A First Look at Windows 8

Since the BUILD Conference, I  have used the Developer Preview of Windows 8. I initially installed it in Virtual Box however I really wanted to try it on real hardware so I installed it on my laptop. Here are my thoughts.

1. It’s a trip, no really it boots fast and switches between apps and the desktop very quickly. Going between the new apps and the old ones can be a bit different but I am sure I will get used to it.
2. It has some quirks, this is just a Developer Preview meaning this is not in Beta stage but rather more of an Alpha so some things do not work as expected and some things are placed weird so it takes a bit to get used to. This will mostly be worked out by the time we get to Beta.
3. One operating system to rule them all, no seriously this takes over, I have it installed next to Windows 7. When you start the machine Windows 8 boots to a point then asks you which operating system you want to boot to. If you select Windows 7 it restarts the machine and boots Windows 7 just like as if Windows 8 was never there. However, the OS selection screen is nicely done and touch first like the rest of the OS.
4. Programs are missing, but you can enable a desktop toolbar to bring most of them back, I’ll talk more about that later.

All in all, Windows 8 is very interesting and I think it could change how we use a PC forever. I can see some “Power Users” that may stay with Windows 7 or even maybe abandon Windows for Linux or even move to Mac because they do not like the new Start screen or app model. We will just have to see. For now, I am excited and use Windows 8 for much of my day-to-day browsing and computing, and even used it to write this blog. Stay tuned as I go deeper into Windows 8.

Make Windows 2000 More Secure, Free Antivirus, Free Antispyware, And More

While support for Windows 2000 ended over a year ago, there are a few people still using it, or running it in a virtual environment for compatibility reasons.  This being the case lets look at some ways to make Windows 2000 more secure and safe for those users still rocking a 12-year-old operating system.

First, Update Windows!  Yes this sounds like a no-brainer, but did you know you can use Microsoft Update (which updates all Microsoft products) instead of just Windows Update, you can check it out at http://www.update.microsoft.com/microsoftupdate/

Second, use a different internet browser, you can read my post here on that

Third, update the components used by internet Browsers,  You can download the current version of Java at www.java.com Get the current version of Silverlight at www.silverlight.net The last version of Adobe Reader that is compatible with 2000 can be obtained at http://get.adobe.com/reader/ (make sure once it is installed to open up the program and click on Help and Update, this will get all the updates for the program)  Finally you can download the newest version of Flash for both Internet Explorer and for Firefox and Opera, go to http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/otherversions/  For step one select Windows 7/Vista/XP/2008/2003 and for step two select for Windows Internet Explorer, for Internet Explorer, and then do this again from Firefox or Opera but for step two select Windows – Other Browsers (if you have both Opera and Firefox installed you only have to install Flash for Other Browsers once, it will install the plugin for both browsers)

Fourth, how about Antivirus and Anti-spyware software.  There are a few things still out there for the die-hard Windows 2000 user.

Antivirus software is key if you are going to be surfing the internet in Windows 2000, you really want full Antivirus protection, Thankfully there are a few choices.

AVG Free Antivirus 9 While the newest version does not support 2000, Version 9 does, and AVG still releases updates to the program making this a great AV software for 2000, especially if you do not want to spend the money on software for a virtual installation of the operating system.  You can download a version of AVG 9 Free from http://www.oldapps.com/AVG_antivirus.php?app=f86fd982885094416ab9f08ca1bda07f

AVG 9 Free in Windows 2000

AVG 9 Free in Windows 2000

Now AVG is the only free offering out there for Win 2K but if you would rather pay some money and get better protection Eset Nod32 Antivirus 4 does support Windows 2000 and does it well. I suggest just the Antivirus, but they do have an Internet Security solution as well.  You can check it out below, and they often have deals running.
ESET Smart Security - Save 25%

Lavasoft Ad-Aware Pro is also another option, they have expanded their product to include Antivirus, I am not sure how well this will work but Ad-Aware has been a good tool in the past.  I know there is a Free version, however the Free one does not have real-time protection making that not a very good option. The Pro version is $29.95 for a year and you can check it out at http://www.lavasoft.com/products/ad_aware_pro.php

Now if you are wanting something Free with real-time protection but that is not going to be as much as a strain on system resources as a full-fledged antivirus solution,  Spybot – Search and Destroy fits the bill.  It is just anti-spyware, but does have some Immunization features to help block unwanted content and supports Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Opera.  It is at version 1.6.2 and you can check it out at http://www.safer-networking.org/en/ownmirrors1/index.html

Spybot 1.6.2 in Windows 2000

Spybot 1.6.2 in Windows 2000

Now if you would just like the immunization protection from Spybot, but do not want the extra overhead of a program, I would suggest SpywareBlaster.  It has immunization options for Internet Explorer and Firefox, and supports Netscape (sorry no Opera support)  The free version you have to manually update but hey its free.  What is great is not having to have to program run, in fact the only time you open the program is to update it and to set the protection.  You can download SpywareBlaster 4.4 from http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/spywareblaster.html

SpywareBlaster 4.4 in Windows 2000

SpywareBlaster 4.4 in Windows 2000

Finally no talk about security would be complete without talking about a good Temp File and Registry Cleaner.  I always suggest CCleaner for the job.  Supports all the browsers available for Windows 2000, and has a great registry cleaner to help keep the machine running at its best.  You can check it out at http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/download

CCleaner in Windows 2000

CCleaner in Windows 2000

All of this should help to keep you better protected whether your running Windows 2000 on your desktop or just in a virtual environment.  I do suggest looking into some protection, even when using virtual machines security is important.

Install Windows 2000 in Windows Virtual PC

Windows Virtual PC is a great program to run an operating system in a virtual machine.  The only problem I have with it really is that it does not support older versions of Windows or Linux.  That being said you can run older OS’s in there just like you did in Virtual PC 2007.  This will not create a 2000 Mode or let you access USB devices, it will work just like it did in Virtual PC 2007.

You will need a few things for this.  First Windows Virtual PC which you can download from here, http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtual-pc/download.aspx (Windows 7 Home Premium users select Windows 7, Professional, to download Windows Virtual PC it will install fine, also make sure you install the correct version if you are running a 64-bit version of Windows 7 then select Windows 7 Professional 64-bit.)  Second, you will need a copy of Windows 2000 (your on your own on this, I have one lying around)  Third you will need a copy of Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 and you can download that here, http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?displaylang=en&id=2994 (Yes get that version it will help later to get everything working.)  Also, you will need something to open the Virtual Server file and to extract a file from it.  For this task, I will use 7-Zip which you can get here at http://7-zip.org/

So now that you have all that, first install Windows Virtual PC

Once you have that setup, click on Start, All Programs, Windows Virtual PC and open it up.

You will see that it looks like any other window in Windows Explorer, but it has a few new options.

Click on Create Virtual Machine

Windows Virtual PC window

Windows Virtual PC window

Follow the prompts, name it what you like, I usually give it 1024 Mb (1 Gb) of ram on systems that have a total of 4 Gb.  If you have less than that just leave it at 512 Mb.

Now once your Virtual Machine is created its time to install Windows 2000 in it.

In the same Windows Virtual PC window click on your newly created virtual machine

You will see a Settings option appear next to Create Virtual Machine, click on Settings (or right-click on the newly created virtual machine and click on Settings) then click on DVD Drive

Here you can select to use the computers optical drive, or to load an ISO file from the computer’s hard drive, select the proper setting, and close the window (we will be coming back to this later)

DVD settings in Windows Virtual PC

DVD settings in Windows Virtual PC

Now double-click on your newly created virtual machine and Windows 2000 setup should start.

(Note during setup the Virtual Machine will take control of your mouse, to make it release the mouse push Alt + Control + Left arrow key all at the same time)

Now once the setup is complete and you are at the Windows 2000 desktop you may be tempted to click on Tools and Enable Integration Features in the Virtual Machine window, they will start to install but fail.  These additions are only for Windows XP and newer.  This is where Virtual Server comes in.

So why Virtual Server 2005 R2 Sp1?  It was the last version of Virtual Server or Virtual PC that supports Windows 2000.

So if you have 7-Zip installed (if not do that now) right-click on the Virtual Server file you downloaded earlier and go to 7-Zip and then click on Extract to “name of file”

This will unpackage the contents into a folder of the same name as the file, open the folder up and look for a file named VMAdditions

If VMAdditions already has a file type of .iso at the end of it, cool you’re done, if not rename it VMAdditions.iso

Now copy this file someplace where you will remember where it is.

For the last bit make sure you shutdown your new virtual machine

Go back into the Windows Virtual PC window (Start/All Programs/Windows Virtual PC)

Click on the new virtual machine that Windows 2000 is installed and click on Settings (or right-click on it and go to Settings)

Click on DVD Drive, and here we are going to load that VMAdditions.iso file.

Click on Open An Iso Image, and load in that VMAdditions from Virtual Server we extracted earlier

Loading the VMAdditions.iso file

Loading the VMAdditions.iso file

Once that’s done click OK and start the virtual machine.

If the Additions do not install right away just go into My Computer in Windows 2000 and double-click on the DVD-ROM drive, this should start the installation.

Once the install is complete restart the virtual machine and make sure to install all Windows updates.

That is it, you should have Windows 2000 running in Windows Virtual PC with some integration features loaded and working.

Once you have all your updates installed check out this Post on internet browsers for Windows 2000


Part 7, The Best Internet Browser for Windows 7 64-Bit

I have used Windows 7 64-bit for a while now and while I was still a little hesitant at first from leaving the land of Win32, I found myself quite impressed with what I think is the best 64-bit operating system ever.  That being said is Internet Explorer still the best in this version of Windows.  Also in 2011 there are many great Browser choices out there now, many that people are familiar with, and from different operating systems as well.  So let’s dive in and see what is good, and not so good.

1 .Microsoft Internet Explorer 9.0.1 (9.0.8112.16421 64-Bit Edition)  Microsoft really outdid themselves with this one.  This is not the IE of the past, yes IE7 and IE8 were great improvements and brought many new features to Internet Explorer, but IE9 really shines.  It is fast, quick, and very standards compliant.  The new user interface is clean but still keeps a lot of usefulness in it.  Also, a few feature is being able to pin a website to the Task Bar in Windows 7 which is like putting a shortcut to the website there so you can launch it anytime, but be able to keep a different homepage for normal browsing.  Currently, there is only a preview version of Adobe Flash for 64-bit which you can download from here, but hey Apple would say that Flash is not that important.  I have to give IE9 the number one spot in Windows 7. You can download Internet Explorer 9 from here at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/internet-explorer/downloads/ie-9/worldwide-languages

Showing information about Pinned Sites

Internet Explorer 9 in Windows 7 64-Bit

2. Firefox 4.0.1  We have been waiting for a new version of Firefox for a while now, and it is here.  Like Internet Explorer is has a new less cluttered user interface.  Also, it now has an orange Firefox button up at the top left.  Clicking on this brings up a Start Menu-like menu with commands and options.  The user interface feels like a combination of Opera and Chrome.  What makes Firefox useful in Windows 7 is its integration with the new features in the Operating System.  Firefox 4 supports both Jump Lists and Tab Previews (however Tab Previews has to be enabled in the options)  This makes Firefox a great alternative browser in Windows 7.   Firefox 4 is fast and very standards compliant.  If you have moved from Firefox to Chrome, I may suggest you look at Firefox again and see if it doesn’t win you back.  You can download Firefox 4 here at  www.firefox.com

Firefox 4 in Windows 7 64-Bit

Firefox 4 in Windows 7 64-Bit

3. Google Chrome 12.0.742.100 Google has taken a dud of a browser and turned it into something that competes. In fact, its user interface is what has inspired other browsers to clean their interfaces up.   The sad thing is that despite it being on its 12th revision it is not more mature than it is.  The only reason this is not my number two browser for Windows 7 is that it does not support Tab Previews in Windows 7 making it not as useful since I use that feature a lot. (Come on Google, Get this done in an update)  It does, however, support Jump Lists.  Every release it does get better and better, one of the newer features that is interesting is Instant, which tries to guess what page you are typing in the address bar and starts loading it before you are done typing.  (this is not enabled by default and you will have to enable it, but it is impressive) It is fast and standards compliant making it a great contender.  If you are not using Internet Explorer or Firefox, then you really should be using Chrome, if not take a look because it will surprise you.  You can get Chrome from here at http://www.google.com/chrome/intl/en/make/download.html?brand=CHKZ

Chrome 12 in Windows 7 64-bit

Chrome 12 in Windows 7 64-bit

4. Opera 11.11 (Build 2109)  When talking about Internet Browsers, there are not many that have been around as long as Internet Explorer and Opera.  Opera 11 builds on an interesting browsing platform.  While many Netscape fans have moved to Firefox because of the relationship between those two browsers, many Netscape fans feel more at home with Opera.  It still tries to be more than just an internet browser and I would suggest any old Netscape users out there to check Opera out if you find yourself missing the old rival to Internet Explorer.  Opera supports both Jump Lists and Tab Previews in Windows 7 and has its own Tab Preview like feature, if you mouse over a tab that is not being displayed, a preview of that tab will show up below the tab (pictured below).  Opera is pretty quick and is standards compliant as well.  The interface features a red O button in the upper left side of the window. Clicking on this brings up a master menu of commands and options.  Opera actually had this button before Firefox implemented their own.  If you want a browser that is different then I suggest checking out Opera 11, wich you can do so here at http://www.opera.com/browser/

Opera 11 in Windows 7 64-bit

Opera 11 in Windows 7 64-bit

5. Apple Safari 5.0.5 (7533.21.1)  Apple has always done things differently, and Safari is no exception.  Originally designed as part of the Apple Mac OS X operating system, they have created a Windows version and have improved it over the years.  It uses most of the standard Windows interface which will make Windows users feel at home .  It does support Tab Previews in Windows 7 but not Jump Lists. (Come on Apple this is useful)  Safari supports multiple tabs however for some reason Apple hides this in the user interface.  To open a new tab you must click on the file button on the right side and on the menu that pops up click on New Tab.  While Apple’s website will say that this is the fastest browser in the world it is actually quite slow in Windows 7 compared to other browsers.  It is standards compliant however and does have some interesting features like Top Sites and Safari Reader (which is supposed to unclutter a webpage making it easier to read the information on it)  If you would like to check it out you can get it from here at http://www.apple.com/safari/download/

Safari 5 in Windows 7 64-bit

Safari 5 in Windows 7 64-bit

6. KDE Konqueror 4.5.4  I have not written about this Browser in Windows before but there is now a Windows version.  Konqueror was originally made for the Linux operating system.  Linux has been at the center of the open source community since its inception and some would say it created the open source world as we know it.  That being said a group has decided to create a port of the KDE software from Linux for other operating systems, including Windows.  The Windows version is a bit of Windows, and a bit of the KDE user interface from Linux.  It is not as fast as any of the other browsers tested, and is not as compliant with current web standards as the other internet browsers.  I also have not found out how to get it to work with Flash or Java on a Windows machine yet.  But like most things out of the Linux and open source communities, it is a work in progress.  It does do multiple tabs, but you have to click on File and then New Tab.  It does not work with either Jump Lists or Tab Previews in Windows 7 at this time.   It is interesting, and can only be installed with the KDE software installer, (no standalone installer at this point)  You can check it out as well as a bunch of other free software here at http://windows.kde.org/download.php

Konqueror 4.5 on Windows 7 64-bit

Konqueror 4.5 on Windows 7 64-bit

As the internet changes, the programs we use to view it change as well.  It is interesting now with the all the options including some from the Linux world.  We will have to see what companies and organizations come out with next to help us do our day-to-day tasks.

If you were wondering how I test these browsers, I use my trusty Acer Aspire 5534-1146 Laptop.  It has an AMD Athlon X2 L310 1.2 Ghz Processor and 4 Gb of ram.  I am running Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit on here.  All updates have been applied to Windows and all internet browsers, and I am using the latest versions of Flash, Adobe Reader, Silverlight, and Java.  All temporary internet files and caches have been cleared with the use of Ccleaner (www.ccleaner.com) and from the programs themselves so all pages are loaded from the internet and not from local cache.  For standards testing, I am using Acid3 at www.acid3.acidtests.org.  I load up everyday web pages that people use and that I use in every browser and time how long it takes from hitting enter till the page has completed loading.

Check out Part 6 for Windows XP