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Power Toys and Ultimate Extras for Windows 7 and Vista (XP Too) Part 3

The Power Toys for Windows XP were very popular to the point that Microsoft made you pay for the ones in Vista and called them Ultimate Extras, but unlike their XP counterparts they did not release a lot of the Ultimate Extras.

In Part 3 we will be looking at more utilities this time from Microsoft.

Utilities from Microsoft

1. Microsoft Security Essentials This is my new favorite antivirus software.  It is light weight, does not bog the system down and does a great job.  I highly suggest this for anyone’s home computer, non-profit, or small businesses.  It is available for Windows 7, Vista, and XP and you can learn more and download it here at http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials/

Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0 in Windows 7

Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0 in Windows 7

2. SyncToy   This actually started as a Power Toy for Windows XP and has been evolved over the years into what it is today.  This tool is for synchronizing files between two different areas, whether on the same drive, different ones, or different devices.  This is a quick way to keep files synced and ready to go.  It is available for Windows 7, Vista, and XP and you can check it out and download it here at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=C26EFA36-98E0-4EE9-A7C5-98D0592D8C52&displaylang=en

SyncToy in Windows 7

SyncToy in Windows 7

 

3. Windows Mobile Device Center   This software is for syncing files and information for Windows Mobile smartphones.  It works with Windows Mobile 6.5 and earlier.  Windows Mobile Device Center is available for Windows 7 and Windows Vista and you can learn more and download the 32Bit version here at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmobile/en-us/downloads/microsoft/device-center-download.mspx And get the 64-bit version here at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyId=4F68EB56-7825-43B2-AC89-2030ED98ED95&displaylang=en

Windows Mobile Device Center in Windows 7

Windows Mobile Device Center in Windows 7

 

4. Microsoft ActiveSync     The Windows Mobile Device Center is not available for Windows XP and this is where ActiveSync comes in.  ActiveSync is the older version of Mobile Device Center and it again works with Windows Mobile devices to sync files and information.  You can check it out and download it at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmobile/en-us/downloads/microsoft/activesync-download.mspx

Microsoft ActiveSync in Windows XP

Microsoft ActiveSync in Windows XP

 

5.  Windows Virtual PC   This is great software to run operating systems in a virtual environment.  This new version of Virtual PC integrates very well into the Windows environment.  I have used this recently and plan to write more articles about it.  The awesome thing about it, this is available for all versions of Windows 7.  You can check it out and download it here at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=2B6D5C18-1441-47EA-8309-2545B08E11DD&displaylang=en

Once you have it installed there is an update to remove the Hardware Virtualization need you can get here for the 32Bit version and here for the 64-bit version.

Windows Virtual PC in Windows 7

Windows Virtual PC in Windows 7

6.  XP Mode   This is a great feature.  This feature is only available for Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate.    Let’s say you have an older program that does not run in Windows 7.  Well if you install it in XP Mode you can have it run right off of the Windows 7 Start Menu.  Once you have XP Mode installed it runs out of Windows Virtual PC which you must have installed first.  Please note if you are going to set up XP Mode you need to install things in order, first Windows Virtual PC, then XP Mode then one of the updates above.    You can download XP Mode here at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=FB633E9D-DDBC-4044-BB09-4F99E757064E&displaylang=en

XP Mode desktop In Windows 7 Ultimate

XP Mode desktop In Windows 7 Ultimate

7.  Virtual PC 2007   If you are using Windows Vista or XP and you want to run operating systems in a virtual environment then you can download Virtual PC 2007.  While it does not have all the features of Windows Virtual PC it still does the job well.  Also, Virtual PC 2007 supports running older operating systems.  If you want to check it out you can read more and download it from here at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=28C97D22-6EB8-4A09-A7F7-F6C7A1F000B5&displaylang=en

Virtual PC 2007 in Windows Vista

Virtual PC 2007 in Windows Vista

8. Microsoft Mathematics    This program should have its own blog post.  This is the old Windows XP Power Toy Calculator on crack. You can do just about anything Math related on this thing.  Solve equations, convert units, graphing, trig, etc.  Best of all it is Free.  It uses the Tab and Ribbon interface from the Windows Live and Windows 7 programs.  You can install it in Windows 7, Vista, and XP (Please note that the .Net 3.5 framework must be installed for Vista and XP users).  You can learn more and download it from here at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=9caca722-5235-401c-8d3f-9e242b794c3a

Microsoft Mathematics in Windows 7

Microsoft Mathematics in Windows 7

 

These are some great additions to Windows that add functionality and customization.

For Non-Microsoft Utilities check out Part 2.

For Communication and Games check out Part 1.

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

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.