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Fun Computing with Windows 7

Fun with Redmond's Latest OS

Guy Thomas

Guy Thomas is the writer and editor of Computer Performance, a site dedicated to computer hardware and software maintenance and troubleshooting since 1996. He currently resides in England.

Windows 7 Brings Fun Back to Computing

It can take a lot of hard work and frustration to keep Windows Vista running smoothly, whereas Windows 7 is proving to be a real joy to use. I have a selection of fun new features, which illustrate why Windows 7 is a smarter operating system than Vista, and a more up-to-date alternative to XP.

Fun Tips for Microsoft Windows 7

My friend 'Mad' Mick and I each drew up a list of our favorite features in Windows 7.  We agreed that these lists would have only fun items, (a more heavy-weight list of what's new in Windows 7 is at the end).

Guy's Windows 7 Favorites

  1. Windows 7 has lots of enhancements for laptops.  One of the lesser known examples of this smarter behavior is: 'Change my default printer when I change networks'.  To take advantage of this feature, launch the Control Panel, navigate to Devices and Printers, then look for a heading called: 'Manage default printers'.
  2. Interested in your laptop's battery efficiency? "PowerCfg -energy" is a new command that lets you check your laptop's battery, and can help you see if the battery is maintaining a charge.
  3. Aero Graphics now has Aero Shake (Title bar) and Aero Snap (Side-by-side panes).  [Mad Mick thinks these 'features' are bugs, Guy believes they really are by design].
  4. PowerShell v2.0 is built-in.  It makes command-line configuring easier, especially when connecting to remote machines.
  5. In Event Viewer look for: 'Attach a task to this log'.  It provides a convenient way to be updated when you're troubleshooting a specific problem.  Incidentally, Task manager has a Services tab.
  6. 'Perfmon /report' lets you see if any of your drivers need updating.
  7. Picture preview.  This is another tiny feature, but makes it so much easier to get just the right thumbnail size.  Visit the Picture Library, click the Preview icon, now resize the vertical bar by getting the double-headed arrow - magic! 

Mick's Windows 7 Favorites

  1. Libraries.  These provide a portal, or an index page for all your documents, pictures, etc.  You could say a library hides a myriad of disparate locations, or you could say libraries group like-minded folders. 
  2. WinKey +x launches the Mobility Center, which makes it easier to manage the projector for your PowerPoint Presentations, especially if you have an external display.
  3. The Notification Area is better at keeping out bully applications.  Also, the firewall is easier to configure.
  4. Common sense has returned to the built-in backup, Vista's restrictions are removed, and once again, we have flexibility of what to backup.
  5. The new WordPad will open .docx files, thus you don't need Office 2007.  In addition, the Snipping tool allows you to capture and save screenshots easily.
  6. The Calculator now has a view for converting inches to millimetres and gallons to cubic centimetres. No more using Google to convert from the Metric system!
  7. 'Open command window here'.  This was formerly a 'Power Tool', but is now available when you hold shift+right-click any folder in Windows Explorer.

Everyone I meet enthuses about a different area of Windows 7.  While you may think that some of these items are trivial, you cannot deny the wealth of intelligent new features.  It's as though Microsoft has polished each component, and the result is fewer rough-edges and a return to a sense of fun when you compute on a Windows 7 machine.  This is in contrast to Vista where it seemed that each person found a new source of frustration.