Five Nice Innovations in the Latest Windows Operating System (OS)

Windows Vista never quite caught on the way that Microsoft had hoped. The User Account Control (UAC) feature, which was supposed to enhance security by prompting users before allowing many programs to open, instead proved such an Microsoft Windows 7 Logoannoyance that users simply shut it off – leaving them more vulnerable than when they started. The “simplified” User Interface (UI), with its ribbons and tabs, mystified die-hard devotees of the old drop-down menu system. And the System Tray’s myriad of unused applets that acted, as one reviewer put it, “like belligerent squatters,” only added to the frustration (http://www.pcworld.com/article/172602/windows_7_review.html).

The Windows 7 OS, in contrast, has had a much more favorable public reception. Here are a few key changes that have reviewers cheering:

  1. Faster feel. Users find that applications in Windows 7 open more quickly, and they don’t spend as much time waiting for processes to complete.
  2. Libraries. It’s much easier to find documents in Windows 7. The new Libraries function in Windows Explorer lets you create a virtual location that can aggregate content from several locations at once. You can put network folders, SharePoint documents, and regular folders in your Documents Library, giving you quick access even to documents that are tucked away under several organizational layers.
  3. Easy switching between Wi-Fi networks. Just click on the Wi-Fi adapter in your system tray to bring up a menu of available wireless networks, select the one you want to connect to, and you’re done.
  4. User Account Control (UAC) without annoyances. You can now tweak UAC so that it’s actually helpful. Instead of just an on/off, where your choice is to be forever pestered by repetitive prompts or leave yourself open to the perils of the Internet, you can adjust the level of security you want. Two intermediate levels now exist between the “Always notify” and “Never notify” settings.
  5. A simpler System Tray. The big problem with the System Tray in Vista was that software installers could just dump applets in there without your approval. This led to cluttered System Trays and flurries of word balloons every time you accidentally moused over the area. In Windows 7, applets (except for the clock) don’t go directly into the System Tray; they land in a holding pen and have to be dragged to the System Tray. And they can’t float word balloons unless you permit them.

These are just a few of our favorite features in the new Windows 7.  Which ones do you like best?  Any improvements you hope to see in the next release?

Playing God in Windows 7

Hate clicking around through the Control Panel in Windows as much as I do?

Enter Windows 7 God Mode.

Windows 7 God Mode

You’re just a couple of clicks away from having access to all Control Panel options in a single folder.  Read the quick (less than 5 minutes, literally) CNET tutorial and go work your magic.

Give Your Documents a Uniform Look with Themes

A nice feature of Office 2007 is that you can make documents from several different programs – Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook – all have the same look and feel. Whereas in the past you’d have to alter the color and style of every table, chart, and shape in every document separately, you can now just select a theme that takes care of all those details automatically.

For example, here’s a simple chart using the theme called Office:

Windows 7 tips, themes

Here’s that same chart using the theme called Perspective:

Windows 7 tips, themes

As you can see, the theme affects the font, color, shading, and shadow effects. And because it’s available in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, your chart will look the same no matter what program it appears in – and all the other charts you use will have a similar look.

The Themes gallery is accessible from the Formatting Palette. To create your own custom theme, you can open up a given theme and then alter the font, colors, and effects, and then save as a new theme. Just use the customization settings to the right of the thumbnailed themes, visible in the screen shot below.

Windows 7 tips, themes

Vista’s Instant Search Uncovers Information Wherever It’s Stored

If you’re on a pre-Vista operating system, you know how restrictive and clunky the old Microsoft search tool can be. Accessed as “Find” under the Start menu, the tool can’t look at the content within files and does not extend to emails.
Microsoft has taken that search tool and vastly improved its capabilities in Vista. Now called Instant Search, it’s accessed right from the Start menu and looks across file types, formats, and content to give you rapid access to the information you need. Now instead of looking separately for all the emails and documents associated with a particular project, you can bring them up in a snap. You don’t have to choose between wading manually through endless file trees or waiting as the search bar churns, finally spitting out “No result” to a file you know is lurking somewhere. Instant Search starts looking as soon as you start typing.

Instant Search is contextual, which means it will look first in the applications and files you access most frequently. And it will group results by the type of asset it finds – whether it’s a program, web site, document, or email. Click here to learn more about Instant Search: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/features/details/instantsearch.mspx
It’s a great little feature so don’t forget about it if you have already upgraded to Vista. If you haven’t, contact us to help create the right strategy for your business. Windows 7 will be released this fall and upgrading will only be possible if you are already running Vista. Contact CMIT Solutions to get started!