Why Is It Called Windows 7 October 22nd, 2009
There seems to be a lot of confusion over the new naming convention for Windows 7. Microsoft in all their wisdom seem to change direction each time a new version of Windows is released and each time, the name doesn’t seem to follow the previous. So, I thought I’d explain the logic behind why the latest version is called Windows 7.
Microsoft has decided to start calling this and future releases of their Windows operating system based on their version numbers. Versions previously known by other numbers (95 and 98) or name (Me, XP and Vista) used internal version numbers. XP was version 5.1 and Vista was version 6.0 for example.
So the story in the evolution of Windows so far is:
Windows 1 was released in November 1985, 2.0 in October 1987, and 2.1 (which was also known as Windows /286 and Windows /386) in May 1998.
Windows 3, which first introduced 32-bit capabilities came to market in May 1990, and came into its own with versions 3.1 in April 1992.
Microsoft then split off a ‘new technology’ version of Windows to compete with UNIX. It was influenced by Microsoft’s then partnership with IBM who created OS/2. The development of this new version began as OS/2 version 3. It shipped as Windows NT 3.1 in July 1993 and was a fully 32-bit operating system. It was also the first version of Windows that did not run as a shell on top of DOS. Windows NT 3.5 shipped in 1994, and 4.0 in 1996.
Windows 4 came out as Windows 95 in August 1995 and was the first consumer version with 32-bit support and pre-emptive multitasking. Windows 98 arrived in July 1998, and a second edition (Windows 98 SE) replaced it in 1999. Windows Me shipped in September 2000 and was the final consumer version of Windows 4; it was also a complete flop.
Windows 5 arrived as Windows 2000 in February 2000 and was a replacement for NT 4.0. The consumer version, known as Windows XP (or Windows 5.1), was released to manufacturers in August 2001 although not available on the retail market until October. The latest version is SP3. Windows Server 2003 (Windows 5.2) replaced Windows 2000 in April 2003, and its latest version is SP2. Microsoft released separate 64-bit versions of Windows XP and Sever 2003 in April 2005.
Windows 6 was named Windows Vista, released to manufacturers in November 2006 and reached the retail market in January 2007. Vista is also available in 64-bit editions. Windows Server 2008 is also another version of Windows 6.
So there we have it the story so far and today, we see the official launch of the 7th incarnation of the Windows family – Windows 7.
Makes perfect sense really doesn’t it?
Dual Booting Windows Vista and Windows 7 September 12th, 2009
With Windows 7 well on the way now with official public release due on October 22nd, I’m sure a lot of people will want to dual boot the new OS with an existing installation of Vista. In this post, I’ll show you how to achieve this.
Firstly, and very importantly, make sure that you have applied the latest updates from Windows Update and made sure that you have the latest drivers installed for your specific hardware. It’s important to remember that Windows 7 is still currently in beta release. The version of Windows that I am using in this post is Windows 7 Ultimate Edition, build 6.1.7000. When the final version is available, although unlikely, this information may need updating.
I am going to perform this installation on a virtual machine. If it were a production machine you would simply create a restore point and back up any data on the system before continuing.
Things to note before attempting a dual-boot configuration:
- You need a hard disk in the system that has a separate partition for each operating system that you want to install
- If the single disk does not have multiple partitions already configured you may need to reformat and / or repartition your hard disk
- Alternatively, you could install an additional hard drive in the system
- The partition should formatted with the NTFS file system.
- To avoid major configuration problems, especially between older boot managers and newer boot managers, you should always install operating systems from oldest release to newest i.e. Vista should be installed first.
Notes – When you install multiple operating systems to a single system in a multi-boot configuration you should do so in the order of their release. Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 released in that order so if you’re trying to install one or more on a system you should do them in that order.
- The Installation
Before starting this post I already have a virtual machine configured with Windows Vista Ultimate Edition service pack 1 and have an available primary partition to use for Windows 7. I am going to launch setup from within the running Vista operating system; I could have just as easily booted from the DVD at startup and kicked off the installation routine following most of the upcoming steps.
You can choose one option or the other; unless you have some specific reason to do otherwise, it is almost always the best bet to go ahead and get the latest updates for installation (as recommended by the setup wizard).
If you do not want to take part in the Windows improvement program (I’d recommend you don’t, I like to know what my machine is doing and do not like the idea of information being passed out without my knowing!) you’ll need to clear the “I want to help make Windows installation better” check box as it is selected by default. I am going to choose the “Get important updates for installation” option for this post.
Setup will search online for installation updates (if any) and will reboot the system when this part of the installation is complete
If this system should restart at this point or a little later on in the installation routine you need to make sure you are not doing anything with the keyboard if your system is set to check the DVD drive for a boot device; otherwise you’ll hit a key and then begin booting from the DVD which starts the setup process all over. If you should accidentally do this you can fix it by power cycling the system and letting the routine restart from where it left off which it will do if you do not hit the keys on the keyboard on the next cycle.
- After the reboot
Once the system gets back up from rebooting you’ll reach the “Please read the license terms” screen; you’ll need to accept the license terms to proceed to the next phase.
The next screen is where you have the option to chose which type of installation you want to perform.
You would select Custom (advanced) to perform a clean installation or to set up the system in a dual or multi-boot configurations. As we are going ahead with a dual boot installation this is the option we would select.
When the routine continues from here you’ll be presented the “Where do you want to install Windows” options which will show you the available partitions where Windows can be installed.
Notes – if you are expecting to see another partition and it is not available you can try refreshing the screen but it is more likely that setup needs to load a driver for that device and it is not present. To load a driver for a missing controller or other device you would choose the Load Driver option shown at the bottom left of the window. In order for you to successfully install Windows 7 alongside the existing Windows Vista installation you should choose the other available partition, in this case E: on Disk 0 Partition 2
Once the setup routine continues, it will copy the Windows files and then begin expanding them. At some point in the ‘Expanding Files’ sequence the routine will stop and the system will reboot before continuing, don’t worry this is normal. During this reboot cycle you’ll notice the first Windows 7 splash screens.
Once setup comes back online it will finish expanding all of the files (and it’ll reboot again) and install all of the files needed before it restarts one final time for the final configuration (after setup) of the Windows 7 OS.
What you should also notice during this startup sequence (and all that follow) is that you are now presented with the Windows Boot Manager [image 6] at start up which allows you to choose which operating system you want to boot the system into. When you install Windows 7 in a multi-boot environment it becomes the default operating system in the Windows Boot Manager. Setup always designates the last operating system to be installed the default to start after a 30 second delay; this can of course be changed later on.
- After Installation
Now that Windows 7 is running you can start the final stage of setting up the system. On the first screen you are prompted to choose a country or region setting, the time and currency settings and keyboard layout you’re using. Obviously this will vary according to where you are but for me, I’ve chosen the United Kingdom settings.
Next, you’ll need to type in a user name to use on the system and that entry will give you a computer name suggestion based on what you entered. You can choose to keep that name or change it (I recommend changing it to something more appropriate, such a $name-laptop or $name-desktop etc for easier identification later on) and click NEXT.
The next screen is ‘Set a password for your user account’ where you enter your password information and a hint in case you need help remembering what your password is. Please do remember to take setting your password seriously, don’t type something so obvious it can be hacked!
The step of entering in a product key and for activation of the operating system is going to be dependent on which type of installation media you have, I am using standard media that requires this for install and this would be the screen where you’d provide this information. You can just choose NEXT and bypass entering a key; you;ll be able to run the operating system for 30 days. At the end of that time you will be required to enter a key and activate the product. After the key is entered and you choose NEXT you’ll land on the ‘Help protect you computer and improve Windows automatically’ page which is where you’ll initially configure the Windows Update settings.
The next screen is the ‘Review your time and date settings’ page which allows you to change time zone settings. You are also able to change the time and date as well if you need to. Additionally, the ‘automatically adjust clock for Daylight Saving Time’ checkbox is selected by default so if you’re in an area where it is not observed you’ll need to clear this option.
On the next screen you are presented with the ‘Select your computer’s current location’ page where you choose to identify the network settings as Home, Work or Public which will automatically configure the network resource settings, firewall settings, network discovery settings and other parameters based on the profile you choose.
After you make this selection, Windows 7 will finalise your settings and the operating system will show the user desktop and you will be good to go! Enjoy…
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.