Posts

Save Disk Space by Compressing Your Hard Drive Part 1

Many newer computers and tablets that came out this holiday season have limited storage, sometimes as low as 16 GB hard drives.  Thankfully there are some tricks in Windows that will maximize your disk space and over the next few posts I will help show you how to put that disk on a diet.  First lets look at how to save disk space by compressing your hard drive.  This should work for just about all versions of Windows going way back (Windows 95 or 98 I believe) it is an old trick but it works. This also works in Windows RT.

Before you do any of these tricks I suggest you back up your data, I have had great success with these tricks but I would hate to see someone lose something that is important for any reason.

First start by opening up File Explorer (Windows Explorer) and click on This PC (My Computer) and then right-click on your hard drive (you may have more than one, Do this on the one that Windows is installed on).  Then click on Properties.

 

Hard Drive Properties

Hard Drive Properties

Once the Hard Drive Properties window opens you will want to check the box next to Compress This Drive To Save Disk Space and then click Apply. A Dialogue box will open asking you to confirm, make sure Apply Changes to drive Subfolders and Files is selected and then click OK.  You may have an error pop up just click on Ignore All.  Then sit back and wait as this will take some time to complete.  If your device runs on a battery plug it in as this can drain a battery fast.  It will take a while but it will free up a lot of space.

Compress Drive to Save Disk Space

Compress Drive to Save Disk Space

Once done I always suggest restarting your computer or device.  After that if you bring up the Hard Drive Properties window again you can click on Disk Cleanup for Part 2.

Comming soon to Useful Windows September 2014

Hello readers, I just wanted to give everyone an update and share a few things I am working on for Useful Windows.  First in about 15 days there will be a Technical Preview of the next version of Windows (Threshold/Windows 9) I will be writing a lot of articles about it so stay tuned for that information.  Second I recently moved and went through my stuff and found my wife’s old HP Netbook.  I plan to update my articles I wrote about it years ago since Windows XP is no longer receiving any security updates and a few new articles about it.  If you have a HP Netbook you might want to check those articles out.  I am also working on trying to get an old Toshiba Tablet PC running to write about as well, may test with Windows 8.1.  I am also trying to get the Asus EP 121 tablet again to test, but we will see on that.  All in all a lot of things going on.  I also recently got Windows 7 installed and running on an 800 MHz Pentium III!  Expect some articles about that.  I hope you enjoy and I will see you all soon.

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.

Slow Windows 8 Sales, is Microsoft to blame…I think not

Many people out there including the computer manufactures are blaming Microsoft for slow Windows 8 computer sales.  When I look at everything I can not believe Microsoft is to blame and if anything it is the manufactures that are at fault.

There have been many speculating that tablets were going to kill the PC industry or at least make it very small.  So far this has not happened because people need to get real work done and most tablet today are not that great at getting real work done but awesome if you just want to check email, read a book, or watch a movie.  Nevertheless people are wanting more tablets and pressure was put on Microsoft to respond.  Well they did, with Windows 8 and Windows RT.  So where are the Windows based tablets?

Go to your local Best Buy or other computer electronics store (if your lucky to have anything other than Best Buy) or heck go to Wal-Mart and see how many Windows based tablets there are.  At Best Buy when I went recently I could only find two, a Surface RT and a Surface Pro, and when I inquired about them I was told that they were selling the Surface Pro pretty well, of course this was not too long after the Surface Pro came out.  Granted there were plenty of Andriod and iPads there.

I also looked at other Windows 8 machines there and I noticed something that concerned me.  First I did not see keyboards optimized for Windows 8 with specific buttons for the charms bar.  Microsoft has done this to many of its keyboards which I think is a nice touch and their lead should be copied.  Second I noticed just how many computers are still not touch screen.  Let me make something extremely clear, I have wanted to touch the screen on my computer for over 12 years now, and I still have issues when buying a computer to get this option.  I know I am not alone and I think more people would rather have a touch screen so what is the issue and hold up?

Clearly if anyone is to blame it is the computer manufactures and the retailers for slow Windows 8 sales.  If you are seeing commercials about Windows 8 and you get all excited about using a touch screen only to go to your local computer outlet to find non touch screen computers, well I would be disappointed.  What are computer manufactures doing to make Windows 8 computers different from the ones that had Windows 7 on them?  The reason tablets sell well is because they are new and cool, so if we did something new and different with computers don’t you think they would sell better?  If everyone at a coffee shop is touching their laptop screen, or folding it into a tablet, I think even some Mac users are going to have envy.  The retailers need to get what is different and new (like Lenovo’s lineup) out in stores and get rid of the junk they sell currently.  I know that cheap laptops sell but I am sure there are some manufactures making cheaper touchscreen devices, give them a chance instead of the main manufactures.

So far I am disappointed with the industry’s response to Windows 8, it is a great OS and has potential to do amazing, but until we get better hardware I am going to keep my current desktop and laptop because they run Windows 8 extremely well and I can not justify buying a machine that does exactly what my current machine does now.  Granted there are a few machines out there that are embracing the future but I want choice, that is why I am not a Mac user.

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.

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

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.

Power Toys and Ultimate Extras for Windows 7 and Vista (XP Too) Part 2

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 Windows 7 we really don’t see any Power Toys or Ultimate Extras… or do we?  I have a list of some great add-ons for Windows 7 that will bring functionality and fun to this great OS.

Now some of these are from Microsoft others from third-party developers, but all are tested and are very useful.  In Part 2 we will be looking at Utilities.

Utilities Not From Microsoft

I do not use a lot of third-party applications but the ones I do use are very helpful, here are a few utilities I use a lot and suggest.

1. 7-Zip   7-Zip is a great program to work with compressed files.  It works with every major format including .rar   No more installing Winrar.    Best of all it is free.

7zip in Windows 7

7zip in Windows 7

I suggest changing the options though if you click on Tools and then Options you will see the following.

7Zip File Type Options

7Zip File Type Options

I select all but .zip .cab and .iso which I let Windows manage .cab and .zip and I let another app manage .iso which I will cover later.  It is available for Windows 7, Vista, and XP and you can get it at http://www.7-zip.org/

2. Ccleaner  Ccleaner is short for Crap Cleaner.  It is an awesome utility for removing temporary files and registry errors from Windows.  It is very customizable and supports many applications.  It is available for Windows 7, Vista, and XP and you can get it at http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/download

Ccleaner 3 in Windows 7

Ccleaner 3 in Windows 7

3. Context Menu Editor   Is is an application for editing the right-click context menu in Windows.  You can put links to any application, Win32 Command, or website that you wish.  This tool is only available for Windows 7 and Vista and you can get more information and download it here at http://www.thewindowsclub.com/context-menu-editor-for-windows-7-vista-released

Context Menu Editor in Windows 7

Context Menu Editor in Windows 7

4. Right Click Extender If the Context Menu Editor is a little over your head check out the Right Click Extender.  It has many options that you can enable for Context Menus on the Desktop, My Computer, Files/Folders, and Drives.  It is easy to use just select the ones you want. It is available for Windows 7, Vista, and some features work in XP too.  You can learn more and download it at http://www.thewindowsclub.com/right-click-context-menu-extender-for-windows-7-released

Right Click Extender in Windows 7

Right Click Extender in Windows 7

For more check out

Communication and Games in Part 1

Utilities from Microsoft in Part 3

Power Toys and Ultimate Extras for Windows 7 and Windows Vista (XP Too) Part 1

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 Windows 7 we really don’t see any Power Toys or Ultimate Extras… or do we?  I have a list of some great add-ons for Windows 7 that will bring functionality and fun to this great OS.

Now some of these are from Microsoft others from third-party developers, but all are tested and are very useful.  I will be looking at them in sections starting with Communication and Games.

Communication

These first three programs all come from Windows Live Essentials which you can download here at http://www.windowslive.com/desktop   For XP users you can get the older version of Windows Live Essentials from here at http://explore.live.com/windows-live-essentials-xp

1. Windows Live Mail  With all the webmail there is today would it not be nice to manage them all from one program.  But no one wants to pay and configure Outlook to do that.  This is where Windows Live Mail comes in. It even looks like a small version of Outlook 2010.  It can easily manage all your e-mail accounts all in one place.  It works with many popular e-mail services like Hotmail and Gmail.   This easy to use program is available for Windows 7 and Vista.  You can learn more and get it here at http://windowslive.com/Desktop/Mail For XP users you can get the older version here at http://explore.live.com/windows-live-mail-xp

The New Windows Live Mail in Windows 7

The New Windows Live Mail in Windows 7

 

2. Windows Live Messenger   While instant messaging has started to decline with things like Facebook and Texting lets face it, it is still handy and still free.  Windows Live Messenger allows you to chat with your friends that have Hotmail, MSN, or Live e-mail accounts and even those friends on Yahoo.  This program is evolving into a social media hub for the PC in the newest version which is out now.  I have it configured with MySpace integration which shows you updates from your friends and even lets you chat with them, this also works with Facebook.  It again is available for Windows 7 and Vista.  You can learn more and download it at  http://windowslive.com/desktop/messenger  and get the older version for Windows XP from here at http://explore.live.com/windows-live-Messenger-XP

The New Windows Live Messenger in Windows 7

The New Windows Live Messenger in Windows 7

 

3. Windows Live Writer  This program I have been getting to know.  It is a tool used to write blogs and it does a great job.  It has almost any feature you can want in a small word processing program that is ready with the tools for modern blogging.  The new version picks up the Ribbon interface making it work like Word 2007 or 2010.  It works with most blogging sites including WordPress.  It is also available for Windows 7 and Vista and you can read more information and download it from here at http://explore.live.com/windows-live-writer and for XP users the older version is available here at http://explore.live.com/windows-live-writer-xp

The New Windows Live Writer in Windows 7

The New Windows Live Writer in Windows 7

Games

1. Carioca Rummy  This is a form of contact rummy that is addicting to play, very addicting.  It is from Chile and is very fun to play.  It is available for Windows 7, Vista, and XP.  You can get it from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=9F295184-A788-49D6-8C7A-966B72C014F7&displaylang=en

Carioca Rummy in Windows 7

Carioca Rummy in Windows 7

 

Come back for more Power Toys and Ultimate Extras soon.

For Non-Microsoft Utilities check out Part 2.

For Utilities from Microsoft check out Part 3.

Install Windows Virtual PC in any version of Windows 7

If you’re like me, you are always installing different operating systems in a virtual machine and testing things out.  I was excited to hear about a new version of Virtual PC but found out that it was only for Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate, or so I thought.  This is the reason I bought Windows 7 Ultimate for my desktop, but my laptop is still Windows 7 Home Premium.  I really wanted to be able to install operating systems on the go as well, so I tried something.

NOTE:  This will not get XP Mode working in every version of Windows 7 just Windows Virtual PC.

If you go to http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=2B6D5C18-1441-47EA-8309-2545B08E11DD&displaylang=en  You will see that Windows Virtual PC is for pretty much all versions of Windows 7.  All you have to do is download it and install it.  It will install just fine in Windows 7 Home Premium

Also, you can install the update that removes the need that your computer support Hardware Assisted Virtualization from here for the 32bit version http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=837f12aa-1d37-464e-ae59-20c9ecbebaf6&displaylang=en and here for the 64-bit version http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=e70dd043-e262-43c0-a002-446567f1e2b4&displaylang=en  Remember to install Windows Virtual PC first.

Now you can use Windows Virtual PC in any Windows 7 versions and on hardware  that does not support Hardware Assisted Virtualization.

Windows Virtual PC installed in Windows 7 Home Premium

Windows Virtual PC installed in Windows 7 Home Premium

All in all, this is not a bad addition to my laptop, It will be nice to use this going forward.  In the future, I will see if XP Mode will work as well.  For now, this is a sweet addition.