TWT Newsletter, Issue #020 –, – Windows 7 – The Story So Far
Happy New Year! Another festive season draws to a close, we hope you all had a pleasant break. The new year is always exciting for computer users, as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) takes place in Las Vegas. This year, the show will run from the 8th January to the 11th January and Microsoft is expected to deliver some more details of Windows 7, the hotly anticipated new version of Windows due for release this year.
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In this months issue:-
1) What’s New at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
2) Windows 7 – The Story So Far
3) Tip of the Month – Make Sure you Have an Operating System Recovery CD
4) Free Utility of the Month – Pidgin
5) The Journalspace.com Disaster
What’s New at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
In December we delved into the world of Instant Messaging. This is a great way to keep in touch with your friends and family, but it is not without its dangers. Our introduction to instant messaging explains more. We also brought you several tutorials on the excellent free multi-protocol instant messaging program, Pidgin. Lastly, we continued to work behind the scenes, tweaking and fixing pages to suit our new wide layout. We have several more improvements to come in 2009, so stay tuned.
Windows 7 – The Story So Far
IT professionals and Windows users alike have been getting cautiously optimistic about Windows 7, the new version of Windows due to launch later this year. Microsoft is sure to give us more information at this years CES in Las Vegas. However, a beta version of the new operating system has been leaked onto the internet, possibly deliberately. Beta versions of software are essentially finished, test versions and are often fully usable.
Needless to say, hundreds of curious users, system administrators, journalists and enthusiasts could not resist downloading the new version of Windows early. What did they discover when installing the new operating system? To save you trawling the many blog and website posts, we’ll sum up the most interesting things here:-
Windows 7 may be faster than Windows XP! – Many users were disappointed with the performance of Windows Vista. Gamers were frustrated that games ran at reduced frame-rates, users struggled to justify the upgrade price for existing machines, when XP ran more quickly. While its important to remember that Windows 7 is not finished, early reports are particularly promising regarding the operating systems speed. ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes put the beta version of Windows 7 through 23 comparison tests with both XP and Vista. The result? A startling victory for Windows 7 which managed to be faster in all but two tests. You can read the full article here. Other internet bloggers and journalists are reporting similar promising results. There’s still plenty of time before Windows 7 is finished, but if these early results are anything to go on, Windows 7 could be a much more compelling upgrade than Vista was.
Windows 7 may perform better on older hardware – Vista is known for being memory hungry. On a machine with plenty of RAM, Vista can run pretty well. On older, memory starved machines, most users prefer to stick to Windows XP. How will Windows 7 match up?
Steve Allwine, owner of the GeekPI blog, tried installing Windows 7 on his old Pentium 3 Toshiba Portege 3500 tablet PC, with 512mb of memory. The results were surprisingly positive. For a machine that was discontinued in 2003 this is quite unexpected, especially considering that new versions of Windows are almost always more resource intensive than older versions.
Of course, there’s still plenty of time for Windows 7 to change, but perhaps making the new operating system faster and less resource intensive does make a lot of sense. In these times of global recession, people will be more interested than ever in breathing new life into older hardware. If Microsoft continues demanding more and more resources for the basic operating system experience, it risks losing the low end/budget laptop/PC market to one of the more friendly flavours of Linux, such as Ubuntu.
With Windows 7 – Less is more – There are far fewer bundled applications with Windows 7. No longer will Microsoft install Windows Mail, Windows Messenger or Windows Movie Maker on every desktop. These applications will probably still be available for free, from Microsoft’s website. Detaching them from the Operating system will mean quicker installations and less clutter for those of us who never use these programs or prefer alternatives. Stalwarts Paint and Wordpad are still around, however.
Expect a new taskbar and improvements to Aero – The new taskbar is designed to work better on very high resolution displays. Aero boasts new features for organising your desktop.
Activation and anti-piracy measures are still in place – We’re no fans of overly aggressive anti-piracy measures here at Top-Windows-Tutorials, but we understand why software companies go to lengths to protect their products from piracy. The headaches associated with activation affect IT experts more than end users. When repairing a PC, it is sometimes very difficult to obtain the correct operating system recovery disks.
Windows Genuine Advantage, the controversial ‘update’ for Windows that checks for stolen serial numbers, is likely to stay in-place too. Not such good news for regular users, when there are less trustworthy computer repair shops around peddling stories like this one.
So, first impressions of the new version of Windows are quite positive and we can all be cautiously optimistic. We’ll keep you up to date with new developments on the Windows 7 front and we plan to support Windows Vista and XP users for several years to come.
Tip of the Month – Make Sure you Have an Operating System Recovery CD
Ah, a shiny new desktop or laptop PC. You tear into the box, eagerly attach all the cables and power up your new prize possession. Several years later, your hard drive, crammed with all your new data and program files, transfers its last bit of information and dies a sudden death.
Being a Top-Windows-Tutorials.com reader, you don’t panic. You backed up all your important documents using our handy backup tutorials. Just when you think everything is going to be fine, the technician repairing your PC phones and asks for your Windows installation CD.
“Windows Installation CD?” you reply, “but I never had one!”. It’s then the cost of the repair can go up dramatically. When buying a new PC, always make sure you have a recovery CD. Unfortunately, several PC manufacturers no longer include recovery CD’s, instead they store a recovery partition on the computers hard drive. This is, in our opinion, utterly ridiculous. Considering that on any computer, the hard drive is the most likely component to fail after extended use. If you don’t get a recovery CD, create one of your own using an application like Paragon Hard Disk Backup or Easeus Disk Copy.
Free Utility of the Month – Pidgin
Pidgin is one of the most widely used multi-protocol instant messaging programs on the internet. Pidgin supports a huge range of instant messaging protocols as well as full security and encryption via the OTR plugin. Save yourself the hassle of installing two or more IM programs and simply use Pidgin!
You can start using Pidgin now, thanks to our great new tutorials, see this link for more information.
The Journalspace.com disaster
You’ll notice that we bring up the subject of backup a lot in the TWT Newsletter. We don’t mean to nag, but we do strongly believe that too many users simply don’t have an adequate backup solution, if they have a backup solution at all! The trouble with backup is it is something that you’ll need one day in the distant future. It’s easy to put it off because everything works just fine right now.
Imagine then, if your whole business were to disappear overnight. That is what happened to the unfortunate Journalspace.com website. The sites only backup was a second hard disk in a RAID1/Mirror configuration. In non technical terms, this means there are two hard disks, both with a copy of the same data. If one hard disk fails, it is replaced immediately and the data is recopied to it from the other disk (which is hopefully still working).
The problem with a backup strategy like this is that the data on the drives is copied or mirrored in real time. So, for example, if someone were to overwrite the information by accident, the information on both drives would instantly be wiped out. This is what happened to Journalspace.com and all the blogs it contained. Overnight, the site went from being a successful, high ranking website to being nothing. Even data recovery laboratories were unable to help the unfortunate web masters.
While this story does certainly highlight the need to backup your data, it also shows that having a properly planned backup strategy is equally important. RAID devices, while undoubtedly useful as part of a backup strategy, should never form the whole backup strategy. There are simply too many variables that can still go wrong when relying solely on a RAID configuration. It’s also worth remembering that RAID set-ups are not completely immune to failure themselves. It’s by no means unheard of for two hard drives to fail at the same time, rendering a mirrored set of drives completely useless.
Now we all live in the digital age, storing and archiving information requires a different kind of approach. Printed documents, for example, may be readable for many thousands of years. Information stored digitally does not have this benefit. However, information stored digitally can be copied extremely quickly, it can be erased or altered pretty quickly too. Always have adequate backups of any digital data you cannot afford to lose.
That’s all for the first TWT newsletter of the new year. We hope that you enjoyed this newsletter, if you didn’t then please let us know why, you can contact us by visiting this page. If you have enjoyed this newsletter, feel free to pass it on to all your friends and family, or better still encourage them to sign up for their own copy! Until next month, keep checking Top-Windows-Tutorials.com and from myself and all the staff here, thanks for your continuing support and readership in 2009.