September 27, 2009

Action Center – Troubleshooting

One great feature bundled with the Action Center is troubleshooting. If you are having problems with your computer, open the troubleshooting component and Windows will run tests to determine why the problem exists and how it can be fixed.

To test the troubleshooter, I decided to let Windows find out why I cannot run Aero in a virtual environment.  

Action Center – Maintenance

In a similar fashion to the security section, the Action Center also ensures your computer is maintained and deals with backup, updates, and more. Screen shows the areas the Maintenance section is responsible for.

Action Center – Security

The security section of the Action Center deals with anti-virus software and spyware protection, firewall settings, UAC, and more. This is your one-stop solution to ensuringyour computer is secure. Screen  shows the settings that are monitored.

Action Center

Windows Action Center is an improved version of Vista’s Security Center. The action center alerts you to problems with your PC and lets you know how you can resolve them. Notifications are delivered through the notification area.

Geographic Location

Many programs in Windows 7, such as Firefox, will utilize your geographic location. This location will be used in a variety of ways including letting people know where you are when you send emails and take pictures, etc.

To set your default geographic location:
1. Click the Start button, type loc, and click on Default Location.
2. From this screen, you can set your default location settings.
3. When you are done, click Apply.

Now you are ready for maximum utilization as more location-aware programs and services are released.

Device Stage

Device Stage is a new technology that helps you interact with any compatible device connected to your computer. Device Stage lets you see device status and run common tasks. This a current list of products that take advantage of Device Stage.
Device stage is designed to take the pain out of adding new devices to your computer and have them working almost instantly. Many people wonder why it is so hard to recognize a device plugged into a machine. Simply put, Windows cannot interact with all these devices instantly because they all work differently; Windows needs drivers for these devices to communicate with them properly. Device stage will install drivers when you plug a new device in or go out to Windows Update to get the necessary files. I am very impressed with Device stage. I plugged in my LG TV and not only did it recognize it as such, but it changed my PC’s resolution to the TV’s native resolution of 1920 x 1080 without me clicking the mouse once.
Essentially, device stage should alleviate the need for bulky third-party applications that were required, in the past, to access your devices.

Accessing Files Shared on the HomeGroup

To access files shared on your HomeGroup:

1. Open Windows Explorer (WIN+E.)
2. In the left-hand pane, you should now see your HomeGroup files. Click on the links to access the shared data.

Joining HomeGroup with Another PC

Now you’ve set up your HomeGroup, you can join other computers to it. To join your current HomeGroup, go to your second PC and:

1. Connect to the same network (wireless or wired) on which the current Windows 7, HomeGroup-enabled PC is connected.
2. You will be prompted to join the HomeGroup. Click Join Now.
3. Type in your HomeGroup password
4. Now you can decide what you would like to share, from your PC, on the HomeGroup

5. After sharing your files, your PC is now part of the HomeGroup.

Set up HomeGroup

Picture shows the location specification of the current network you are connected to. When you select Home as your network locationn (after connecting to your network), Windows will start modifying settings to enable resource sharing.

Windows HomeGroup

Setting up a home network can, at times, be complicated. In the past, Windows XP and Vista haven’t done a great job at guiding you through the setup process. As the average household has more than one computer these days (no source, but I’m just assuming this is the case), home networking is becoming more of a mainstream need. With PCs running Windows 7, a home network is easier to setup and a lot more useful. HomeGroup makes it easier to connect to other computers and devices on a wireless home network, so you can share files, photos, music, printers, and more throughout your home network. HomeGroup is strictly a feature of Windows 7, so you’ll need to have at least two PCs running Windows 7. Once you've set up a HomeGroup, you can use the Network and Sharing Center to choose what you share with other HomeGroup members.

Removing BitLocker Encryption

If you would like to decrypt your drive:

1. Plug your thumb drive into a USB port.
2. Click the Start button, type BitLocker, and click on BitLocker Drive Encryption.
3. Next to your thumb drive, click Turn Off BitLocker, and click Decrypt Drive.

Verifying Encrypted Data

When protecting your data or anything you own, it is important to ensure the protection actually works. I took my thumb drive out of the Windows 7 machine and put it in a Vista machine. You should do the following too, to ensure your data is protected.

Please note: If you check the drive in an older version of Windows, you will need either XP SP3 or Vista SP1 (or above) to read the encrypted drive. Other operating systems will recognize the drive as an unformatted drive.

Encrypting USB Drive

To encrypt your thumb drive:

1. Plug your thumb drive into a USB port.
2. Click the Start button, type BitLocker, and click on BitLocker Drive Encryption.
3. Next to your thumb drive icon, click Turn on BitLocker.

BitLocker To Go

BitLocker To Go encrypts the data on your portable media. With an increasing number of key drives at our disposal, loss of sensitive data is becoming more of a threat. In this section, you’ll learn how to encrypt your thumb (flash) drive with BitLocker To Go (Alternative: Encrypt your USB Drive’s Data), how to verify that the data is encrypted, and how to remove encryption from your drive.

BitLocker Biometric

BitLocker Biometric protects your computer by fingerprint credentials. If you don’t have a fingerprint scanner on your laptop, I am sure, by now, you’ve seen someone with a laptop that has this functionality. BitLocker Biometric provides native support for logon authentication for Windows and also comes with an API software vendors can use to protect access to programs. Expect to see more and more programs using this feature. Figure 14 shows a list of biometric devices attached to your computer.

BitLocker biometric looks to be an exciting feature that will become more integral to our computing habits in the near future.

Federated Search

Federated search is used to search beyond the scope of your PC. Based upon OpenSearch and RSS, you can search remote repositories. You can create your own connectors, which is very easy because of the standard format used by OpenSearch. Figure 12 shows the Live Search connector after installation; you can now use Live Search directly from Windows Explorer.


AeroPeek helps you take a “peek” at your desktop by moving the cursor to the bottom, right-hand side of the screen. This feature helps you regain focus. I’ve not found this feature as useful as AeroSnap, but I am sure the idea will grow on me and I will find myself using it more often as I become more familiar with it.Figure 11 shows an example of AeroPeek in action.

 AeroPeek lets you “peek” at your desktop


AeroSnap is used to “dock” your windows to a side of the screen. If you’ve ever wanted to compare two windows side by side, this is the feature you’ve been waiting for.  Simply drag the window you are using to the left or right hand side of the screen. The window will then “snap” to that side of the screen, as shown in Figure 10. You can also drag a window to the top of the screen to maximize it.

AeroSnap “snaps” your windows to screen edges.

Windows 7 Libraries

Libraries are special folders, which aggregate your current media folders into one. For example: if you have three video folders (e.g., Movies, TV Shows, and Camera Videos), you can merge them into one, and have quick access to all your files at once. Public folders will also be merged into your libraries so your whole network can have seamless access to public files. This feature is particularly useful if you have a home media server and want to access the media on the server without navigating to mapped drives.

Figure 8 shows the Libraries view, which gives you quick access to your documents, music, pictures, videos, and more. Figure 9 shows an example of a library, which contains two different folders. A library can contain many folders from different locations including network locations.

September 15, 2009

New Windows 7 Features

Microsoft Windows 7 comes with new features that make your computer significantly easier and faster to use than earlier versions of Windows. Windows 7 makes it easier to use the Start menu, open files and programs, find information, and accomplish other common tasks, such as send and receive secure e-mail, browse the Internet securely, scan and view pictures, play music and videos, and change settings. Windows 7 delivers the Windows Aero user experience, Instant Searches, Explorers, Gadgets, improved Internet Explorer, Windows Media Center, and advanced security and protection.

Windows Anytime Upgrade

Upgrading is easier than ever if you decide to move up to the next level of Windows 7. In the past, upgrading had been difficult to manage. But now with Windows 7, you can purchase one version, and if you decide you want to move up to the next level say Premium to Ultimate, that all you need to do is purchase an upgrade key from Microsoft.

Windows 7 Editions

Microsoft Windows 7 comes in four main editions: the Home Basic Edition for con-
sumers; the Home Premium Edition for consumer power users; the Professional Edi-
tion for business and power users; and the Ultimate Edition for the complete
package. Two other editions are available for specific needs: the Starter Edition and
Enterprise Edition. The Starter Edition is for the beginning PC user and provides the
most basic entry to Windows 7, which is targeted to emerging markets. The Enter-
prise Edition is for large corporations with advanced data protection, compatibility,
and international support needs.

September 13, 2009

Windows 7 32 or 64-bit ?

When deciding to move up to a 64-bit operating system, you should first consider what 64-bit gets you. Knowing what software runs on 64-bit should influence your decision; you will see no advantage if you are running 32-bit software on a 64-bit OS. You also lose the ability to run 16-bit software, which shouldn’t be a problem unless you rely on older software, such as old work software or home-made packages you haven’t yet updated.

Version of Windows 7

Windows 7 is available in four editions. Windows 7 Starter is not sold individually, so I will not explain its features. I personally recommend Windows 7 Home Premium as this is suitable for home use and will provide you with most of the functionality needed to do everything in this book. However, if you want all the features, you’ll need Windows 7 Ultimate.

Minimum windows 7 system requirements

The minimum system requirements to run Windows 7 are:

• 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64)
• 1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
• 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
• DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver

Additional requirements to use certain features: 

• Internet access (fees may apply)
• Depending on resolution, video playback may require additional memory and advanced graphics hardware
• For some Windows Media Center functionality a TV tuner and additional hardware may be required
• Windows Touch and Tablet PCs require specific hardware

What is Windows 7 ?

Microsoft Windows 7 is the seventh generation of the world’s most popular computer operating system.  Whether you use a laptop, desktop, or a standard or small-sized notebook computer, Windows 7 is designed to make life easier for you. Although the general look of Windows 7 resembles Windows Vista, Windows 7 offers many new and improved features to make computing on any type of PC easier. From printing to working with photos and other types of media, from using the Internet to solving problems, Windows 7 provides you with tremendous new tools.