Changing Search Defaults In IE8 March 7th, 2010
The install or upgrade of Microsoft Internet Explorer will give you the option to change your default search engine just as in previous versions of IE; of course for many this is going to involve a change from Bing to Google. Now it may only be a minor point but after this initial choice their doesn’t seem to be an easy way of changing to a regional variant of Google using the Search Add-In menu, being that I live in the UK it seems a reasonable assumption that I am going to choose to change my default searching habits to UK searching – or at least have that choice. Easy to do you’d have thought, alas not in IE!
After giving it some thought, the answer is actually quite easy, instead of using the menus within IE simply visit the webpage that was first seen at the beginning (of course most people will have gone straight past this screen and no longer have access to it), the webpage is:
Here you will have the option to create your own search provider which is a lot easier than it sounds. All you need to do is the following (using Google UK as a guide):
- Open a new tab in the browser (IE, of course), ensuring you leave the existing page open as you will need to come back shortly
- Visit the search engine that you want to be your default, in this case http://www.google.co.uk
- Perform a search for ‘TEST’ ensuring that you use all capital letters and that you check the UK option to return search results based on UK sites
- Copy and paste the URL of the page containing the search results into the box back on the ‘Add Search providers To Internet Explorer’ page
- Choose a name for this search provider, in this case Google UK
- Hit install
That’s it, simple. Next time you use the search field in IE you’ll be presented with relevant sites.
Windows 7 Browser – You Now Have A Choice February 25th, 2010
After the requirement of the European Commission for Microsoft to offer a choice of browsers to its users (See Article), I noticed that Windows Update has today downloaded a small update which finally gives me the choice (not that I or anyone else of course could not have already manually changed browsers beforehand) as to which browser I prefer to use with Windows 7.
The update in question is KB976002 – Microsoft Browser Choice Screen Update for EEA Users of Windows 7.
Once downloaded and applied, the update adds an icon to your desktop (appropriately named Browser Choice) which when clicked, opens up Internet Explorer and continues to offer you a selection of alternative browsers for you to take a look at or download (the download links and appropriate links to the relevant vendor sites for information are included for convenience). The current options are:
- Internet Explorer
- Mozilla Firefox
- Google Chrome
By clicking the Browser Choice icon and running through the options, you’ll notice that Internet Explorer is automatically unpinned from the taskbar but that it is not uninstalled (of course Internet Explorer forms an integral part of the OS and can never be fully uninstalled), although it is possible to further remove all reference to it by un-checking the Internet Explorer option by going to Control Panel > Programs and Features > Turn Windows features on or off.
I think the inclusion of this choice is a step in the right direction but I would have liked to have seen it taken a step further. It would have been great to have seen an option to not only choose additional browsers, but the ability to define your default browser and remove reference to Internet Explorer (if that’s what you choose to do of course) all in one place.
Personally I still use Internet Explorer 8, Firefox 3.6 and Google Chrome 4 so this update has not changed anything for me but I am sure that it will have an impact on the browser trends within Europe over the coming years as more and more people come to realise that they have a choice; perhaps then Microsoft will start developing further releases of Internet Explorer to the same set of standards as other vendors in the hope that its popularity increases once again.
Windows 7 Tweaks September 7th, 2009
So Windows 7 has been around in various beta and RC candidates for a while now and Microsoft have finally announced the official public launch date will be October 22nd so it won’t be too long before it’s available to the masses (yeap, that’s you lot).
So is it worth it?
Microsoft were given a lot of criticism after the launch of Vista and rightly so. Vista ran far slower than Windows XP on comparable hardware, not exactly the massive step forward that it was intended to be. In fact, it was a bit of an embarrassment. As such, one of the main goals of the development team for Windows 7 was to ensure that it ran significantly better than Vista overall, they simply could not be faced with the same situation again. Well, I have been running Windows 7 on my main development laptop now for some time and I am pleased to report that I am thus far, impressed with the work that they have done. Would I recommend it? You know for consumers, I think I would. Of course the same question is not so easily answered in the corporate sector owing to various other factors, but I’m sure that over time, IT managers will be less apprehensive with a migration to Windows 7 than they were with Vista. There will always be the argument for other vendors such as Apple or the various Linux distros but that’s not what I am discussing here.
There are however as with any OS, some tweaks which you can apply to Windows 7 to improve speed and general responsiveness, here are some which I recommend you do to squeeze even more performance out of an already, pretty robust platform.
MSConfig has been around in one form or another for some time now, since the days of Windows 3.1 in fact (ah, those were the days!), it’s still alive and well and working behind the scenes in Windows 7. MSConfig was initially envisaged as a tool for system administrators to help diagnose problems with the boot process, however, it can also be used as a tool for optimising the systems performance. To launch MSConfig, open the run prompt (either through the start menu itself or Ctrl+R) and type msconfig followed by enter. When the System Configuration dialog box opens go straight to the Startup tab, the tab which shows you which programs are set to run when the system boots, it also allows you to disable any unwanted startup items. Obviously each installation will be different based on hardware and what software has been installed so use caution when deselecting items! Unfortunately there is no ‘right for all’ answer, get in touch if you’d like some advice.
- THE AERO INTERFACE
The performance impact of the Aero interface has been debated since the time that Windows Vista was first released. I have seen some benchmark tests that indicate that there is no noticeable performance impact associated with enabling the Aero interface. At the same time though, there are people who swear that their PCs run more efficiently without it. In either case, there is no denying that Aero does consume a significant amount of system resources and we can probably do without it.
In the current beta of Windows 7, Setup is designed to compute the system index, unlike in Vista where this was done at a later stage by the user. Assuming that the machine has a sufficient system index score and compatible graphics hardware, Aero is automatically enabled. On the other hand, Aero is not automatically enabled (although the Aero Shake and Aero Peek features are enabled) if you are running Windows 7 within a virtual machine.
Windows 7 is designed so that it will not compute the system index if it is running within a virtual machine, and unless a system index is calculated, the aero glass is not enabled.
- Internet Explorer Add-Ons
By itself, Internet Explorer is a fairly efficient application. However, add-ons can really decrease the browser’s performance. Windows 7 actually allows you to see which add-ons are taking the longest to load. From there, you can make a decision as to whether or not you want to disable the add-on in the name of faster load times.
You can check the performance of each add-on by opening Internet Explorer, and selecting the Manage Add-Ons command from the Tools menu. When the list of add-ons appears, scroll all the way to the right, and you will see a column that tells you how long each add-on takes to load.