Windows 7 Brings Fun Back to Computing

Windows 7 Brings Fun Back to Computing

Vista can be hard work to keep running smoothly; whereas Windows 7 is proving to be a joy to use.  My mission is to persuade you that whereas Vista led to an undercurrent of frustration, Windows 7 brings a pleasurable glow.  I have a selection of fun new features, which illustrate why Windows 7 is a smarter operating system than Vista, and a more up-to-date alternative to XP.

Fun Tips for Microsoft Windows 7

My friend ‘Mad’ Mick and I each drew up a list of our favourite features in Windows 7.  We agreed that these lists would have only fun items, (a more heavy-weight list of what’s new in Windows 7 is at the end).

Guy’s Fun Windows 7 Features

  1. Windows 7 has lots of enhancements for Laptops.  One of the lesser know examples of this smarter behaviour is: ‘Change my default printer when I change networks’.  Launch the Control Panel, navigate to Devices and Printers, then look for a heading called: ‘Manage default printers’.
  2. Check your laptop’s battery, in particular see if it’s holding the charge.  Run the new command: PowerCfg -energy
  3. Aero Graphics now has Aero Shake (Title bar) and Aero Snap (Side-by-side panes).  [Mad Mick thinks these ‘features’ are bugs, Guy believes they really are by design].
  4. PowerShell v2.0 is built-in.  It makes command-line configuring easier, especially when connecting to remote machines.
  5. In Event Viewer look for: ‘Attach a task to this log’.  It provides a convenient way to be updated when you’re troubleshooting a specific problem.  Incidentally, Task manager has a Services tab.
  6. ‘Perfmon /report’.  This command is both useful and frightening.  See which drivers need updating.  Incidentally, the WEI (Windows Experience Index) has been extended from 4.9 to 7.9.
  7. Picture preview.  This is another tiny feature, but makes it so much easier to get just the right thumbnail size.  Visit the Picture Library, click the Preview icon, now resize the vertical bar by getting the double-headed arrow – magic. 

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‘Mad’ Mick’s Cool Window 7 Features

  1. Libraries.  These provide a portal, or an index page for all your documents, pictures and other stuff.  You could say a library hides a myriad of disparate locations, or you could say libraries group like-minded folders. 
  2. WinKey +x launches the Mobility Center, which makes it easier to manage the projector for your PowerPoint Presentations, especially if you have an external display.
  3. The Notification Area is easier to keep out bullying applications.  Also, the firewall is easier to configure.
  4. Common sense has returned to the built-in backup, Vista’s restrictions are removed, and once again, we have flexibility of what to backup.
  5. The new WordPad will open .docx files, thus you don’t need Office 2007.  In addition, the Snipping tool seems just that bit easier to capture and save screenshots.
  6. The Calculator now has a view for converting inches to millimetres and gallons to cubic centimetres. 
  7. ‘Open command window here’.  This was formerly a ‘Power Tool’ and now it available when you right-click any folder in Windows Explorer.  Clarification, you have to hold down the Shift key as you right-click in order to see this Windows 7 new feature.

Guy’s point is that everyone I meet enthuses about a different area of Windows 7.  While you may think that some of these items are trivial, you cannot deny the wealth of intelligent new features.  Furthermore, it’s as though Microsoft has polished each component, the result is fewer rough-edges and a return to a sense of fun sense when you compute on a Windows 7 machine.  This is in contrast to Vista where it seemed that each person found a new source of discontent.

Litmus Test – The Windows 7 Taskbar

I accept that not everyone likes Windows 7.  Some people are still shell-shocked from dealing with Vista’s glitches, and judging by my postbag, others just hate Microsoft.  After a little thought I have come up with a Litmus test to see if Windows 7 is a must-have for you. 

Key Question: Do you like the new Taskbar?

If after 30 minutes you appreciate the taskbar’s new smarter behaviour, then you are going to enjoy working with other aspects of this operating system.  However, if you cannot get along with the new organization of program icons, and hanker for the old Quick Launch toolbar, then you will never love Windows 7. 

I see that Microsoft are offering a free 90 day enterprise version of Windows 7, I recommend that you take a test drive, and in particular run the new Taskbar through its paces.

New Features in Windows 7
(As Recommended by Other Reviewers)

Here are the hard-nosed, or headline reasons why you should upgrade from Vista, or migrate from XP.

  • BranchCache. One Windows 7 computer gets data from HQ, subsequent Windows 7 users then get data from the local server.
  • DirectAccess.  Connects Window 7 to the office via internet.
  • Faster WiFi network discovery on startup.
  • AppLocker. 
  • BitLocker to go.
  • Problem Steps Recorder (PSR).  Also more and brainier troubleshooters.
  • Windows Explorer’s Search and Indexing seem faster than Vista.
  • UAC (User Access Control) is now more like an English butler, than a nagging mother-in-law.
  • More Group Policies.
  • Better support for dual-core and quad-core CPU.
  • Smart Cards – Support for Windows Biometric Framework.
  • The new Control Panel grouping.  For example, a dedicated Troubleshooting section, and also a Device Stage to see all hardware in one place.
  • HomeGroup. Like a Workgroup only a little smarter.
  • Windows 8.1 Latest Features 

Summary of Windows 7

Whether you are network administrator or a power user, I believe that you will only embrace an operating system when it not only does its job, but also brings an element of fun-to-use features.  My thesis is that you will enjoy Windows 7 because of the dozens of small improvement which bring joy to using this operating system.  However, don’t just listen to me, if you hang out in forums then you cannot help notice the enthusiasm for Windows 7 compared with the constant moaning about Vista.

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