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Thursday, February 25, 2010

TechnoGrannyShow 12-01-10 Windows 7, Are You Ready, Willing and Able

Title: Techno Granny, Windows 7, Are You Ready, Willing and Able
Time: 12/07/2009 Listen at: 
 or on TechnoGranny's syndicated Pittsburgh internet radio channel at:

Episode Notes: Sue Tresatti of Taylored Solutions, Computer Specialist reviews Window 7 and what you need to upgrade, the benefits and pitfalls according to what system you may have. What you need to know before you upgrade. Get the facts on what to expect from Windows 7. EPISODE132

Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor

Find out if your PC can run Windows 7

To see if your PC is ready for Windows 7, download the free Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor. It scans your PC for potential issues with your hardware, devices, and installed programs, and recommends what to do before you upgrade.
The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor checks for compatibility issues.
If your PC can run Windows Vista, it can probably run Windows 7, but it's still a good idea to use the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor.
Note: Information about your PC will be sent to Microsoft, but no information will be used to identify or contact you.

Before you begin

Before scanning your PC with the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, be sure to plug in and power on any USB devices or other devices, such as printers, external hard disks, and scanners, that you regularly use with the PC you're checking.

Microsoft had dug itself a cool, deep, dark hole with Windows Vista. Users demanding that Redmond extend the life of Windows XP wasn't exactly something they could be proud of, either. Bombarded by complaints and negative press even after the first service pack was released, the bar had been set high for Vista's successor: Windows 7. This review is based on an official copy of the Windows 7 RTM that Microsoft provided to CNET on July 30, 2009.

Luckily for Microsoft, Windows 7 is more than just spin. It's stable, smooth, and highly polished, introducing new graphical features, a new taskbar that can compete handily with the Mac OS X dock, and device management and security enhancements that make it both easier to use and safer. Importantly, it won't require the hardware upgrades that Vista demanded, partially because the hardware has caught up, and partially because Microsoft has gone to great lengths to make Windows 7 accessible to as many people as possible.
It's important to note that the public testing process for Windows 7 involved one limited-availability beta and one release candidate, and constituted what some have called the largest shareware trial period ever. As buggy and irritating as Vista was, Windows 7 isn't. Instead, it's the successor to Windows XP that Microsoft wishes Vista had been, and finally places it on competitive footing with other major operating systems like OS X and Linux.

Features: Taskbar and Aero Peek
Although the look of Windows 7 may seem to be nothing more than some polish applied liberally to the Vista Aero theme, make no mistake: This is a full replacement operating system, and more than just "Vista done right." From driver support to multitouch groundwork for the future, from better battery management to the most easy-to-use interface Microsoft has ever had, Windows 7 is hardly half-baked.
The first thing that should stand out is the new taskbar. This is one of the best improvements Microsoft has made--third-party program dock makers are going to have to do some serious innovation when Windows 7 goes public. Besides incorporating the translucent style of Aero, the new taskbar is arguably even better than the Mac OS X dock. It features pinned programs using large, easy-to-see icons. Mouse over one and all windows associated with that program appear in preview. Mouse over one of those preview panes to reveal an X to close the window. Hover over the preview to show a full-size preview of the program, or click on the window to bring it to the front. Because of the button size, people with touch screens should find it especially easy to use.
Jump lists are another new taskbar improvement that make recently opened documents easier to get to. Right-click or left-click and drag on any program icon pinned to the taskbar to see a list of files that you've recently used in that program. In Internet Explorer, this will show recently visited Web sites, although it doesn't yet seem to work in Firefox.
If you've noticed the missing Show Desktop icon, that's because it's been baked into the taskbar itself. Mouse over to the right corner. Hovering over the Show Desktop box reveals the desktop, and then hides it when you mouse away. Click on the box to minimize all your programs.

Aero Peek shows the desktop when you hover over the right edge of the toolbar, and is also an option in the program-switching hot key Alt+Tab. (This image was taken from the Windows 7 Release Candidate, but looks and functions the same in the official version of Windows 7./Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)
Resizing programs has been simplified and improved by the capability to drag a window's title bar. Drag a program window to the top of your monitor to expand it to full screen. If you want to work in two windows simultaneously, drag one to the left edge and one to the right edge of your screen, and they'll automatically resize to half the width of your monitor. Dragging a program away from the top or sides will return it to its original size. This is an entirely new feature in Windows 7, but it should prove easy to adopt because it mimics and expands on the maximize/restore button that people have been resizing windows with since Windows 95.
Theme packages also make it much faster to change the look of Windows 7. From the Control Panel, you can change the theme under Appearance and Personalization. Microsoft has created several theme packages to give people a taste for what the feature can do. Click on one to download it, and it instantly changes the color scheme and background--no need to reboot. Users can create their own themes, as well.
Windows Media Player and Device Stage
One of the biggest new features makes Windows Media Player useful again: you can now stream media files from one Windows 7 computer to another, across the Internet and out of network. Even better, the setup procedure is dead simple.
When you open Windows Media Player, there's a new Stream option on the toolbar. Click it, and you're presented with two choices. Both require you to associate your computer with your free Windows Live ID. When you've associated a second Windows 7's WMP with that same ID, you can remotely access the media on the host computer. Windows Media Player's mini mode looks much slicker, emphasizing the album art--sometimes at the expense of clearly seeing the controls, but it's a definite improvement.

Microsoft reinvigorates the Windows Media Player by allowing users to stream their media files to themselves. All it takes is two Windows 7 computers, an Internet connection, and a free Windows Live ID. (This image was taken from the Windows 7 Release Candidate, but looks and functions the same in the official version of Windows 7./Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

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System Requirements:
The recommended requirements for Windows 7 have more or less remained the same as those for Windows Vista:
* A 1GHz processor.
* 1GB of RAM.
* A 20GB hard drive with 16GB free space.
* A graphics card that supports DirectX 9 with a WDDM driver.
* 128MB dedicated memory for the graphics card.

However, Windows 7 has been tweaked to maximize system performance, meaning Windows 7 will perform better on a computer than Windows Vista and, in some tests, even Windows XP. This enables users of netbooks and older computers to run Windows 7 where it may have been difficult or impossible with Windows Vista. It also means that you can run Windows 7 on a system with lower specifications than above, although it is not recommended in order to take full advantage of the operating system.

Windows 7 Compatibility:
Any application and any peripheral which worked with Windows Vista should work with Windows 7 as Microsoft strove to prevent another compatibility disaster like the one associated with Windows Vista. In addition, some applications and devices which did not work with Windows Vista may work with Windows 7 due to expanded compatibility.

1.) Use Compatibility Mode. Windows 7 is designed to enter Compatibility Mode automatically for programs it detects are designed for a previous version of Windows, but, like in Windows XP and Vista, it can be enabled manually. To manually enable Compatibility Mode, right-click the program, select Properties, and select the Compatibility tab. You can then enable Compatibility Mode for that program and select a previous version of Windows from the drop-down menu, among other options.

2.) Make sure you check back to the author's website for updated versions, patches, and drivers that enable Windows 7 compatibility. Not all software will be made compatible, but in the months after Windows 7's release you should see a dramatic increase in support by third-party vendors.

If you have a specific question about hardware or software compatibility feel free to start a new thread, but please check the above lists first.

1.) Physical RAM: It's the sticks of memory you insert into your computer.

2.) Virtual Memory: Also known as a swap file or paging file, it's a file on your computer's hard drive that acts like RAM. It can pick up the slack when there is a lack of RAM, usually holding data that is accessed less often. The downside is that it's incredibly slow compared to RAM, resulting in a drop in performance the more it must be used. In addition, Windows and various software may refuse to install or run if you do not have enough physical RAM.

Now, with the new ReadyBoost technology in Windows Vista and Windows 7 you have a third option...flash memory. (Including USB 2.0 flash drives and memory cards such as SD, CF, etc.) It's considered the middle of the road option because it is still slower than physical RAM but at the same time usually much faster than reading from and writing to the hard drive. It cannot be used as a complete substitute to physical RAM, but it can be used to give you a boost in speed over relying heavily on the paging file alone.

1.) Regardless of whether you use ReadyBoost or not, you still need at least 512MB RAM to run Windows 7 decently.
2.) ReadyBoost is an option on the AutoPlay menu whenever you insert a compatible device.
3.) ReadyBoost requires a freshly-formatted device with between 256MB and 4GB of space available.
4.) If ReadyBoost returns an error message stating that you cannot use it on that drive it typically means that either the drive or your computer does not support the transfer rates required by ReadyBoost.

Susan Tresatti
Taylored Solutions Inc.
 (724) 234-2669

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