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Thinking about new hardware, update about the Useful Windows Blog

Hello people of the internet.  I wanted to give and update and let you know what is going on with me and how it will affect Useful Windows.

I accepted a new job recently.  I am now working full-time in the tech field once again.  This is a great thing as it helps me come up with great how to articles that I hope to have done soon.  It also keeps me on the pulse of technology in general.

That being said I am making a little more than I was before so I believe it is time to consider upgrading my desktop that I built five years ago.

To understand why I built this computer the way I did you have to understand where I was at.  Five years ago I was working part-time doing remote tech support from home on my laptop which I had connected to my TV in my bedroom.  I was engaged and getting ready to be married later that year. I was not making a lot of money and was putting as much as I could toward my wedding but I knew I needed a better machine to work efficiently.

I gave myself a budget of $400 to $500 to build the best machine I could.  I knew I could build a machine better than I could just buy one preconfigured.  I reused some parts from a desktop I had built about six years earlier including the hard drive, power supply, case fans and case.  I also knew that the newer Intel Core i series processors had integrated graphic controllers and some of them operated at faster speeds than others.  With this in mind I decided against buying a separate graphic card to cut down costs as this computer was for work and not games.

What resulted was a desktop computer with an Intel DH55HC motherboard, an Intel Core i5 661 3.33 GHz processor and 4GB of Patriot ram.  I also bought an aftermarket CPU cooler and an internal DVD writer and memory card reader.  I later bought an 16″ Asus monitor to add to the little Dell monitor I had connected to the machine.  I was running Windows Vista Ultimate and Windows 7 Ultimate in a dual-boot configuration and continued to do so for some time.

After I got married I moved back out of my parents house (I had moved back in to help with bills after my mom lost her job) and left my dad the small Dell monitor as his had died on him.  I once again used my TV in my bedroom as my second screen as I kept the desktop in our bedroom.  Over time it became clear that my wife did a lot of photo editing on the computer and upgrades would be necessary.  Before that though my power supply died resulting in the first upgrade to an Antec 650 Watt power supply.  A few months later I would buy a graphic card running and AMD ATI Radeon HD 6750.

A year or so later my grandmother would get a new computer and I got the one I built for her back. From this I added a 500GB hard drive, and additional DVD burner and a second monitor (Dell 20″).  While clearing out some old computer junk from a local college I found some very old Altec Lansing Multimedia speakers and sub woofer.

The truth is, this is still a very good computer and would meet most people’s needs but it no longer meets my needs.  I am out of space as the original hard drive is only 160GB and is currently my data drive.  The 500 GB hard drive is used as the operating system drive with Windows XP Pro X64, Windows Vista Ultimate, Windows 7 Ultimate, and Windows 8.1 Pro in a quad boot configuration.  It also contains a lot of data and some virtual machines I use for testing to write articles for this site.  My wife uses this computer for work most days of the week and has gotten used to the multiple monitors but does not like how they are different resolutions.  She also downloads pictures from an SD and XD card to the computer and comments on how slow that process takes.  Unfortunately my motherboard does not have USB 3.0 and while I could add a card that does, why not just look at upgrading the whole computer.

So once again I start by looking at processors and am highly considering an Intel Core i7 4790K 4 GHz processor.  This should be more than enough speed to handle anything I can throw at this machine.  I will once again use an Intel motherboard as they are the best boards I have ever used.  I will go no less than 8 GB of ram but really want to start at 16 GB of ram.  Either a USB 3.0 or Sata memory card reader which will make downloading those pictures a snap.  I figure I will use a traditional hard drive for my testing operating system which will have Windows Vista Ultimate, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8 Pro, and Windows 8.1 Pro.  Then I will also have an SSD with Windows 10 on it, multibooting between five versions of Windows.  I am also considering getting two identical hard dives to have in a mirrored RAID to keep my data safe.  I will put this all in a new case with a new power supply.  I am lost on what kind of graphic card to get but there will be something in there.  I will probably have at least two monitors, maybe three. This time they will all be the same resolution if not size as well.

So I am curious if anyone has any suggestions on hardware, what has been good for them, what has been bad, etc..  I know this may sound like over kill for a lot of people but I really use this computer and when you are trying to run more than one virtual machine this computer reaches its limit.  When my wife is working and has a million things open it also slows down.  Granted this is due to the low ram size but to fix some of the other limitations and annoyances I might as well just upgrade the whole thing.  I do not have the money to buy everything at once but I figure I will buy a part or two a month till I have enough to start the build.

Thanks for reading and please leave any input in the comments.

Install Windows 8 on Dell Vostro 230 with Dell SX2210T Touchscreen Monitor

The Dell Vostro line of computers is great for business large and small and the Dell Vostro 230 is a great machine.  I had to wonder how it would work with Windows 8 especially since we also had a Dell SX2210T touchscreen monitor.  I use this computer almost every week and figured if I use Windows 8 at home on non touchscreen computers why not on this one as well.

It was easy to install Windows 8 on Dell Vostro 230 and I even got the Dell SX2210T Touchscreen Monitor working.  For the install I used Windows 8 Professional and did a clean install keeping nothing.  You can also do an upgrade from Windows 7 keeping your files, installed programs, and settings.  After Windows 8 was done installing the device manager was pretty clean except for the Dell SX2210T touchscreen.  So I first made sure that the computer was up to date using Windows Update. Then you will want to download the driver for the Dell SX2210T touchscreen.  This will download a Zip file, extract the file (right-click on it and click on Extract All) then in the extracted folder double click on dpinst64.exe this will install the driver needed for the Dell SX2210t Touchscreen Monitor.  Now using Windows 8 on the Dell SX2210T is ok there is no room to swipe in from the side to bring up the Charms Bar or any other experiences that have to be swiped in from the sides, top, or bottom as the bezel is too close to the screen. Other than that it is not bad and I like being able to reach out and touch the screen and have it respond.  This monitor will not replace a mouse and keyboard on this machine but it compliments it nicely.  So once you have the driver installed that is it you are done you should have a clean device manager.

Windows 8 Device Manager and System Properties on Dell Vostro 230

Windows 8 Device Manager and System Properties on Dell Vostro 230

Windows 8 runs very well on this Dell Vostro 230 and it is going to stay on here, I have noticed a speed increase over Windows 7.  Now you will not be able to install Client Side Hyper-V 3.0 on this machine as the processor does not support SLAT, I thought that the Intel E8400 did, if your Vostro 230 has a different processor then your mileage may very.  I did run the PassMark Performance Test and the Dell Vostro 230 got a 599 with Windows 8 installed on here.  Below you can look at the Windows Experience Index.

Windows 8 Experience Index on Dell Vostro 230

Windows 8 Experience Index on Dell Vostro 230

So my conclusion is you are thinking about an upgrade to Windows 8 on your Dell Vostro 230, go for it, you will love the performance.  If you have a Dell SX2210T monitor and want to use it with Windows 8 why not but I would not buy one just to use with Windows 8, I would look for something else that is going to allow you to swipe in from the edge of the scree.  Still it is pretty cool to have a touch screen desktop now. It was easy to install Windows 8 on Dell Vostro 230 with the Dell SX2210T Touchscreen Monitor and I do suggest the upgrade.

Fix for The Screen Resolution is Too Low for This App to Run

Update:  The best fix I have found so far is to upgrade to Windows 10.  So far Windows 10 is working well on an old Netbook I have that has a 1024 X 600 resolution. It seems to handle the smaller screen size better.  I have not seen the need for this fix in Windows 10.

In Windows 8 when you try to run one of the Windows Store (Metro) apps you get a message saying “This app cannot open” followed by “The screen resolution is too low for this app to run.”  Then is gives you a shortcut to “Change your screen resolution”.  If this has happened to you chances are you are trying to run Windows 8 on a Netbook, Tablet, or older Laptop.  I have found a way around, however.  Pictured below is the error I am talking about.  The lowest screen resolution supported by the Windows Store apps is 1024 X 768 but the computers highest resolution is 1024 X 600.

The Screen Resolution Is Too Small for Windows 8 Apps

The Screen Resolution Is Too Small for Windows 8 Apps

You first want to download the current Intel driver (or whatever driver from your Graphics Card Manufacture) for your device.  For this article, I will be using a tablet that runs the Intel GMA 3150.  You can download this driver from HerePlease note if your computer uses the Intel GMA 945 you do not need to download the driver just skip this step.  You have to install the driver first or your machine may just boot up to a black screen (directions are below to reverse this if you have changed the registry before installing the driver) The install will ask you if you want to install the older driver and you want to select Yes.  When the install finishes it will prompt you to restart, do this and continue on.

Now you are going to want to open Regedit.  The quickest way to get to Regedit is to swipe in on the right side of the screen to the Charms Bar comes into view and then select Search.  In the search box type Regedit and then select the result.  Once you have the Registry Editor (Regedit) open go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE then SYSTEM, then ControlSet001, then Control, Then Class, then {4d36e968-e325-11ce-bfc1-08002be10318} (this value could vary on different computers) and then 0001 (If your computer has the Intel GMA 945 click on 0000) then double-click on Display1_DownScalingSupported (you can also click on Edit and then Find and type in Display1_DownScalingSupported)  Change the Value Data from 0 to 1 then hit OK.  Close the Registry Editor and restart the computer.

Registry setting you have to change for Windows 8 apps to work

Registry setting you have to change for Windows 8 apps to work

Now it should have changed the resolution to 1024 X 768 and if it has you will notice things seem stretched on the screen a little.  To check this go to the Desktop and right-click on it and select Screen Resolution.

Now it supports Windows 8 Apps

Now it supports Windows 8 Apps

If you have done this with the driver that comes with Windows 8 your device may just boot up to a black screen, this can be fixed.  restart your computer and hit the F8 key repeatedly until you see Please Wait on the Windows 8 boot screen (If you have a tablet you will want to connect a keyboard to do this).  You will then see a screen that has two options.  See Advanced Repair Options and Restart My PC, you want the first one.  You then want to select Troubleshoot, and then select Advanced Options.  From here select Startup Settings and then click on Restart.  You then get a list and on that list you want to hit number 5 Safe Mode with Networking (you can just hit the 5 key on the keyboard).  Now just open Regedit and change that setting back to 0 then restart your computer, everything should boot back to normal.

I hope this gets people able to enjoy the Windows Store (Metro) apps in Windows 8 on some older machines.

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.

Part 5 The Best Internet Browser For Windows 7

Windows 7 is almost always sold in its 64-bit version on new computers, except on Netbooks have the 32-bit version as the hardware is not 64-bit compatible.  So we are going to tests this on a Netbook.  As always these tests are done uncached.  I am running these tests on Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit on an HP Mini 1000 (1030NR)  with 2 Gb of RAM and a 1.6Ghz Intel Atom.  I will also state that there are come clear winners here unlike in Vista,  because of the companies that embraced the new user interface in Windows.

1.  Microsoft Internet Explorer 9.0.2 (9.0.8112.16421 32-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 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.  I have to give IE9 the number one  in Windows 7 though because of recent independent tests which say that it is the most secure browser you can use. This shows the dedication the IE Team has to turn it around.  You can download Internet Explorer 9 from here at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/internet-explorer/downloads/ie-9/worldwide-languagesInternet Explorer 9 in Windows 7 32-bit

2. Mozilla Firefox 6.0    Like the new version of Internet Explorer, it has a 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 6 supports both Jump Lists and Tab Previews (however Tab Previews has to be enabled in the options)  This makes Firefox a great alternative browser Windows 7.   Firefox 6 is very standards compliant and it screams on this Netbook it’s so fast.  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 6 here at http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/

Firefox 6 in Windows 7 32-bit

Firefox 6 in Windows 7 32-bit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Google Chrome 13.0.782.215 m 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 13th revision it is not more mature than it is.  One of the reasons 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 already) The second reason is that on this Netbook it is not as fast as Firefox.  It does, however, support Jump Lists which is quite handy.  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

Google Chrome 13 in Windows 7 32-bit

Google Chrome 13 in Windows 7 32-bit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Apple Safari 5.1 (7534.50)  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 lets see this get added)  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.  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) The new version 5.1 seems to actually speed up the browser a little, but it is not as fast as Chrome.  If you would like to check it out you can get it from here at http://www.apple.com/safari/

Apple Safari 5.1 in Windows 7 32-bit

Apple Safari 5.1 in Windows 7 32-bit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Opera 11.50 (Build 1074)  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, Netscape fans may 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 however I have had it display some websites incorrectly, including this one (hope to get that fixed soon).  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 32-bit

Opera 11 in Windows 7 32-bit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. KDE Konqueror 4.7 Konqueror was originally made for the Linux operating system, but there is now a Windows version.  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 but version 4.7 does render most websites very well. (myspace.com will crash it though)  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 (as a note you should have the latest MS Visual Studio runtimes installed as well before installing Konqueror which you can get here)

KDE Konqueror 4.7 in Windows 7 32-bit

KDE Konqueror 4.7 in Windows 7 32-bit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With all the options for Internet Browsers out today, and how fast it changes, it can be hard to keep up on which one works better, however, I hope I have helped.   For the browser tests 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.

Go back to Part 4 for Windows Vista 32bit.

Go to Part 6 for Windows XP

Check out Part 7 for Windows 7 64-bit

Part 4 The Best Internet Browser for Windows Vista

Windows Vista was given a bad rap because of the release candidates and because of some software and hardware no longer worked with it.  Vista has matured a lot from its 2006 release and now after Service Pack 2 is a nice operating system to use.   It is not as good as Windows 7 I will admit but it’s not that bad either.

As with every Windows version starting with some releases of Windows 95, Internet Explorer has been included with Windows, but is it really the best to use, I will look at the five major browsers and see which one works the best in my opinion. For a look at the 64-bit version click here.  This time, I am doing these tests on my Compaq Presario C700 (C712NR) laptop with a 2.16 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2 Gb of ram, and a 7200 RPM hard drive.  This computer is running Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit.  All updates have been run for Windows, the internet browsers, Java, and Flash. All tests are run uncashed.

1. Internet Explorer 8.0.6001.18828  If you have passed on the newest Internet Explorer, well it’s time to look again.  This is not the Internet Explorer from Window past, nor is it the one that shipped with Vista.  IE 8 is fast a loading normal web pages but is not as fast when it comes to Java or Flash.  This will be improved in IE 9 however, for now, all we have is 8.  But 8 is nice, I love the new features like the Web Slices pictured below.  These give you a quick glance from Ebay auctions to the weather in your area.  There are is also new visual search and accelerators.  IE is my main browser for a lot of things, and my daily browsing.  You should check it out at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=79154fb4-c610-4a1e-811d-dfe0f1dd84d1&displaylang=en

Internet Explorer 8 in Windows Vista

Internet Explorer 8 in Windows Vista

2.  Firefox 3.5.5 Firefox is not the fastest program to open but it renders pages faster than IE.  I use Firefox for work because of the built-in spell check which I wish IE had.  Firefox also supports a wide variety of plugins.  The interface is dated and cluttered but it still does a good job, I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out in version 3.6.  you can check it out at http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/ie.html?from=getfirefox

Firefox 3.5 in Windows Vista

Firefox 3.5 in Windows Vista

3.  Opera 10.01  This browser has come a long way, Version 9 was just not that great but 10 is fast and slick.  The user interface is very good at staying out of your way.  I like the thumbnail previews on the tabs.  It also has a most used page like other browsers called Speed Dial.  It is actually a good alternative browser if you’re looking for something other than the leaders IE and Firefox or want something different from the hyped up ones like Safari and Chrome.  You can get it at http://www.opera.com/

Opera 10.01 in Windows Vista

Opera 10.01 in Windows Vista

4.  Chrome 3.0  The newest version of Google Chrome is actually better than version 2.  It sure beats Safari in all but one thing, the user interface leaves much to be desired.  I prefer Safari’s user interface however Safari is a dog compared to Chrome, still does not have anything for me to want to switch and it is made by a company that makes money off advertising.  You can check it out at http://www.google.com/chrome?hl=en&brand=CHMI

Chrome 3 in Windows Vista

Chrome 3 in Windows Vista

5. Safari 4.0.4 Looks better than any version before it, they have finally use the Windows interface instead of porting the ugly grey Mac interface.  Safari 4 looks better than Chrome too, however, it is not as fast, the top sites take some time to load and the browser itself does not load web pages very quickly.  We will have to see what Apple does with Safari 5.  You can get it at http://www.apple.com/safari/download/

Safari 4 in Windows Vista

Safari 4 in Windows Vista

What will be interesting to see is how the browser makes will react to Windows 7, with the jump lists and such.  IE, Firefox, and Opera already are working on some things.  IE 8 is the only one that uses the jump lists to their fullest in Windows 7.

Go back to Part 3 for Windows 2000

Go to Part 5 for Windows 7 32Bit

Windows 7 on an HP Mini 1000 (1030NR) Yes it works better!!!

Some of you know that I set up Windows Vista Home Premium on this Netbook earlier and you can read that here.  I was glad to say goodbye to  XP and see Vista running on this little machine.  Well, the day after Thanksgiving I was able to get the family pack of Windows 7 Home Premium for $150.  It was time to upgrade the Mini, I knew my fiancé would love the new features and I wanted to see how much better it would run on there.  So again I went to work.

Here is some background, I got this Netbook because it is light and portable, not to just check e-mail and look cool.  This thing is very light.  I would suggest any of the HP Netbooks if you are interested in them.  This one is an HP Mini 1000 the true model number is the 1030NR.  I have read that the best thing you can do to these computers that run Intel Atom processors is to upgrade the ram and I did just that, I upgraded it to 2 Gb.  Other than that this thing is still stock.

The upgrade was much simpler than putting Vista on this and I would say that anyone could do this very easily.  I had purchased an external DVD drive when I got the Mini so I attached it to it and booted off of the Windows 7 install disc.  The Mini will only support 32bit versions of Windows. I booted off of the 32bit disc and formatted the hard drive and installed Windows,  it was simple.  Afterward, I ran Windows Updates and installed Microsoft Office 2007 Ultimate.  Total Windows, Office, and a few programs fill up the 16Gb Solid State hard drive.  Just a few gigs free when it is all said and done.  I again disabled System Restore and set to a manual page file size instead of letting the OS manage it.

Windows 7 on HP Mini 1030NR

Windows 7 on HP Mini 1030NR

 

This was an easy install, the Device Manager was clear from the end of the installation.  However, a basic mouse driver was installed.  If you want the scroll function, download the Vista mouse driver from another HP laptop that used a Synaptics driver.  Also, just a note the built-in webcam in the Mini works just fine in Windows 7, did not have to load any drivers for it the Windows Setup did it automatically.

Nice Clean Device Manager

All in all this Mini seems faster with 7 installed than with Vista.  The numbers are interesting, below is the Scores from Windows 7, check out my other blog here for windows Vista’s numbers on the same machine. Remember in Vista the highest score was a 5.9, in Windows 7 the highest score is a 7.9

Windows Experience Index in Windows 7 on the Mini

Again I ran the Passmark Performance Test and Vista got a 172, while Windows 7 gets a 178.8, not a big jump but it is still a performance increase and you notice it on the Mini, the system is much more responsive.

So if you bought that Netbook on Black Friday or have an older one  I would suggest a Windows 7 upgrade.  If you do not have an external DVD drive you can look into local computer service shops to do an upgrade for you.  Windows 7 takes everything good about Vista and makes it better, as well as taking the bad and making it great. This upgrade is simple and recommended.

Five New Features I Like In Windows ME

Well, I kind of did this just for fun since I already took a look at Windows 7, Vista, and XP I thought I would look at ME, the spiritual ancestor to XP.  Windows ME was released, for one thing, to be a home operating system, unlike Windows 95 and 98 which were designed to do both home and work.  Windows ME was all about digital media and at that time it was just really taking off.  My first Windows-based computer would run Windows 3.11 Windows for Workgroups and then later Windows 95.  My parents would have Windows 98 and 98 SE and I got a computer with ME.  I hated 98 with a passion.  I constantly had problems with their computer and it seemed to me like I had fewer problems with ME.  This may be due to the fact that I was running an Intel Pentium 4 and they were running an AMD K6-2, I told them to get Intel but they did not listen, and it was the last time they did not listen to my advice I might add.  Anyway for me growing up with 3.11 and 95, ME felt just like them, yeah a little buggy but I used it for years and did not give it up until after Service Pack 1 was released for XP because I still had programs that would not run in XP even with the compatibility tab options. It is also interesting to note that Windows 2000 was released on February 17, 2000, while Windows ME was released on September 14, 2000, so ME is newer than Windows 2000 and that is why there are different features between the two, also Microsoft was already combining the Home and Professional lines of Windows into one product.   So let’s take a look at where we came from, let’s look at our past and check out my list of five new features in Windows ME.

1. System Restore was a good edition to Windows, however, it did have a nasty habit of backing up viruses, spyware, and all.  It was a step in the right direction and saved my butt a few times.  Take a look at the interesting interface that seemed to not fit into ME at all.

System Restore in Windows ME

System Restore in Windows ME

2. Compressed Folders, finally Zip file support was a part of Windows.  I still use this to this day.  I think this was the best thing about ME and was glad to see it stay in every Windows version since.

Compressed Folder in Windows ME

Compressed Folder in Windows ME

3. Windows Movie Maker was started in Windows ME.  This little program was actually pretty neat considering it came with the operating system unlike iMovie for Mac which was part of iLife which was purchased separately.  iMovie was better than Movie Maker but Movie Maker still did basic editing.  This program would evolve as Windows did and now is a separate download for Vista and 7.  You can download the new version of Movie Maker at  http://download.live.com/moviemaker

Windows Movie Maker in Windows ME

Windows Movie Maker in Windows ME

4. MSN Messenger, Windows ME was the first version of Windows that came with MSN Messenger.  It was replaced in Windows XP by Windows Messenger and in Vista, all that was left was an icon to download Windows Live Messenger.  I remember using MSN Messenger to talk to my friends on Hotmail a lot when I was younger.  You can download the newest version of Windows Live Messenger for Windows XP, Vista, and 7 at  http://download.live.com/messenger/

MSN Messenger in Windows ME

MSN Messenger in Windows ME

5. Windows Media Player 7, while Windows Media Player is not new, this was the first one to have a skin to it that would become familiar.  Windows Media Player went from looking like any other program to being something that stood out and was a lot more functional.  While the newest version, version 12 is not available for download yet you can get version 11 for Windows XP at  http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/player/11/default.aspx

Windows Media Player 7 in Windows ME

Windows Media Player 7 in Windows ME

It is interesting to see where we are today in computing and look back at where we were.  I wonder what will come next as we move on.  I hope you enjoyed this blast from the past.  I sure did.

Don’t forget to check out my list of The Five Best New Features of Windows 7

Is Windows 7 Faster than Windows XP, It’s Faster than Windows Vista

I had a friend ask me is Windows 7 faster than Windows XP, and I did not know.  I knew that it ran faster than Vista, so I went to work.

First, my laptop has never known Windows XP and it never will, I do not like XP and prefer Vista over it and love 7 over both of them.  Some would say I am nuts but as a computer technician, the newer versions of Windows make my life easier.  This laptop is a Compaq Presario C700 (C712NR) with 2 Gb of Ram and an Intel Core 2 Duo T5850 running at 2.16 GHz this also runs an Intel Mobile 965 Express Graphics Chipset.  The laptop came with Vista Home Premium 32bit and I installed Windows 7 Enterprize 32bit.     Below is the Windows Experience Index from Vista.  Please note that the Index range is from 1.0 to 5.9 in Vista.

Windows Exprierence Index form Vista

Windows Experience Index from Vista

As you can see the laptop does ok but below is the Windows Experience Index from 7 it seems like there is not much of a difference. Please note that in 7 the Index range is from 1.0 to 7.9 and that might be why the numbers are different.

Windows Expierence Index from 7

Windows Experience Index from 7

The difference in the numbers is interesting however I also ran Pass Mark Performance Test in both operating systems.  I figured this would give me a good answer if Windows 7 was, in fact, faster than Vista.  In Vista the Performance Test got a total score of 537.8 while in 7 it got a total of 590.4  I think these numbers speak for themselves.  Vista is slower than 7 the benchmark proves this.  So then what about Windows XP?

Well, my father has a computer that I figured would be a great it is a home-built machine with an Asus KV8 SE Deluxe motherboard with an AMD Athlon 64 3200+ running at 2.2GHz and with 2 Gb or Ram and an ATI X800 XT All-in-Wonder.  It already has Windows XP installed and it has never known Vista, so I partitioned the hard drive and installed Windows 7 Enterprize 32bit.  Pictured below is the Windows Experience Index from Windows 7

Windows Expierence Index in Windows 7

Windows Experience Index in Windows 7

As before I ran the Pass Mark Performance Test on both operating systems and here are the results you have waited for.  Windows 7 got a total score of 390.1 where Windows XP got a total score of 440.6  XP did better in 2D and 3D graphics than 7 and that could be due to the lack of proper driver support, as time goes on I’m sure that gap will close.  Really XP does not do that much better than 7 but it is a little faster.  Still, my mother was using Windows 7 for the first time today on my father’s computer and really liked it and wants to use it more, and she has never used Vista.

So is Windows 7 faster than Windows XP? Nope, but Windows 7 is faster than Vista but just a little slower than XP, not bad Microsoft, not bad at all.  If you are thinking of making the jump to Windows 7 the numbers speak for themselves, go for it.  The new Features and the fact that it is more energy-efficient make Windows 7 worth the upgrade, even if it is a little slower than XP.