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All posts tagged "windows vista"

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

View Your RAW Photos as Thumbnails With FastPictureViewer WIC RAW Codec Pack

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 11:00 AM

"Windows Vista introduced a modern and extensible imaging framework called Windows Imaging Component (WIC). The operating system comes with built-in support for several common image formats including jpeg, bmp, png, gif, tiff and HD Photo. WIC makes it possible for 3rd parties to add first-class support for image formats to Windows, complete with thumbnails in Explorer, preview and slideshow support in Photo Gallery / Photo Viewer and metadata search integration. The FastPictureViewer WIC RAW Codec Pack provides such platform support for additional formats and turns Windows Explorer into a raw viewer, through read-only image decoders, simultaneously available in both 32 and 64-bit flavor for Win7, Vista and XP SP3. The codec pack contains 32-bit and 64-bit NEF and 64-bit CR2 codecs, along with 64-bit DNG and a lot more!"

If you've ever had the frustration of looking at a folder full of raw photos and seeing no thumbnail preview, this is your solution. This amazing codec pack is donationware - meaning if you use it, you're encouraged to donate a few bucks to the author - and for me, it's definitely worth the donation I just made this morning. I work with raw files inside Lightroom for processing, but often I'll want to jump into a folder and see the raw images there, and with Windows 7 lacking support for raw files, this tool fills the gap perfectly. Definitely worth checking out!

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, 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.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Microsoft to Sell Windows 7 for 8% Less Than Vista

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 09:38 AM

I was looking at Microsoft's stock price on Google Finance (oh, the irony), and saw this little line that caught my attention:

"Microsoft Corp on Thursday said it will sell the standard home-user version of its new Windows 7 operating system for 8 percent less than the comparable version of its Vista system, as the global downturn hits spending on technology."

This is the first I've heard of any pricing information about Windows 7 - this 8% drop would make the approximate prices as follows based on Best Buy pricing today for Windows Vista:

  • Windows 7 Home Premium Full: $220 USD
  • Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade: $119 USD
  • Windows 7 Ultimate Full: $294 USD

That's just a theoretical price though of course - because today you can buy Windows Vista Home Premium Upgrade from for $83.57 USD, far less than the $129.99 USD Best Buy is charging. In the XP to Vista transition era, the vast majority of computer users didn't upgrade their operating systems. Most people getting Vista bought a new PC. Windows 7, however, is going to be a different beast - if someone has a reasonable Vista-era computer, they'll have all they need to run Windows 7. So if Microsoft wants those people to upgrade to Windows 7, the upgrade pricing has to be reasonable. I'm not sure 8% is going to cut it. What do you think?

UPDATE: Looks like the pricing details on Windows 7 are now public. $119.99 (Home Premium), $199.99 (Business), or $219.99 (Ultimate) are the upgrade prices for XP or Vista users. Those fall in line with the prices I estimated above. That strikes me as too expensive, especially in this belt-tightening economy we're in. I think $89 USD would have been a much more attractive upgrade price. There's going to be a limited Window of pre-order pricing at $49 USD for the Home Premium upgrade, starting on the 26th of June, but how many people are going to take advantage of that? I'll post more news about that when I find out details.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

BestBuy Unveils Windows 7 Upgrade Plans

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:30 PM

"The memo states that Best Buy (and presumably its competitors) will launch a "Technology Guarantee" program on June 26, under which anyone who purchases a PC running Vista Home Premium, Business, or Ultimate can install Windows 7 at no extra charge when the latter becomes available Oct. 22. "

Back when Vista was just around the corner, Microsoft and partners started offering a similar guarantee, with customers buying a computer with Windows XP able to upgrade to Windows Vista. The goal was to prevent customers from holding off on their computer purchases in anticipation of the great Vista bonanza. Of course, the whole upgrade plan went awry, and lots of us were left wanting when our "Vista Capable" computers slowed to a crawl. This time, I think the story will be a bit different for several reasons. First, manufacturers have hopefully learned their lesson and will not try to castrate their computers with the bare minimum specifications. Second, computing horsepower has doubled, or dual-cored, rather, in the past few years, meaning that even the cheapest computers tend to have much more oomph. Third, Windows 7 definitely seems to be a leaner, slicker Windows over Vista. I see the upgade plan a bit of a red herring with most people who will buy a computer will be so entrenched in their personal touches, etc. that they will probably end up not bothering with the upgrade. Has anyone actually upgraded their computer from Windows XP to Vista through one of these programs?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Windows 7 to Cost More than Windows Vista?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 08:00 PM;pop

""In tough economic times, I think it's naive to believe that you can increase your prices on average and then still see a stronger swell than if you held prices flat or even lowered them. I can tell you that the licensing tiers at retail are more expensive than they were for Vista." In the business market, Windows 7 Professional is expected to be more expensive than Windows Vista Business, the version that Professional is replacing, he said."

Without firm pricing announced by Microsoft, it seems hard to get too up-in-arms about this, but one thing is for sure: this is not the ideal financial environment for Microsoft to be raising their prices in. I also think that, where consumers are concerned, Microsoft is going to run into trouble with windows Vista owners not wanting to upgrade to Windows 7 unless Microsoft can make it affordable for them to do so - and this is especially true in the case of multi-computer households. With Windows XP, many people upgraded to Windows Vista with new computers because they'd had their XP-based systems for years. Vista still feels brand-new in comparison, and the vast majority of consumers running Vista today are doing so on hardware that's less than two years old. If Microsoft is expecting those users to drop $129 USD (the price of Vista Home Premium Upgrade) on every computer in the house, that's probably not going to happen.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Windows Vista Security Center Black Death

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

Running Windows Vista? Ever seen anything like this? Then you were probably as frustrated I am right now. For some odd reason, one of my computers one morning this week alerted me to the fact that it was lacking anti-spyware protection. I hadn't changed any settings, and Windows Defender was still installed. I don't run anti-virus software on this computer (well, any of my computers), so the "Not Monitored" setting is normal. What's strange about this problem is that clicking Update Now to update Windows Defender results in...nothing. I'll get a User Account Control prompt, but nothing else will happen. Windows Defender will still do a scan, but it has the yellow exclamation mark on the system tray icon telling me it's out of date. This seems like it's related to some sort of broken Windows Update functionality, but the manifestation of the black sidebar is the curious part.

When this problem happened I did a System Restore, going back as far as I could (which was seven days - anyone else noticed that Vista's System Restore doesn't go back as far as XP did?) and, bizarrely, it didn't fix the problem. That's unusual because the problem happened a few days ago, so the earlier System Restore points should have done the trick. I had this problem happen months ago, and System Restore fixed it - I'm not so fortunate this time. I've done a fair bit of Google searching and I can't find anyone else referencing it - though that could be a matter of syntax on my part. Every search I do that includes the word "black" gets me "black hat" security results.

I'm stumped. Any ideas for me to try?

Friday, March 27, 2009

2009: The Last "Year of the Grind"

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 07:00 AM

I don't know about where your computer is positioned, but one of mine (my media editing workstation) is on a shelf slightly above and about 18 inches in front of my head. So when the hard drives start grinding away, they're easy to hear. Windows Vista's indexing is great from a user perspective, but it does have to scan content on a regular basis so grind, grind, grind is what I hear. Also, working with photos and videos creates quite a bit of heavy hard drive usage. I usually have music playing, but music is less satisfying when there's a constant grinding going on in the background. But there's hope...

I have yet to purchase a solid state drive (SSD) but watching prices fall, and capacity/performance increase, I can comfortably say that 2009 will be the last year I'll be using hard drives as the primary drive in my two main daily-use computers - and I'm eargerly looking forward to the sound of silence that change will entail. The primary hard drives in my two main computers are 150 GB 10,000 RPM Western Digital RaptorX drives, so that's the performance and size benchmark that SSD drives have to beat. I keep my music collection, videos, and other big files on my Windows Home Server, so the only thing I need on my primary drive are my documents, pictures, and applications.

Looking at the SSD drives out there today, some have hit that mark, and the rest are moving toward it quite rapidly. I'm hoping that by the end of this year, I'll see high-performance 256 GB SSD drives for around the $250 USD mark. 128 GB SSD drives would be a little too tight on space (I'm outgrowing my 150 GB drives) so 256 GB would give me room to grow, and as long as the performance was quick, I don't think I'd miss my Raptor drives. I long for the sweet sound of silence...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Win a Copy of Windows Vista Ultimate (PRODUCT) RED

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Events" @ 05:05 PM

Thanks to some generous folks at Microsoft, I have a copy of Windows Vista Ultimate (PRODUCT) RED Edition to give away (valued at $219 USD). Oh yeah, and that little wireless mouse too. The contest is open to anyone in the world, and all you have to do to enter is post a response in our forums telling me what you'd do with this software. Would you install it on your current computer, currently running Windows XP or a lower version of Vista? Would you donate the software to charity? Would you build a new computer and use this OS? Or give the OS away to someone who doesn't yet have Vista? There are no right or wrong answers, I'm just curious to know what you'd do.

The contest is open until Thursday the 5th of March, 2009, at 3pm GMT -7. One entry per person. I'll randomly select one winner and they'll have 72 hours to respond and claim their prize.

UPDATE: The contest is over and the winner is cmchavez. Thanks to everyone for entering the contest!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Microsoft Windows: Is It Time For a "Do Over"?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 04:00 PM

Digital Home Thoughts is a Featured Community, and has a part of that, one of the things I enjoy the most is getting to interact with leaders from other technology sites. In our private forum we were discussing the issue of whether or not Microsoft is out of touch with its customer base; what the customer needs, what they want. From a consumer point of view, I think there's definitely some truth to that. I think that Windows XP was the "right" operating system for consumers at the time, but we're now six years later and Windows Vista is having some trouble getting accepted - even by the geeks that normally flock to anything new and shiny. There's a lot of FUD out there about Windows Vista, but even if I toss out 80% of what I hear from others, the remaining 20% is enough to make me realize that Windows Vista simply didn't deliver the way it was supposed to. Windows Vista is fundamentally broken.

The more I think about it, the more I believe with every brain cell I have (hey, no laughing!) that Microsoft needs to do what Apple did with OS X: create a new OS from scratch. Create something for the modern era, something designed for a constantly connected era. The OS we have today in Vista is still one created based on thinking from 15+ years ago. Whether it's the registry, drivers, codecs, DLLs, or the way programs are installed, Windows Vista has the same root problems that Windows 95 had. Microsoft needs to start over, to build something fast, lean, stable, and secure. They'd have to implement a purely virtualized XP/Vista layer for compatibility, because one of the reasons Windows is so big and slow is because there's so much legacy code in there for compatibility (what about thin-slice virtualization?). Microsoft needs to create something beautiful and easy to use, but more than that, they need to fix the problems that Windows has at it's core. Read more...

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