Monthly Archives: May 2010

Setup and Troubleshoot Printers in Windows 7

Despite the aim of creating a paperless world through digital alternatives, printing on paper remains a very popular task among business and home users. Whether its printing documents for archival purposes, reports, photos at home or a news letter for your church. In addition to these common activities, printer manufacturers continue to produce innovative products that produce exceptional quality output. Windows 7 introduces some improvements to printing, with a new Explorer shell called Devices and Printers along with a new feature for manufacturers to plug into Windows with unique content about their products called Device Stage. In this article, we take a look at the differences to setting up a Printer, along with common tips and tricks for troubleshooting printer woes in Windows 7.

Devices and Printers window in Windows 7

In previous versions of Windows such as XP and Vista, we had the Printers directory called Printers and Faxes, where we added and managed installed printers. Instead of having multiple locations for managing devices, the Windows 7 Team has created Devices and Printers which consolidates all of your connected and wireless devices in one place.

Adding a Printer

There are multiple ways to install a printer in Windows 7. You can plug the printer in whether its a USB or Parallel connector and Windows will automatically detect the Printer and install it for you, this is called Plug and Play. If you are planning to share a printer, this might require that you use a different type of interface such as Ethernet or Wireless (Bluetooth or Wi-Fi). A Printer driver is the software program that enables your computer and printer to communicate with each other. To Add a Printer, click Start, click Devices and Printers then click Add Printer on the Command Bar. This will begin the Add Printer wizard.

Selecting the printer port and type

If Windows does not detect your printer, you can install it manually.

If you decide to install your Printer manually, before doing so it is recommended you check the manufacturers website first to find out if a newer driver is available. If it does not find one, you can supply the installation disk that came with your printer and let Windows search the disk for the available driver. If the driver on the installation disk is not compatible with Windows 7, you can use Windows Update which host an extensive library of the most up to date drivers. If you don’t have an available Internet connection, you can proceed with installing by using the default built in drivers in Windows 7. Windows 7 will then check its driver library for an available driver. 

If you have a printer that worked fine in Windows Vista and Windows XP but you are experiencing problems under Windows 7, you might need to update the Printer’s Firmware, this is especially important to consider for industrial type laser printers used within a office on business networks. The Firmware is a set of instructions stored on the printer to control how the printer operates. If you encounter printing problems or need new features, a firmware upgrade might be just what you need. You can also find this update at the manufacturers website. Some older model Printers might now have available drivers built into Windows 7, requiring that you check Windows Update or the manufacturers website.

Print a Test Page

After setting up your Printer, you can print a test page to verify that printer is operating properly, the driver software is installed and working correctly and the printer and computer are communicating.

Preparing to print a Test Page.

To Print a Test page, click Start > Devices and Printers > right click the Printer > click Printer Properties > and click Print Test Page. A dialog will open, asking if the page printed correctly. If it did not, then its time to use the Printer Troubleshooter feature of Windows 7. You can also try printing from printers built in Printer Panel. Most printers have a front panel with controls to allow you to generate test pages. Consult the print manufacturer’s website or documentation to learn how to print a test page from the front panel on your printer if it is supported.


One of the great improvements added to the printer experience in Windows 7 is actually troubleshooting. Compatibility can often be a sticking point when you upgrade your operating system. As part of the 27 bundled Troubleshooters that come with Windows 7, Microsoft includes a Printer Troubleshooter that can resolve some of the most common symptoms associated with setting up a printer. Lets take a look:


Using Windows Troubleshooting to resolve common printer issues.

Open the Printer troubleshooter by clicking the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type troubleshooter, and then click Troubleshooting. Under Hardware and Sound, click Use a printer. The Printer troubleshooter will begin and attempt to automatically diagnose and fix your problem.

If Windows can’t detect a printer that you want to use, follow these steps to find and add the printer manually:

1. Open Devices and Printers by clicking the Start button, and then, on the Start menu, clicking Devices and Printers.
2. Click Add a printer.
3. In the Add Printer wizard, select Add a network, wireless or Bluetooth printer.
4. On the Searching for available printers page, click The printer that I want isn’t listed.
5. On the Find a printer by name or TCP/IP address page, choose how to find the printer that you want to use, based on the type or location of the printer, and then click Next.
6. Complete the additional steps in the wizard, and then click Finish.

To make sure that printers on the network are being displayed, check to see if the network is working correctly. For more information, see View the status of your network.

Printer Sharing and Location Aware Printing

Sharing a Printer enables multiple users on a network to access your printer. To Share Printer, Click Start > click Devices and Printers > right click your Printer. Click Printer Properties > click Sharing tab > check the Share this printer box. You can give the Printer a name if you wish to make it instantly known to persons. Click Apply.

Sharing a printer in Windows 7

Using the Add Printer wizard to connect to a shared printer.

To connect to the shared printer from another computer. Click Start, click Devices and Printers. On the Command bar, click Add a printer. Click Add a network, wireless or Bluetooth printer. Follow the steps using the Add Printer wizard and select the printer to install it. If you experience problems please see the Troubleshoot network printer problems link.

If you own a laptop for instance that you use at both work and home, you will most likely connect to different Printers when you are at either location. In previous versions of Windows you had go through the manual chore of resetting the default printer every time you move from your business network to your home network. Location Aware Printing only available in Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate simplifies this experience by switching your laptop’s default printer when it detects that you’ve moved from one network to another. You can easily setup default printers for specific networks easily.

Manage Default Printers dialog box 

  1. Click to open Devices and Printers.

  2. Click a printer, and then click Manage default printers on the toolbar.

  3. Click Change my default printer when I change networks.

  4. In the Select network list, click a network.

  5. In the Select printer list, click a corresponding default printer.

  6. Click Add.

  7. Repeat steps 4, 5, and 6 as needed. When you’re finished, click OK.

    • If you don’t want Windows to change your default printer settings when you move from place to place, click Always use the same printer as my default printer in the Manage Default Printers dialog box, and then click OK.

    • If you want a wireless network to appear in the Manage Default Printers dialog box, you need to have successfully connected to that wireless network at least once.

Printer Spool Service missing

The Printer Spool is used for storing files that are being prepared for printing in RAM. You can cancel or pause print jobs in the printer queue. Spooling programs allow the application you are printing from to finish faster. You may also print directly to the printer. If you are experiencing problems such as Windows reporting that the Printer Spool Service is missing, it is possible that  the Printer Spool Service might be disable or corrupted. To check if the Printer Spool Service is disabled, click Start, type Services, hit Enter on your keyboard

Troubleshooting the Printer Spooler Service in Windows

Scroll down to Printer Spooler, right click the Service, click Properties. Under the General tab, click in the Startup type: list box and select Automatic. Under Service status, click Start then Apply and OK. Restart your computer and try printing again. If that does not work, try using the System File Checker tool to troubleshoot missing or corrupted system files on Windows Vista or on Windows 7

Also see the the following response from a Microsoft employee in the Microsoft TechNet forum regarding missing Printer Spooler here

I’d also suggest you to refer the link below and follow the steps mentioned in the article to troubleshoot network printer problems:

Troubleshoot network printer problems

The above article is for Windows Vista. It applies to Windows 7, too. I would suggest you to uninstall and reinstall the latest drivers compatible for Windows 7, the run the Printer troubleshooter.

For further information, visit the below mentioned links:


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Thoughts on Windows Live Hotmail wave 4

Microsoft last week gave users a glimpse of what’s coming in the next iteration of its popular web mail service. I personally cannot wait to start using the improved experience, highlights for me include customizable mail filters, more streamlined interface that better integrates with Windows Live services such as Skydrive, Photos along with better ways to manage your email. The cleaner interface is also another great part of the new Windows Live Hotmail, you can collapse group folders and really have a more desktop mail like experience with the enhanced service.

Still, I believe Windows Live Hotmail could do more, and could even go to higher level in design. For the past couple months now, I have been creating some illustrations of what my Hotmail should look and work like. I will admit, Hotmail needs more power and agility and to work better in a Web paradigm. I have basically been using Windows Live Hotmail primarily for email, but will occasionally backup and utilize some of the cool new features in the latest version of Microsoft Outlook version 2010 such as Conversation View using the Outlook Hotmail Connector. But I just cannot resist and I am unwilling to give up Windows Live Hotmail.

I would like you to check out these concepts to really get a feel of what I want Hotmail to be. Overall, I want an even more streamlined, revamped Windows Live web services experience that’s cohesive, from Hotmail to Windows Live Spaces. The vapor theme which was introduced with the first Wave has evolved over the years, but I personally believe its more of a hindrance than a necessity to providing the ultimate experience that in some ways could be possible to make Windows Live an excellent complement to desktop solutions. Basically, I think vapor theme needs to be retired and a serious straight forward UI needs to be implemented, in particular for the new Docs capabilities that will be coming with the release of Office 2010. Lets start off first with Windows Live Hotmail since this post is really about my experience and what I want to see in a future update.

Now, as you can see in the above illustration, I have created a more streamlined interface mimicking a desktop application look and feel. For the past couple years now, I had built up my reservations about the Wave branding. Although it looks nice, I just don’t believe it adds much value to the user experience, especially for a web service such as Windows Live Hotmail. Instead, I decided to replace it with a menu strip up at the top which displays the name of the active Service (in this case Windows Live Hotmail) menu which host access to a users widely used services. Along the top, you will see traditional links such as Home, Profile, People, Mail, Photos etc. An addition I decided make in this illustration is to add a separate search box just for Bing web search.

Going into the next level of the UI, I believe you see a more streamlined set of options that pertain to Windows Live Hotmail, you have a Sort menu, common task menus such as New, Delete, Junk, Mark as, Move to and Print. At the extreme right hand side of the the toolbar, you see a specific search box just, "just" for email, nothing to be confused with Bing, just for searching your email.

In the concept, you will see that I have made some changes to the Mail Pane, your account name is displayed, along with greater view of all your Mail folders and quick access to options and settings. You can also get quick access to the Related places such as MSN Today, Contact List and Calendar. The Mini ad which advertises tips and information about other Windows Live properties, I decided should be be part of one single banner, and you can see this on the right hand side along with the traditional vertical ad banner. Again, its about effective, practical convenience and compromises.

Cleaner Cohesive Design for Windows Live

Quicker access to Options and Settings

We now go down to the status bar at the bottom of the Windows Live Hotmail web page. Just like the Services menu at the top, the status bar at the bottom should travel with  the user across Windows Live properties. So for instance, if I decide to leave the Windows Live Hotmail Page and go to Windows Live Photos or Skydrive, I should still have access to both the Services menu and status bar.

The above illustrations give an idea of how I feel Windows Live needs to be more dynamic, more predictable and efficient to use. Now of course, Windows Live Hotmail wave 4 will be adding some of these improvements. But my main concern is the implementation, the cohesiveness of the presentation and experience the Windows Live Hotmail team is delivering. There needs to be proper use of the web interface to better engage users and give them a logical approach to enjoying and using Windows Live.


The integrated messaging experience in Windows Live travels with you across all Windows Live services.

Integrated messaging experience is something I am particularly passionate about and believe Windows Live could and should execute well. The above illustration demonstrates this well. The status bar has a lot of real estate and it should be a great place to host a conversation window that is well integrated, out of the way and travels with the user across Windows Live services, but most important of all, it can be easily accessed. I created this mockup back in April, and since then, it has been revealed that Hotmail wave 4 will introduce similar improvements, with tabbed conversations, but the presentation and organization is still something I would like to see better improvements to.

Better ways of Searching your email

Let me be honest, I never liked using search in Windows Live Hotmail, it is too basic and narrow in its capabilities. For instance, I have mail backed up in a particular folder and I just want to search for a message I know exist in that folder. My only option is to search Search email and hopes it gives me an accurate result. Most of often, the result will throw back hundreds of messages which I still have to weed through to find that particular message. I think the best way to solve this is to have filtered search per folder. So, if I want to search my ‘Contest’ folder, I just check that folder and type in my query and gives back results from just that folder and nothing else.

Here is one thing I find a bit annoying about Hotmail. I usually leave my Hotmail window open, because of security reasons (which are good reasons), I will be asked after a few hours to sign in again. Now, the experience is not seamless. Instead of clicking sign in again on the banner, why not have a dialog popup that freezes the screen, prompting the user to sign in again. Click the Sign in button, and it signs you in. You can even change the setting to require your password for stronger security. But instead of launching a new window and asking the user if they would like this window closed, I think this would be a better implementation. 

So, these are just a small capture of what I am thinking about and want to see improved in Windows Live Hotmail. I love using the service, I love the convenience of having access to my mail, anytime, anywhere on any device. I just think the presentation and how it is used could be improved. Not just for Hotmail, but also for the family of Windows Live Services. Of course, these are just my views, I would love hear what you think and what you would like to see improved in Windows Live Hotmail and Windows Live properties. My next article will be discussing Windows Live Spaces, stay tuned.


What’s new in Hotmail

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Getting up to speed with 20 great Vista features in Windows 7

You could pretty much call this a iteration of my ‘For the former Windows XP User – Welcome to Windows 7‘, only difference is we discuss some of the changes and improvements introduced in Windows Vista you can still find in Windows 7.

Over the weekend I was listening to music on my brothers PC, while surfing the web and watching video. While watching a video I noticed the volume was up too high, so I clicked on the volume applet in the Notification Area. There I came across a nifty little feature first introduced in Windows Vista called per app volume (part of the volume mixer options). Now if you are moving from Windows XP directly to Windows 7, you probably missed out initially on some of the features and benefits of Windows 7’s predecessor released back in 2007. In this article, I decided to take a look back at some of the cool stuff that made Vista a great release that you can benefit from today in Windows 7.

1. Aero Effects


Live Thumbnails We took an in depth look at this feature back in October in our Using the Improved Taskbar and Start Menu in Windows 7 article. Windows Vista’s implementation was quite basic, while Windows 7 refined it with more interactivity and control. Improved benefits include the ability to hover thumbnail previews which will compose full size previews. Alt-Tab 2D introduced in Vista also supports Live Full Size previews in Windows 7.


Flip 3D Part of some the sophisticated effects delivered in Vista, Flip 3D (Windows key + Tab) is still available in Windows 7, but is less prominent because there are even more sophisticated effects in Windows 7 such as Live Thumbnail previews and Aero Peek that users will find productive immediately, learn more them here. Flip 3D allows you to scroll through all your open windows in a rolodex fashion, with the option of using the arrow keys to move back and forward. Its a cool effect, that adds some fun to how you work.

2. Notification Area

Multiple Time Zones Continuing on the Taskbar, Windows Vista introduced a more convenient notification experience. One area in particular is keeping track of multiple time zones. Simply click the Date and Time notification and it will reveal a floating dialog with additional time zones you may have added along with full calendar.


You can easily add a time zone in Windows 7 by clicking the Date and Time notification > click the ‘Change date and time settings.." > select ‘Additional Clocks’ tab > check the ‘Show this clock’ check box > click in the > Select time zone: list box and select the appropriate time zone > Enter a name for it then click Apply and OK to save the settings.

 3. Per App Volume

Discussed earlier, Per App volume is part of the fundamental and technological improvements introduced in Windows Vista’s sound stack. The idea is to have better control over applications that utilize sound events to alert the user when attention is needed. Programs such as Windows Live Messenger, Media Player, your Web Browser when in use can interfere with one another. With Per App Volume you can have better control and priority over which applications issue sound events and how loud they should be.


In the above screenshot, I am able to determine how loud an application can be when issuing a sound event. 

4. Windows Explorer – Bread Crumb Menus


Another great highlight of Vista was Bread Crumb menus which focused on simplifying movement throughout a folder hierarchy. The Address Bar in Windows 7/Vista makes it easier to navigate a folder structure, featuring drop down menus along the current navigation path, making it possible to easily backtrack or navigate forward anywhere along an address location. In Windows 7, you can also resize the region between the Address Bar and Search Box.

5. Gadget Platform


A key focus of Vista was to bring information immediately to the desktop, news feeds, time, slide show through small programs called Windows Gadgets which were a part of the Windows Sidebar. In Windows 7 Microsoft removed Windows Sidebar allowing Gadgets to have more control with the ability to be placed anywhere on the desktop. You can also have them snap to the side of the screen and enlarge some Gadgets such as Slide Show and Performance Meter. Gadgets are developed using a combination of XML, Java Script, HTML and CSS. If you want to learn more about developing your own Gadgets check out the following URL:

In Windows 7, Gadgets can also be uninstalled if not in use.

6. Instant Search

One of the hallmark features of Windows Vista, Instant Search delivers quick access to your information with the ability to filter results and create saved searches for later reference, Vista really brought some relief to finding information. Windows 7 further improves on this with the ability to get more detailed and organized search results from the Start Menu, better search relevance in Windows Explorer searches with highlighted words. Federated search is also a major addition in Windows 7 with the ability to search beyond your PC, you can even create customized Search Connectors for specific locations whether a website or location on your Company’s network.

7. Auto Play


The Auto Play applet is a new feature of Vista that allows you to have control over devices such as digital cameras and optical media. For instance, when you insert a CD an auto-play dialog will appear with a list of suitable options, such opening the disk  to view its contents, run a program or specific content. Auto Play pre select options are available for Audio CD, Enhanced CD, DVD, Pictures, Audio, Digital Cameras and even disk with mixed content.

8. BitLocker


A drive encryption feature available only in the Enterprise and Ultimate editions, BitLocker is an encryption technology that protects your data. It prevents hackers from infiltrating the Windows File System or use hacking tools to disable system protection or perform off line viewing of files stored on a protected drive. If your computer or hard disk is stolen the data will be inaccessible without the required 48 digit encryption key. This key can be stored on a USB stick or if your computer supports TPM 1.2 chip will be loaded automatically when you log into Windows. In Windows 7, its easier to enable Bitlocker on a volume by simply right clicking the drive in Computer Explorer and click ‘Turn on BitLocker. Recovery of BitLocker encrypted volumes is also easier too. Microsoft has extended BitLocker to support additional storage devices such as External USB and thumb drive storage. To learn more about BitLocker, click here

9. Windows Backup and Restore


In Windows Vista, Backup and Restore allows users to easily backup their important files and settings to CD, DVD and external storage. The great part is the simple process of backing up the information and restoring it when you need to. Options include restoring from single CD/DVDs or from multi-disc sets even if the entire backup disc set is not available. Windows 7 includes built in System Imaging across all editions of Windows 7 with unique functionality such as Network Backup available only in Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate. Learn more about creating a backup here

Recovery tools are also built directly into Windows 7, even when your system is not starting properly, you can boot your computer into the System Recovery environment, just before the system loads the Windows operating system; hit the [F8] Function 8 key on your keyboard which will launch the Advanced Boot Options menu. There you will see a new option ‘Repair Your Computer’, select this option and hit ‘Enter’ on your keyboard. Learn more about the improved recovery options here

10. Previous Versions


Based on Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy technology that was initially introduced in Windows XP Professional, Microsoft made the technology more apparent in Windows Vista. Whenever you make significant changes to a file, whether a Microsoft Word document or a Photo, it keeps a backup copy of the original file. This is very handy just in case you made an edit without realizing and need a copy of the original file.

11. Personalization


Windows Vista focused deeply on the user experience. The Windows Team made their first attempt at providing a more modern approach to customizing the user experience in Windows through the Personalization Explorer. Options included Wallpaper gallery, window colors, and quicker access to related areas of the system such as Desktop, Mouse and Resolution options. Windows 7 expanded these capabilities even more, you can learn about the details here. Highlights include expanded theming capabilities, refined Personalize Explorer with quicker access to Screen Savers and Sounds settings along with the ability to download additional themes from Microsoft’s online Personalize Gallery.

12. Networking


Windows Vista’s Networking capabilities focused on simplifying access and management of resources. The new Networking and Sharing Center help to centralize access to the most commonly accessed areas of the Network environment. Windows 7 simplifies with a more logical layout, better tools to simplify networking in homes/small offices through HomeGroups and revamped Network Access capabilities through VAN (View Available Networks) in the Taskbar notification.

13. Snipping Tool


A handy screen capture tool, the Snipping Tool makes it easy to capture a screenshot of an object onscreen. You then have the option of quickly saving or sharing the image.

14. Start Menu All Programs

If you are coming from Windows XP directly to Windows 7, you will wonder what happened to cascading menus under All Programs. Well, its no more, instead, Windows 7 uses an improved menu system that simplifies access to programs and program groups. Often times, your programs menu will go off the screen if you have too many applications installed.


The Windows 7 Start menu also makes it easier to access programs by using Instant Search. Just type in the name of the program you are looking for and it will show up on the Start menu, hit Enter to open it. Windows 7’s Start menu is even more powerful, with features such as categorized search relevance, the new Windows 7 Jump List support which displays your most recently accessed activities for pinned application shortcuts on the Start menu. The improved Start menu also allows you search more places such as Networked folders and the Windows Public directory.

15. Windows Update


Windows XP utilized the web browser to access, manage and download updates for your computer. Windows Vista introduced an Explorer for this which focused on better ways to manage your Updates from within Windows. Windows Vista featured options such as the ability to view installed updates, update history and even uninstall them too in addition to Restoring hidden updates. Windows 7 adds additional enhancements with more details about your updates, better organization of updates that are critical or optional. You can also allow all users to install updates on your Windows 7 and Vista PC. The Windows Update Team has managed to extend the improvements of Windows 7’s Update service to Windows Vista too, so the additions are not limited to Windows 7 based systems.

16. Turn Windows features on or off


Customizing your Windows experience has never been easier. Windows Vista introduced this component which is a part of Programs and Features item (in Control Panel). With it, you can remove a lot of features that come installed with Windows. Microsoft further enhanced this component to remove even more components from within the Windows system, such as Internet Explorer, Media Features and the Windows Gadget platform. To learn more, click here

17. Programs and Features


Windows Vista added a high level of consistency to the user experience throughout Windows in many areas. Add & Remove Programs which has been a part of Windows since Windows 95 was updated with Windows XP. The new Programs and Features in Vista/Windows 7 is more flexible and features a lot more ways to manage your installed library of applications.

18. Windows Ready Boost

With Windows Ready Boost you can allocate a portion of a USB flash memory storage to improve your PC’s performance by extending its system memory without having to add RAM modules. When a USB Stick is plugged in, the Auto Play dialog will list an option to speed up your computer using the device. If you click it, you will be taken to the Ready Boost Properties of the device, from which you can configure, by adjusting how much memory you would like to allocate to the system, minimum of 256 MBs is required. Ready Boost works by storing information about the applications you use most often, it also stores some of the programs in RAM which results in faster application launches. If you have a system with 2 GBs of RAM, I notice you are not going to see a major difference. I do see some performance improvements on AMD Sempron 1.6 GHz desktop I have running Windows 7 with 512 MBs of RAM. With thumb drives so cheap, you could pick up a cheap 2 to 4 GB stick and dedicate to your system for using Ready Boost.




19. Mobility Center


Mobility center gives a Vista user quick access to some of the basic functionality that mobile users want to use and manage when they are on the road. These include Internal LCD Display, which provides options such controlling brightness, contrast depending on the types of environment you might be in, whether it is a park, building or types of surroundings that might affect the output of your laptops display. We took a look at this recently here

20. User Account Control

UAC’s intended purpose is to provide the user with as much insight as possible about activities taking place throughout their system. It prevents malicious code from easily infiltrating the system by creating a prominent awareness of the actions a user makes. So, a program that request that it access a certain part of the operating system or write to the system files directory can be easily identified. This should give the user better information about the decisions they make, whether it was intended or not.


Windows Vista’s implementation of UAC was quite limited. There was not much you could do other than turn it off which was not a good idea since UAC has good intentions. Windows 7 focuses on improving the user experience with more flexibility. In Windows 7, UAC features four levels of notification events.

Without Windows Vista, there would be no Windows 7. The technological improvements Vista introduced from Security to Graphics help lay a foundation for what many Windows users are benefiting from today. The increased performance, richer applications are all a part of the investments in Vista millions world wide are realizing even today with Windows 7. Windows 7 refines many of these innovations while adding major features further increasing the user experience value to your daily computing.


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My Microsoft MVP Award Kit is here!

I was awarded Microsoft MVP this past April and have been embracing the recognition and its new opportunities since then. Yesterday, I received my Microsoft MVP Award Kit, which consist of a Certificate recognizing my Community contributions in the area of Windows Desktop Experience. The MVP Award Kit also includes a beautiful crystal award,  MVP ID and pin. Check it out:

Microsoft MVP Award Kit 2010

Its still amazing to receive this recognition for your passion. Its definitely an added inspiration to continue sharing my experiences and knowledge with all of you.

Click here to check out the MVP Award Kit 2010 Gallery


To learn more about the Microsoft MVP Award Program click HERE
Microsoft MVP Award Blog
Microsoft MVP Twitter Account


Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award 2010
Microsoft Clubhouse Choice Awards – Best Technical Direction – August 2009

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Microsoft phasing out NNTP Newsgroups

Near to the final release of Windows 7 I started wondering, where are the Windows 7 NNTP newsgroups? During Windows Vista’s development, Microsoft Public Newsgroups for that version of Windows came online as early as February 2006. I asked around, if Microsoft was planning on setting up NG’s for Windows 7. A lot of the responses were, not sure. At the same time, I discovered the Microsoft Answers Forums around mid 2009 and started lurking. Then I started participating in the pre-release Getting Ready for Windows 7 Forum. I have been in there ever since.

Microsoft has a long history of establishing newsgroups that channel users and issues into the newsgroup (NNTP) space where information is shared and problems can be addressed by the community. Currently, Microsoft hosts more than 2000 public newsgroups that cover virtually all of our products, along with more than 2,200 private newsgroups that reach specific audiences including Certgen, SBSC, Partner Programs, MVPs and Direct Access, among others.

Meanwhile, customers are turning online more and more for information and help. Microsoft is revamping its communities to make it easy for customers to find help and information when they need it. Using forums as the online support strategy will reduce the number of redundant resources and centralize content, making community contributions more broadly available and impactful.

Beginning in June 2010, Microsoft will begin closing newsgroups and migrating users to Microsoft forums that include Microsoft Answers, TechNet and MSDN. This move will centralize content, make it easier for contributors to retain their influence, reduce redundancies and make content easier to find. Overall, forums offer a better spam management platform that will improve customer satisfaction by encouraging a healthy discussion space.

Learn more here

I love NNTP newsgroups, I have used them for many years, but they do have a lot of draw backs, such as content expiring after 90 day’s, difficult to navigate and search, repetition of content and lack of roaming capabilities. So, if you had your account setup on one computer for instance, and you have to use another computer somewhere else, you had to log into to the newsgroup client on that machine, reconfigure and re-download all your newsgroups of interest. Not to mention you have to use the catchup feature peruse posts and discussions you might have missed. I remember back in 2008, I was participating in the Windows Vista NG’s, but something bad happened, my laptop died in March. I was doing studies for an IT course and was on dorm away from home. I couldn’t get access to another laptop, so my only choice would be to use the computers in the lab. Unfortunately, because all the client machines were setup on a Domain, I was not gonna be able to use the built in mail client to setup, configure and use newsgroups. I probably could, if I had asked the Admin to set me up with that access, but it was not gonna happen. I could have used the web based ng’s, but they were not as smooth and convenient as the desktop client. That’s where Microsoft’s Answers Forum comes in and I am very glad its here.

Because Microsoft Newsgroups are heavily used by the wider public, it makes it even harder to navigate and participate. This is why Microsoft has decided to retire them starting in June. There is no loss, but a lot of gain, easier ways to participate, anytime (anywhere). Microsoft Answers Forums are more personalized and social too and you can get better insight into who is helping out in the forums and get the best answers quickly. Moderation is also a key aspect, I have seen my days of trolls and flame wares in NNTP ng’s. Another cool capability is that content lives forever online, and its so much easier to find accurate answers. You can immediately do a Bing or Google search or search from within Answers forums themselves and find questions already answered. There are a host of other reasons why Forums are better and you can learn more here

Here are a list of Windows 7 Forums:

Other Microsoft Answers forum:


Windows 7 Forums: Community based Support now Available!

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