Adjusting to the Windows 7 Interface

The basic building blocks of the Windows interface have remained unchanged for years, with only relatively minor tweaks to break the familiar routine. With Windows 7, those familiar pieces get the biggest makeover they’ve had since the turn of the century.

The basic layout of the Windows taskbar is the same as it has been for more than a decade: a Start button on the left side, a clock and some small icons on the opposite side, and room in between for buttons that represent programs.

By default, those taskbar buttons are noticeably bigger than the ones you’re accustomed to from earlier Windows versions.They also serve a dual purpose: to start up programs and to switch between running application windows. You can pin shortcuts to the taskbar so that they’re always available (even when the program they represent isn’t running) and drag buttons left or right to reorder them.

When you move your mouse over a taskbar button that represents a running program, the Aero interface shows you a live thumbnail preview of every window associated with that button. Hover the mouse over a preview, and a nifty new feature called Aero Peek hides other windows to show you only the one you’ve highlighted. Move the mouse away from the preview and Windows restores your desktop.

For programs that support lists of recently opened files, you can right-click to display a Jump List. You can “pin” frequently used items to this list as well so that they’re always available.

Every Windows user has, at some point in their computing lifetime, watched in horror as the number of icons in the notification area rose to double digits and threatened to over-whelm the rest of the taskbar. In Windows 7, notifications are hidden by default. You can customize individual notifications so that they’re always visible, or click the arrow to the left of the visible icons to reveal and work with the collection of hidden icons. In the Notifica¬tion Area Icons dialog box, you can adjust each icon’s behavior indi¬vidually or use the links at the bottom of the dialog box to globally change the appearance and behavior of this area.

Arguably, personalizing the Windows environment with custom desktop backgrounds, sounds, and screen savers has only a minor impact on productivity. But those tweaks are still psychologically important. In Windows 7, the entire collection of personalization set-tings is consolidated in a single dialog box.

Source of Information : Microsoft Press - Windows 7 Inside Out

Multibooting Windows 7

In today’s world of advanced OSs and low hard-disk prices, it certainly is not unusual for some users to experiment with different OSs. The world of consumer computing is ripe with many options. Along with just plain curiosity and experimentation, here are other good reasons to switch among or between OSs:

• Many users use two or more OSs because of application-compatibility issues. Hardware support issues occur, too: Windows 2000 and Windows XP might have drivers for older hardware that Windows 7 doesn’t support.

• Some users want to run specific applications or games in an optimal environment for their use.

• A developer might swap among Windows XP Professional, Windows Vista, and maybe even several different versions of Windows 7, to test application compatibility.

• Website developers need to use different OS versions to see how pages look and behave with corresponding web browser versions.

Other than buying multiple computers, there are two ways to accommodate such needs. You can multiboot (that is, select the desired OS at bootup) or you can run one OS in a “virtual” computer inside another OS (that is, in a special application program that lets the alternate OS think it’s running on a PC of its own). A “virtual” approach can be quite useful. Windows 7 uses a boot scheme introduced with Windows Vista based on so-called “Boot Configuration Data,” usually abbreviated as BCD. BCD is more complex than and incompatible with the boot scheme used in previous versions of Windows. While Windows 2000 and XP let you set up a boot menu from which you could select any version of Windows, as well as other OSs, Windows 7’s boot menu only lets you select Windows Vista or 7 versions, or “something else,” and all “something else” selections must be managed separately.

As a result of the boot manager changes, if you want to set up a computer that can boot several different versions of Windows and/or other OSs, you need to follow these guidelines:

• You must install each OS into a separate disk volume (drive letter). To get these separate volumes, you can create multiple partitions on one disk drive, or use multiple disk drives, or a combination of these two organizing principles.

• If you install multiple versions of Windows 7 on the same computer, the same rule applies: You must install each version in a separate disk volume. (If you do install multiple versions of Windows 7, see the “Editing Windows 7 Boot Menu Entries.)

• Install versions of Windows starting with the oldest and working toward the newest. For example, to set up a computer that can boot into Windows Me, Windows XP, and Windows 7, install Me first, then XP, then Windows 7.

• To install OSs other than Windows, such as Linux, you might need a boot manager that can recognize all the different OSs in use. Linux offers a choice of several different boot managers. Their use is beyond the scope of this book, but you should be able to find instructions on the Web for multibooting Linux and Windows 7.

To create a multiboot installation on a computer that already has Windows Vista installed, follow this procedure

1. Insert the Windows 7 DVD into your computer’s DVD-ROM drive. It should AutoPlay and present the Install Windows dialog box. If not, locate the setup.exe program in the Sources folder on the DVD, and double-click it. (Alternatively, you can restart your computer and boot from the DVD.)

2. To download, install, and use the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, as detailed previously, click the Check Compatibility Online link. Otherwise, to begin the in-place upgrade to Windows 7, click the Install Now link.

3. In the Get Important Updates for Installation dialog box, you are asked whether you want to download updates to the Windows 7 install files. Typically, for computers that have an active Internet connection, you are better off getting the updates. Make your selection by clicking it.

4. In the Please Read the License Terms dialog box, ensure that you read and understand the End User Licensing Agreement (EULA). When you’re ready, select the I Accept the License Terms option, and click Next to continue.

5. In the Type Your Product Key for Activation dialog box, you are asked to enter your Windows 7 product key. Enter the key and ensure that the Automatically Activate Windows When I’m Online option is checked, to enable Windows Product Activation. After entering the product key, click Next to continue.

6. In the Which Type of Installation Do You Want? dialog box, select Custom (Advanced) because here you’re performing a clean, multiboot installation of Windows 7, not an upgrade.

7. In the Where Do You Want to Install Windows? dialog box, select the partition into which you’ll install Windows 7. This must be a partition that does not already have a version of Windows installed on it. When you’re ready to proceed, click Next.

8. Follow the rest of the procedure described previously under “Typical Clean Setup Procedure,” from step 6 on through the end.

9. If you plan on installing another version of Windows 7 on this same computer, skip ahead to the“Editing Windows 7 Boot Menu Entries” section at the end of this chapter to rename the current version’s title in the boot menu.

10. You can check out the new Windows 7 boot menu, on the next restart of your computer.

The Skinny on Boot Scheme Changes
Here’s a rough sketch of what’s changed: In the boot scheme used by the Intel x86 versions of Windows 2000 and XP, the boot partition’s boot sector program loaded ntldr, which read the menu file boot.ini, and then loaded Windows. Aside from the boot sector, all of the stuff was in “super hidden” files (files marked with the system and hidden attributes), stored in the root directory. The Windows Vista and Windows 7 boot sectors load a file called bootmgr from the root directory, which loads a set of programs and DLLs in the \boot folder, which then reads the BCD file (actually a Registry hive), and then loads Windows. The BCD hive is also loaded into and visible in the Windows Registry after bootup. In a Windows 7 multiboot configuration, the root directory file bootsect.bak is a copy of the pre–Windows 7 boot sector (XP’s version of the boot sector).
Choosing “Legacy” from the Windows 7 boot menu loads and runs the original boot sector program, which carries on as before.

The reason for making this change was to create a common boot system that would work on both BIOS-based computers and computers using the newer EFI configuration system (built around Intel’s Extensible Firmware Interface). The impact of this new scheme is that the Windows 7 boot menu can offer only Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008 versions, where anything using the older boot loader gets lumped under the “Legacy” entry. The boot.ini file is used only to list and load non-BCD operating systems.

Source of Information : QUE Microsoft Windows in Depth

Upgrading Older Versions of Windows to Windows 7

Although doing a new installation of Windows 7 is almost always the best plan, you might prefer to perform an in-place upgrade on your computer. Before you attempt any in-place upgrade to Windows 7, perform the following tasks:

• Ensure that a valid, working backup exists of all important data and other files stored on your computer.

• Ensure that your hardware meets the requirements.

• Run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor to verify that your hardware and software environment is ready for an upgrade. Take special note of any software issues, such as drivers needing updates for Windows 7. Be sure to print a copy of the Upgrade Advisor’s final report so you’ll have it handy after the Windows 7 upgrade installation has completed.

Windows 7 supports only a few in-place upgrade paths, and only for Vista (32-bit to 32-bit only, and 64-bit to 64-bit only):
• Windows Vista Home Premium to Windows 7 Home Premium
• Windows Vista Business to Windows 7 Professional
• Windows Vista Ultimate (or Enterprise) to Windows 7 Ultimate (or Enterprise)

Other versions of Windows don’t support in-place upgrades, so you’ll have to do clean installs for all the following items:
• Windows XP (all versions)—An upgrade license from XP to Windows 7 will be available from Microsoft, but requires users to perform a clean install (information is not yet available on source and target mappings for Windows XP and Windows 7, nor about pricing).
• Windows 2000—Requires a clean install for any installation of Windows 7.
• Windows 95/98/Me—Requires a clean install for any installation of Windows 7.

The process to perform an in-place upgrade from an already installed instance of Windows Vista is as follows:

1. Insert the Windows 7 DVD into your computer’s DVD-ROM drive. It should AutoPlay and present the Install Windows dialog box. If not, locate the setup.exe program in the Sources folder on the DVD and double-click it.

2. To download, install, and use the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, as detailed previously, click the Check Compatibility Online link. Otherwise, to begin an in-place upgrade to Windows 7, click the Install Now link.

3. In the Get Important Updates for Installation dialog box, decide whether to download updates to the Windows 7 install files. Typically, for computers with an active Internet connection, you’re better off getting the updates. Make your selection by clicking it.

4. In the Please Read the License Terms dialog box, ensure that you read and understand the End User Licensing Agreement (EULA). When you’re ready, select the I Accept the License Terms option, and click Next to continue.

5. In the Type Your Product Key for Activation dialog box, you are asked to enter your Windows 7 product key. Enter the key and ensure that the Automatically Activate Windows When I’m Online option is checked, to enable Windows Product Activation. After entering the product key, click Next to continue.

6. In the Which Type of Installation Do You Want? dialog box, select Upgrade because here you’re performing an in-place upgrade of Windows Vista.

7. In the Compatibility Report dialog box, note what items Windows 7 Setup flags as needing attention after the installation is complete. When you’re ready to proceed, click Next.

8. The Upgrading Windows dialog box appears and gives you an updated status of the upgrade process.

9. You are next asked to select the regional options for the Windows 7 installation. Make your selections and click Next to continue.

10. After some time, your computer restarts and the newly installed Windows 7 loads. Windows 7 resumes the installation process. Windows typically restarts once more before it finally completes the installation process.

11. In the Help Protect Your Computer and Improve Windows Automatically dialog box, you are asked how to configure the base security for Windows 7. In most cases, you should select Use Recommended Settings. Make your selection by clicking it.

12. In the Review Your Time and Date Setting dialog box, select your time zone, daylight savings option, and current date. Click Finish to complete the upgrade.

13. After a few more minutes, you are finally presented with your brand new Windows 7 login screen. You’ve completed the upgrade to Windows 7.

Source of Information : QUE Microsoft Windows in Depth

Windows 7 Hardware Requirements

Let’s start with the basics. The principal (and minimal) hardware requirements for running Windows 7 are as follows: With Windows 7, Microsoft defines two different levels of minimum hardware requirements. In a sense, though, this is something that most power users routinely do for themselves. Microsoft defines these levels as Windows 7 Minimum and Windows 7 Recommended. A Windows 7 Minimum computer is one that meets the minimum requirements listed here. Although Windows 7 runs on a computer with these specifications, the experience is less positive compared to running Windows 7 on a computer that meets Recommended levels. The Windows 7 Minimum hardware requirements are as follows:

• At least 800MHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
• 512MB of RAM
• A video card capable of at least 800×600 resolution and DirectX 9 with at least 32MB of graphics RAM
• A DVD drive
• Audio output capability
• A hard drive that is at least 40GB in total size, with at least 16GB of free space

These are Microsoft’s suggested minimums, not what provides satisfactory or exceptional performance. Even so, some users report installing Windows 7 on less powerful machines. Microsoft tries to frame minimum requirements that deliver performance that average users can live with. As its Minimum specifications now indicate, you’ll want at least 32MB of video RAM to allow your system to choose 24- and 32-bit color depths at 1024×768 resolution, and sound circuitry that works with Windows Media Player.

By comparison, here are the Windows 7 Recommended specifications:
• A 1GHz (or faster) 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
• A minimum of 1GB of RAM
• A video card that supports DirectX 9 graphics with a WDDM driver and has at least 128MB of graphics memory
• Video card support for Pixel Shader 2.0 and 32 bits per pixel
• A hard drive that is at least 80GB in total size, with at least 40GB of free space
• A DVD drive
• Audio output capability
• Internet connectivity for product activation

Based on what’s available these days, you don’t have to pay too much for a machine that runs Windows 7 quite nicely. Despite rapid de-escalation in prices and remarkable increases in computing speed, putting together a machine to run Windows 7 successfully for your needs might not be as easy as you think. Whenever I build a new system, I’m always surprised by twists I hadn’t considered, new hardware standards I didn’t know about, and so on. In general, I believe that buying a complete, preconfigured system is smarter than building one from parts that you buy from separate manufacturers, unless you are a serious hardware geek. You probably know the story.

Given plummeting prices for CPUs and RAM, you could upgrade your CPU and motherboard, or just get a whole new system for Windows 7. The price wars between Intel and AMD might be brutal on those corporations, but consumers are big winners. You can find 2GHz–3GHz desktop computers with 320GB or larger hard disks and 3GB of RAM for under $400 as I write this.

Source of Information : QUE Microsoft Windows in Depth

Windows 7 on the Corporate Network

Because Windows 7 Professional is designed as a replacement for Windows XP Professional and Vista, it is designed to work well on corporate networks. Thus, it contains all the network and security features of Windows XP Professional and Vista, including these:

• Support for IP Security (IPSec), to protect data being transmitted across VPNs
• Kerberos v5 support for authentication
• Group Policy settings for administering networks and users
• Roaming user profiles to let users see their own files and preference settings on any computer
• Offline viewing of network data when not connected to the network
• Synchronization of local and network files
• Easy dial-up and VPN networking setup, plus Remote Desktop Connection, DirectAccess, and more
• Support for Active Directory (Microsoft’s directory service feature that helps manage users and resources on large networks)
• Disk quotas, to prevent a few storage-hog users from running the server out of space
• Internet Information Services, including FTP, World Wide Web service, and scriptable management interfaces
• Fax services for sending and receiving faxes
• Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) support
• Print services for UNIX

However, if you want to enjoy the maximum possible feature set, choose Windows 7 Ultimate Edition. It is equally at home in corporate networks and as a part of a home entertainment system.

Source of Information : QUE Microsoft Windows in Depth

Differences Among Windows 7 Versions

Windows 7 comes in six basic versions in the U.S. market:
• Windows 7 Starter
• Windows 7 Home Basic
• Windows 7 Home Premium
• Windows 7 Professional
• Windows 7 Enterprise
• Windows 7 Ultimate

Although all versions contain the same integrated applications and many of the same multimedia features, Professional and Enterprise editions include greater security and emphasize the needs of the business sector (Enterprise is available only through special corporate licensing agreements, not via retail). The Starter version is available only pre-installed on low-end PCs (primarily netbook PCs). Home versions emphasize the multimedia experience. For the buyer who has to have it all, the Ultimate version leaves nothing out.

Furthermore, 64-bit versions are available for all platforms. As of this writing, most users will be running the x86 code base because their computers have 4GB or less RAM installed. But as more computers begin to ship with 4GB or more RAM installed, that will change. Then 64-bit CPUs, such as AMD’s Athlon 64 and Opteron, or Intel’s Core Duo and i7 families, can take advantage of their speed and other enhancements. The 64-bit versions use an emulation layer called WOW64 to run Win32-based applications, although, for best performance, Microsoft recommends using 32-bit software on 32-bit Windows systems. The emulation feature enables organizations to use their Itanium-based systems with existing Windows applications until they create 64-bit versions created internally or purchase them from software vendors.

Available in all Windows 7 versions are Aero Snap, Windows Flip, Jump Lists, more granular UAC, Action Center, Windows Defender, Windows Firewall, Parental Controls, Windows ReadyDrive, Windows ReadyBoost, SuperFetch, 64-bit support, unlimited processor core support, Windows Backup, System Image, disk defragmentation, create and attach VHD, IE 8, Windows Gadgets and Gallery, basic games, Windows Photo Viewer, basic photo slideshows, Windows Media Player 12, AAC and H.264 decoding, Device Stage, Sync Center, 20 SMB connections, Network and Sharing Center, improved power management, connect to projector, remote desktop, and RSS support.

Certain limitations apply to 64-bit Windows versions. For example, there is no Win16 or MS-DOS support, so you cannot run 16-bit Windows (3.x and 9x) or DOS applications.
You might occasionally encounter issues with availability of 64-bit device drivers for the 64-bit platform. Many experts believe that home/small office users should install the 32-bit version of Windows 7 even if they have x64 processors, and should use the 64-bit versions only if they must run specific 64-bit apps with huge memory requirements (such as Adobe PhotoShop or Flash Professional). We think the dawn of the 64-bit age has finally started, and with Windows 7 you can go either way (32- or 64-bit, that is).

Source of Information : QUE Microsoft Windows in Depth

Windows 7 Entertainment

A few odds and ends in the entertainment department are worth noting. Though this is not the full list, these are the notables:

• Media Center versions—The Ultimate and Home Premium editions include Media Center, including support for Media Center Extender and Media Center Games. Media Center, just as in Vista (or in XP Media Center Edition), marries to a specific kind of computer that meets Media Center specifications. As always, Media Center PCs are designed for home entertainment, are typically more quiet than normal PCs, and come with remote controls and other goodies. They can connect easily to projectors and TV sets so you can record and watch TV, see slick slideshows of your digital images, watch movies, listen to your MP3 songs, and so on, all using a hand-held remote control. Windows 7 Media Center supports improved HDTV recording (if you have an HDTV source, that is) and built-in Blu-ray playback support. It has a better menuing system that is easier to navigate, and handles multiple displays (usually HDTV set and PC monitor) much better than Vista or XP Media Center versions.

• Launch TV from Start menu—You can put Media Center at the head of the Start menu, or on the taskbar, and use its Jump List features to see (and play back) recently recorded shows, as well as regularly used features and commands.

• Floating Media Center gadget—Drop this gadget on your desktop, and you don’t even need to hit the Start menu or taskbar to access Media Center commands and controls.

• Copy remote content—When browsing several media libraries (Music, Videos, Pictures, and so on) you can view or save content for later use by instructing Windows 7 to make a copy. As long as no digital rights restrictions adhere to the item you choose, it gets copied to your local hard disk, where you can play it back at your leisure.

• Play to streaming media—In a long-overdue move, Windows 7 adds support for DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) devices to Media Center. This gives the OS the information it needs to enroll any DLNA devices on your network in its database, whereupon it can push media to that device on your command (given multiple DLNA devices on a network, things get even more interesting in that Windows 7 Media Center can pull the stream from one DLNA device and play it back itself, or push it to another DLNA devices instead). This makes streaming media on home networks with Media Center much easier and, in fact, fun. Good job, Microsoft!

• Windows Media Player 12—Windows Media Player 12 comes standard with Windows 7. It has numerous new features, including support for Libraries. It also supports numerous mediastreaming options, including local network and Internet-based access to your media collection. Version 12 doesn’t represent quite the facelift we saw in version 11, but there are some nice changes here for mediaphiles.

Source of Information : QUE Microsoft Windows in Depth

Windows 7 New, Improved Applications and Services

Windows 7 makes numerous additions to its applications and services arsenal, including the following:

• Multitouch support—Vista added Tablet PC support for Business, Enterprise, Home Premium, and Ultimate Editions. Windows 7 builds on this platform with support for Multitouch, a way to use visual gestures on touchscreens to instruct Windows 7 what to do, and how to behave. To better understand this capability, watch the Microsoft video demo at

• PowerShell 2.0—PowerShell is a scripting language that you can use to automate just about anything that Windows can do, especially at the command line. With Vista, you can download and install PowerShell 1.1 from the Windows Download Center; PowerShell 2.0—which is both more powerful and more flexible than 1.x versions—is bundled as part of Windows 7. Check out the PowerShell Pro demo at for all the details.

• Windows Live access—Whereas earlier versions of Windows, including both XP and Vista, included e-mail, messaging, photo handling, and address book functionality as part of the OS, Windows 7 pushes all this functionality onto the Internet. Although registration is required, you can use Windows Live for all kinds of activities for free. Check it out at

• Windows XP Mode—For compatibility with legacy applications that work in Windows XP, users of Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate can all download the free Windows XP Mode package. It not only provides a tailored version of Microsoft Virtual PC with a pre-fab Windows XP virtual hard disk (VHD), it also provides a free license for the XP OS you run inside that machine. Designed to make it easy to run older applications that don’t work on Vista or Windows 7, this utility makes it easy to keep older code operational in a virtual machine.

• WordPad—This venerable alternative to Microsoft Word comes free with modern Windows versions and gets a complete makeover in Windows 7. Whereas the older versions let you read and work with DOC files, this latest version also understands XML-based formats (DOCX) and provides a ribbon interface that looks and behaves very much like (a stripped-down version of) Word 2007.

Source of Information : QUE Microsoft Windows in Depth

Windows 7 System Management and Stability

Stability is probably the most important issue when considering whether to upgrade to a new OS or buy a computer with it installed. Early adopters have a choice about this, but as an OS becomes ubiquitous and new PCs come with it already installed, we must make peace with the thing. After the likes of Windows Me (we liked to call it Windows 666), the real question we always want answered is, “Does it crash less?” Windows 7 has some pretty impressive anticrash technology. Think of them as antilock brakes and airbags for your computer:

• Manage AutoPlay feature for CD/DVD—With the recent introduction of malware that exploits Windows AutoPlay to install itself on unprotected systems, Microsoft made some important changes to AutoPlay behavior. You can now instruct the OS to prompt you for permission before automatically running programs from an optical disc, which you may wish to deny for untrusted media on systems that don’t yet have anti-malware software installed. A nasty variant introduced a Trojan horse into the Windows 7 setup.exe file on some BitTorrent sites while the operating system was still in pre-release, in fact. If you must run an ISO or other bootable DVD on an unprotected system, be sure to scan the media or the ISO image on another protected system first and only run those that are provably clean on vulnerable PCs.

• Improved notification area displays—Windows 7 presents quicker, easier access to key status and troubleshooting information in its notification area. Most notably, this includes the Action Center, which unifies security, troubleshooting, and maintenance alerts in a single window.

• Automated third-party troubleshooting—Microsoft opened up its Help and Support APIs to third-party vendors for Windows 7. This might not sound like a big deal, but it means that vendors can build their own troubleshooting utilities, then plug them directly into the Help and Support environment. In the best cases, which we hope includes most responsible vendors, you’ll be able to troubleshoot third-party devices much more easily with this latest Windows OS.

• Improved system restore and repair—As we worked with Windows 7 we found ample reason to admire its stability and resilience. No single incident impressed us more than this one: After we applied a beta graphics driver, we found ourselves looking at a black screen (which basically means the graphics driver failed miserably). By pressing Ctrl+Alt+Esc we were able to launch the Task Manager, from whence we typed restrui.exe to launch the System Restore utility. From there, we rolled back to the most recent restore point and kept right on working. No previous version of Windows, to our knowledge, has ever been able to support this kind of repair and restore operation. Factor in the built-in Create a System Repair Disc option in the Backup and Restore Center (Vista requires you to find and use the installation media to run repairs on an otherwise unbootable machine) and you’ve got an unbeatable combination. When it comes to repair, we like Windows 7!

• One-stop management with Action Center—The Windows 7 Action Center brings security and maintenance handling together under a single umbrella. By providing a single place to view, access, and address all system issues, whether security- or stability-related, Windows 7 improves your ability to recognize, identify, and solve problems on your system.

Source of Information : QUE Microsoft Windows in Depth

Windows 7 Networking

Windows 7 networking includes a variety of new features. Chief among these is a reworked version of the Network and Sharing Center, but you’ll also find some nice improvements to wireless networking, and simplified resource sharing on home networks thanks to homegroups.

Improved Network and Sharing Center
The Network and Sharing Center is a single location that lets you easily perform common network tasks, much as the Mobility Center does for portable computers:
• Set up a new connection or network
• Connect to a network
• Choose homegroup and sharing options
• Troubleshoot problems

The Network and Sharing Center also provides some great functionality upgrades, including

• Change Adapter Settings—Click this entry in the left pane of the Network and Sharing Center and get right to work on adapter configuration settings.

• Change Advanced Sharing Settings—Also located in the left pane of the Network and Sharing Center, this is another way into homegroup setup and sharing instructions.

• See Full Map—Lets you see the entire network you’re connected to in a visual display, with icons that include routers and switches. This helps the network make more sense, especially if you are troubleshooting. To see this map, right-click the network icon in the notification area, select Network and Sharing Center in the pop-up menu, and click See Full Map in that window’s upper-right corner.

Enhanced Wireless Networking
Just click the network icon in the notification area and you get instant access to all nearby wireless networks, and one-click access to all important networking functions from there.
This is much simpler than in earlier versions of Windows, where you had to click through the system tray icon, into any of several utilities (disconnect or connect commands in Vista, View Available Wireless Networks or Open Network Connections in XP) to micro-manage wireless networking tasks.

Simplified Sharing via Homegroups
Once you join a local homegroup, you automatically gain access to all resources shared with that group—by default, this includes the contents of the pre-defined Videos, Music, and Pictures libraries, plus any shared printers (but not people’s Documents libraries). All of this material is easily and naturally available to all homegroup members through their own libraries. It simply doesn’t get any easier than that!

Source of Information : QUE Microsoft Windows in Depth

Windows 7 Power Management

As energy conservation and consumption loom ever larger in assessing true costs of computer ownership, and users seek to cut those costs, Windows power management tools have gained considerable importance. Windows 7 makes some nice additions and enhancements to power management features already present in Windows Vista (and to some extent in Windows XP as well).

Reduced Power Consumption
By paying closer attention to Windows activity levels, Windows 7 can implement sleep or hibernation features in modern PCs, and even shut down system components that aren’t in use. Most users can turn these capabilities to best advantage on battery-powered PCs, where conserving energy translates directly into longer battery life. But even for computers plugged into a wall socket, reduced power consumption translates into lower overall costs for electricity.

Improved Power Plans
The Power Options item in Control Panel remains the primary means of access to power plans and their behavior in Windows 7, just as it was in Vista and XP. Users who spend some time investigating this utility will find only two basic plans (Balanced and Power User) rather than the three from earlier versions (Balanced, Power Saver, and High Performance in Vista, and six or more Power Schemes in XP) but many more options and more nuanced controls in the Advanced Settings window. Click Start, Control Panel, System and Security, Power Options, Change Plan Settings, Change Advanced Power Settings. There’s a new Desktop Background Settings (to enable/disable rotating desktop backgrounds) entry, many more Sleep options, and even a System Cooling Policy option in Processor Power Management. Some early testing indicates that Windows 7 can extend battery life by as much as 10% as compared to Vista on identical hardware.

Source of Information : QUE Microsoft Windows in Depth

Windows 7 New Accessories

Historically, Microsoft has packed ever-increasing globs of accessories into Windows. In the olden days of Windows 1.0 you were lucky to get a clock and one game. Windows 7 departs from tradition and adds only a few items to its software offerings and, almost unbelievably, removes some supplied applications (many applications are now offloaded into the Windows Live service online). To access these and other Windows Accessories, click Start, All Programs, Accessories. Here’s what’s new for accessories in Windows 7:

• Math Input Panel—Lets you use the mouse to enter mathematical formulas of all kinds. This tool takes a little practice to learn but offers a handier way to create formulas than using MathML or formula entry in Word or Excel.

• Sticky Notes—Use this to drop a note onto your screen view anywhere you like. The note stays visible until you decide to close it, and works well as an editable addition to your gadgets. You can use Sticky Notes for whatever you want. Use Sticky Notes to jot notes—useful for grocery lists, reminders, phone notes, anything you can think of!

• Connect to a Projector—Lets you direct video to a DVI- or VGA-attached video projector. You can duplicate what you see on your screen (typical for a presentation) or extend your desktop from the current display(s) to include a projector. This is handy for those who must work in conference rooms giving presentations.

Source of Information : QUE Microsoft Windows in Depth

Windows 7 Performance Improvements

Computers always seem to slow down over time, and no matter how fast the hardware gets, things always seem to run at the same speed. What we might have called a supercomputer a few years ago now runs word processing and email apps about as fast as it did when CPUs ran at a fraction of their current speeds. This is because code has grown larger and more complex to take advantage of added processing power, so that users haven’t experienced serious perceptual performance gains. But by comparison with Vista, several speed-ups in Windows 7 are worth mentioning.

• Improved overall performance—As previously mentioned, Windows 7 requires less memory and less computing horsepower than Windows Vista. Case in point: Windows 7 works nicely on netbook PCs with 1- or 2GB of RAM, 1.6GHz Intel Atom processors, and minimal disk space (less than 32GB is pushing things, but 32GB works just fine); Vista drags or hangs on that resource budget. Windows 7 also runs nicely in Microsoft Virtual PC 2007, where virtual machines get only single-processor access, even on dual- or quad-core computers; Windows Vista runs slowly and fitfully in the same situation. All in all, you’ll find that Windows 7 boots faster, runs faster, and uses less memory and disk space than Vista. How’s that for improved overall performance?

• Improved Windows ReadyBoost—Windows Vista introduced ReadyBoost, which lets users allocate space on a UFD or SD card for extra system cache space. We all know that adding RAM can improve performance, but for many people, this is difficult to do and might violate a maintenance contract or annoy the IT people at a company. On Vista, ReadyBoost was limited to 4GB on a single UFD or SD card; on Windows 7, ReadyBoost cache size limits apply only to 32-bit systems. On 64-bit Windows 7 systems, ReadyBoost can be about as big as you want to make it; on all Windows 7 systems you can use two or more UFDs or memory cards to create a single monolithic ReadyBoost cache. See for test results for many brands of flash drive.

• Improved Reliability Monitor—Windows Vista introduced the Reliability Monitor, which reports on system problems, errors, and stability. In Windows 7, this useful facility is expanded and improved. For one thing, it updates the reliability index (a number between 1 and 10 that reflects the system’s reliability over time) whenever errors or problems occur (the Vista version didn’t update until midnight on the day of occurrence). For another, the Reliability Monitor now integrates the search for solutions to problems right into its interface (in Vista, you had to use the Problems and Solutions applet in Control Panel to do this). Overall, the Windows 7 Reliability Monitor takes a good concept and makes it better. All reliability info now falls under a single interface. To access this tool, type reli into the Start menu search box, then select View Reliability History from the results.

• Improved SSD support—A solid-state disk (SSD) is a type of storage device that uses flash memory chips to store data instead of common hard drives. Windows 7 can recognize and work with SSDs much more effectively and directly than previous versions of Windows could, mostly by disabling disk access behaviors that are suitable or necessary for rotating media but unsuitable or unnecessary on solid-state devices (such as turning off defragmentation, which isn’t needed on SSDs, adding better support for lazy write/erase operations, disabling SuperFetch, ReadyBoost, and boot or application launch prefetching because access times on SSDs are so fast). If you use Windows 7 on a PC with an SSD, you’ll notice faster performance and an increased lifetime for the drive.

Source of Information : QUE Microsoft Windows in Depth

Windows 7 Data Security Enhancements

Maintaining data integrity on the PC is a constant job for IT people. Independent businesspeople without the aid of an IT professional worry about this just as much as the IT folks, if not more so, partly because they don’t know what to do when things go south. In addition to the stability improvements listed earlier, there are two areas of significant improvement in data security (outlined here and in Part VII of this book).

• Back up to network drive—On previous Windows versions, the only drives to which you could back up were those attached directly to your PC, either internally or via eSATA or USB. On Windows 7, any network-accessible drive becomes a valid backup target. For those (like us) with a MediaSmart Server already on their home networks, this is fantastic!

• Manage AutoPlay behavior for CDs/DVDs—Recently, worms and viruses triggered by AutoPlay for CDs and DVDs have surfaced on the Internet, primarily in the form of BitTorrent-based ISO downloads. Burn a DVD from such a download, and you’ll contract a virus as soon as you run the setup or other default executable from that image file. Most antivirus programs, and thus most Windows systems, are defenseless against this kind of attack. Windows 7 lets you block AutoPlay behaviors on optical disks, and sidestep this kind of vulnerability. Bravo, Microsoft!

• Create System Repair Disc—To create a bootable DVD that you can use to repair your system, click Create a System Repair Disc in the left column of the Backup and Restore Center and insert a blank DVD. This option is much easier than finding the installation media for Windows Vista—especially if you bought a machine with Windows 7 preinstalled and didn’t get an install disc! To access the Backup and Recovery center, type backup into the Start menu search box, and select that utility from the search results.

• Improved Volume Shadow Copy—Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) is responsible for creating restore points and for making copies of files as they change on your system. On Windows Vista, VSS could sometimes impose onerous burdens on a drive: 15% or more might get allocated to the System Volume Information folder (we had a situation once where 120GB on a 750GB drive went into that folder). For Windows 7, shadow copy space is limited to 5% of total drive space for drives over 64GB in size, and 3GB for drives 64GB and under in size. This helps keep shadow copy storage under control by default.

• Include/exclude specific backup folders—When backing up in Windows 7, you now have the option of including or excluding specific folders from the volumes you elect to back up. This provides much greater control over backup content and activity, and allows you to set up and schedule multiple backup tasks to capture different data for each task.

Source of Information : QUE Microsoft Windows in Depth

Windows 7 Improved Web Browsing with IE 8

Internet browsing remains the most widely used application on the PC desktop. As such, it behooves Microsoft to make its browser ever better. Ironically, Internet Explorer has been the bane of Microsoft’s (and users’) existence, constantly being one-upped by Netscape, Opera, Mozilla Firefox, and others. IE is a constant target for hackers, so Windows Update regularly doles out updates to harden IE; still, it’s a game of catch-up, for the most part. Windows 7 lowers the privilege level of IE now to help protect your PC. On the user end of things, IE 8 ups the bar on performance by keeping up with the Joneses again. Here’s what IE delivers (you must upgrade other versions, but Windows 7 has it built right in):

• Web Slices—These items let you keep up with regularly updated sites from the Favorites bar. When a Web Slice is available on a page, a green Web Slices icon appears in the upper-right corner of the browser. Click it to add it to the Favorites, and it’s never more than a click away at any time.

Source of Information : QUE Microsoft Windows in Depth

• Accelerators—IE 8 offers a built-in collection of web add-ons and enhancements that Microsoft calls Accelerators. To use any Accelerator, right-click a word or phrase on any web page, and then click the Accelerator button that pops up, or use the All Accelerators entry in the pop-up menu. There, you’ll find tools for blogging, web searching, email, maps, translating, and more.

• InPrivate Browsing—This new mode of operation lets you surf the Web without leaving any trail behind in Internet Explorer: no history, no cookies, no URLs, no nothing. To use InPrivate Browsing, you must use the New Tab control (Click File, New Tab), and then select Use InPrivate Browsing. Or, click the Safety entry in the IE Command bar (top right above main window), then select InPrivate Browsing. Either way, a new IE window opens that reads “InPrivate is turned on,”

• Tab Groups—When you right-click a link inside IE 8 and select the Open in New Tab menu item, the browser opens another tab as requested. This repeats as many times as you use this facility from any page in the current set of tabs. IE also colors all such related tabs green, so that any time you look at a page in that group, you can tell all those pages are related. This makes it easy to tell which pages are interlinked as you jump around from tab to tab inside IE. Very handy.

• Crash Recovery—Call this a “catch-up” feature: Opera and Firefox have had this capability for some time now. But now, when you close IE 8 you can instruct it to remember all tabs and open pages on the next restart. Also, when the program crashes, IE 8 automatically restores all open pages on the next restart as well.

Source of Information : QUE Microsoft Windows in Depth

Windows 7 System Security Enhancements

Certainly, the most often-heard beef about Windows (even XP) is that it’s too fragile and vulnerable to malware and hackers. Some say it’s simply not robust enough. Microsoft hears it, too, from ordinary users and experts alike. Imagine their support calls. So with each new iteration of Windows, Microsoft tries to harden it against onslaught. (Of course, if it were not for the popularity of Windows, hacking it wouldn’t be an issue, so the naysayers have a somewhat specious argument, in our opinion.) For each new and creative plan of attack, a counterattack or defense emerges. Thus, Windows 7 has a new batch of security enhancements:

• Improved User Account Control (UAC)—In XP, users too often give themselves administrative privileges, which sometimes lets malicious programs run amok. Windows 7 gives everyone low levels of privilege until they need more. This will result in dialog boxes asking you to confirm certain things can run before they’re let loose. It’s not as intrusive as it was with Vista, but it still helps prevent secretive programs from running without your knowledge. Even better, you can adjust the level of confirmations that Windows 7 requests, so that only programs seeking elevated privileges cause alerts, but you’re allowed to install programs, change settings, and so forth (as long as your account possesses the necessary rights, of course). This is a big improvement over Vista, for sure!

• BitLocker to Go—Vista introduced BitLocker, an encrypted and secure form of on-disk storage that only those with the right password can access. In Windows 7, BitLocker to Go extends this capability to USB drives, including USB flash drives (UFDs), so that you can secure some or all of the contents on drives or devices that you take with you on the road. This is a great way to protect against unwanted disclosure resulting from theft or loss of a notebook or a portable storage devices of some kind.

• AppLocker—Windows 7 lets system administrators apply a kind of “whitelist” control to applications on user desktops. In other words, they can create lists of valid applications and use Group Policy objects to apply them to what users can see and launch on their desktops. If an application isn’t on the list, users can’t run it: What better way to keep them out of trouble?

• Multiple active firewall profiles—In the Windows 7 environment, Windows Firewall settings depend on the firewall profile in use. Previous versions of Windows allowed only one firewall profile to be active at any one time. In Windows 7, each network adapter on a PC can apply whichever firewall profile is most appropriate for the type of network to which it connects (which will differ considerably from home, to office, to public/unsecured networks). Thus, if you’re working in an airport coffee shop and using a virtual private network (VPN) connection to access a server at your office, the firewall rules for the office VPN will apply to all traffic to and from that location, and the firewall rules for a public network will apply to all other traffic to and from your PC.

• DirectAccess—This applies only to Windows 7 computers that belong to an Active Directory domain on a Windows Server 2008 R2 server. Within that framework, however, users can connect to office/domain network resources whenever they access the Internet. Connection speed aside, such Internet users have the same experience accessing office/domain network elements that they would if they were locally attached to that network. This technology also lets system administrators manage Windows 7 computers remotely, no matter where they may be at any given moment.

• VPN Reconnect—This facility lets Windows 7 users automatically reestablish VPN connections as soon as they regain Internet access. This lets users turn off or disconnect their machines from the Internet at will, yet re-creates their secure office network connections as soon as they regain Internet access, using secure protocols that require no user interaction to set up and maintain.

Source of Information : QUE Microsoft Windows in Depth

Customizing Windows 7’s Desktop - power configuration

Navigating the control buttons and customizing the power configuration Below the common folder and feature buttons on the Start menu’s right pane, you’ll find your computer’s Shut Down button. When you click the Shut Down Options button (the arrow to the right of “Shut down”), you have the following options:

Switch user
Switches users so another user can log on

Log off
Logs off the computer and ends your user session

Locks the computer so that a logon screen is displayed

Shuts down and then restarts the computer

Puts the computer in sleep mode, if possible given the system configuration and state

Puts the computer in hibernate mode, if possible given the system configuration and state

Windows 7 has three power plans, which you can use to automatically manage the way your monitor, hard disks, and computer as a whole enter sleep or hibernation mode. Power plans also control other power settings. The standard power plans are:

This plan uses a balanced approach to managing power and is the default.

High Performance
This plan optimizes the computer for performance by allowing it to consume as much power as needed.

Power Saver
This plan optimizes the computer to conserve power by allowing it to more quickly turn off the monitor, hard disks, and computer to conserve power.

Power plans have basic settings and advanced settings. The basic settings control when the display is turned off and when the computer enters sleep mode. On laptops, basic settings also control whether and how much the display is dimmed. The advanced settings control all other power configuration options. You can select a power plan to use with the Power Options utility in the Control Panel. Click Start -> Control Panel. In the Control Panel, click System and Security -> Power Options. Specify the power plan to use by selecting it under the Preferred Plans heading. Click “Change plan settings” to change the basic settings. From the basic settings, click “Change advanced power settings” to change the advanced settings.

You also can use power configuration settings to control the way in which the power button, the sleep button, and the “Password protection on wakeup” feature work. In the default configuration, pressing a computer’s power button initiates a shutdown (pressing and holding the power button on most computers will shut the computer down instantly, which could cause you to lose data). Pressing a portable computer’s sleep button or closing the lid puts it in sleep mode (on most modern computers, this puts the computer into a deep sleep in which it consumes very little power). By default, all power plans use the “Password protection on wakeup” feature to ensure that when your computer wakes up from sleep mode, no one can access your computer without first entering a password to unlock the screen.

You can configure power buttons and “Password protection on wakeup” options by following these steps:

1. Click Start -> Control Panel.

2. In the Control Panel, click the System and Security link -> Power Options.

3. In the left pane, click the “Choose what the power button does” link. This displays the “Define power buttons” page in the Control Panel.

4. Use the “When I press the power button” list to specify whether the computer should shut down, sleep, or hibernate when the power button is pressed. On a laptop, you’ll have separate lists for when your computer is on battery and when your computer is plugged in.

5. Use the “When I press the sleep button” list to specify whether the computer should shut down, sleep, or hibernate when the sleep button is pressed. On a laptop, you’ll have separate lists for when your computer is on battery and when your computer is plugged in.

6. On a laptop, use the “When I close the lid” list to specify the action to perform when you close the lid. You’ll have separate lists for when your computer is on battery and when your computer is plugged in.

7. Use the “Password protection on wakeup” options to specify whether the computer requires a password on wakeup.

8. Click “Save changes.”

Source of Information : OReilly Windows 7 The Definitive Guide

Getting a Better Understanding of Windows 7 Libraries

When you work with libraries, it is important to remember that they are only representations of collected data. Windows 7 creates merged views of files and folders that you add to libraries. As the libraries themselves do not contain any actual data, any action you take on a file or folder within a library is performed on the source file or folder. You can create new libraries to act as views to various collections of data as needed by right-clicking the Libraries node in Windows Explorer, pointing to New and then selecting Library.

If you’re ever curious about how libraries really work, access the %HomeDrive%\
%HomePath%\AppData\Roaming\Micrdosoft\Windows\Libraries folder. In this folder, you’ll find the library definition files for your user profile. Each library definition file ends with the .library-ms extension and is formatted as an XML file that follows Microsoft’s Library naming schema. If you view a library definition file, you’ll find that it uses simple locations to define where contents in the library originate from. Folder and files are referenced by globally unique identifiers (GUIDs) and the serialized contents of a particular location are encrypted. Some properties of libraries are tracked in the registry, but these are primarily used only when you want to restore the original libraries, which you can do in Windows Explorer by right-clicking the Libraries node and selecting Restore Default Libraries.

Note also that the %Public%\Libraries folder also may have library definition files. For example, Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center both make use of the Recorded-TV library. As this library isn’t a standard library in your user profile, it is represented in the %Public%\Libraries folder by the Recorded-TV.library-ms file.

Source of Information : OReilly Windows 7 The Definitive Guide

About Windows CardSpace

Windows CardSpace lets you store user account information for online services that support the CardSpace feature. It’s a means of creating a digital identity that can be used instead of a username and password to log in to online accounts that support the CardSpace feature. CardSpace adds security to Web relationships by encrypting data in your card before sending the information to a Web site. You can also review cards from Web sites that use them to get more information about a site before signing up for an account.

CardSpace is still relatively new, with a limited number of Web sites supporting it. The idea of CardSpace is fairly simple, however. You can create one or more digital cards, each with whatever information you want to provide to Web sites with which you do business. For example, you might want cards that include only your name and no further identifying information. Other cards might include your street address and phone number.

When you set up an account with an online site that supports CardSpace, you can send your card rather than fill in blanks on that site’s user form. After you’ve established an account, you can submit your card whenever you need to log in to the site.

You can choose from two kinds of cards to use:

• Personal cards: These you create yourself and provide to online Web services as you see fit.

• Managed cards: These are like membership cards provided to you by organizations and businesses that support the CardSpace identity system.

Use one of the following methods to access Windows CardSpace:
• Click the Start button and choose Control Panel -> User Accounts and Family Safety Windows CardSpace.
• Tap [windows], type card and click Windows CardSpace.

If you’re taken to a welcome page, click OK to proceed. To create a personal card, click Add a Card in the right column. Click Personal Card and fill in whatever blanks you’re comfortable with. You might want to start by creating a basic card that contains your name, e-mail address, and perhaps a picture or logo. You can create other cards with more information, if necessary, for sites that you trust with that information.

You don’t create managed cards yourself. Instead, you set up an account with a service that uses managed cards. When you receive such a card, you’ll likely get instructions on its use. But the basic procedure is to go into CardSpace, click Add a Card, click Install a Managed Card, and then import the card that the online service has sent you.

If the CardSpace technology catches on, you’ll be able to access your cards right from your Web browser. When you go to log in to a site, you’ll see an option to log in the traditional way through a user account and password, or by using CardSpace (or an InfoCard). Click the option to use CardSpace, click the card you want to use, and you’re logged in.

Source of Information : Windows 7 Bible (2009)

Stop Entering Password on Lockout

If you leave the computer for a few minutes without logging out, you’re taken to a lockout screen that shows your user account information. If your user account is password-protected, you need to enter your password to get back to the desktop. This is to prevent other people from using your computer while you’re away. But it makes sense only in a work environment. In a home environment, it may be overkill. You can reconfigure 7 so that you don’t have to reenter your password to get back to your desktop. Here are the steps:

1. Click the Start button, type pow, and click Power Options.

2. In the left column, click Require a Password on Wakeup.

3. If the options under Password Protection on Wakeup are disabled, click Change Settings that Are Currently Unavailable. Then elevate your privileges by clicking Continue or by entering the password for an administrative account.

4. Choose Don’t Require a Password.

5. Click Save Changes.

Source of Information : Windows 7 Bible (2009)

Customizing Windows 7’s Desktop - Navigating common folders and customizing the listed features

The Start menu’s right pane provides access to commonly used folders and features. Though at first glance it may seem that this part of the Start menu is similar to the Start menu in Windows XP, this is deceiving, because there are major changes in the locations accessed by these buttons.

In Windows XP, your documents are stored by default in personal folders under %SystemDrive%\Documents and Settings\%UserName%. Your personal folder contains a My Documents folder, which in turn contains other folders, such as My Pictures and My Music. Windows XP also has additional folders, such as Cookies, Local Settings, NetHood, and Printhood.

In Windows 7, some of these familiar folders don’t exist. They are implemented as symbolic links that act as reparse points to another directory on the computer. Essentially, these symbolic links redirect programs from locations where these folders were stored in Windows XP and earlier versions of Windows to where the folders are stored currently. If you’re ever curious about exactly how they work, open a command prompt and type dir /al. As the default directory for the command prompt is your user profile directory, you’ll then see a list of the hidden symbolic links in your user profile directory. With the dir command, the /A option displays files and folders with specified attributes and the l specifies that you want to display symbolic links. Other names for symbolic links are reparse points and junctions.

Windows 7 has many environment variables, which are used to refer to user-specific and system-specific values. %SystemDrive% and %User-Name% refer to the SystemDrive and UserName environment variables, respectively. Often, I’ll refer to environment variables using this syntax: %VariableName%. If you’d like to view the current value of any of these variables, click the Start menu, choose All Programs -> Accessories -> Command Prompt. Then type echo %VariableName%, such as echo %SystemDrive%, and then press Enter to see the value.

In Windows 7, your documents are stored by default in personal folders under %HomeDrive%\%HomePath%. Your personal folder contains the following folders:
A hidden system folder for storing your application data

Contains your contacts for use in your mail programs

Contains your desktop configuration settings

Contains programs and data you’ve downloaded from the Internet

Contains your Internet favorites

Contains your Internet links

My Documents
Contains your word processing documents

My Music
Contains your music files

My Pictures
Contains your pictures and digital images

My Videos
Contains your video files

Saved Games
Contains saved game data

Contains your saved searches

If you examine some of these folders from the Command Prompt, you’ll see that they appear without the “My” prefix. For example, you’re my Documents folder is %HomeDrive%\%HomePath%\Documents.

In Windows 7, shared public documents are stored by default in public folders under %Public%. The public folder contains the following folders:

Contains the shared desktop configuration. Any public desktop items show up on all user desktops.

Contains shared, public programs and data downloaded from the Internet

Contains shared, public Internet favorites

Contains shared, public libraries

Public Documents
Contains shared, public word processing documents

Public Music
Contains shared, public music files

Public Pictures
Contains shared, public pictures

Public Recorded TV
Contains shared, public recorded television files

Public Videos
Contains shared, public video files

In addition to personal and public folders, Windows 7 uses libraries. A library is a combination of personal and public data grouped together and presented through a common view. The standard libraries include:

Collects a user’s My Documents data as well as Public Documents data

Collects a user’s My Music data as well as Public Music data

Collects a user’s My Pictures data as well as Public Pictures data

Collects a user’s My Videos data as well as Public Videos data

Knowing this, you can put the Start menu’s common folder options into perspective. From top to bottom, the option buttons are as follows:

Current User
Displayed as your logon name. Clicking this option opens your personal folder.

Opens the Documents library, which contains the My Documents folder from your personal folder and the Public Documents folder.

Opens the Pictures library, which contains the My Pictures folder from your personal folder and the Public Pictures folder.

Opens the Music library, which contains the My Music folder from your personal folder and the Public Music folder.

Opens the Microsoft Games folder in Windows Explorer.

Opens the Computer view in Windows Explorer. This allows you to access hard disk drives and devices with removable storage.

Control Panel
Opens the Control Panel, which provides access to system configuration and management tools.

Devices and Printers
Opens the Devices and Printers page in Control Panel, which provides access to devices, printers, and faxes you’ve configured for use.

Default Programs
Displays the Default Programs page in the Control Panel. This lets you choose the programs that Windows 7 uses by default for documents, pictures, and more.

Help and Support
Displays the Help and Support console. This lets you browse or search help topics.

You can add features to the Start menu’s right pane using the Customize Start Menu dialog box. Right-click the Start button and then select Properties. In the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box, click the Customize button on the Start Menu tab. In the Customize Start Menu dialog box, select or clear options as appropriate and then click OK twice.

Features you can add include:
Administrative Tools
Displays the Administrative Tools menu or window. This lets you access your
computer’s administrative tools.

Connect To
Opens the Network and Sharing Center notification window. You also can open
this window by clicking one of your network icons in the notification area.

Opens the Downloads folder in Windows Explorer.

Displays your favorite links as a menu. This lets you quickly access favorite

Opens the Homegroup folder in Windows Explorer so you can view files from other
people on the network (as long as they’ve joined the homegroup).

Opens the Network Explorer. This allows you to browse the computers and devices
on your network.

Recent Items
Provides a menu view that lists recently opened files.

Displays the Run dialog box. This lets you run commands.

Although you may have used the Run options previously, you’ll find the Search box to be much easier to work with. Not only can you use the Search box to open and run commands quicker, but you can also run commands with fewer clicks.

Source of Information : OReilly Windows 7 The Definitive Guide

Customizing Windows 7’s Desktop - Navigating and customizing the programs list

The Start menu’s left pane displays recently used programs and programs that have been pinned to the Start menu. You can customize the programs list by pinning items to the Start menu and by changing the number of recently used programs to display. Programs pinned to the Start menu are listed in the uppermost section of the programs list. Pinning programs to the Start menu provides quick access to your favorite programs. You can pin a program to the Start menu by following these steps:

1. Click the Start button.

2. Click All Programs and locate the program’s menu entry.

3. Right-click the program’s menu entry.

4. On the shortcut menu, select Pin to Start Menu.

If you no longer want a program to be pinned to the Start menu, you can unpin it by following these steps:

1. Click the Start button.

2. Right-click the program on the Start menu.

3. Select Unpin from Start Menu.

On the Start menu, recently used programs are listed in the lower portion of the programs list. You can remove a program from the recently used list by right-clicking it and then selecting “Remove from this list.” This won’t, however, prevent the program from being added to the list in the future.

You can customize the programs list by completing the following steps:

1. Right-click the Start button and then select Properties.

2. In the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box, the Start Menu tab is selected by default. Click Customize. Set the “Number of recent programs to display” option to the desired value.

3. Using small icons instead of large icons, you can display more programs on the list. Scroll down the list of options and clear Use Large Icons.

4. Click OK twice.

Source of Information : OReilly Windows 7 The Definitive Guide

Windows 7 Built-in Applications - Windows PowerShell

In Windows 7, the Windows PowerShell application is included by default. The Windows PowerShell is an extensible command-line shell application that executes applications written in its associated scripting languages, allowing IT administrators to easily automate and administer their IT infrastructure. Think of Windows PowerShell as the command prompt (with which most Windows users are familiar) on steroids—a very powerful one indeed. Windows PowerShell is available as a separate download for Windows XP and Vista users.

To launch Windows PowerShell, type “Windows PowerShell” in the Start menu text box.

Using the Windows PowerShell, you can issue commands that you normally use with your command prompt window, such as dir:

Windows PowerShell
Copyright (C) 2009 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

PS C:\Users\Wei-Meng Lee> dir

Directory: C:\Users\Wei-Meng Lee
Mode LastWriteTime Length Name
---- ------------- ------ ----
d-r-- 5/2/2009 2:49 PM Contacts
d-r-- 6/22/2009 6:48 AM Desktop
d-r-- 6/20/2009 2:28 PM Documents
d-r-- 6/19/2009 12:02 PM Downloads
d-r-- 5/20/2009 9:06 AM Favorites
d-r-- 5/2/2009 2:49 PM Links
d-r-- 5/2/2009 2:49 PM Music
d-r-- 6/14/2009 10:07 PM Pictures
d-r-- 5/2/2009 3:42 PM Saved Games
d-r-- 6/9/2009 2:33 PM Searches
d---- 6/28/2009 9:49 AM Tracing
d-r-- 5/2/2009 2:49 PM Videos
d-r-- 6/20/2009 1:51 PM Virtual Machines

PS C:\Users\Wei-Meng Lee>

When you issue the dir command, PowerShell actually translates it into the name of a cmdlet (Windows 7 has more than 100 cmdlets), which is a programming script. The dir command is an alias of the Get-ChildItem cmdlet.

The following example shows how you can take the directory listing of the Windows directory and then pipe it into another cmdlet named format-list, which displays in detail the information of each directory and file:

PS C:\Windows> dir | format-list

Directory: C:\Windows
Name : addins
CreationTime : 4/22/2009 4:55:52 PM
LastWriteTime : 4/22/2009 4:55:52 PM
LastAccessTime : 4/22/2009 4:55:52 PM
Name : AppCompat
CreationTime : 4/22/2009 2:17:25 PM
LastWriteTime : 5/16/2009 6:47:19 AM
LastAccessTime : 5/16/2009 6:47:19 AM
Name : AppPatch
CreationTime : 4/22/2009 2:17:25 PM
LastWriteTime : 4/22/2009 5:01:13 PM
LastAccessTime : 4/22/2009 5:01:13 PM
Name : assembly
CreationTime : 4/22/2009 2:17:25 PM
LastWriteTime : 5/28/2009 3:25:15 AM
LastAccessTime : 5/28/2009 3:25:15 AM
Name : Boot
CreationTime : 4/22/2009 2:17:26 PM
LastWriteTime : 4/22/2009 4:55:52 PM
LastAccessTime : 4/22/2009 4:55:52 PM
Name : Branding
CreationTime : 4/22/2009 2:17:26 PM
LastWriteTime : 4/22/2009 4:55:52 PM
LastAccessTime : 4/22/2009 4:55:52 PM
Name : write.exe
Length : 9216
CreationTime : 4/22/2009 11:39:18 AM
LastWriteTime : 4/22/2009 1:19:45 PM
LastAccessTime : 4/22/2009 11:39:18 AM
VersionInfo : File: C:\Windows\write.exe
InternalName: write

OriginalFilename: write
FileVersion: 6.1.7100.0 (winmain_win7rc.090421-1700)
FileDescription: Windows Write
Product: Microsoftr Windowsr Operating System
ProductVersion: 6.1.7100.0
Debug: False
Patched: False
PreRelease: False
PrivateBuild: False
SpecialBuild: False
Language: English (United States)
Name : _default.pif
Length : 707
CreationTime : 4/22/2009 9:29:14 AM
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Source of Information : Oreilly Windows 7 Up and Running

Windows 7 Built-in Applications - Snipping Tool

Beginning with Windows Vista, Microsoft shipped an application called the Snipping Tool, which is included in Windows 7 as well. The Snipping Tool is a screen-capture tool.

To launch the Snipping Tool, select Start menu->Snipping Tool.

Clicking the arrow next to the New button reveals four options in which you can capture your screenshots:

Free-form Snip
You can capture your screen by simply moving your mouse to designate the area you want to capture; it can be of any shape.

Rectangular Snip
You capture a rectangular portion of your screen.

Windows Snip
You capture any of the opened windows on the screen.

Full-screen Snip
You capture the entire screen. This works for multiple monitor setups, too.

You can save the image to disk or email it. If you want to insert the captured image into another application (say, Word), click the Copy icon (third icon) and paste it into your target application.

Longtime users of Windows know that they can capture screenshots easily using the Print Scrn key (or Alt-Print Scrn for capturing the current active window) on the keyboard. But the Snipping Tool makes it easy for you to capture specific parts of your screen directly without needing to further edit your screenshots. It also allows you to directly save the screenshots to file.

Source of Information : Oreilly Windows 7 Up and Running

Windows Live Essentials

Windows Live is the brand name for a set of services and applications offered by Microsoft. Broadly speaking, Windows Live is made of two parts: Windows Live Services and Windows Live Essentials. Windows Live Services refers to hosted applications/services that you can use over the Web. A good example of a Windows Live Services application is Hotmail; another example would be MySpace. Windows Live Essentials, on the other hand, refers to a suite of applications that users can download and install on their Windows computers. Examples are Messenger, Mail, and Photo Gallery. This section will focus on Windows Live Essentials.

The Windows Live Essentials suite includes the following key applications (as well as some add-ins to other applications such as the Windows Live Toolbar for Internet Explorer):
• Messenger
• Mail
• Photo Gallery
• Writer
• Family Safety
• Movie Maker

To download Live Essentials, go to You can download the main installer application, which will allow you to choose and download your desired applications on demand.

Windows Live Messenger
Windows Live Messenger is an instant messaging application.
Windows Live Messenger offers the following functionalities:
• File transfers
• PC-to-PC and PC-to-phone calls
• Photo sharing
• Sending SMS messages
Using Live Messenger, you can also send messages to other users even when they are offline .

Windows Live Mail
Windows Live Mail is the successor to Outlook Express (shipped with Windows XP) and Windows Mail on Windows Vista. Using Live Mail, you can read and send email from one or more email accounts, including accounts from providers such as Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo!, and more.

Live Mail supports the POP3, IMAP, and HTTP protocols. The last one is particularly important for Hotmail users, because that service requires the HTTP protocol in order to be able to read your email using a mail client (unless you subscribe to the Hotmail Premium service). Also included with Mail are four other subapplications—Calendar, Contacts, Feeds, and Newsgroups (you need to press the Alt key to reveal the menu).

When you click the Sign In button in the upper right, Windows Live Mail will:
• Allow you to use your Windows Live online contact list (via the Windows Live Contacts application) and see when senders are online in Messenger
• Sync with your Windows Live calendars

Windows Live Mail Versus Live Hotmail
The popular, free web-based email service Hotmail was once called Windows Live Mail. It has since been renamed Windows Live Hotmail. The name Windows Live Mail now refers to the desktop version of the email application.

Subscribing to Microsoft Communities
To subscribe to a newsgroup using Windows Live Mail, click the Newsgroup icon in the bottom left of the Windows Live Mail window (or make the menu visible with the Alt key, then select Go->Newsgroups). The first time you go to the Newsgroups section, you will see a message indicating that you are not subscribed to any newsgroup. Click the View Newsgroups button to see a list of available newsgroups from the Microsoft Communities. Select the newsgroups that you are interested in and click Subscribe.

Working with the Calendar
To view your calendar in Windows Live Mail, click the Calendar icon in the bottom left of the Windows Live Mail window (or make the menu visible with the Alt key, then select Go->Calendar). The calendar will be displayed.

You can create a new Calendar by clicking the “Add calendar” link. Creating a new calendar allows you to organize the entries according to specific occasions. For example, you might have a calendar for company meetings and another for family matters.

You can also share calendars that you have created with your friends or the public. Before you can share your calendar, you need to sign into Click the Sign In button in the upper right of the Windows Live Mail Window (if you see your Windows Live ID listed there instead of a Sign In button, it means that you are already signed in).

By default, three calendars will be created for you: My Calendar (your personal calendar), Birthday calendar (your contacts’ birthdays calendar), and Holidays (the holidays of the country you have selected).

However, to do so, you need to use the web-based version of Calendar. First, log in to You will be asked to sign in using your Live ID (the one that you signed into from within Windows Live Mail). Once you have signed in, you will be able to specify which calendar you want to share by clicking the Share link. You can then specify whom you want to invite to subscribe to your calendar, and the selected recipients will receive an email invitation.

Another interesting thing you can do with Windows Live Mail is subscribe to an online calendar. Subscribing to online calendars allows you to view the calendar of another party and be updated automatically when the party’s calendar is updated.

To subscribe to a calendar published by other users/organizations, click the Subscribe
link. You will be asked to either subscribe from a public calendar via a URL or import an .ics file. When you subscribe to a calendar via a URL, you will always get the updates performed by the calendar owner. An example of a calendar URL looks like this: If you choose to import the calendar via an .ics file, then you will only get a static calendar (i.e., you won’t see updates performed by the calendar owner). Calendars created in will be synchronized automatically with Windows Live Mail when you relaunch Windows Live Mail again (or simply press F5).

Windows Live Photo Gallery
Windows Live Photo Gallery is a photo management and photo sharing application that is tightly integrated with Windows Live Messenger. Using the Live Photo Gallery, you can organize your photos into folders, as well as tag photos and then upload them to Windows Live Photos and Flickr.

Windows Live Photo Gallery is the successor to Vista’s Windows Photo Gallery application. The names of your friends are taken from Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Contacts.

Windows Live Writer
Windows Live Writer is a blog-publishing application that allows you to publish your postings to blog publishing sites such as Blogger, WordPress, TypePad, and Windows Live Spaces.

When you first start Live Writer, you will be asked to create a new blog on Windows Live or use an existing blogging account. Once you have done this, you can use Writer to create a new posting and then publish it to your blogging account.

A nice feature of Windows Live Writer is WYSIWYG editing, and also that it supports rich content like images, maps, videos, and all major text-editing features like tables, alignment, and spellchecking.

Windows Live Family Safety
Windows Live Family Safety is a parental control application that allows parents to monitor their children’s activities on the Web. You can install Live Family Safety on all computers that your children use in your home. To activate Windows Live Family Safety, you will first be asked to log in using your Windows Live ID (such as your Hotmail email account). Once you have logged in, you will see the screen.

Select the account(s) to monitor and click Next. You will be prompted to match the Windows account with the name in Family Safety. Once this is done, click Save. You will now see that the default filter is Basic, which means that only adult websites are blocked. To change the filter, go to and you will be able to change the filter type to Strict, Basic, or Custom.

In order for the child to visit the page, he will need a parent (the one who signed in to Live Family Safety) to authorize the page using the password supplied during the signing-in process. Alternatively, the child can also email the parent the request.

Windows Live Movie Maker
Windows Live Movie Maker is a video creating and editing application. It is the successor to the Windows Movie Maker included with Windows Vista. The new Windows Live Movie Maker is now much more user-friendly.

Using Live Movie Maker, you can save your movies in Windows Media as DVD quality or Windows Media portable device format. Windows Live Movie Maker requires a video card that is at least as powerful as the ATI Radeon 9500 or nVidia GeForce FX 5900.

Source of Information : Oreilly Windows 7 Up and Running

Windows 7 Encrypting File System (NTFS Encryption)

As you have seen, BitLocker and BitLocker To Go encrypt the entire drive to protect the integrity of your filesystems. However, sometimes you may need to encrypt just selected files (or folders), not the entire drive. To do this, you can make use of the Encrypting File System, also known as the NTFS Encryption feature of Windows 7.

NTFS Encryption is available only in Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate. To encrypt a file (or folder), right-click its icon and select Properties. In the General tab, click the Advanced... button. Check the “Encrypt contents to secure data” checkbox and click OK twice.

You will be asked if you want to encrypt the entire file itself, or encrypt its parent folder as well (recommended). Select the option you want and click OK. The file will now be encrypted. If you click the Details button, you will see that the file has been encrypted using a certificate bearing your name (this is created for you automatically).

To allow other users to access your encrypted file, click the Add... button to add the certificates provided by the users. A user who possesses the certificate contained in the certificates list will be able to access your encrypted file.

When you select the certificate name, you will be able to back up the certificate to disk. Doing so allows you to pass your certificate to other users so that they can also access this encrypted file. However, giving your certificate to other users will allow them to access all your encrypted files and folders (that use the same certificate). So, think carefully before you give away your certificates.

Creating Certificates
When you encrypt a file using NTFS Encryption, Windows 7 automatically creates an encryption certificate for you if you do not already have one. However, you can also manually create your own encryption certificate using the “Manage file encryption certificates” application (just type “Manage file encryption certificates” in the search box of the Start menu).

By creating your own certificates, you can then encrypt different files using different certificates. Doing so allows you to share specific encrypted files with other users without compromising the integrity of other files.

If you already have a certificate created for you, you should see it now. To view other certificates on your computer, click the “Select certificate” button. If you want to create a new certificate, choose the “Create a new certificate” option and click Next. You will now choose the type of certificate you want to create. If you do not have a smartcard, you should select the first option, where you will create a selfsigned certificate stored on your computer. Click Next.

Your certificate will now be created. On the next screen, you have the option to back up your certificate to storage. Supply a path and a password for the backup. Click Next to continue.

Now you have the option to update your encrypted files with the new certificate and key (all your encrypted files will now use this new certificate). Select the drives or folders containing the encrypted files and click Next. That’s it! Your certificate is now created. The certificate is saved as a file with the .pfx extension.

Importing Certificates
When you receive a .pfx certificate from someone else, you can import it into your own certificate store in Windows by double-clicking the .pfx file. When you double-click a .pfx file, the Certificate Import Wizard will appear. Click Next to proceed. You will be asked to specify the location of the .pfx file. When done, click Next. Enter the password that was used to protect the certificate and then click Next twice. Finally, if the importing is successful, click the Finish button.

Source of Information : Oreilly Windows 7 Up and Running

Windows 7 BitLocker Drive Encryption

In Windows Vista, you had the BitLocker Drive Encryption feature that allowed you to encrypt the content of entire volumes. In Windows 7, Microsoft has extended this feature to include removable hard disks and thumb drives. This new feature is known as BitLocker To Go.

The encryption performed by BitLocker is transparent to the user—you will use the drive normally and Windows 7 will automatically encrypt the data on the fly when you write to the drive. Likewise, Windows will decrypt the data on the fly when you read from the drive.

The BitLocker Drive Encryption feature in Windows 7 (also available in Windows Vista) allows you to encrypt your hard drives so that it is safe from unauthorized access. Using BitLocker, all data written to a hard drive stays encrypted when it is stored on the drive. When the OS reads the data, it is automatically decrypted. However, if a BitLocker-encrypted drive is removed from a computer, its content will not be accessible unless the correct password is provided. This way, BitLocker helps protect the integrity and security of your data.

There are two types of hard drives you can encrypt using BitLocker: Operating system drive This is the drive where Windows 7 is installed in. Data drive(s) This includes internal data drives attached to your computer.

BitLocker is available only in the Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Windows 7. To encrypt the operating system drive using BitLocker, right-click the C: drive and select “Turn on BitLocker...” Alternatively, you can manage BitLocker on all your drives via the BitLocker Drive Encryption application in the Control Panel.

In order to use BitLocker to encrypt your hard drive containing your operating system, your computer needs to have the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip. BitLocker uses the TPM chip to store the keys that are used to decrypt your encrypted drive during bootup time. Alternatively, if your computer does not have the TPM chip, you can store the encryption key on a USB thumb drive. In this case, you need to insert your USB drive into your computer during bootup time.

Using BitLocker to encrypt your operating system drive also requires two partitions on the hard drive—one system partition (hidden boot partition) and one operating system partition. Fortunately, Windows 7 automatically creates these two partitions during the installation process.

For encrypting data drives, BitLocker requires the drive to be formatted using either the exFAT, FAT16, FAT32, or NTFS filesystems.

BitLocker To Go
BitLocker To Go is an extension of the BitLocker application that provides encryption support for removable hard disks and thumb drives.

BitLocker To Go is available only in the Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Windows 7. To turn on BitLocker To Go, simply insert your thumb drive into your computer, rightclick the drive icon in Computer and select “Turn on BitLocker...”.

Now you need to choose a way for the drive to be unlocked when it has been encrypted—using a password or a smartcard. The easiest way would be to choose a password; if you choose this option, supply a password. Click Next to proceed. In the next step, you have a choice to store your recovery key to a file or print it out. The recovery key is used to temporarily unlock a BitLocker-encrypted drive in the event that you forgot the password. Choose the desired option and click Next. You are now ready to encrypt your drive. Click the Start Encrypting button to begin the encryption.

Windows will now start to encrypt your drive. It will take some time, especially if you have a large-capacity thumb drive. When the encryption is done, a lock will appear on the drive icon. From now on, whenever you insert your thumb drive into your computer, you will be prompted to enter the password to unlock the drive. Enter the password and click the Unlock button to unlock the drive.

If you insert a thumb drive encrypted with BitLocker To Go into a Windows XP computer, you will be prompted to enter the key to unlock the drive. If you forgot your password, click the “I forgot my password” link. You will be prompted to enter the recovery key that you saved/printed earlier. Enter the recovery key and you will be granted temporary access to the drive before you change its password.

You also have the option to automatically unlock the drive on the current computer. If you choose this option, you will not be prompted to unlock the drive every time you insert the thumb drive into the current computer. You should choose this option only if you are sure that your computer is secure and that it is not easily accessible to other people. You can change the BitLocker feature of a drive by right-clicking the drive icon in Computer and selecting Manage BitLocker.

Source of Information : Oreilly Windows 7 Up and Running

Windows 7 - The Credential Manager

Windows 7 includes a feature known as the Credential Manager to help users save their credentials to a vault. Although this is not a new feature, in this version it has the ability to back up and restore the vault. In the Credential Manager, all the credentials are stored in a secure location known as the Windows Vault.

To use the Credential Manager, go to Control Panel->User Accounts and Family Safety->Credential Manager. There are three types of credentials you can store using Credential Manager:

Windows credentials
Stores the credentials of resources such as servers, printers, and the like.

Certificate-based credentials
Stores certificate-based credentials, such as those from a smartcard.

Generic credentials
Stores generic credentials, such as online IDs.

Using the Credential Manager
Note that the Credential Manager is designed to work with resources (such as servers and websites) that make use of the Credential Manager API to retrieve the username and password from the Credential Manager. A good example is Windows Live Hotmail.

When you first log in to Windows Live Hotmail, you have an option to save the password to your computer. When you check the “Remember my password” link, the credential (Windows Live ID and password, in this case) is automatically saved into the Credential Manager.

If you log out from Hotmail now and try to log in again, you will see that your Windows Live ID is now displayed on the login page and that you can log in automatically (without needing to enter the password) by clicking the “Sign in” button. For websites that do not use Windows Live Login, Internet Explorer will store the ID and password pair in the Registry.

Linking Online IDs
In the previous section, you saw how Hotmail automatically signs you in using the credentials saved in the Credential Manager. The Credential Manager also allows you to link your login user account with an online ID explicitly (such as those given by your email service provider) so that you can sign in to these services automatically. This is done via online ID providers. An online ID provider associates your Windows login with an online ID so that when you access your online service you do not need to supply your username and password again.

To manually link your user account with an online ID, click the “Link online IDs” link at the bottom of the Credential Manager window. Click the “Add an online ID provider” link to locate an online ID provider.

You will be brought to a web page where you can locate an online ID provider. At this moment, only one online ID provider is available—Windows Live. Click the Windows Live icon.

You will be brought to a page where you can download the necessary program. In this case, you need to download the Windows Live ID Sign-in Assistant. Once the download is complete, proceed with the installation.

Click the “Link online ID” link to add an online ID. Enter your Live ID. You should now see the credentials you entered. Now when you use any of the Windows Live services (such as Hotmail and Messenger), you will see that your credentials are automatically filled in for you.

Backing Up the Credentials
A new feature of the Credential Manager in Windows 7 is its ability to back up your credentials to the filesystem. To back up the vault, click the “Back up vault” link. You will be asked to select a path to back up the vault. Click the Browse... button and specify the path and name of the backup vault. Click Next.

To continue, press Ctrl-Alt-Delete. You will now be asked to protect the file with a password. Enter the password twice and the vault will be backed up. To restore the vault, click the “Restore vault” link and supply the password used to protect the file.

Source of Information : Oreilly Windows 7 Up and Running

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