No power user runs Windows with just stock settings; the plethora of third-party PC utilities is an embarrassment of riches. But what about Microsoft's own contributions? Tools like SyncToy and Pro Photos are pretty well known, but there's actually a wealth of advanced tools buried in the Sysinternals section of Microsoft's Technet site for IT professionals.
The Sysinternals site hosts some of the most powerful Windows utilities you can find. Yet surprisingly, not too many people know about them, since TechNet is primarily a System Administrator resource. Whether you're looking for more powerful ways to find out what's under the hood of Windows, need help creating VHD images for use with virtualization hosts, or just wanting to play a joke on your co-workers, these little-known utilities have you covered. We cherry pick and explain the features of the ten most useful Sysinternals tools, and then show you the best of the rest.
Read on to dive into this awesome stash of Microsoft-sanctioned tools and tweakers for Windows XP, Vista, and 7!
Google already knows more about you than you probably care to think about. In the not too distant future, they might also know about your power usage patterns. Google’s PowerMeter utility monitoring service has finally found its first partners. First Utility in the UK, and Yello Strom, a German utility, have both signed up to deliver customer usage data to Google (provided the customer agrees).
PowerMeter will collect electricity data every half hour and gas data once a day. Customers can view the aggregated data on the PowerMeter website where it will have been used to generate some nifty graphs and tables. Participating customers will receive the service at no charge.
The hope is that PoweMeter users will be more conscious of their energy use. Yello Strom executive director, Martin Vesper, said of the service, “When people know exactly what is going on with their energy usage, they can use energy efficiently without sacrificing convenience.” Google indicated that PowerMeter is a project from Google.org, Google’s philanthropic foundation. So, would you sign up if you could?
Windows 7 is out, and many of you have gone through the process of upgrading to the new OS with a clean install. And while you'll enjoy the new features like Aero Snap and an ISO burner (finally!), Windows 7 still lacks some basic functionality that we've come to expect from using PCs on a daily basis. For example, cloud storage file syncing and wide compression format compatibility are things we've taken for granted from essential freeware and open-source applications. Here's our list of five utilities that we really wish Microsoft bundled with Windows 7. And if you agree with us, use one of our recommended user-friendly auto-installers to get these apps.
Normally we don’t track every software revision to every overclocking utility on the net, and for good reason. If we did, we wouldn’t get any other work done. The overclocker’s tool kit consists of dozens of applications to vary the speed of the fans, set and modify clocks, and a few more for benchmarking and checking stability. The ability to wrap all these utilities up into a single easy to use application was the goal of AMD when it created its Overdrive Tool, and the new version 2.1.6 delivers some impressive improvements. The new version has several stability and bug fixes as well as support for newer chipsets and full compatibility with Catalyst 9.2.
For those that haven’t been following the utilities development, the goal of the project was to create a single overclocking utility for AMD / ATI customers that would be a one stop utility for tweaking your system. AMD Marketing Manager Sami Maekinen has also released a series of video demonstrations showing how both enthusiasts and novices alike will find everything they need to dial in the best performance.
Have you given the Overdrive utility a spin? If so hit the jump and let us know how it’s been working for you.
You have to admit, Windows is a pretty barebones operating system, feature-wise. After a fresh install of XP or Vista (perhaps following a Clean Start), you're faced with a barren Start Menu and an empty desktop that's beaming with limitless potential. The problem is that it's up to you to hunt and download those applications that you really need in your day-to-day computing experience. And chances are, it's often difficult to find good software that's also free. That's where this guide comes in.
We've put together a list of what we think are the most essential PC apps for every Maximum PC reader. These are all free programs (except one) that should be immediately installed after a fresh build or reformat; 32 indispensable programs and utilities that we couldn't imagine computing without. From the best IM client to FTP browser and Notepad replacement, these essentials truly enhance the Windows experience (much more so than Microsoft's own Windows LIVE Essentials). We're not saying you'd use all 32 entries in our list on a daily basis, but if you are at all serious about utilizing your PC, we promise our picks will not go unused.
And at the end of the feature, we'll even show you how to install these apps in one fell swoop with a special configuration file we've created. Because if it were up to us, this is software that should be bundled with every copy of Windows.
Need to keep your hard drive from being crapped up? Are you a power-downloader with no organizational skills? Do you want to see exactly where the space on your hard drive is going and have your computer automatically shuffle and sort new files around?
You're in luck. We've assembled a batch of freeware utilities that are, without a doubt, the most essential file management tools you'll want to have on your PC. We use them to automate mundane tasks like file moving and deletion, and better still, to determine exactly where all the wasted space on our drives are going. We would kill to have these feature integrated into Windows Explorer, but no dice thus far. But we can't complain much, because we've saved so much time with these small utilities that we can't ever think about going back to a life without them.
If you want a more ringing endorsement, there's only one way you're going to get it. Click the jump and come check out the most time-saving file management tools we've ever found.
Windows Live has come a long way since it was first introduced as a Microsoft brand in 2006. The first wave bolted Hotmail, Messenger, and Spaces into a single download. In last year's second wave, tools like SkyDrive, Events, Photo Gallery, LiveWriter, Calendar, and Family Safety joined the family, along with support for mobile devices. This week, Microsoft rolled out its third wave, adding a new member to the Windows Live family (Movie Maker) and new features to several existing programs (Messenger, Photo Gallery, Writer, Toolbar, and more). We've already told you about the new features in Hotmail, so join us after the jump to find out what's new and improved.
Microsoft has long offered hardware compatibility information for different versions of Windows, including Windows Vista. Remember the Hardware Compatibility List (HCL)? Until now, though, Microsoft has dropped the ball on making software compatibility easy to determine. With a renewed emphasis on marketing and customer satisfaction this summer, Microsoft has now created an easy-to-use one-stop shop for determining which hardware and software products will work with Windows Vista, the Windows Vista Compatibility Center.
For a quick tour of the WVCC, and to learn how you can make it even better, see us after the jump.