Some of my favorite kinds of freeware apps to find (and install) are the ones that build new functionality into the Windows operating system. I'm running Windows 7 right now, but even this latest version of Microsoft's OS has substantial room for third-party improvements.
It's not difficult to find free or open-source apps to boost the common interactions one has with one's operating system. The tough part is in the classification: I'm really not sure how to best lump this week's applications together, save for the fact that they're all awesome ways to enhance Windows with new and useful features. And I'm not talking about super-complex, command-line scripts or what-have-you. No, these apps are all super-easy to use-if you even see them at all, given that most will modify some form of your Windows OS without needing any further interaction past the installation screen.
Anyway, if you can think of a better way to classify this week's Freeware Files other than, "Apps that Make Windows Rock," I'm all ears. Otherwise, click the jump and get ready to take your operating system to new places!
After installing a new OS, most people just jump right in and start driving it through all their favorite applications and games. Makes sense, right? The operating system, after all, should be a background player in the computing experience—a means to an end, with the end being web surfing, content editing, and wanton destruction in the first-person shooter of one’s choice.
The problem, however, is that most people, even a lot of self-described power users, never take the time to really tune the new OS, exploring its menus and setting up the interface for the fastest, most convenient operation based on personal preferences. And as operating systems offer more and more user controls, it’s the curious, performance-minded enthusiast who has the most to gain from tuning an OS to his or her liking.
It’s been about six months since Windows 7 hit the market, so we figure most of our readers have made their upgrades. For those who’ve made that jump, we present a bottle of our favorite Windows 7 tips, each designed to help you extract the very last bits of convenience and GUI-navigating performance from your own personal dream machine. And if you haven’t yet upgraded to Win7, we trust you will after reading this article, as its core features—let alone its actual Lab-benchmarked performance—kicks Vista and XP ass.
We close out our tuning session with a tip designed to supercharge the process of installing the OS. By loading Windows 7 onto a USB key, and making that key a bootable drive, you can do an end-run around slow optical-drive technology and install your OS in (pardon the pun) a flash.
It’s time to get started. Park your computer, but don’t shut down. This is one PC tune-up that can only be done with your engine running.
Of interest to anyone with a touchscreen display, Microsoft this week announced the release of its Touch Pack for Windows 7. Prior to the public release, the Touch Pack was only available for OEMs, but is now up for grabs for anyone.
The Touch Pack is a 240MB download and includes a few apps to help show off what Windows 7 can do with touch gestures as well as get users acquainted with how it all works. The freebie software is divided into three casual games and three Microsoft Surface apps, all of which have been created for Windows 7.
No surprise here, the software requires a Windows 7 PC or a multitouch monitor that support Windows Touch in Windows 7. Could something like this give upcoming Windows 7-based tablets -- like HP's Slate -- a leg up on the competition?
An year ago, when the PC industry was retreating in the face of a rampant financial tsunami, Microsoft wrote a bit of history, albeit for all the wrong reasons. It registered its maiden year-on-year revenue decline back then. But now that an economic recovery is well underway, Microsoft is riding a wave of its own – the Windows 7 wave. The company posted its third-quarter results on Thursday.
During the quarter ended Mar. 31, 2010, its earnings reached $4.01 billion after rising 35% as compared to the the previous year. Revenue also registered an increase of 6% and reached $14.50 billion. The strong showing can safely be attributed to Windows 7, which is “by far the fastest-selling operating system in history.”
“Windows 7 continues to be a growth engine, but we also saw strong growth in other areas like Bing search, Xbox LIVE and our emerging cloud services,” said Microsoft CFO Peter Klein. “Our record third-quarter revenue along with continued rigor on cost management resulted in exceptional EPS growth.”
It is important to note that Microsoft has chosen to defer $305 million of revenue from its Office productivity suite. This is due to the fact that these Office sales are covered by the ongoing Microsoft Office 2010 Technology Guarantee program.
I have an Intel Core i7-940 coupled with an Asus P6T Deluxe motherboard and 6GB of Super Talent DDR3/1333 memory. My OS is 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium with Creative’s X-Fi XtremeGamer soundcard. I bought an upgrade version of Windows 7 and ran the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor; it said my audio device was not compatible. I downloaded the new Creative drivers and still got the same message. I have looked all over the Internet for a fix and I see a lot of people having the same problems with X-Fi cards.
Read the Doctor's answer to William's question after the jump.
No one has seen much of the HP Slate until now. The ten seconds Steve Ballmer fumbled with it at CES 2010 don't really count as a debut, but someone at Conecti.ca has finally spent some real time with the device. Conecti.ca managed a quick hands-on and review. The verdict is a decidedly ambivalent one. Certainly not the response HP would have liked for their supposed iPad killer.
The HP Slate is a keyboardless touchscreen tablet with an 8.9-inch screen that rocks an Atom CPU. In every way that matters, it's a netbook without a keyboard. This is often cited as a strength, but the reviewers point out that it's also the Slate's biggest weakness. While it runs Flash and any Windows app you care to use, the touch interface on Windows 7 makes the device hard to use. HP has made a special finger-friendly graphical front-end, but much of the device's functionality is lost in it. The device also has a dock with HDMI, USB ports, and a kickstand.
It's unlikely this first salvo will sink the unicorn pad, and we're not sure it needs to be sunk. There's still a lot to learn about the new tablet market. Would you consider purchasing the HP Slate? If not, what would you need to see in a tablet to convince you?
Virtualization specialist Parallels said it will release software that will facilitate the upgrade process from Windows XP or Vista to Windows 7 using, what else, virtualization technology.
Called "Parallels Desktop Upgrade to Windows 7," the product will go on sale next month for $49 with a high-speed USB cable bundled in, or $39 for just the software.
"Parallels Desktop Upgrade to Windows 7 provides a simple and safe solution for Windows XP and Vista customers who want to successfully move to Windows 7 but may be overwhelmed by the process," Parallels CEO Serguel Beloussov said in a statement. "Whether people are refreshing an existing PC or moving to a new PC, all their programs, files, and user settings are automatically moved."
Microsoft may be as happy as anyone about the tool, as the software giant looks to push Windows 7 to more customers. And while it's true that Microsoft already has its own utility for moving data and settings during a Windows 7 upgrade, users sill need to re-install all their apps.
Tech site GeekSmack.net claims to have obtained a beta release of Microsoft's upcoming Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 and has posted the first screenshots of the build.
While we don't recommend it, for those of you who want to go gallivanting around the web looking for the same beta, GeekSmack says the full build string is 6.1.7601.16537.amd64fre.win7.100327-0053.
"The install process is much of what you would expect from a service pack installer, but one thing I noticed is that the installation is MUCH faster than the install process for service packs on Vista was, which is a very welcome change," TechSmack noted.
There are a bunch of screenshots to gawk at, including a few from after the service pack was applied. Looks legit, and falls in line with Microsoft recently announcing that service packs for both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 were forthcoming. According to Microsoft, SP1 for Windows 7 would mostly contain "minor updates."
Microsoft is having a Windows conference in May, but don’t get your hopes up, no Windows 8 news is expected. The so-called Windows Summit is designed to help software and hardware makers to develop products and services that work well with the current versions of Windows and Internet Explorer. The Three day event is currently scheduled for May 25-27.
According to a Microsoft statement to Cnet, they are looking to attract developers “who are looking to engage with Microsoft on an intimate level or who haven't engaged with Microsoft in the past 18 months.” Sounds awkward. A (hopefully not as awkward) keynote will be given by Microsoft General Manager Mike Angiulo. Registration for the event will cost $399.
The conference will probably not contain any big news, to our dismay. Attendees are not even required to sign non-disclosure agreements. It seems like Microsoft is looking to reach out to new developers, and encourage them to work on Windows 7 and IE8. We have an idea how Microsoft could get said developers fired up. It involves a certain sweaty CEO pumping his fists and chanting “developers”. Who wouldn’t love that?
More details may have leaked out regarding the upcoming HP Slate. Spanish site Clipset appears to have gotten pricing information from HP itself pointing to a €400 price. That converts to $546, but direct conversions rarely hold up. In fact, it is possible the HP Slate may come in under the price of the entry level iPad.
The HP Slate is expected to be and Atom-based device running Windows 7. As such, there will be Flash support, a memory card reader, a web cam, and USB connectivity. It is basically has all the things people wanted the iPad to have; we’ll have to see how successful that combination really is. The official launch should happen sometime in June, with retail availability by late summer in Europe. Hopefully that means an earlier launch in the US.