Tag Archive for: Windows-7

A Netbook’s Journey from Win7 to Win8 — and Back Again

22 Jan 2013
January 22, 2013

NB 255

I have been running Windows 8 full-time on my work laptop for several months now. Big fan and really like it.  On that hardware it seems to run better than Windows 7 did (not that I had any complaints). So that led me to the idea that it might be a good idea to upgrade my little netbook to Windows 8 as well.

That turned out to not be such a great idea.

The netbook doesn’t have a CD-ROM drive but that is easily resolved with the Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool. That tool let me create a bootable USB to use for the Win8 install. The subsequent OS install was painless and quick as always. No worries there.

But once I had the OS installed I quickly noticed that I wasn’t seeing the anticipated performance boost. No, quite the opposite actually. No doubt in some part due to not having all the proper drivers installed. OK, no problem. I figured I’d sort that out later.

Then I hit the real issue: NO Modern UI apps would run at the netbook’s native 1024×600 resolution! Not a one. That freaked me out a bit… I mean, I don’t need all the Modern UI apps (or any, really…) but not being able to have any was simply distressing. A bit of whining on twitter netted me a helpful response with a link to an article on how to “overdrive” the native resolution to something that Windows 8 liked better.

A tolerable work-around, if a bit fuzzy…

But at the end of the day I just wasn’t loving the Win8 experience on this thing; it was time to regress back to 7. Which is when I realized I’d lost the ability to choose alternate boot devices when starting the netbook! I haven’t figured out why yet, but with Windows 8 on it those POST/BIOS-level options were simply gone. That made installing an OS a bit problematic.

I finally worked around that by borrowing a USB DVD ROM drive and starting the Windows 7 install from within Windows 8. Took the option for a clean install, let it reboot and Win7 very politely installed itself.

And hey, that option to select alternate boot devices when I turn on the netbook is back. How odd.

I went with a “real” version of Win7 this time – no more Starter Edition. It runs great and we’re quite happy together again.

Easy Test Drive of Win 8 / Server 2012

16 Oct 2012
October 16, 2012

I attended a small event last week at the local Microsoft office. It was called an “installfest” and was led by IT Pro Evangelist Harold Wong (what an awesome title he has!). This was an informal event geared towards helping folks quickly get up and running with evaluation versions of Windows 8 and/or Windows Server 2012. It also helped prepare those who were attending some of the labs at the launch event being held the next day.

What made this easy is the ability for modern versions Windows to boot from VHD (virtual hard drive) files. While VHDs are really just  big files with .vhd extensions, Windows can mount them alongside your “real” hard drives and, more importantly, event boot from them. That’s the magic sauce.

Today I noticed that Harold’s event invitation is still up and that invitation happens to include links to prebuilt VHDs for both Windows 8 and Server 2012. Temporary licenses, mind you but if you re-arm ‘em you can get some solid evaluation time out of each. Hopefully I’m not overstepping here…

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Living with Win7 Starter Edition

18 Jun 2011
June 18, 2011

Toshiba NB255 NetbookSeveral weeks ago I received a little Toshiba netbook (model NB255). Last year’s model, but sporting the dual-core Atom N455 processor, 250 GB drive — and I upgraded the RAM to 2 GB before even leaving the store. Stunning how many netbooks with 1GB RAM that can’t be upgraded! It also has the 6 cell battery and I’ve ran it for almost 6 hours on a single charge.

I absolutely adore this thing.

I really do. It goes everywhere with me now; I leave all my other “klunky” laptops on their desks now. It is easy to type on, light-weight and I find that I can very easily adapt to the lower 1024×600 resolution when on the go.

I’m still running the Windows 7 Starter edition that it came with (and dual-booting Linux of course). Generally that is fine, but there are a few minor annoyances. However, it certainly gets the job done.

For instance, not being able to change the wallpaper shouldn’t be a big deal, right? But it drove me nuts – mostly because the default is just plain and boring. I found many options and hacks on how to set your own wallpaper and settled on StarterBackgroundChanger. Great little utility that, among other things, lets me setup wallpaper slideshows and such. Highly recommended. Now I’d love to figure out a way to get it to pull pics from a feed like the Bing Dynamic Theme does.

And you know what? Upon reflection that’s really the only thing I “hacked” about Starter edition.

One more beef though: Considering how many IT pros have netbooks (and no, I can’t quantify that statement at all), I was rather disappointed to learn that I can’t install the Remote Server Administration Tools with Win7 Starter Edition. That problem is solved with an “Anytime Upgrade” up to Windows 7 Professional. Granted, that’s $120 which is half of what I paid for this thing! Not gonna happen. I’d install a MSDN version of Pro first :-p

Firefox 4 and Two Quick Tips

24 Mar 2011
March 24, 2011

By now you’ve no doubt heard that Firefox 4 was released last week. I had used it through a few beta and release candidate releases and like it a lot. Here are a couple small tips that I thought I’d share. One specific to XP and the other to Windows 7 (and Vista?).

Firefox 4 on XP tip

At first, I wasn’t a huge fan of the redesigned menu but I’ve grown to like it, especially the amount of space it doesn’t take up. Here’s what it looks like on a Windows 7 machine:

Firefox 4 Menu on Windows 7

When I first installed it on my little XP laptop I was initially appalled. The bar was gone! Blah, it looked like the previous release:

Firefox 4 on XP -- old style menu

Fortunately, this is easily fixed. To get the snazzier menu, just go to View –> Toolbars and uncheck the “Menu Bar” option. Presto – problem fixed.

Firefox 4 on XP -- new style menu

Windows 7

When hovering over Firefox in the task bar, wouldn’t it be nice if it would show a thumbnail of all tabs, not just the current one? I sure thought so – and turns out it is just a checkbox away (assuming, of course, your operating system supports it).

Just go to Options and then the Tabs tab. Check the bottom option:

Firefox 4 - Show tab previews

Now hover over Firefox in the task bar:

Firefox 4 tab previews

From there you can click the tab you want to go to or even close them by hitting the little red “x”.

Search from the Address Bar

Bonus tip!

I’m not sure if this is a published feature or not, but I’ve noticed that I can type keyword searches straight into the address bar – instead of the search box – and it takes me to a Google search for those words. You know, like Chrome?

This doesn’t seem to be specifically listed on the Firefox Features page, but I sure like it. Also makes me think I could probably remove the search box altogether…