Archive for October, 2009
If your like me, your ready to cut the cable, and ditch your local cable provider. Many cable providers have used the Digital Transition as an opportunity to screw over the consumer, so it is time to move ditch cable and turn to the sky.
Between IP sources of TV and over the air sources the amount of free content is mind boggling. With and HDTV and the correct antenna, you can be watch higher resolution content for free than you are paying for now. Combine that with a HD Tivo or even better a Windows 7 Media Center, you will have access to tons of free over the air and the internet for free. The cost savings alone will justify the purchase of the antenna and Windows 7 PC.
To get you started check out this great site called AntennaWeb.Org
One of the best new products in Microsoft’s newly revamped online store (store.microsoft.com) is the USB/DVD Download Tool. When you purchase a copy of Windows 7 from the store, you have the option to download an ISO file. With this tool, you can create a copy of that ISO file on a USB flash drive or DVD.
The DVD option is for those folks seeking instant gratification and can’t want to wait for a boxed product to ship. However, the USB option is for people with netbook computers – the mini laptops that have become all the rage as of late. Because these small PCs typically don’t have an optical drive, installing Windows via a CD/DVD isn’t an option, but installing via a USB flash drive is.
With the new Download Tool, you’re able to create a bootable USB drive which can then be used to install Windows 7 on any computer… even if there’s no operating system currently installed on the machine.
In order to use this tool, you’ll need a USB flash drive with at least 4 GB of free space. Also, there should be no other files on the drive when it’s used to install Windows.
You’ll be given the option to use this tool when you purchase a copy of Windows 7 here and then choose one of the download options as your delivery method.
If you already have a Windows 7 ISO and just want to download the tool, you can click here (.exe file) to install it on your PC now.
Microsoft has just released a slew of new Windows 7 Themes. Go check them out. I like the Zune ones.
Here are some of my favorites below
Gears of War
Gears of War 2
When Windows 7 drops this Thursday, you can either spend many, many hours watching a progress bar, or you can boot into a clean, speedy system with that new-OS smell. Let’s get your system set up for a proper Windows 7 upgrade.
If you’re jumping into Windows 7 for the first time this Thursday, or soon after, you won’t find yourself facing an entirely new-looking, strange-acting Windows. Most of Windows 7′s features are refinements, tweaks, and speed-ups from Vista. Your Lifehacker editors have been using 7 ever since the Windows 7 Beta dropped in January, and we’ve found a few things worth noting and, in some cases, crowing about, like these 10 things to look forward to in Windows 7, or Windows 7′s underhyped features.
Considering that we know that 86% of you are upgrading to Windows 7, we thought it might be worth a little guidance for getting to ready to do just that.
Before You Upgrade, Part 1: What You Can Upgrade To
Are you running Windows XP? You can upgrade, but you’ll have to do a whole-cloth "custom" installation, which will either wipe out your current system or, if you’re planning on dual-booting, require some hard drive partitioning.
Running Windows Vista? You can do an in-place upgrade from a Vista edition (Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate) to an equivalent or lower-scale edition of Windows 7 (Starter, Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate), assuming you’re not moving up from 32-bit to 64-bit. Yeah, it’s that simple. Ed Bott at ZDNet took a woefully confusing upgrade chart Microsoft prepared and made an easier-to-grasp, plain-English upgrade chart that’s definitely worth checking out.
Before you buy an upgrade disc, though, you’ll want to ensure your system meets the minimum specs for 7. Here they are in table form, stylishly cribbed from Wikipedia’s Windows 7 page:
Need to double-check one of your system’s stats against what Microsoft calls the bare minimum? They offer a free Upgrade Advisor download for Windows systems that will tell you whether your hardware and peripherals can live in the Windows 7 world.
Finally, if you’re planning on upgrading from the Release Candidate you’ve been testing out and running happily since what seems like forever, know that it takes a bit more than just popping in a disc. Microsoft doesn’t really want you to pay only an "upgrade" price to move up from a free system, but it can be done. Our own How-To Geek posted a detailed walkthrough of a Windows 7 RC to RTM upgrade at his home away from Lifehacker. Basically, you’ll need to edit a single file on the Windows 7 installation disc, which requires a disc-to-hard-drive copy and a free extraction tool. If that’s not your cup of tea, or you’d rather fulfill your licensing obligations, you’ve got until March 2010 before the Release Candidate starts nagging and auto-rebooting on you.
Before You Upgrade, Part 2: Back Up Your Data
Even if things go swimmingly with your upgrade, you’ll want to have a fall-back copy of your music, pictures, documents, application data, and other important files. If you’re doing a "custom installation" from Windows XP or any system without a Windows license, it’s an absolute must. Our readers voted up tools like Cobian Backup, SyncBack, and Acronis True Image in our Hive Five for Windows backup tools, but also suggested online, auto-monitoring tools like Mozy Home and Carbonite—which aren’t free for more than token amounts of data, and probably can’t get you backed up in time if you must jump into 7 this Thursday.
For absolute security in knowing that you could completely revive your current Windows system if 7 turned into a disaster, do what Gina did by hot-imaging your PC’s hard drive with DriveImage XML.
Upgrade Option 1: In-Place Upgrade from Vista
This one is the easiest option, since all your data files stay in place, your just-as-you-like-them computer settings stay in place, and you don’t need to touch anything with the word "partition" involved.
The downside? Depending on how "clean" a user you are—in terms of removing unnecessary applications and keeping your media library trim and in one place—and the speed of your hardware, an upgrade to Windows 7 can take a seriously long time. Chris Hernandez charts his extensive testing and finds that a "super user" on mid-range hardware could wait more than 6 hours for a 32-bit upgrade to finish. That’s a worst-case scenario, but if you feel like you’ve got a lot of applications and data that might hold things up, there is a way to get tidy in a jiff.
First off, install Revo Uninstaller and kill off any applications, helpers, monitoring programs, and anything else that you’re not really using in Vista. (Won’t it feel nice to have a cleaner system when you start up Windows 7?) Next, read our step-by-step guide to separating your data from Windows on a stand-alone partition. You’ll benefit from doing this with any version of Windows, and especially if you’re planning to dual-boot any time soon.
Separating your music, pictures, movies, Office documents, and other non-application files from the stuff Windows needs to run means that Windows 7 only looks at your core C: drive for an upgrade. From a peace of mind perspective, that also means that if things don’t go well with your upgrade and you decide to run a clean install, you’re in a better position to do so. Best of all, Windows 7′s "Libraries" features makes it easy to access music, pictures, documents, and videos anywhere on your system, right from the Start menu.
Upgrade Option 2: Upgrading from XP or a Clean Hard Drive
Windows XP users can still get the Upgrade price discount, but there’s no actual "upgrade"—you’re doing a whole new install of Windows 7 on a blank hard drive, or at least a blank partition. If there’s space enough on your drive, do as we suggest above and create a new partition for just your data, but you’ll also want to back up your application data, in this case.
Microsoft has posted an official XP-to-Windows-7 migration video guide, and offers a User State Migration Tool that claims to capture desktop and system settings, user accounts, and the files you want and brings them over to your new Windows 7 system. The How-To Geek’s partner in blogging, mysticgeek, also details how to use Windows 7′s Easy Transfer tool with a USB drive to migrate files and settings. Obvious, but fair, warning: Be sure to run these transfer utilities in XP first, back up their file loads, and then run them in Windows 7, unless you’re planning on dual-booting (detailed just a bit down this page).
Concerned about your favorite programs’ compatibility in Windows 7? We’ve run down how to set up and use Virtual XP Mode in Windows 7. An official, final, and free download of XP Mode should arrive this week for Windows 7, possibly at this page.
Upgrade Option 3: Dual-Boot Windows XP or Vista with 7
Technically, you could use our guide to dual-booting Windows 7 with XP or Vista to set up a crazy schizo-system with all three Windows versions available, but we’re assuming that unless you’re a developer, you probably want to at least move on from Vista, given 7′s compatibility with, and improvements over, the much-maligned OS.
If you set up dual-booting, you can still use the User State Migration Tool or Windows 7′s Easy Transfer tool to save time setting up your accounts over again in Windows 7—you just don’t have to worry about putting the horse before the cart this way.
"Upgrade" Option 4: Boot Camp on a Mac
There’s nothing too new about installing Windows 7 on a Mac with Boot Camp that hasn’t already been done already with XP and Vista. Stroll over to our Boot Camp how-to guide to read up on how to set up a Windows system right next to OS X, with extra pointers on getting devices like Mac keyboards working properly in Windows.
Upgrade Option 5: Load Windows 7 on a Netbook
It’s entirely possible to load Windows 7 onto netbooks that shipped with XP, Linux, or some other system—it’s just not quite easy. If you’re up for a little ISO imaging, USB installing, and file compression, our sibling blog Gizmodo can walk you through installing Windows 7 on almost any netbook. You’ll need a minimum of 1GB of RAM and 8GB of hard drive space on your netbook, along with a 4GB thumb drive and a valid copy of Windows 7. PC World just posted a guide to getting Windows 7 on your netbook in a half-hour, but we’ve yet to try out their technique.
Windows only: Free application Hulu Desktop Integration brings Hulu’s remote-friendly desktop app to your Windows Media Center.
Whether or not you’re a fan of Windows operating systems, there’s no denying that Windows has one of the best media center apps available (especially if you want to turn your PC into a media center powerhouse on the cheap). It’s got its problems (TV recordings are encoded in an absolutely irritating DRMed file format), but it ships with Windows (so in a sense is free) and it can extend to common hardware like the Xbox 360 with aplomb (see the media center powerhouse link above).
Now that sites like Hulu have become a viable destination for free TV, Hulu integration seems only natural, and Hulu Desktop Integration makes it simple for users to jump between Windows 7 Media Center and Hulu Desktop.
The “Spark” series of programs are initiatives that deliver free Microsoft software and support to individuals and organizations. The program lineup currently includes DreamSpark, which offers tons of free software tools for students, and BizSpark, which gives startups the tools and support they need to get off the ground. Now comes a third entry, “WebsiteSpark.”
As you may imagine, this new program provides web developers and designers with copies of Microsoft web design and development software. The list includes Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition, Expression Studio 3, Expression Web 3 as well as processor licenses for Windows Web Server 2008 or R2 (when available), SQL Server 2008 and DotNetPanel, a third-party web site control panel.
To qualify, web development and design companies with up to 10 employees and owners can participate for three years with no up-front cost on their part. At the end of the term, only a $100 fee is due, but there are no other costs or obligations. So in other words, you’re getting a ton of software for only $100.
That on its own would be great, but the program also provides professional support and training during the three year period. Of course the end goal here is to sell potential customers on the Microsoft platform, but as TechCrunch recently noted: “Who cares” because “frankly, their developer tools have long been the best available.”
Those interested in learning more or enrolling can do so here: http://www.microsoft.com/web/websitespark.