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All posts tagged "windows 7"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

How Windows Got Its Wow Back... Really!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 07:00 AM

"We had to make sure that we took care of Windows as having an authentic soul." He knows you may be snickering, especially if you use Vista. "Vista tried to do a lot of things, and the places where we didn't finish the job are the places people feel," he says.

The Windows 7 launch date is soon approaching, and many Microsoft enthusiasts and even critics are looking at Windows 7 as a good step forward. A large part of that is determined through the user interface and experience. Fast Company got Microsoft's head of user-experience design to explain the reasoning behind some of Windows 7's more talked about features. When dealing with a finished product, it is sometimes really easy to forget just how much work can be put behind something as simple as a boot-up screen or a list of files. Hundreds, maybe thousands of man hours could be behind wallpaper or icon that you glance at and casually dismiss, but all those little details, from the sound of a click, to what happens when you shake the mouse, all add up, and it looks as if Windows 7 and Microsoft might get it right this time!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Windows 7 Device Stage Works: The Basics Are There

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 10:00 AM

It's been a few years since I've connected a digital camera directly to one of my computers - I always pull the memory card out and connect it to a memory card reader instead. Windows 7 brings with it Device Stage, which allows for enhanced functionality when a device is connected. With Windows 7 not quite out yet, the number of fully-implemented Device Stages isn't very large, but even without a fully customized Device Stage there's some cool functionality offered up for most devices that you connect. Read more...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Will Windows 7 Make for More Expensive Netbooks?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 09:44 AM

"An analyst told The Standard that while Windows 7 Starter will likely fall into the current $15 XP price point, the push will be to get users to upgrade to Professional or Home which will add to the cost. According to the article, the cost of XP on a regular computer runs $50, quite a difference from the discounted netbook price, and we should expect similar differences with Windows 7. Microsoft hasn't confirmed the pricing to OEMs but adding a Home or Pro installation of Windows 7 to a netbook could bump prices significantly."

Given all that Windows 7 brings to the table over Windows XP, I'm more than happy to pay a bit more to get a much better OS on my netbook. It will be interesting to see how functional netbooks are with Windows 7 Basic - if there will be a feeling like we're missing anything significant or not. Of course, if the price increases too much, we might see Linux netbooks start to do better.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

OEM Versions of Windows 7 Now Available for Preorder

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Software" @ 11:30 AM

"But you can also pick up an OEM license that's designed for system builders. These OEM copies offer most of the features found in a full retail version, but the license can't be transferred. Once it's installed on a computer and activated, it's locked to that hardware. You won't get any support, and you'll have to perform a clean install, not an upgrade. The upshot is that OEM copies of Windows are typically cheaper."

If you didn't take advantage of some of the preorder opportunities or don't have access through school or work to discounted copies of Windows 7, OEM copies are another option for getting a deal on the OS. Depending on the version you are looking for, you can save almost half off the price of the non-OEM versions.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Windows 7's Expanded Video Format Support Rocks!

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 09:30 AM

I'm slowly but surely migrating my computers from Windows Vista to Windows 7, and one of the things that is impressing me more and more as I use it is the expanded video codec support. With Windows Vista, one of the first programs I'd install would be VLC Media Player because Vista was incapable of playing pretty much anything but WMV and AVI files. With Windows 7, I chose not to install it because I wanted to see how good the new MPEG4/h.264 support was. In a word? Great! Going through my archive of old video files, which are in a variety of formats (AVI, WMV, h.264/MPEG4, AVI Divx), it looks like the only videos that won't play with Windows Media Player are some old-school Quicktime MOV files. No big loss there.

On to today's task: I had downloaded a video in XVID format and I wanted to burn it to a DVD for my wife to watch. The first thing that impressed me was that Windows Media Player 12 on Windows 7 was able to play this XVID file just as easily as it would play a WMV file. That's exactly how it's supposed to work. We should have had support like this in Vista, but Microsoft didn't seem to want to invest in the codecs - thankfully that has changed with Windows 7. Taking this XVID file, I loaded it into Windows DVD Maker, and it burned a DVD. That sort of smooth "A to B" task has sometimes been difficult on previous versions of Windows, so I'm impressed that Windows 7 finally gets it right. Read more...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Students Can Get Windows 7 as a Digital Download for $29.99

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Events" @ 03:00 PM

"Microsoft is cutting students a big break on Windows 7. Anyone with .EDU email address can order Windows 7 Home Premium for just $29.99 through January 3, 2010. Here's the interesting part- This deal is being run through Digital River, a company that sells DOWNLOADABLE software. That's right. It appears you can download a final production copy of Windows 7 right now."

Wow - and I thought the 50% off pre-order price for Windows 7 was cheap. Not a bad deal at all if you're a student. I've been using Windows 7 more heavily now, having installed it on my main laptop, and it's a solid OS. I cringe when I have to use XP now...OK, well, I cringed using XP when Vista was out. ;-)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

And the Winner for Cutest Windows 7 Ad Goes To...

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 03:00 PM

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Free Hidden Windows 7 Themes and Backgrounds

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"There are a number of regional themes with multiple unique background images hidden from Windows 7 users. On a Windows 7 install with United States regional settings only the United States theme is shown but there are actually four more themes hidden from view."

Microsoft seems to feel that what you'd like to look at as you slave away on your PC depends on where you live. While I can see some logic in that, there is no reason to stop users from getting access to lots of other blissful backgrounds. Fortunately, shows you how to get at those hidden backgrounds. While handy, I think that many of you that do use backgrounds probably have something much more customized to your tastes. I have definitely seen some questionable backgrounds, and some that make perfect sense. For me, owing to a stubborn habit, I have no background, or desktop icons, for that matter. It comes from growing up when background images made the computer chug and draw things line by line, so my background is extremely boring. Anyone have a really good background they could share?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lean, Mean, Netbook Friendly Windows 7

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:00 AM

"Like many of you I loaded Windows 7 on my netbook and it performed just OK. It provided a huge performance improvement over Windows Vista but was not as snappy as I wanted. The key to speeding up Windows 7 on a netbook with limited resources is to turn off and disable features that you don’t need. After all, it’s a netbook and there are many Windows components that will never be used. Additionally, disabling un-needed components will extend your battery life since fewer processes will be using the CPU running in the background."

There are some great tips in this article for optimizing Windows 7 for use on a netbook. If you are already running Windows 7, give it a shot. If not, bookmark this site for once you get ready to upgrade.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Things To Look Forward To In Windows 7

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"In fact, there aren't many changes to the overall look of Windows 7 when compared to Windows Vista. Instead, Microsoft seems to have paid attention to the feedback it received and created an OS that is not only stable, but also very capable."

Windows 7 is getting more and more hype as its official release date approaches and a lot of friends are asking me what is so different about Windows 7 compared to Vista, or even Windows XP. TechRadar has compiled a list of their favourite changes that get them excited. Much of what they list seems pretty boring to me with the exception of Homegroup Networking, but that seems to require a Windows 7 environment, and I'm not fond on turning to a complete Windows 7 shop. I want more diversity and flexibility. What about you? Anyone have a particular feature they're looking forward to?

Got Netbook? Get Windows 7 Installed Through USB

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:30 PM

"This guide works 100% for Vista & Windows 7 unlike most of the guides out there. I have seen many sites/blogs that have “Install Vista from USB guide” but either with incomplete steps or not working guide. I have also seen some guides that don’t’ use proper commands in this guide. After spending many hours I have come up with this 100% working guide."

Into Windows has thrown up a guide showing you how you can install Windows Vista or Windows 7 onto your computer using a USB drive. While Windows usually gets installed from a CD or DVD, some computers, especially netbooks, lack that option. So thumb drives are becoming the preferred media for installation and upgrades. Rumours have been floating around the Internets saying that Microsoft is investigating an official upgrade version of Windows on USB drives, but why wait? The instructions on setting up your own USB Install Drive is fairly easy for the technically minded, and it is a lot handier to do things from a teeny, sturdy drive than weak, brittle, scratch prone optical media. I have a few computers that have been stuck at XP and lack a drive. I think I know what I'll be doing after Windows 7 is released.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Get A Peek At The Real Windows 7

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 08:30 AM

"So, as 2009 draws to a close, we find ourselves testing another new Microsoft OS: Windows 7. Building on the now-mature technologies introduced with Vista, but with a renewed focus on performance and ease-of-use, Windows 7 seems poised to succeed where Vista couldn’t. We’ve finally received a final build of Win7, and have run it through the wringer in both the Lab and in the real-world. Here’s what we found."

With Windows 7 being released to manufacturers, the "final" version can now be reviewed without worry that any tweaks or adjustments will be made. Well, outside of whatever each manufacturer sees fit. Maximum PC goes through the gamut of what you can expect if you upgrade, or get a new PC with Microsoft's newest hotness, including differences in performance for various tasks. Overall, I expect that a lot of people will probably be confused by the UI changes, especially the taskbar and ribbons, but that will probably wane over time. It seems as if the lessons learned through Vista have paid off and Windows XP's days are finally numbered.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Microsoft Wants You To Consider Upgrades With New Pricing

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"Most people buy a PC preinstalled with the edition of Windows that meets their unique needs. However, for some customers their needs may change over time. With Windows Anytime Upgrade (or WAU), we make it super easy and convenient for the small number of customers who’s PC needs evolve to need a higher edition of Windows 7."

The Microsoft Windows Team and published some pricing details on their Anytime upgrades as well as the Windows 7 Family Pack. The upgrade pricing seems typical and in line with what they had done with Vista. The interesting part for me is the Family Pack pricing. The family pack is more cost effective than doing three upgrade from Windows 7 Start/Home Basic, let alone fresh installations. It is a clear signal that Microsoft recognizes that multi-pc households are the norm, and they need to provide competitive price to convince people that upgrading existing PCs to Windows 7 is not going to be expensive. New PCs are not problem, since most new PCs that people buy, at least at retail, tend to have the latest OS installed, be it Windows or OSX. They're trying to get some extra revenue from the vast base of existing PCs. I can't say whether or not everyone will see a benefit changing from XP or Vista to Windows 7, well, mybe Vista users will see a large benefit, but at $50 a PC, it may just be cheap enough to make the leap.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Windows 7 Media Center Gets EngadgetHD Love

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:00 PM

"Once you switch to Windows 7 Media Center there is no going back. It might not seem like that much at first, but when you try to go back to Vista or even another solution like Moxi or TiVo, it is like going back in time. The fact is that Microsoft has been in a league of its own with Vista Media Center and while the competition is still sitting idle suing each other, Microsoft has yet again raised the bar. There is no doubt in our mind that it is the all around best DVR solution available today, but we recognize it isn't for everyone."

My thoughts have to echo EngadgetHD. Having lived with the original Windows Media Center and watching it evolve over the years, I've found it to be very easy to use. I like tinkering with tech as much as the next guy, but when it comes to watching movies and tv, I don't want to roll up my sleeves and fix things. Every few months, I get ambitious and try out another option, like LinuxMCE, or MediaPortal, and they just don't seem to have the same kind of polish. Windows 7 Media Center builds upon Vista Media Center and really puts it ahead of the pack in terms of support and usability. EngadgetHD has a great breakdown of all the changes you can expect when you make the migration, and yes, for those of you using a Windows based Media Center, it most certainly is worth the upgrade.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Windows 7 has RTM'd: Good to Go!

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 03:49 PM

"I am pleased to announce that Windows 7 has RTM'd! As I mentioned previously, RTM officially happens only after sign-off occurs. What happens is a build gets designated as a RTM contender after going through significant testing and meeting our quality bar for RTM. Then, it goes though all the validation checks required for RTM including having all languages of that build completed. If all the validation checks have passed - sign-off for RTM can occur. Today after all the validation checks were met, we signed off and declared build 7600 as RTM."

That quote pretty much says it all - Windows 7 has "gone gold" as they used to say, and the bits are flying out. The most pertinant question may be "When can I get it?". This is a good blog post about that - I'm impressed that by August 6th I'll be able to download the RTM version via MSDN. Good timing - I'll migrate all my systems over to Windows 7 before my son is born at the end of the month, because I hear having a kid eats up your spare time or something. ;-)

Microsoft Confirms Windows 7 Family Pack

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 03:41 PM

"Microsoft on Tuesday confirmed that it does plan to offer a "family pack" for Windows 7 that can be used on up to three PCs. The software maker acknowledged the move as part of a blog entry Tuesday afternoon. However, it still isn't saying how much it will charge for the family pack, which allows three installations of the home premium version of Windows 7."

I posted about the family pack rumours earlier this month, and it's finally been confirmed via this blog post from Brandon LeBlanc. No word on the pricing, which is the only thing we were waiting to confirm, but the words "select markets" in the blog post are a little concerning. I hope this isn't just limited to the US!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Windows 7 Upgrade Will Only Install Over Activated Copy of Windows XP or Vista?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 03:23 PM’s_installed

"A few days ago we released our Windows 7 upgrade guide with the hopes of answering all your burning questions regarding the inexpensive upgrade editions that so many of us have pre-ordered. One of the questions that we couldn't answer at the time however, was how Windows 7 would handle the verification process to ensure that you were eligible to update. In Windows XP upgrade editions, you simply needed to insert an older install disk. Vista upped the ante considerably by requiring you to have a previous version installed (no activation required). Windows 7 on the other hand, will now require an activated previous version to be installed and not even the workaround found in the Vista version will be permitted."

There's a lot of confusion flying around about this - the concern is, of course, the activation process. The above paragraph pretty much says it all - Microsoft is taking a hard-line approach with this process it seems. They must really want to drive the purchase of full-price Windows 7 - but I suspect this will have the effect of keeping some people on Windows Vista if they don't have all the licenses they need. It seems as though getting a key for Windows 7 RC is the smart move so you can install the RC, then upgrade to Windows 7 final from that. This article has an interesting comment posted by a user who says that once you install and activate Vista or XP on a computer, it will remember that activation so if you need to re-install Windows 7 again, you won't need to install the older operating system. Frankly, this all seems like a bit of a headache. Was the old method really so bad Microsoft?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Windows 7 Family Pack Pricing Leaked?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 01:00 PM

"My colleague Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is reflexively skeptical about my report of a Windows 7 Family Pack. In fact, he says, his "OEM contacts" are unaware of any such product and one "source that has been reliable in the past" tells him the language referring to that product has been pulled from the license agreement. Fortunately, some of Adrian's commenters have better sources than he does. One points to a product code, GFC-00236, that produces some very interesting search results. Like a set of product listings from Expercom that includes a WINDOWS 7 FAMILY PACK/ HOME PREMIUM UPGRADE (GFC-00236) with a listed price of $136.95."

There's not much more to say here - this price point seems to make sense. MSRP is probably $149 USD, and street price will be a bit less than that. It lines up nicely with the $50/copy of Windows 7 that's going on right now

Of course you can't please everyone - check out this comment over on Ed Bott's post:

"The most silly thing about the family pack is that it allows 3 upgrades. Our family of 4 has 7 computers (2 netbooks, 3 notebooks and 2 desktops) with 3 of them also running virtual machines from time to time for web security. How many families have only 3 computers? If MS wants to keep my business they have to do better. If I need to upgrade, Linux will look too attractive to ignore."

This comment made me chuckle - this guy is complainging about getting a new operating system for $50 per computer? That's a dramatic reduction from Windows Vista, and in my books a hell of a deal. This guy needs TEN copies of Windows 7 (if you count the three virtual machines) and he expects that for, what, $99 or something? Come back to planet earth buddy...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Microsoft to offer Family Pack for Windows 7 Home Premium?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 02:00 PM

"Thanks to a tip from Kristan Kenney, I took a close look at the agreements embedded in the License folder of the latest leaked builds of Windows 7. This is no longer a beta license agreement and is presumably very close to the final agreement that customers will accept. The agreements for retail copies of Windows 7 Home Premium contain this eye-opening clause..."

This news is a few days old, but I thought it was worth sharing for those who hadn't heard about it yet: it looks like Microsoft is gearing up to offer a three-pack license of Windows 7 for home users. If this news is accurate, and pricing is reasonable ($199 or less) this is a significant moment for Microsoft. I've been harping on this issue of family pack licensing for years, and I've never seen a glimmer that Microsoft actually understood why this was important. The millions of "newish" computers out there still running Windows XP instead of Vista is a testament to not only the bad public perception, but also the sheer cost of upgrading multiple computers in a household. Especially now that Vista-era machines can easily run Windows 7, the issue of whether or not people will upgrade becomes a criticial one. Microsoft needs to make this work.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Choosing the Right Version of Windows 7

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Software" @ 03:00 AM

"One of the most frequent questions I get these days comes from people who’ve been running the Windows 7 beta and RC and are planning to upgrade to the final version when it’s available on October 22. “Which edition of Windows 7 do I need?” Interestingly, this question also comes up in other contexts as well. When Apple defenders appear in the TalkBack section here, they regularly insist that the Home Premium edition is “crippled” and “stripped-down.” Sooner or later, they insist, any self-respecting Windows user will have to upgrade. Based on that argument, they say that you must use the more expensive Ultimate edition to compare the costs of a Windows PC to those of a Mac, which comes in only a single edition. As you’ll see from the table below, this isn’t accurate."

Check out the linked article for the full table comparing the versions. The short version is, that Home Premium is a very comprehensive product and will suit 99.9% of users just fine. The additional features in the upgraded version are pretty specialized and if you need something more, it will be pretty obvious to you when you look at the list.

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