Monday, January 12, 2009

A Weekend with Windows 7

Many have already heard that Windows 7 Beta became available to the public last Friday. Any that know me surly realize that I couldn't resist. I have already done two installs of the new OS and here's my report. First thing I notice is the vastly improved performance over its predecessor. My first test was in a VM environment where I could control the parameters to really check out performance. Needless to say I was so impressed that I immediately preformed a fresh install on a test machine that had previously been running Vista Ultimate 32-bit. Windows 7 far out preforms Vista on my test machine, I couldn't be happier. The requirements from Microsoft are a 1 GZH processor, 1 GB ram (compared to 512 MB in Vista), and Direct X 9 compatible graphics. Very similar to Vista, the main difference though, Windows 7 actually runs well with a gig of ram. Vista doesn't really run well with a gig of ram, and basically not at all with a minimum 512 MB.

It's seems Microsoft has really listened to us and our gripes about Vista. Next thing to mention is the new UI. MS's extension of the taskbar as a primary launch surface and the ability to control applications and windows without launching them is very easy to use and impressive overall. Further they have greatly cleaned up the notification area and allowed the user far greater control. This is a welcome change as it has been an annoyance since Windows 95. Additionally they have eliminated the sidebar and now gadgets can be pinned anywhere on the desktop. It seems it really is all about user control and customization in this new version.

I had no trouble joining the system to an Active Directory Domain and or my WSUS system. All drivers and applications that I had running in Vista installed easily save for one. At this point the LogMeIn remote access software is not compatible. Give it time though I'm sure support is on the way. A little further under the hood I see the control panel has been expanded to include even more options than were available in Vista and MS has put back all of the functionality in there backup utility. This is a very good thing as it was a major gripe for me.

Speaking of fixed annoyances they have greatly improved User Account Control (UAC) to have multiple levels of protection and thus fewer notifications depending on the setting. This is a very good thing as most people I know disabled their UAC in Vista because it continually bugged them and therefore lost any security benefit that it may have provided. I was also happy to see that Windows 7 is being offered in both the 32 and 64-bit flavors meaning that at least through this version there will be support for somewhat older hardware.

I was disappointed to see that there is no support for upgrading to Windows 7 from Windows XP. You must be running Vista with at least SP1 to preform the upgrade. In light of the fact that so many people either did not upgrade to Vista or downgraded back to XP after trying Vista Microsoft needs to consider giving customers this option. Overall I think this OS has some serious improvements over Vista and people should consider upgrading. The performance improvements alone are enough to make it worth your while. I plan to continue using 7 beta until the final version is released so stay tuned.

For more Win 7 info see the Windows Team Blog, or our new Windows 7 page.

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes

Friday, January 2, 2009

10 Things to do When You Get a New PC

0. Obviously when you get a new system make sure that it is all hooked up and functioning properly.

1. Go through the initial set-up steps, agree to license agreements, name the system, enter your passwords, add users, etc... I am assuming that you also have an active internet connection. Customize your system the way you like it. Set your colors, wallpaper, etc.

2. Immediately go to the control panel > programs and features and remove all OEM pre-bundled crapware. Such as the free trial Internet services, web-browser toolbars, demo games, etc... This stff uses space and resources and you won't use it anyway.

3. Next remove the unnecessary windows features such as tablet pc features or anything else you know you won't be using. You can always reinstall them later.

4. Next remove whatever trail anti-virus software (Mcaffee, Symantec, etc.) and install avast av, my personal favorite and run a boot-up system scan. You will need to register avast but don't worry it is free.

5. Next run Windows Update and install any security patches and updates and set your automatic update schedule.

6. Install any peripheral devices (printers, scanners, usb devices, etc...)

7. Use the Windows Easy Transfer, a thumb drive, or external hard drive to copy your files and data from your old system to the new one.

8. Install any additional software that you use, office suites, productivity software, finance software, etc...

9. Complete a full system backup with Windows Backup and save it somewhere safe.

10. Lastly, devise, configure and scheduled back-up scheme to protect your data. I suggest you install and configure either Mozy, or iDrive. These programs will back-up your important data on-schedule and securly to an off-site location. That way if something happens to your computers (theft, fire, etc.) you still have access to your data. This will also make your next transfer to another computer a snap. Also, you can access your data wherever you have an Internet connection.

Happy New Year!

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes