Category Archives: Windows 7

How to migrate from Windows 8 Preview Releases: Dual Boot Setup

Windows 8 has RTMed and persons are starting to make their preparations to upgrade to the final release. According to Microsoft, nearly 17 million installations of Windows 8 previews exist. That’s a lot compared to many who also tested prior preview releases of Windows.

For persons running the Windows 8 Release Preview, Consumer Preview or even the Developer preview, migration is the only option, there is no in place upgrade that will preserve your installed applications. The final release of Windows 8 will move your personal files by moving them to a Windows.old folder at the root of the drive (C:\). In this article, we take a look at migrating from Windows 8 release previews under a dual boot configuration. Dual boot configurations is the best way in my estimation to evaluate Windows 8. Reason being, your existing version of Windows (whether that be Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7) is kept intact while you install Windows 8 preview on a hard disk or partition. The operating system will allow you to choose which version of Windows you would like to boot into at startup by using a boot manager.

Data

If you have been using any of the release previews exclusively for a period of time, you are likely to have accumulated data on the drive where the preview is installed. Depending on the version of Windows you are dual booting with, you will have to do a manual backup to keep that data. Tools such as an external hard disk are recommended in this scenario. If you are running Windows XP, Vista, I would recommend you copy all the personal folders to an external hard disk. The process is simple:

In Windows 8, launch File Explorer

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Highlight all folders within your Personal folder

Copy Personal folders

Click Copy on the Ribbon (Home tab)

Make sure your external hard disk is turned on and plugged in, then browse to your external hard disk and click Paste on the Ribbon (Home Tab)

Backup to system partition

If you do not happen to own an external hard disk, but you have enough space on the boot drive where the older version of Windows is installed, you can create a folder there and paste the folders into it.

Once you have backed up your data, the next recommendation I would make is to renable to classic text based boot manager. You can do this from within either Windows 8 or the older version of Windows. I personally recommend this as a precautionary measure, because Windows 8 uses a new graphical boot manager, I don’t know what the side effects will be if you format the partition where Windows 8 exist.

To enable the text based boot manager, right click the left hand corner of the Windows 8 screen.

Press Windows Key + X then Click System

Advanced Settings

Click Advanced System settings

Click Advanced tab

Under Startup and Recovery, click Settings

Text Boot Manager

Under System startup, click in the ‘Default operating system:’ list box, select the earlier version of Windows, whether that be Windows 7 or Vista. If you are running Windows XP, select ‘Earlier version of Windows’.

Formatting Partition, recovering disk space

The next step is to boot into the earlier version of Windows “XP, Vista or Windows 7”.

Launch Disk Management:

Press Windows key + R on your keyboard, then type: diskmgmt.msc

Hit Enter on your keyboard

In Disk Management, you should see the partition listed where Windows 8 is installed.

Delete Partition

Right click it, click Delete

Click OK

Next, right click the system partition, normally listed as Drive C:\ where Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 is installed.

Click Extend.

(Windows XP users, if you do not see Extend, you will need to use a third party partitioning tool such as Easeus).

click ‘Yes’ when the warning appears.

A wizard will now begin that will guide through the steps to merge back the unallocated space with your system partition.

The wizard provides a simple procedure to merge back the unallocated space with the system drive. Once you have selected the space, click Next, at the end of the wizard, you will see the amount allocated.

Using Easeus in Windows XP to reallocate partition space used by Windows 8

In the Easeus main screen, right click the system partition (C:\)

Reallocate Ease Us

Click Resize/Move partition

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Under Decide size and position, drag the knob to the right until there is none left. See pic below:

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Click OK

Click Apply to confirm changes

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Click Yes when Apply Changes dialog appears.

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Click OK when complete

Restart your computer to complete changes.

You should now have a single partition displayed in Computer Explorer.

Automatically boot into the operating system.

Earlier, we had enabled the text based boot manager.

Because we no longer have Windows 8 installed, we need to remove it.

Click Start, right Computer (My Computer for XP users)

Click Properties (Windows 7/Vista users click Advanced system settings)

Click Advanced tab

Under Startup and Recovery, click Settings

Under System startup, uncheck ‘Time to display list of operating systems’

Click OK, then Apply and OK

This will allow you to boot directly to the Windows 7, Vista or XP desktop.

You can proceed to upgrade to Windows 8 final now that you have regained your disk space.

Install, Upgrade and Activate

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How to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8

In this final series looking at upgrading to Windows 8, we transition from the most recent version of Windows, Windows 7. Launched in October 2009, Windows 7 is Microsoft’s most successful release of the operating system to date. With an estimated 630 million licenses sold, Windows 7 probably represents the pinnacle of success when it comes to client operating systems.

Is it worth upgrading to Windows 8 from Windows 7?

This is ultimately a personal decision, Windows 7 is a modern operating system that supports all the advances available today in hardware and software. It also prepares for a future that is centred around mobility and touch. Windows 7 also supports many of the significant changes that have occurred on the Internet in the past 10 years. What more could you really want in a desktop OS?

Windows 8 does introduce some specific advances where Windows 7 does fall short and I will list some of them here:

  • Fast Boot – Windows 8 boots significantly faster than Windows 7, in fact on an SSD, I can have Windows 8 up and running in 5 to 7 seconds.
  • Fully Touch Ready – This has been a miss on on prior versions of Windows going back to Windows XP Tablet PC edition. Windows 8 features a smart, fluid and fast interface that is significantly engineered for Touch called the Start Screen. There is just no disadvantage when using it with Touch. You can swipe, pan, zoom and do all the key actions expected on a Touch device. Microsoft has also created an environment that will encourage third party developers to create touch ready applications just for Windows 8. These applications will not run on Windows 7.
  • Fully compatible with existing hardware and software. If it works with Vista or Windows 7, it is guaranteed to work with Windows 8.
  • Tighter Internet integration – Windows 8 features a holistic integration with services that deliver information right to your screen without much need for you to find and discover it.
  • The ability to sync information across multiple devices makes Windows 8 a truly Internet ready operating system.

These are just some of the key areas where Windows 8 advances over Windows 7. They may or may not entice you, but if you are going to upgrade, here are some steps to help you make a smooth transition to Windows 8.

One of the major differences between upgrading from Windows 7 compared to Windows Vista and XP is, Windows 8 allows you to preserve your installed applications when upgrading from Windows 7. This avoids the need to do things like reinstall hardware drivers and applications. Upgrading also preserves your Windows Settings too.

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In this scenario, I have a typical Windows 7 setup with some applications installed and some personal files stored in the Documents Library. In this scenario, we are going to upgrade to Windows 7 while looking at how it preserves your existing investments.

Notes:

  • Gather all important application discs and hardware driver discs you might need to be reinstalled.
  • Check the manufacturer and software developers website for updates available and to find out about the status of compatibility with Windows 8. It is possible that if the software is compatible with Windows Vista it will likely work with Windows 8 since they share the same driver model.
  • If you are using software such as iTunes or Adobe programs, remember to deauthorize and deactivate them before running setup.

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. Thankfully, all editions of Windows 7 includes system imaging, which means you can backup your entire Windows 7 installation and restore it if it fails. Learn more about how to backup your Window 7 installation here

In addition to System Imaging, you can backup just your personal files using Backup and Restore, to do that, check out the following article:

http://notebooks.com/2010/12/27/how-to-backup-to-an-external-hard-drive/
http://notebooks.com/2011/02/25/how-to-restore-a-backup-from-an-external-hard-drive-in-windows-7/

If you want to backup themes, wallpapers and other minor features, Windows Easy Transfer is another option, you can learn more about it here

What you can do before attempting the upgrade?

You can do some pre-requisite tasks to ensure a smooth migration from Windows 7 to Windows 8. If you are using a name branded computer such as a Dell or HP, go to the manufacturers website for the model computer you are using and download the latest available drivers for that computer. Store them on a disc or USB thumb drive. Important drivers you should try to obtain include Network and Video Drivers. Its possible that they might just have Windows Vista or Windows 7 drivers, those will work with Windows 8.

Other things you can do:

  1. Uninstall any security software before attempting to upgrade.
  2. Disable any encryption software you might have installed.
  3. Disable/uninstall disk utility software such as DVD/CD burning utilities or third party defragment programs such as Perfect Disk.
  4. Make sure your computer is updated (devices and applications).
  5. Disconnect any external devices before installing.
  6. Check your hard disk for any errors:
    – Click Start
    – Type: CMD
    – Right click CMD then click Run as administrator
    At the Command Prompt, type: chkdsk /r /f
    Exit the command prompt.
    When you restart your system, your computer will be scanned for errors and attempts will be made to correct them.
  7. Another thing you can do is disable Start items:
  • Click Start
  • Type: MSCONFIG.
  • Hit Enter on your keyboard
  • On the General tab, click Selective Startup.
  • Under Selective Startup, click to clear the Load Startup Items check box.
  • Click the Services tab, click to select the Hide All Microsoft Services check box, and then click Disable All.
  • Click OK.
  • When you are prompted, click Restart.
  • After the computer starts, check whether the problem is resolved.

Run the System File Checker utility.

SFC/Scannow checks your Windows installation for errors and corrects them. This will help with ensuring that a smooth upgrade occurs.

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

32 or 64 bit

My recommendations depend on what you have installed. If you currently have 32 bit Windows 7 installed, use 32 bit Windows 8. If you have 64 bit Windows 7, use 64 bit Windows 8. This is to ensure a smooth migration, especially where driver compatibility is concerned. Another factor is RAM. If you have max 3 GBs of RAM, then 32 bit should be sufficient for your needs. If you happen to have 4 to 8 GBs or more RAM, then 64 bit would be suitable.

Windows 64 bit comes in handy when you need to address at least 4 GBs or more of RAM. Windows 32 bit can utilize up to 3.2 GBs of RAM. Because the memory address space is much larger for 64 bit Windows, that means, you need twice as much memory than 32 bit Windows to accomplish some of the same task, but you are able to do so much more, you can have more applications open, do things like run an Antivirus scan in the background without it affecting your system performance. Windows 64 bit is more secure too, malicious code cannot easily infiltrate it, drivers are more reliable since they must be signed before they can work with 64 bit Windows.

As for compatibility, you will need 64 bit device drivers for any hardware devices you might have. Also, there is no 16 bit subsystem in Windows 64 bit, which means, your applications must be 32 bit only, not 16 bit installer or uninstallers.

Starting setup

To start the installation, first boot to the Windows 7 desktop. If you are installing Windows 8 from a physical DVD these instructions will apply to you. Insert the Windows 8 disc. When the AutoPlay window appears, click ‘Run setup.exe’. Click Continue when prompted by User Account control.

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Setup will then begin.

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Wait while setup prepares to install Windows 8.

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If prompted to get updates, I recommend you do so. If you are not connected to the Internet, select ‘No, thanks’.

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Enter your product key. If you purchased Windows 8 from the Microsoft Store and you are using the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant, the key will be embedded. If you download a .ISO file or purchased Windows 8 on DVD, check your email when you registered to purchase the upgrade or check your Windows 8 product packaging for the product key. After Entering the product key, click Next to continue with setup.

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Read and Accept the End User License Agreement.

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In addition to being able to keep your Windows Settings and Personal files, you can keep your personal files too when upgrading from Windows 7. If you choose Nothing, Windows 8 will place your files in a folder called Windows.old. After making your decision, click Next.

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Wait while Windows 8 does some last checks.

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Depending on your configuration, Windows 8 setup might ask you to uninstall a program or driver then restart your system before it can proceed with the upgrade. Don’t worry though, Windows 8 will resume setup automatically. In my case, Windows 8 setup needed a restart before it could continue.

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After restarting, Windows 8 setup, asked if I would like ‘Continue from where I left off’. I clicked Next and setup resumed.

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At the summary screen, review the changes that will be made to your computer. If you are not sure, click Back and make any appropriate changes. As noted, you will not be able to use your computer during this period. The time it takes to complete the upgrade will be dependent on your system specifications such as processor speed, memory and your data set. Click the Install button to begin.

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Windows 8 setup will go into full screen mode and restart several times.

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After your computer restarts, Windows 8 will continue setup. Windows setup will go through several screens indicating Tasks it needs to complete:

  • Windows setup will say its ‘Preparing’
  • Getting your devices ready.
  • Getting system ready

Then restart and setup will continue.

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Windows 8 will now indicate it is ‘Moving your settings’

Out of Box Experience.

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You will now arrive at the Out of Box Experience where you will setup and personalize your Windows experience.

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The first option presented is the Color Picker, here you can choose a color that represents you. You have up to 25 to choose from. If you can’t decide now, you can always do it later. Click Next

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The settings screen screen allows you to customize whether you want to have Windows send information about Windows to Microsoft to ensure it runs smoothly. Click Use Express settings if you accept these actions. If you rather not, you can click Customize and make your choices.

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Confirm password which you had used to log into your Windows 7 account. Click Next

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You have the option of setting up a Microsoft Account which allows you to sync your Windows Settings across multiple Windows 8 devices. You can sync some passwords, themes and application settings. If you don’t want to do that right now, click Skip. You can always switch to a Microsoft Account later. Windows 8 will instead use your existing account as a Local account.

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  • Wait while Windows 8 finalizes your settings.

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Wait while Windows 8 does some final configuration.

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You have successfully migrated from Windows Vista to Windows 8. To check if your files are there, launch the Windows Desktop App.

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Launch File Explorer on the Windows Taskbar and open documents and you should see all your files previously in Windows 7.

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To launch your applications, go to the Start Screen by pointing your mouse pointer to the left hand corner of the Windows 8 screen and click it.

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Scroll to the right and launch your application.

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Windows 7 Service Pack 1 coming Feb. 22nd 2011

Microsoft announced today that it has finalized the first maintenance update for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, Service Pack 1. The update contains a collection of minor updates and fixes that have been released for the operating system since Windows 7 RTMed in July 2009. Here is what Brandon Leblanc of the Windows Team Blog had to say:

Today we officially handed off the final release (RTM) of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (SP1) to our OEM partners. On February 16th Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 will be available for MSDN and TechNet Subscribers as well as Volume License customers. On February 22nd, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 will become generally available for folks to download via the Microsoft Download Center and available on Windows Update.

For Windows 7, SP1 will help keep your PCs well supported by delivering ongoing updates, many of which have been made previously available through Windows Update. It also includes client-side support for RemoteFX and Dynamic Memory which are two new virtualization features enabled in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. Read more about those updates here from the Windows Server Team

The first beta for Windows 7 SP1 arrived in July of 2010, it seemed like an eternity in testing. The Windows Team released the first Release Candidate in October 2010. So after roughly 8 months of testing, users will soon be able to update their Windows 7 RTM systems, although you shouldn’t expect much from this update.

  • As part of Microsoft’s broader desktop virtualization strategy, two new virtualization capabilities are now enabled in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1: RemoteFX and Dynamic Memory. Both features provide customers easy to use solutions that drive efficiencies and build upon the virtualization functionality already in the Windows Server operating system.
  • From a Windows 7 perspective, SP1 includes minor updates including some made previously available through Windows Update.

Microsoft also has some updates regarding Windows 7 momentum and new technologies in development designed for customers to get the most out of their Windows 7 experience. This includes:

  • Windows Thin PC (WinTPC): Microsoft is announcing an upcoming software assurance benefit called Windows Thin PC (WinTPC), which is a smaller footprint, locked down version of Windows 7, designed to allow customers to repurpose their existing PCs as thin clients.
  • Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring (MBAM): IT pros gave Microsoft feedback that they needed an easier way to manage BitLocker, the security feature included in Windows 7. In response, the company is in the process of developing MBAM, which will help customers manage and provision BitLocker. The beta is expected to be available in March.

Expect a final review of SP1 when it arrives later this month. In the mean time, you can check out my experiences with the BETA and RC here and here 

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Windows 7 running on 300 million PC’s

Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet blog All About Microsoft reports that Microsoft announced that Windows 7 is now running on 300 million PC’s. Here are some details:

Microsoft has sold 300 million copies of Windows 7 to date, officials said on January 27, the day the company is reporting its Q2 FY11 earnings.

That’s up from the 240 million figure we last heard in October 2010.

Microsoft execs also said that Windows 7 is now on 20 percent of all Internet-connected PCs.

Learn more here

Its a testament to how well Windows 7 has resonated with businesses and consumers world wide. As more persons and businesses continue to retire and upgrade older Windows XP systems, Windows 7 should experience significant growth in 2011 and beyond.

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Windows coming to ARM

Today, at a special press event Microsoft announced that it would be bringing its popular desktop operating system, Windows to the ARM SoC (System on a Chip) architecture. ARM is a popular processor architecture used in smart phone devices such as those manufactured by Research in Motion, Apple Inc, and manufacturers such as HTC running Windows Phone 7. The ARM architecture is currently incompatible with x86 software which runs on the vastly popular x86 architecture manufactured by Intel and AMD. Microsoft President for Windows Stephen Sinofsky promised to have Microsoft Office ready for the ARM architecture by the time Windows on ARM is released.

Windows ARM

Next version of Windows version 6.2 build 7667 source

Not much was shown, but a screenshot indicated that Microsoft is now on kernel version 6.2 for the next version of Windows (Windows 7 is version 6.1, Windows Vista is 6.0). The build demoed was 7667, Windows 7 is build 7600, this probably means Windows on ARM is a long ways off. Here is what Microsoft had to say.

“the next version of Windows running on new SoC platforms from Intel running on x86 architecture and from NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments on ARM architecture. The technology demonstration included Windows client support across a range of scenarios, such as hardware-accelerated graphics and media playback, hardware-accelerated Web browsing with the latest Microsoft Internet Explorer, USB device support, printing and other features.”

“Intel and AMD continue to evolve and improve the x86 platforms, including new low-power systems, and advance new designs such as the recently announced 2nd Generation Intel Core processor family and AMD’s Fusion accelerated processing units (APUs). NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments are joining Microsoft to provide ARM-based designs for the first time.”

This is certainly a big deal, but should not in anyway be alarming. The industry has evolved tremendously since the days of WINTEL which described the tight relationship between Microsoft and Intel in the 90’s. Intel has been very supportive of other architectures such as Mac OS X and Linux for years. Microsoft’s own history of supporting multiple processor architectures goes far back. Windows NT was originally designed to be a highly portable operating system, meaning it can be ported to run on other processor architectures. In fact, early versions of NT (3.1 to 4.0) supported now obsolete architectures such as PowerPC, MIPS and Alpha. In the 2000’s Microsoft introduced support for the 64 bit Intel Itanium instruction set. which Microsoft plans to end support with the current version of Windows Server 2008 R2. 

In 2005, Microsoft once again optimized Windows for another architecture, the AMD 64 bit processor. The ARM architecture is the latest in the line of CPU’s that Microsoft is now supporting. Some of the key advantages include performance, longer battery life and the increasing usage in a long line of new mobile form factors such as Netbooks, Tablet/Slate and Convertibles. We should see some very interesting and exciting products come on market in the future. The designers of ARM are even planning to bring their processor to the server room, which should improve efficiency and power usage.

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Windows 7 Family Pack availability winding down

ComputerWorld is reporting that availability of Windows 7 Home Premium Family Pack will be ending at online merchant site Amazon.com December 31st 2010. This could be hinting at a possible end also at Microsoft’s own online store. If you have not upgraded to Windows 7, this is a good opportunity to pick up a license, especially for homes running older versions of Windows such as XP and Vista.

Windows 7 Home Premium Family Pack upgrade for 3 PC’s

The Windows 7 Home Premium Family Pack was originally introduced in October 2009 for a short period. Because of its popularity and based on feedback, Microsoft decided to bring it back in October 2010 without a specific end date for availability, only indicating while supplies last. The family pack is an upgrade license which requires that the PC is running a installed and activated Windows Vista or XP license. You don’t need to install all the licenses at once.

Resources

Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade Family Pack – Buy from Microsoft Store
Amazon’s page for the Family Pack

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Chat About Microsoft Office and Windows with the MVP Experts

October 14, 2010
10:00 A.M. – 11:00 A.M. Pacific Time
Additional Time Zones

Would you like to learn more about the cool new features in Office 2010 and Windows 7 and what has changed since previous versions? Do you use Microsoft Office but would like to learn tips and tricks to be more productive at home, school or at work? Perhaps you are a new user who has questions on how to get started with Windows 7 or using the Office ribbon? Or would like to learn how to protect your computer from malware and viruses. Or perhaps you are just stuck and need answers.

The Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) are here to help!

The MVPs are the same people you see in the technical community as authors, trainers, user groups leaders and answerers in the Microsoft forums. For the first time ever we have brought these experts together as a collective group to answer your questions live. MVPs will be on hand to take questions about Microsoft Office 2010 or Office 2007 products such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access, Project, OneNote and more. As well as the Windows 7 and earlier versions such as Windows Vista. In addition to Microsoft Office, the chat will cover Windows related topics such as upgrading, setup and installation, securing your PC, Internet Explorer, personalizing your computer desktop or having fun with Windows Live Essentials to share photos, make movies and more. All levels of experience are welcome from beginners and students to intermediate power users.

Please join us for this informative Q&A style chat and bring on your basic and your tough questions!

Join the Chat!

Add to Calendar

 

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