can I purchase Windows 7 for an alternate location?
Set your ‘change’ feature at the top of the Microsoft store page to the country in which you live. If the country is not available, try purchasing from a reputable third party dealer that does International shipping such as http://amazon.com/software

10.) What are the upgrade paths and what should I do before deciding whether to upgrade my version of Windows?
When making significant changes to your computer such as an upgrade, it is always recommended you backup your system prior to installing a new version of Windows. In your case, you can upgrade to Windows 7 depending on edition and architecture of Windows Vista you have installed. If you are running a 32 bit version of Vista and want to upgrade to a 64 bit version (edition of Windows 7), you will have to a do clean install, this applies vice-versa.

If you are running consumer editions of Windows Vista such as Home Basic or Premium, you can only upgrade to either Windows 7 Home Premium or Ultimate. Also, you can do downgrades, which means, if you are running Windows Vista Ultimate now, you cannot downgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium. You must do logical upgrades:

Windows Vista Home Basic > Windows 7 Home Basic, Premium or Ultimate
Windows Vista Home Premium > Windows 7 Home Premium or Ultimate
Windows Vista Business > Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise or Ultimate
Windows Vista Enterprise > Windows 7 Enterprise
Windows Vista Ultimate > Windows 7 Ultimate.

11.) When attempting boot from the Windows 7 installation media, I receive an error that my DVD drive is missing:
When you boot your computer, press [F8] on boot and disable driver signing checking. The drive should show up.

If you are attempting to start your Windows 7 installation from within a running version of Windows and the disk does not start or auto-run:

Click Start, type: Device Manager
Expand your DVD/CD listing in the device manager tree
Right click the optical drive
Click Uninstall
Restart the system
Insert the Windows 7 disk and attempt the installation again.

1. Press Windows R keys on the keyboard simultaneously, type regedit and press enter.

2. Open the Registry key

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{4D36E965-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}

3. In the right pane, right-click UpperFilters, and then click Delete.

4. Click Yes to confirm the removal of the UpperFilters registry entry.

5. In the right pane, right-click LowerFilters, and then click Delete.

6. Click Yes to confirm the removal of the LowerFilters registry entry.

7. Exit Registry Editor, and then restart the computer.

If you find any difficulty in performing the above provided steps then you can follow the below provided link for further reference.

The CD drive or the DVD drive does not work as expected on a computer that you upgraded to Windows Vista

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/929461

12.) I keep getting the Windows 7 hanging at certain points in the installation:
Fix it Fix for Upgrade hangs at 62% when you upgrade to Windows 7 from Windows Vista – http://bit.ly/3iDqs3

Hanging at 62% when you upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7

http://social.answers.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/w7install/thread/f088fcd7-9852-41dc-aa4b-a59038c51da8

What about the Reboot Loop when upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 7:
http://www.webtlk.com/2009/09/28/how-to-fix-endless-reboot-while-trying-to-upgrade-windows-vista-to-windows-7/

13.) I am running Windows Vista Home Premium, but I found out I cannot do an in place upgrade to , what should I do?
You will have to do a clean installation, there is no in place upgrade path from Windows 7 Home Premium to Professional.

when you receive the Windows 7 Professional DVD, install the Windows 7 Windows Easy Transfer Utility from the DVD (To find it, just navigate to x:\support\migwiz, ‘x:’ represents the name of your disk drive. In this folder, you will see a collection of files, the important one you need to look for and double click is ‘migsetup’.) , run it and create a WET file (Windows Easy Transfer file), if you have an external hard disk, you can have it stored there so you can access it later when you do a clean install of Windows 7 Professional DVD.

Once you have done that, simply do a clean install of Windows 7 Professional DVD. In Windows 7 Professional DVD, launch Windows Easy Transfer, follow the on screen wizard, point to where you stored the the WET file (external hard disk), and it will restore your personal files and settings. Reinstall any necessary applications.

Resources:
http://www.notebooks.com/2009/10/07/using-windows-easy-transfer-in-windows-7/

14.) I received a complimentary copy of Windows 7 from the Windows 7 Launch event, but I only got the 32 bit version, why?
I assume the reason why 32 bit was provided was to avoid complications considering that device driver, application compatibility and system requirements must be taken into account when choosing 64 bit. Considering that not everybody has 4 GBs or more RAM installed, Microsoft made a safe bet choosing 32 bit.

Resources: Alternate media:
You can contact:

Microsoft Supplemental Parts Department at 1-800-360-7561, Monday through Friday, 5:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. Pacific Time.

15.) I bought a computer and was eligible for the free upgrade, but I didn’t get the version I wanted.
If you are receiving this free upgrade as part of a purchase of a new PC, you will receive a corresponding edition of Windows 7 to the currently installed version of Windows Vista. Example: Windows Vista Home Premium 32 > Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit. If you need alternate media, you need to contact the manufacturer of the computer.

16.) I upgraded from Windows Vista, but there is no email program included:
Windows Mail has been replaced by the free Windows Live Mail included as a part of the free Windows Live Essentials. To get it, go to: http://download.live.com

17.) Some of my devices and applications are not working, what should I do?

A: If your Internet connection is working in Windows 7, I suggest you try obtaining the drivers through Windows Update. Click Start > All Programs > Windows Update > Turn on Windows Update. A list of available updates will then be downloaded, you will have the option to view them, do so and check off the appropriate drivers or software patches you need and click Install. You can also check the manufacturer’s website for patches, updated drivers or to simply find out about Windows 7 support for the particular product.

18.) How do I uninstall Windows 7?
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/971762

How to uninstall Windows 7 using the Windows.old folder:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/971760

19.) When attempting to install Windows 7, setup reports it cannot save temporary files?

This can be caused by a number of factors, please see the following thread here for possible solutions.

20.) I just did an upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7, but I am seeing a dual boot entry for Windows Vista although that installation has been deleted?
To remove the entry from the boot manager, please install EasyBCD 2.0 beta in Windows 7: http://j.mp/EBCD2

21.) Can I downgrade my OEM version of Windows 7 Professional to Windows XP Professional?

For a limited time of 18 months after the general availability of Windows 7 or the release of a Windows 7 Service Pack, whichever is earlier, the OEM license of Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate will include downgrade rights to Windows XP Professional. After that period the OEM license will enable downgrade rights to Windows Vista Business.

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=4F4B3CFD-7F4E-46CB-8117-8275F7683D3F&displaylang=en

22.) How do I resume a digital download of Windows 7?

If it was downloaded from Digital River, please click on the link below which corresponds to which country you reside in:

United States – http://windows7.digitalriver.com/servlet/PromoServlet/promoID.46354000
Canada – http://windows7.digitalriver.com/servlet/PromoServlet/promoID.46354400
Europe – http://windows7.digitalriver.com/servlet/PromoServlet/promoID.46354500
Australia – http://windows7.digitalriver.com/servlet/PromoServlet/promoID.46354600

Microsoft Store: Download Manager Help

23.) I keep receiving a Windows Installer cannot be accessed error when I attempt upgrade to Windows 7?

Try editing the ‘image path’ entry in your registry. See Method 2 in this article
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/324516
If no help, try the rest of these fixes:
319624: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/319624/

24.) I keep receiving a .NET Framework 2.0 error message everytime I start Windows 7

How to repair the .NET Framework 2.0 and 3.0 on Windows Vista.url

25.) Can you use Windows 7 retail product keys for Windows Anytime Upgrades?

Yes you can, both upgrade and full versions of Windows 7 retail product keys can be used with Windows Anytime Upgrade in editions of Windows 7 that include it (Starter, Home Premium and Professional).

26.) When Windows 7 is booting up for the first time to be used, I encounter a delayed black screen that indicates the machine has hung:

A black screen may occur if there is a problem with the video card drivers and Windows 7. To resolve this problem please follow these steps:

1. Restart the computer.
2. Press the F8 key before it enters Windows.
3. Select the Safe Mode option in the Advanced Boot Options menu and press Enter.

NOTE: If Safe Mode does not work please retry the first two steps and select the Enable low-resolution video (640×480) option instead. If this option is selected your desktop will be bigger than usual – this is by design.
4. Once in your desktop, click on Start and select the Control Panel.
5. Select the Hardware and Sound option and then click on Device Manager under Devices and Printers.
6. Expand the Display adapters list – this should display the video card that is currently installed on your computer. Please note the make and model before proceeding.
7. Right click the video card under Display Adapters and select Disable.
8. Repeat this step if more than one video card is showing under Display Adapters.
9. Once all display adapters have been disabled restart the computer in normal mode.

At this point you should be able to get into your computer without a problem; however, your video card is disabled so you will need to download and install the latest drivers for it. If you had noted the make and model of card when you were in the device manager you can search for this on the Internet and/or contact the hardware manufacturer for help. Once the drivers are installed correctly on the system you should be able to boot normally without any resolution problems.

I will continue to update this regularly with new answers to common questions associated with deploying Windows 7. If you have any questions of your own, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

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