Enable 24 Bit Color in Windows XP Mode With Integration Features Enabled

If you have ever used Windows XP Mode in Windows 7 you may have noticed that it only displays in 16 bit color mode.  This makes some things appear a little off on the screen and may also limit compatibility with programs that need 24 bit or 32 bit color.  Thankfully it is easy to enable 24 bit color in Windows XP Mode with integration features enabled.

To do this all you need is a simple registry setting added in side Windows XP.  First click on Start and then Run.  Type in Regedit and then press enter.  You will want to drill  down on the left side of the Registry Editor to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows NT\Terminal Services  Once you are there click on Edit and then New and then DWORD Value.  Name the Value Name ColorDepth set the Value Data to 4 and leave the Base on Hexadecimal, then click Ok.  Finally close the Registry Editor by clicking on the red X button in the upper right corner.

Registry Setting to Enable 24 bit Color in Windows XP Mode

Registry Setting to Enable 24 bit Color in Windows XP Mode

Now you need to restart Windows XP Mode, to do this simply click on the Ctrl+Alt+Del button at the top and center of your screen, then click on Shut Down.  Once Windows XP Mode has turned off open it back up again and if you like you can check to see if it worked.  Right Click on the desktop and click on Properties and then click on Settings.  You should see under Color Quality High (24 bit).  If you do not see this you may need to make sure you did the steps correctly.

Check To See if 24 bit Color is Enabled

Check To See if 24 bit Color is Enabled

Now if you were successful, awesome and good for you.  You may notice that the text on the screen really has not changed much though.  Well we can fix that too.  Right Click on the desktop again and click on Properties and then Appearance and then Effects… then  where is says Standard click on that drop down menu and select ClearType, then click on Ok and Ok again.  This will enable ClearType Fonts and make Windows XP Mode even better to look at.

Enable ClearType in Windows XP

Enable ClearType in Windows XP

So there you go you can enable 24 bit color in Windows XP Mode with integration features enabled and enable ClearType fonts to make Windows XP Mode more readable and just better to look at.

How to use Xbox Music in Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and the Desktop in Windows 8

If you are using Windows 8.X, or Windows RT then you can jump right in and start using Xbox Music today.  In Windows 8.X and Windows RT, there is a Metro app that allows you access.  And it is great, but what if you are using Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, or want to use Xbox Music on the desktop in Windows 8.X?

Xbox Music replaces the short-lived Zune Music Pass and unfortunately it does not offer everything Zune did.  For Instance, the Zune Pass let you download ten songs a month that were yours for life.  Those who still have the Zune Pass can still do this now but the new Xbox Music Pass does not have this feature.  To get the ten free songs if you still have the Zune Pass you have to use the Zune desktop software. The Xbox Music Pass can be bought in both a 12-month subscription and a three-month subscription although it is not needed to stream music from a Windows computer but there will be ads every once in a while.

Users have two choices to use Xbox Music in Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, or the desktop in Windows 8, you can use the website which has all the features, like streaming, or use the Zune PC software which only allows you to download the songs (it may let you stream as well if you are subscribed to Xbox Music, I have not tested this)

To use Xbox Music via an internet browser in earlier versions of Windows simply visit the Xbox Music website and log in with your Microsoft Account (Outlook, Hotmail, Xbox Live etc.) The website will ask you to agree to the Xbox Music terms of service.  Below is a screen shot of me playing my favorite new album in Xbox Music in Windows 7 using Internet Explorer.

Xbox Music Website on Windows 7

Xbox Music Website on Windows 7

The other option is to use the old Zune PC software.  It still works with Xbox Music and you can install it in Windows XP and later.  The Zune PC software does not allow you to stream music from Xbox Music for free and I am not sure if it will if you have an Xbox Music Pass I may have to test this later.  Below you can see me playing the samples of the same album on the Zune PC software in Windows 7.

Zune PC Software on Windows 7 Showing Xbox Music Content

Zune PC Software on Windows 7 Showing Xbox Music Content

So there you go two different ways to use Xbox Music on Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, or the desktop in Windows 8.  It is nice to see Microsoft expanding support for Xbox Music.  There are even iOS, Android, and Windows Phone apps out as well.


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

Attention Students, Get Windows 7, Office 2010 for an amazing Deal, This is official from Microsoft

Yes, Students, that is right, Microsoft is giving you a break, and it’s so good I have to tell you about it.  I have already taken advantage of this.  This is an amazing offer from Microsoft and it is limited. You can get Windows 7 for $30!!! Yes, you can order now and upgrade to a real operating system that will get you through college. This is good for Windows 7 Professional.   This offer can end at any time Microsoft deems fit so take advantage. Just go down to where it says other student offers from Microsoft.  You will need a valid .edu email address.  Check it out at http://www.microsoft.com/student/office/en-us/default.aspx

Microsoft Student Offer for Windows 7 Professional

Microsoft Student Offer for Windows 7 Professional

To see if your computer supports the 64-bit version of Windows go to    on the page click on download and then click on run.  No installation is required. Feel free to read the page as there is some good information on there.  I have run SecureAble myself many times and it will not harm a thing and does not contain viruses or spyware.  Below is the screen from my old laptop.  http://www.grc.com/securable.htm

SecureAble tells you the information you need to know before upgrading Windows

SecureAble tells you the information you need to know before upgrading Windows

You can also get Office 2010 Professional for $80 as well.  You can buy now and get every Office tool you need to succeed.  Microsoft Office is the standard for creating documents.  Again this offer can end at any time so check it out and take advantage of it.  You can check it out at the same website  http://www.microsoft.com/student/office/en-us/default.aspx

Microsoft Student Offer for Office 2010

Microsoft Student Offer for Office 2010

Hey, I say do yourself a favor and check these offers out if you are a student.  Get the software you need to do well in school.  And save some money in the process, remember school starts soon so maybe now is the time to update your computer.

Also if you’re on the go check out the new Office 2010 Web Apps, you can read more here

Is 64 Bit Always The Best Way To Go?

With Server 2000 we saw the release of a 64-bit version of that Operating System, and then soon there after a 64-bit version of XP and Server 2003.  These were for the Itanium Processors from Intel.  Later after the introduction of X86-64 instructions from AMD, we would see non-Itanium 64-bit versions of Windows released (Server 2003 and XP)  Those early adopters would find hardware support to be buggy, however.  It would not be until the release of Windows Vista that 64 Bit Windows would start to gain momentum.  Today we still have the option of installing 32-bit or 64-bit versions of Windows 7, but is 64 Bit always the best way to go?

I asked this question about my old laptop, a Compaq Presario C700 (C712NR)  It had an Intel Core 2 Duo T5850 running at 2.16 Ghz with 2 Gb of Ram.  It came with 32 bit Windows Vista Home Premium and I wanted to upgrade to Windows 7.  After a bit of research, I decided to just try installing Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit.

Now this computer came with 32 bit Vista and I had also installed 32 bit Windows 7 to test, I had looked at which is faster Vista Vs 7 and XP Vs 7  which you can read here

For those interested here are the numbers for Windows Vista 32 bit on this machine.  The Pass Mark Performance Test got a score of 537.8  this is not bad at all for a laptop.  Below is the Windows Experience Index (in Vista scores range from 1.0 to 5.9)

Windows Experience Index from Vista

Now Windows 7 32 bit got a 590.4 out of the same Performance Test.  Below is the Windows Experience Index (in Windows 7 scores range from 1.0 to 7.9)

Windows Experience Index from 7

Now Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit gets results that are not what I expected.  The Pass Mark Performance Test score is a 528 This is slower than both the 32-bit version of Windows 7 and Vista. When you look at the test results Windows 7 64 bit actually does better in some areas but worse in others, however, this result is in every test group, there is not one group where Windows 7 64 bit does worse in comparison to its 32-bit counterpart.    Below is the Windows Experience Index and note that these values are the same as the 32-bit version.

Windows Expirence Index on Windows 7 64 Bit

Windows Experience Index on Windows 7 64 Bit

It is odd that the Windows Experience Index is the same but the test results are different.  After using the computer I would suggest the 64-bit version as I felt is was improved over the 32-bit version.  As always your results may vary, so in conclusion I would say if you have a slower system with less than 4 Gb of ram stick with 32 bit but if the system is faster and still under 4 Gb or ram go with 64 bit, and always go with 64 bit when you have more than 4 Gb of ram.  At least that is my opinion.

Free tool for Dual Monitors

I recently built a new computer and have dual monitors and I love it, but there were a few things I really wanted that would make this helpful.  I found a free tool to make having dual monitors more fun and productive.  Display Fusion helps a lot for this.

Fist I don’t like having the same image on both screens, now if you have a very large image Windows will stretch it across both screens but I have two screens, why not to images.  Display Fusion will allow two images to be displayed at the same time.

Display Fusion configuring two backgrounds

Display Fusion configuring two backgrounds

Second I would like a quick way to send an open window to the other monitor well Display Fusion delivers again.  It adds an extra button just to the Left of the Minimize and Maximize buttons.

Switch Monitor Button

Switch Monitor Button

To enable this feature in Display Fusion click on the Wallpaper Settings button and then click on TitleBar Buttons

Display Fusion Settings

Display Fusion Settings

All in all for the Free tool Display Fusion offers it is a great tool.  You can get it for Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and 7, from here at http://www.binaryfortress.com/displayfusion/

If you want to pay for the full version you can get a TaskBar on the second monitor too, I would love to have this, however, I like to keep it on the cheap.

Install Windows 7 or Windows 8 on Asus KV8 SE Deluxe Motherboard with Promise 378

If you have tried to install Windows 7 or Windows 8 on Promise 378 on Asus KV8 SE Deluxe Motherboard you have had issues but I am here to help.  To start this seems to work on other motherboards that use the Promise 378 chipset, so give this a shot and let me know how it works.  When I did my comparison of Windows 7 to Windows XP, I needed an XP machine to install 7 on.  I chose an older one I had that ran an Athlon64.  I partitioned the hard drive and booted up the Windows 7 disk.  Now this motherboard has the Promise 378 SATA chipset and if any of you are familiar with the Promise 378 chipset for SATA you know how much of a pain it is.  It’s hard enough to get Windows XP installed.  Well, I tried to install Windows 7 and things went fine until I got to the point in the installation to select the hard drive where Windows is to be installed.  There were no hard drives listed!!! I was confused.  I did some searching and found that there were no Promise 378 drivers made for Windows Vista let alone Windows 7 or Windows 8.  So I got to thinking and working.

I knew I was running the Promise 378 in ATA mode so I could connect only one hard drive.  So I thought of loading an older driver and looked at Asus website for one.  But before I did that I thought for a moment, an XP driver might not work.  Windows 7’s code is based on of Vista’s.  Vista’s code is based on Server 2003.  And that was the ticket.  I went here http://support.asus.com/download.aspx?SLanguage=en&m=K8V%20SE%20Deluxe&p=1&s=20&os=20&hashedid=65HeDI8XM1u6Uy6o

Now it will say XX Files Found and under there click on IDE

Then download the second driver (pictured below), Promise SATA378 Driver V1.00.0.26 (ATA Mode)

The Second Driver is the IDE Driver

The Second Driver is the ATA Mode Driver

Expand the zip file to a folder and burn that folder to a disc.

Then restart your installation and when you get to the point that no hard drives show up, take out your Windows 7 install disc and put in the one with the drivers, or if you have a second optical drive insert the burned disc into that.  And then in setup hit load drivers and select the 2003 driver, it should find it automatically.  It did for me and after a while of searching the drive shows up.  Continue the setup as you normally would.  That is all you have to do.  This should work for Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8.  Here are the end results.

Device Manager Showing The Win2003 SATA Driver Installed

Device Manager Showing The Win2003 SATA Driver Installed

It took some doing but here is the proof, a screen shot of the Computer Properties.

Asus KV8 SE Deluxe running Windows 7

Asus KV8 SE Deluxe running Windows 7

It does not do too bad performance wise although I get weird graphic glitches, AMD is not going to release a Windows 7 driver for the X800 graphic card in this machine, but the card could be going bad as well.  Below is the Windows Experience Index.

Windows Experience Index

Windows Experience Index

Well, I think I would leave Windows 7 on here if I could get the graphic glitches fixed, but this computer is old and is slated to be rebuilt.  It does not handle Microsoft Flight Simulator X very well.  I hope this helps people figure out how to get Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8 installed on their Promise 378 hardware.

The Best Internet Browser for Windows, Part 1 An Introduction

I started this look at internet browsers on Windows years ago. Since then web browsers have changed a lot, so I try to update these articles every once in a while.  Here is a list of the articles for the best internet browser for Windows broken down by version. Feel free to check them out and as always, thanks for reading!

The Best Internet Browser for Windows 2000, it is 15 years old but can still get online.

The Best Internet Browser for Windows XP 32-bit, Soon to be unsupported but still installed on many machines.

The Best Internet Browser for Windows XP Professional X64 Edition, one of the first 64-bit versions of Windows, it had limited support.

The Best Internet Browser for Windows Vista 32-bit was not received well upon release but there are still a few people who have not yet upgraded their machines.

The Best Internet Browser for Windows Vista 64-bit, this version started making 64-bit computing a household name.

The Best Internet Browser for Windows 7, this is becoming the next Windows XP and we will be using Windows 7 for years to come.

Also check out my review of browsers in Ubuntu, one of the more popular Linux versions.

I hope to have these articles updated this year and add one for Windows 8, as well as maybe looking at older versions of Windows, and one for Windows Phone 7 and 8.  Make sure to like Useful Windows on Facebook to keep tabs on new articles.