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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Why Windows 7 should have been called Windows Vista RELOADED!

Windows 7 has become one of the most hyped and anticipated Windows release ever. People are going gaga over it's performance and compatibility. The buzz is huge and Windows 7 can become one of the most successful operating systems of all time. But should it be called Windows 7? I don't think so! Windows 7 to me is only a polished and refreshed version of Windows Vista. What Microsoft has done is, taken into account the problems associated with Vista and eliminated them in this latest release. BUT, have they added anything new which is significant? Let's find out.

Windows Vista RTM'ed in November, 2006 and saw a retail release on January 2007. People had to wait about 5 years for this new version of Windows. Most people felt that the wait was not worthwhile. Vista brought a lot of compatibility problems, was a resource hog and for many people, it was not worth a upgrade from XP. Most of the hardware at that period was not powerful enough to run Windows Vista smoothly. People had to upgrade their hardware to be able to run it and this put many people off from making a switch to Vista. Those who did, faced a lot of compatibility problems. All in all, Windows Vista was a nightmare to many. But not to me! I thought that Windows Vista was a necessary evil.

Windows Vista brought with it a wealth of new features!

1) Windows Aero


This was truly a revolution as far as the Windows GUI goes. Translucent borders, live taskbar thumbnails, Flip3D, smooth animations were brought about by Aero and it was the prettiest Windows GUI so far. Windows 7 also uses Aero with some little tweaks here and there like the Aero Peek, Shake and Snap etc, but mostly it feels like the GUI of Vista.

2) Instant Search


This was one of the major changes which Vista brought about, Instant Search and it's really fast! The search boxes are available virtually everywhere in Windows Vista. You just have to type in some keywords and it will instantly search for the file, application etc and the results show up instantly. It's really cool. Windows 7's search tool is basically the same but with an added option of searching from external database sources, and is dubbed as the "Federated Search".

3) Windows Sidebar


Windows Sidebar was introduced in Windows Vista. The basic functionality of it was to provide information at a glance and give access to frequently used tools with the help of small mini programs called Gadgets. Gadgets can display information like weather, calendar, memory usage and also have shortcuts to shutdown, run, screensaver, etc. Windows 7 also features gadgets but doesn't have the sidebar.

4) Win SAT


Windows System Assessment Tool measures various performance characteristics and capabilities of the hardware it is running on and reports them as a Windows Experience Index (WEI) score, a number between 1.0 and 5.9 for Windows Vista. The WEI includes five subscores: processor, memory, 2D graphics, 3D graphics, and disk; the basescore is equal to the lowest of the subscores. It had a lot of promise, like for example, before making a purchase of a computer, it's WEI score will give you the idea of how well it's hardware is, as compared to other models. But most of the vendors don't follow it.

5) Windows DreamScene


Windows DreamScene was a part of the Windows Ultimate Extras. It is an utility which allows videos and some optimized animations like dreams to be used as the desktop background. It uses the GPU for display instead of the CPU, leaving the latter free to perform user tasks. Windows DreamScene was a welcome addition as I was getting bored with the still, lifeless wallpapers. Now you could have a waterfall running through your screen or a bird flying. It was really cool. The sad part is that, it has been removed from Windows 7 and replaced with wallpaper slideshow!

6) User Account Control


This was one of the most controversial features to come out in Windows Vista. Microsoft says that, "User Account Control in Windows Vista improves the safety and security of your computer by preventing potentially dangerous software from making changes to your computer without your explicit consent". It has come under serious criticism with some saying that it slows down various tasks on the computer. But it has been proved that it can spot rootkits before they install. So love it or hate it, you can't ignore it. Windows 7 also features UAC but it has been just updated a little so that it gives fewer interruptions to the user.

Windows Vista also brought about Backup and Restore Center, Windows Mail, Windows Calendar, Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Media Center, Windows Mobility Center, Shadow Copy, Parental controls, ReadyBoost, ReadyDrive among others. So what does Windows 7 bring? The new Superbar and touch supprort.Windows Vista p@wns Windows 7 as far as the feature set is concerned. One of my friends who has Intel C2Q, 4 GB RAM and GeForce 9600 GT is not keen on upgrading to 7, as he feels that Vista runs fast enough and there is nothing new in Windows 7, which is significant enough for him to make the switch. I feel that instead of burying the Windows Vista name so soon, Microsoft should have called Windows 7, the Windows Vista Second Edition or Vista Reloaded!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Top 7 Reasons People Quit Linux

1. Linux doesn't run a program I use.

In this particular argument, people typically point out that Linux doesn't run one of the main Adobe products, such as Photoshop or Dreamweaver. They then point out that there's no swap-in replacement in the world of open-source.

This is true. I can't argue.

The problem is that they're using specialized industrial tools. Most people neither know nor care what Dreamweaver is. It might seem otherwise in the circles in which that person moves, but out here in the real world, it just ain't the case.

Much of the work that's gone into desktop Linux in recent times has been to make it better for the ordinary individual. Linux now has a top-notch browser and office suite, for example. But, so far, nobody has got around to re-creating specialist toolsets such as high-level Web design software.

The solution is simple: If you need to use a particular industrial tool for your work, then you should keep using it. That means you'll have to keep using Windows. It's no big deal.

2. I installed Linux, but some element of my hardware didn't work!

That's incredible because I installed Windows the other day and had the exact same experience! My graphics card didn't work, and Wi-Fi didn't either.

Might this just be the way PCs are?

But do you know what I did? I fixed everything. Maybe I'm lucky to be clever enough to do so, but if I wasn't, I could easily ask around for solutions. I know there are smart people out there who are willing to help.

If you do this, you might have to do some hard work, and step into unfamiliar territory. But there are lots of instructions out there on the Web, and it only has to be done once. Plus, as you work through the solution, you'll be learning stuff about your new operating system. Treat it as an opportunity, rather than an ordeal.

Some people expand this complaint to point out that Linux can sap their precious time as they work through getting it set up the way they like. Again, this is as true of Linux as it is of Windows. It's just the way PCs are.

3. I tried Linux, but I had to type commands!

OMG!!! Really?

But seriously. So what? Are you scared of the keyboard? This is usually related to point #2 above, and it's usually a one-time maneuver designed to get something working. For example, to get DVD playback on Ubuntu, you have to type a certain command after downloading software. Once done, however, DVDs will play back automatically forever and ever.

If you had to do this every time you wanted to play a DVD, then you might have a point. But typing a few strange words won't kill you.

There are also those who take a haughty position and project their fear onto others: “I had to type commands! Ergo Linux just isn't ready for the ordinary person!” Here, the individual concerned seems to be implying that the “ordinary user” (whoever that might be) suffers from an intelligence deficit and is incapable of typing commands. It that really true? Why do we always assume that other people can't possibly be as smart as we are?

4. I did *this*, and *this* happened. That doesn't happen with Windows!

Again, so what? Nobody said Linux was a clone of Windows. Things are going to be different now you're using Linux. Not necessarily better, not necessarily worse. Just different. You're over the rainbow, Dorothy! Rather than griping about your troubles, why don't you get used to it? If you're unable to adapt, it says more about you than it does about Linux.

5. I posted a message on a forum, but Linux people were mean to me.

It's true that some community members aren't paragons of virtue and honor. These kinds of people are found in all walks of life, however, and are best avoided. You can't blame Linux for their existence.

But in most examples of this complaint, the individual concerned brought wrath on themselves in one of several ways:

a) By being aggressive and/or unfriendly in their posting, or in their replies to other people. Yeah, you might be frustrated that you can't get Linux to work how you want, but try and keep that temper in check;

b) By not doing basic homework before asking for help, such as searching the forum for a particular issue that may be extremely common. There's only so many times community members can answer the same query before getting annoyed;

c) By simply not respecting Linux and its culture. Switching operating systems is like switching support for a sports team. When chatting with fellow fans, you can't keep mentioning how good you think the other team is, or how you think their techniques are better. In fact, even making reference to the other team might stretch your fellow fans' patience to breaking point.

6. I just don't like it.

It would be marvellous if people were honest enough to state this as bluntly as I've listed it above. After all, Linux isn't for everybody.

But what people with this complaint always do is make a spurious argument about usability--that wonderfully nebulous term that means different things to different people. “Linux just isn't as usable as Windows or OS X,” they'll say. When asked to back up their complaint with evidence, they don't bother to reply.

What they're really saying, of course, is that Linux was unfamiliar and spooked them so much that they ran back to Windows. Again, this is reasonable. It's their choice. But they shouldn't pretend they're making an objective evaluation. It's just an opinion.

7. I installed Linux and things went honey-nut-loops crazy.

Typically the person with this complaint will say something like, “I installed Linux and the installer program crashed half way through. I tried to boot but nothing happened and I found myself at a command prompt. I eventually got the desktop running but none of the programs worked correctly.”

This might also be known as the “shaggy-dog story,” because it's usually a long and rather pointless tale of things going wrong. (Ironically, their attempts to fix things usually makes the situation worse. But I digress.)

Most times I've no idea what the cause of the problems are, and the individual concerned has my sympathy. But I do know that what they describe is probably a one-time event, and definitely not indicative of what most people experience. As with point #6 above, it's not really fair to make an objective argument out of it, because--effectively--it's little more than one person's bad luck. If it happens to you, just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Windows 7 gets virtual 'XP mode'

Microsoft will unveil an add-on to Windows 7 that lets users run applications designed for Windows XP in a virtual machine, the company confirmed Friday -- the first time Microsoft has relied on virtualization to provide backward compatibility.

Dubbed "Windows XP Mode," the add-on creates an XP virtual environment running under Virtual PC, Microsoft's client virtualization technology, within Windows 7, said Scott Woodgate, the director of Windows enterprise and virtualization strategy.

In a post to a company blog, Woodgate said the add-on is part of the pitch to convince businesses to migrate to Windows 7. "All you need to do is to install suitable applications directly in Windows XP Mode," said Woodgate. "The applications will be published to the Windows 7 desktop and then you can run them directly from Windows 7."

Details of Windows XP Mode (XPM) were first reported Friday afternoon by Rafael Rivera and Paul Thurrott, two prominent bloggers who are also collaborating on a book, Windows 7 Secrets, due out this fall.

According to Rivera's Within Windows blog -- Thurrott published a nearly identical write-up on his SuperSite for Windows -- Windows XP Mode will be offered as a free download only to users running Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise, the three top-priced editions of the new OS.

Windows 7 Enterprise is available only to companies with volume licensing agreements.

Windows XP Mode (XPM) requires processor-based virtualization support and is based on the next-generation Microsoft Virtual PC 7 virtualization technology, said Rivera, who also disclosed that Microsoft will include a fully licensed copy of Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) with the add-on. That, in effect, gives Windows 7 users a way to run older applications without having to pay for another operating system license.

Rivera also touted, as had Woodgate, the ability to run Windows XP applications directly from the Windows 7 desktop without having to first open a separate virtual machine window.

"XPM does not require you to run the virtual environment as a separate Windows desktop," Rivera said. "Instead, as you install applications inside the virtual XP environment, they are published to the host (Windows 7) OS as well. That way, users can run Windows XP-based applications, like IE6, alongside Windows 7 applications under a single desktop."

Both Rivera and Thurrott trumpeted XPM as a "huge convenience" for Microsoft's corporate customers, and predicted that Microsoft will be able to discard older code and technologies from future versions of Windows, and instead rely on virtualization to provide backward compatibility.


Friday, May 1, 2009

MS Windows 7 goes on public test


A release candidate of Windows 7, the next major release of the world's most popular operating system, goes public in trial form in the next week.

Windows 7 has been designed to be compatible with Vista so users do not have to invest in new hardware.

A commercial release of Windows 7 is expected in the next nine months.

A test version of Windows 7 will be available to developers from Thursday, while the public can try it out from 5 May.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Why Windows 7 will be the best Microsoft OS to date!

Windows 7 will be the next version of Microsoft's Windows operating system. And if the early previews are anything to go by, I feel that Windows 7 will be the best version of Windows till date. The reasons? Here are a bunch of them :-

1) The Superbar!!

The taskbar has undergone a facelift. This affords a richer icon language, improves identification of programs and improves targeting for both the mouse and touch. Yet, one of the most important advantages large icons provide is a means to promote the taskbar as the central place to launch everyday tasks.

Windows 7 taskbar

Windows 7 taskbar: Default settings include large icons, no text and glass surface

You can still pin programs to the taskbar by dragging them or via a context menu, just like you have always done with Quick Launch. Destinations can also be pinned via a drag/drop, but they are designed to be surfaced differently as we’ll see under the Jump List section.

Vista showed thumbnails when the user hovers on a taskbar button and Windows 7 improves upon this design. Unlike Vista, these thumbnails are now an extension of their corresponding button so the person can click on these visual aides to switch to a given window. The thumbnail is also is a more accurate representation of a window complete with an icon in the top left corner, window text and even the ubiquitous close button in the top right.

Windows 7 Taskbar Thumbnails

Thumbnails: Grouped, interactive thumbnails make it easier to manage windows

Credits: E7Blog

2) Touch

"If you are impressed by the 'touch features' in the iPhone, you'll be blown away by what's coming in Windows 7."

Touch is quickly becoming a common way of directly interacting with software and devices. Touch-enabled surfaces are popping up everywhere including laptop touch pads, cell phones, remote controls, GPS devices, and more. What becomes even more compelling is when this experience is delivered to the PC -on a wide variety of Windows notebooks, in all-in-one PC's, as well as in external monitors.


Imagine painting in Photoshop, rotating and zooming Google Earth by your hand, or playing a piano using your fingers.The possibilities are endless! Having a Windows Media Player 12 behave like iPOD touch or playing multiple videos on your screen, changing and resizing them using your hands just like Tom Cruise did it in Minority Report!

Video: Multi-Touch in Windows 7

3) Codec support!

A common annoyance with many media players, WMP included, is not having the right codec. WMP will try to detect which codecs are required and provide a location to download them, but this is hit-and-miss and less than convenient if all you want to do is play a video. In recognition of this, WMP12 includes support for H.264 video, AAC audio, and both Xvid and DivX video, in addition to all the formats supported by WMP11 in Vista (MPEG2, WMV, MP3, etc.). With these new codecs, WMP should support the majority of video found on the Internet out of the box.

Also in the list of some changes since beta for the RC, the E7 blog mentions :-

''We’ve since added support for Windows Media Player to natively support the .MOV files used to capture video for many common digital cameras.''

Credits: Ars Technica

4) Speed....


Adrian Kingsley-Hughes of ZDNET recently did a test between Windows 7 (7048), the beta 1 (build 7000), Vista SP1 and XP SP3. There were about 30 benchmarks.

The results

Here are the results for the two systems:

(click for larger image)

(click for larger image)

And he concluded that :-

  • Windows 7 is, overall, better than both Vista and XP.
  • As Windows 7 progresses, it’s getting better (or at least the 64-bit editions are).
  • On a higher-spec system, 64-bit is best.
  • On a lower-spec system, 32-bit is best.

Credit : ZDNET

5) Jump Lists

Think of this feature as a mini Start Menu for each program or an evolved version of the system menu. Jump Lists surface commonly used nouns (destinations) and verbs (tasks) of a program. There are several advantages this new approach provides.

First, the you don’t need to even start the program to quickly launch a file or access a task. Second, destinations don’t take up valuable space on the taskbar; they are automatically organized by their respective program in a simple list. Should one have ten programs pinned or running on her taskbar, this means she could have quick access to over 150 destinations she uses all the time, without even the need to customize the UI!

Since the Jump List shows lots of text for each of its items, gone are the days of having identical icons on your taskbar that are indistinguishable without a tooltip. Should you wish to keep a specific destination around, you can simply pin it to the list.

Windows 7 Jump List

Right-clicking on Word gives quick access to recently used documents.

Credits: E7Blog

6) You Can Turn Off Every Major Windows Feature in Windows 7

And it's a good thing!

Suppose you are a Firefox user and you don't need IE, or maybe you like KMPlayer and hate WMP, you can just turn WMP off. This feature customizes your experience

Customers are now given more control, flexibility and choice in managing the features available in the RC of Windows 7.

Below are the list of extra features that are added to Windows 7 RC:
  • Windows Media Player
  • Windows Media Center
  • Windows DVD Maker
  • Internet Explorer 8
  • Windows Search
  • Handwriting Recognition (through the Tablet PC Components option)
  • Windows Gadget Platform
  • Fax and Scan
  • XPS Viewer and Services (including the Virtual Print Driver)
Credits: Neowin

7) Aero Peek

When the taskbar doesn’t offer enough information via text or a thumbnail, the person simply moves the mouse over a taskbar thumbnail and voilà—the corresponding window appears on the desktop and all other windows fade away into glass sheets. Once you see the window you want, just click to restore it. Not only does this make finding a window a breeze, it may also remove the need to switch altogether for scenarios in which one just needs a quick glance to glean information. Peek also works on the desktop too.

Windows 7 Aero Peek

Aero Peek: Hovering over a thumbnail peeks at its corresponding window on the desktop

Credits: E7Blog

8) Federated Search

Windows Vista included the enhanced desktop search feature which helps users to readily locate files, e-mail messages, and other items on their PC . With the release of Windows Search 4.0, the performance of the search tool improved while adding much-needed manageability features for IT.

Windows 7 along with the desktop search, introduces Federated Search in which the scope of the search goes beyond your PC. You can now search for items in remote repositories from your PC. It is based on OpenSearch and the RSS format. Since it is based on open standards, it becomes very simple to create custom 'search connectors' for your own remote repositories. For example, you can search Flickr or Twitter from within explorer.

There are already few search connectors available for download:

The Federated Search feature looks very promising. As
more sites add support for OpenSearch, expect to see more search connectors emerging for Windows 7.


As the final release is still many months off, expect to see more new features and surprises :)

Windows 7 build 7057 leaks

With few weeks left for Windows 7 RC to be released, some Neowin users have found Windows 7 build 7057 in the wild. The build string reads - 7057.0.x86fre.winmain.090305-2000 which means that this was compiled on March 5.

The EULA reads this for now

Yes, this makes it clear that Microsoft is already cooking its Windows 7 RC builds (not final build though)

The most immediate change users would notice is the new welcome and shutdown screen