Windows 7

17 obscure Windows tools and tricks too powerful to overlook

Windows is chock full of handy-dandy power tools, but most of them are hidden from everyday view. These are the ones you need to know about.

Peering deep inside Windows
The beauty of Windows lies in its flexibility and depth. In fact, Windows is so deep and flexible that many of us never touch its more powerful tools, whether from unawareness or sheer forgetfulness. But beneath Internet Explorer and the Start button hides a universe of tools and tricks that are positively brimming with potential.

With that in mind, let’s brush the cobwebs off some classic Windows power tips that you’re likely to have forgotten about. Dig in, enjoy, and don’t forget to bookmark this article. You don’t want these tips and tricks to fade from memory once again.

GodMode
Let’s get the party started by dragging some of Windows’ hidden customization options into the light. GodMode is a developer tool that collates the operating system’s far-flung customization options into a single location, an Easter Egg that makes it far easier to exert your will over Windows.

Just right-click the Windows desktop and select New > Folder. Name it GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} —you can actually switch out “GodMode” for any other name, but the period and all the jumble afterwards have to be exact. If you did it right, the folder icon will switch to the Control Panel icon. Start exploring, and dive into this tutorial for even deeper GodMode tricks.

Problem Steps Recorder
This little-known tool creates an HTML slideshow of your actions, recording your moves step-by-step so that you can show your IT admin or resident PC geek exactly what you’re doing when you run into a problem. It’s a huge boon during especially tricky troubleshooting situations.

To open the Problem Steps Recorder, simply search for psr in the Windows 7 Start menu or Windows 8’s Start screen. The tool should pop right up and is very straightforward to use.

Windows Reliability Monitor
Your PC may be behaving badly, even if it doesn’t appear so outwardly. But fear not: Windows Reliability Monitor is a tattle-tale who isn’t afraid to spill the beans. It shows all problems that Windows has encountered in a chronological chart, which you can sort and click through for more information on a day-by-day and case-by-case basis. The tool’s especially handy while you’re tracking down trouble programs that could be the cause of weird crashes.

To open the Reliability Monitor, open the Control Panel and head to System and Security > Review your computer’s status and resolve issues (under Action Center) > Maintenance > View reliability history (under “Check for solutions to problem reports”). Presto!

Get a power efficiency report
Windows can give you a detailed report on your laptop’s power efficiency, if you know where to look for it. Search for Command Prompt via the Start menu (Win7) or Start screen (Win8), then right-click on the Command Prompt result and select Run as administrator. Then enter powercfg -energy -output FolderEnergy_Report.html into the Command Prompt, replacing “Folder” with a file path to the folder of your choice.

Windows will analyze things for a while, then spit out the Energy Report in your desired location, which you’ll be able to read in a browser. It can be a bit technical, but it also includes suggestions for optimizing your notebook’s power performance.

Shake and shrink
Here’s a fun yet handy trick: Click and hold the title bar of the program you’re working in, then shake it back and forth rapidly. All other open windows will minimize to the task bar, leaving your desktop nice and clutter-free. Sure, you can do the same by pressing Windows key + Home, but where’s the fun in that?

Encrypt your files
Encrypting your data is a great way to make sure your files stay safe even if your PC is stolen or hacked. Microsoft’s BitLocker—built into Windows Vista or 7 Ultimate, Windows Vista or 7 Enterprise, and Windows 8 Pro or Enterprise—can encrypt your entire drive.

BitLocker has some specialized hardware requirements as well as some notable caveats to be aware of, however—most notably, you don’t want to lose the recovery key that lets you decrypt all your data. You can read all about those crucial tidbits and how to set up BitLocker in PCWorld’s beginner’s guide to BitLocker.

Calibrate your display
Third-party display calibration software can cost an arm and a leg, but fortunately, Windows includes a calibration tool that can meet the demands of all but the most demanding graphics professionals. It’s tucked into a corner of the Control Panel that doesn’t see action often.

Head into the Control Panel again, then select Display. You want the Calibrate color option in the left-hand options pane. Diving into the tool is beyond the scope of this article, but you can find full step-by-step details on using Windows’ calibration tool in this guide.

Make Windows play nice with high-DPI displays
Super-high-resolution displays are becoming the norm these days, with a slew of laptops, tablets, and monitors packing eye candy far in excess of the common 1080p resolution. Unfortunately, Windows still suffers from scaling issues with pixel-packed displays, often making text appear small or blurry.

The easiest way to fix this is by tinkering with Windows’ global scaling options, which you can find by opening the Control Panel and heading to Display > Custom Sizing Options. Here, you can change scaling by a percentage or via a tool that resembles a ruler. The Display page also offers scaling options for text alone. You may need to do more manual tinkering in individual programs to get everything just right—this article can help.

Schedule tasks to automate your digital life
Task Scheduler does exactly what you’d think: It helps you set schedules for running specific Windows applications, such as backups or a maintenance tool like CCleaner. Task Scheduler also lets you create complex scripts of tasks, which can run in order and at particular times. You can find it by searching for Task Scheduler via the Start menu or Windows 8 Start screen, then selecting Schedule tasks when the option appears.

Be warned: This powerful tool is designed for power users, complete with an obscure interface. You can get a feel for creating basic tasks by reading up on the Check Disk and Disk Cleanup sections of this task automation guide, while this superb How-to Geek piece by frequent PCWorld contributor Chris Hoffman really delves into nitty-gritty advanced tasks.

Tweak the programs that start at boot
Many of the programs you install run at startup by default, and that’s bound to eat up your memory and slow down the boot process over time. Fortunately, Windows includes tools that lets you manually select which programs are allowed to boot up alongside the operating system.

Windows 8 makes it easy with a helpful Startup tab in the Task Manager. You have to jump through more hoops in previous versions of the OS. Press Win + R to bring up the Run command, then search for msconfig and open the Startup tab in the window that opens. Don’t kill anything if you’re not sure what it does, but feel free to get rid of common offenders like Steam or iTunes.

Force Windows to show all your drives
Windows’ File Explorer won’t show any drives that are completely empty by default, which can be a hassle when you’re fiddling with SD cards or flash drives. You can force the issue, though.

First, open File Explorer. In Windows 7, press Alt to bring up the top menu, then head to Tools > Folder Options > View. Under Advanced Settings, uncheck the box next to “Hide empty drives in the Computer folder” and hit OK. In Windows 8, open File Explorer’s View tab and open Options > Change folder and search options. Here, look for the same option under Advanced Settings. This list of advanced view settings also lets you opt to show hidden files and folders.

Handy hotkeys
Speaking of keyboard shortcuts, here are some lesser-known gems. You can find a comprehensive list here.
-Win + (left or right arrow) to pin current window to respective screen edge
-Win + m to minimize all desktop windows
-Win + R to open the run command
-Win + X to open Windows 8’s powerful Quick Access Menu
-Alt + Tab to switch between open programs
-Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open the Task Manager

I heard you like Windows in your Windows
Sometimes, your standard Windows installation just doesn’t cut it. Virtual machines—which allow you to run sandboxed, virtualized instances of operating systems in a standard window in Windows—are great for when you need to use a separate OS for software security, compatibility, or testing reasons.

The Pro and Enterprise versions of Windows 8 support Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtual machine manager, though you have to install it. Open the Control Panel and head to Programs > Turn Windows Features on or off, then check the Hyper-V box and click OK. Reboot after the install. Check out this guide to learn how to use Hyper-V, or the free VirtualBox tool if you want to run virtual machines on the standard version of Windows 8 (or any previous version of Windows).

Shut up User Account Control
The User Account Control baked into Windows 7, 8, and Vista—the box that pops up asking you express permission to allow certain programs and processes to run—is ostensibly there to protect everyday users from security threats, but it’s more annoyance than assistance for seasoned users. Tweak its settings or turn it off completely by heading to Control Panel > User Accounts and Family Safety > User Accounts > Change User Account Control Settings. You’ll be glad you did.

Tailor your taskbar
The basic Windows taskbar works well enough, but it offers a wealth of customization options for power users. Simply right-click on it and select Properties, then spend some time digging around: You’re able to adjust the taskbar’s position, auto-hide it if desired, tinker with what appears in the Notification Area, add additional toolbars, and more. Ian Paul detailed a few of the most useful tweaks in a Hassle-Free PC column.

Windows 8’s Quick Access Menu
Windows 8 may have killed the Start menu, but it didn’t leave power users wanting completely: Right-clicking in the lower-left corner of the operating system, whether you’re on the desktop or the Live Tile’d Start screen, reveals a long menu technically dubbed the Quick Access Menu, but I call it the power user’s delight.

The Quick Access Menu provides—you guessed it—quick access to a slew of helpful power tools, including the Command Prompt, Network Connections, Device Manager, Event Viewer, and the Computer Management interface. Don’t miss this easy-to-overlook gem.

Restore lost options to Windows 8
Windows 8 and 8.1 shook up Microsoft’s classic OS, but it removed some helpful legacy desktop options—most notably, the Start menu and, in Windows 8.1, Library quick-links in File Explorer.

Microsoft plans to bring the Start menu back to Windows 8, but for now, you’ll have to resort to using a third-party Start menu replacement tool if you miss your menu. Returning Libraries to Windows 8.1 is easier. Just open File Explorer, then head to View > Navigation pane and select View Libraries. Microsoft ripped some other features out of Windows 8.1, too, which you can read all about here. (Bonus: Windows 8.1 now includes Library support for removable media like flash drives and SD cards.)


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MCITP for Exchange Server Certification

 

The Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) certification helps validate that an individual has the comprehensive set of skills necessary to perform a particular job role, such as database administrator or enterprise messaging administrator. MCITP certifications build on the technical proficiency measured in the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certifications. Therefore, you will earn one or more MCTS certifications on your way to earning an MCITP certification

On This Page

 

MCITP: MCTS Certification Training

MCITP: MCITP Certification Training

 

 

 

 

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Enterprise Messaging Administrator 2010

 

When you earn the MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator certification, you demonstrate your professional expertise in using Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 to excel in a specific job role.

 

This certification helps validate the knowledge and skills that are associated with performing as the lead engineer for messaging solutions within an enterprise organization, as well as the ability to design and deploy messaging solutions with Exchange Server 2010.

 

To achieve the MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator certification, you must successfully complete exams by the best training of certkingdom.com

 

Required exams

 

Exam 70-662

TS: Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, Configuring

 

Exam 70-663

Pro: Designing and Deploying Messaging Solutions with Microsoft Exchange Server 2010

 

 

Enterprise Messaging Administrator 2007

 

When you earn the MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator certification, you demonstrate your professional expertise in using Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 to excel in a specific job role.

 

This certification helps validate the knowledge and skills that are associated with performing as the lead engineer for messaging solutions within an enterprise organization, as well as the ability to design and deploy messaging solutions with Exchange Server 2007.

 

To achieve the MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator certification, you must successfully complete three exams: one Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (TS) on Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 prerequisite exam and two Professional Series (PRO) exams.

 

Required exams

 

Exam 70-236

TS: Exchange Server 2007, Configuring

 

Exam 70-237

PRO: Designing Messaging Solutions with Microsoft Exchange Server 2007

 

Exam 70-238

PRO: Deploying Messaging Solutions with Microsoft Exchange Server 2007

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Technology is advancing day by day in fact the new technology is no killing the old technology in reality it is advancing the previous versions, peoples are more and more easy and secure way to in technology usage, Microsoft is always been a very fast detector how to reshape the new technology is all software’s like Microsoft Office, Operating systems like windows XP to Windows 7, Internet Explorer 8 IE8, and more,

 

 

 

 

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Most of the bricks organizations are now becoming bricks and clicks organization, the requirement to advance these organizations required certified peoples to work with them and. A professional person holding Microsoft certifications in his hand is often valued over other workforce all around the planet. Among all on hand Microsoft certifications, one of the most accepted one is MCTS Training, Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist focus on emerging technological prospective and employing these concerns for progressing in Information Technology industry. If you have certain required abilities for this exam you can pass it quite effortlessly. These abilities take in the following:

 

Intro on MCTS Certification 
The MCTS certification is the one, which helps the candidate to step into the IT industry. MCTS also helps the professional who are already in the IT industry to get into a good position in the field. The candidates who are applying for the MCTS Certification should have experience about the network connectivity, desktop operating system, security, and applications. Those who are very good in these areas can have the MCTS certification without any problem and they may be experienced in a particular filed. The future of the certification will be very good and more demand will be there for MCTS certified professional. There are lots and lots of products that are developed with Microsoft Technology. Microsoft develops products which is very helpful for the users.

 

What expertise and skills MCTS certification demands? 
Though you can acquire a reputable status by obtaining this certification, but it obviously demands a few expertises’s that you must have. For this reason, you must be able in:
Computer network literacy 
Solving logon related problems 
Creating as well as maintaining the desktop applications 
Executing password resets and others alike

 

MCTS certification will enhance your
Windows technologies
MCTS: .NET Framework 2.0 Web Applications
Microsoft SQL Server technologies
Microsoft Exchange Server technology
Other technologies

 

To get this certification, you will require an experience of at least two years in implementing, troubleshooting, and debugging a given technology. One can say that this certification is the foundation for all the different Microsoft Certifications that are meant to validate your expertise in the functionality and features of Microsoft key technologies. As an IT professional, either you can demonstrate your in-depth knowledge in a given technical application or choose to earn as many MCTS training as you want to endorse your capabilities across a number of Microsoft products. However, it is all the more essential to constantly update your certification to enhance your competency under today’s robust IT scenario.

 

If your preparing for career change and looking for MCTS Online Training Certkingdom.com is the best online training provider that provide the all the and complete MCTS certification exams training in just one package, certkingdom self study training kits, save your money on bootcamps, training institutes, It’s also save your traveling and time. All training materials are “Guaranteed” to pass your exams and get you certified on the fist attempt, due to best training CertKingdom become no1 site.

IT AND Microsoft Certification At Certkingdom.com

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Thought I would make this post to give people the feedback about my first IT certification MCSE 2003. As this is rather a large subject covering a variety of areas, I have attempted to break these down Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer 2003 preparation into different segments with timelines.

 

 

 

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What is Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE 2003)

Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer 2003 (or MCSE 2008) is the best-known and premiere Microsoft certification. It qualifies an individual as being able to analyze the business requirements for information systems solutions, and design and implement the infrastructure required. As of 2008, the MCSE is available for two different product lines; Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003, each of which requires a different set of exams.

 

For the MCSE 2003 certification, candidates must pass six core design exams (Four networking exams, one client operating system and one design exam) and one elective exam, for a total of seven exams. For the MCSE 2000, a candidate needs to pass five Core Exams (Four operating system exams, one design exam) and two electives. For the MCSE NT 4.0 (retired), a candidate needed to pass four Core Exams (Networking Essentials, Windows NT Workstation, Windows NT Server and Windows NT Server in theEnterprise) and two electives.


Core Exams for mcse 2003 certification


70-290 Managing and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment

70-291 Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure

70-293 Planning and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure

70-294 Planning, Implementing, and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 AD Infrastructure

The topic of these exams include network security, computer networking infrastructure, Active Directory, Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server, and other topics of both general networking interest as well as specific Microsoft products.

 

The following is MCSE specialization, Upgrade paths

 

MCSE on Windows Server 2003

• MCSE on Windows Server 2000

• MCSE on Microsoft Windows NT 4.0

• MCSA on Windows Server 2003

 

Specializations

• MCSE: Messaging on Windows Server 2003

• MCSE: Security on Windows Server 2003

 

MCSE on Windows 2000

 

Specializations

• MCSE: Messaging on Windows 2000

• MCSE: Security on Microsoft Windows 2000 Server

 

Train for your MCSA or MCSE 2003 Training on Windows Server 2003 and get closer to Windows Server 2008. The strength of Windows Server 2003 in the market today indicates that demand for related IT expertise will continue for years to come. The best way to demonstrate you have those skills—and to inspire confidence in a hiring manager, your team, and yourself on Windows Server 2003—is with the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) credentials. These credentials will not retire.
The most efficient way for Microsoft 2003 exams training.

 

  1. MCQ’s  Training (multiple choice questions)
  2. Case Studies Training
  3. Study guides Training
  4. Labs Preparation
  5. Online Videos Training
  6. Audios Training
  7. Exams Testing Engines
  8. Scenarios Bases Question and Answers

 

When I started in the first line role, one of my initial questions was ‘what do I need to learn to get the best online mcse 2003 training at my home?’ I was given feedback from my friends whom boiled down to IT skills, MCSE 2003 would be preferential, but more importantly are your willingness to learn, attitude and aptitude.

 

I knew from the moment I had finished my initial training, that I was different to the normal bread of Helpdesk personnel. Rather than spending my time surfing the web, I had my head in a book reading and learning.

 

I also vetted all of my calls as if I was second line (even though I wasn’t). This did ruffle a few feathers, but I cleared it with my friend first and also made sure that a second line person approved my comments, before it went to third line. The feedback from my Team Leaders was it showed initiative and willingness to learn.
If your preparing for career change and looking for MCTS Training the best online training provider that provide the all the and complete MCTS certification exams training in just one package, certkingdom self study training kits, save your money on bootcamps, training institutes, It’s also save your traveling and time. All training materials are “Guaranteed” to pass your exams and get you certified on the fist attempt, due to best training they become no1 site 2009 & 2010.

In addition I recommend Certkindom.com is best and No1 site of 2008 which provide the complete Windows Server 2003 certified professionals training, Microsoft MCITP, Microsoft MCTS, Cisco CCNA, Cisco CCIE, CompTIA A+, IBM, Citrix, PMP, ISC, and lots more online training self study kits, saving your time and money on all those expensive bootcamps, conventional training institutes where you have take admission pay fees first and if you don’t want to continue no refunds no transfer to any other training course, If you planed to take CCNA or specialization in MCSE 2003 all the process starts again; as for getting online training can be much beneficial and you don’t need to take for fill any from to switch your training on any desire certification.

70-664 Q&A / Study Guide / Testing Engine / Videos

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QUESTION 1
You work as a Network Administrator at Certkingdom.com. You have been asked to deploy Lync Server
2010 as a VOIP telephony and video conferencing solution for the company.
Company management is concerned about the possible network load imposed by the VoIP and
video conferencing features of Lync Server 2010.
To manage the network bandwidth used by the system, you configure Call Admission Control.
How can you enable the Call Admission Control feature?

A. By running the Set-CsNetworkInterSitePolicy cmdlet.
B. By running the Set-CsNetworkConfiguration cmdlet.
C. By running the Set-CsCpsConfiguration cmdlet.
D. By running the Set-CsVoiceConfiguration cmdlet.

Answer: B

Explanation:


QUESTION 2
You work as a Network Administrator at Certkingdom.com. The company’s communication system is
provided by a Lync Server 2010 infrastructure.
You have configured a bandwidth policy to limit the network bandwidth used by real-time audio
and video sessions.
You want to override the policy for the Managing Director of the company.
What type of policy should you create first to enable you to override the bandwidth policy for the
Managing Director?

A. You should first create a Conferencing Policy.
B. You should first create a Client Version Policy.
C. You should first create a Voice Policy.
D. You should first create an External Access Policy.

Answer: C

Explanation:


QUESTION 3
You work as a Network Administrator at Certkingdom.com. You are configuring a new Lync Server 2010 infrastructure.
You want the company phone number to be displayed in the format +11112222333 when users on
the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) receive calls from users using the Lync Server
system.
Which cmdlet should you run?

A. You should run the Set-CsVoiceConfiguration cmdlet.
B. You should run the Set-CsNetworkInterSitePolicy cmdlet.
C. You should run the Set-CsVoicePolicy cmdlet.
D. You should run the Set-CsLocationPolicy cmdlet.

Answer: C

Explanation:


QUESTION 4
Your work as a Network Administrator at Certkingdom.com includes the management of the Lync Server
2010 infrastructure.
The Lync Server 2010 infrastructure includes a Mediation Server pool that includes three servers
named Certkingdom-Med1, Certkingdom-Med2 and Certkingdom-Med3.
You need to take Certkingdom-Med3 offline for maintenance.
Which two of the following steps should you perform to allow you to take Certkingdom-Med3 offline without
disconnecting any current calls in progress?

A. Navigate to the Lync Server 2010 Topology Builder.
B. Navigate to the Lync Server 2010 Control Panel.
C. Modify the properties of the Mediation Pool.
D. Modify the properties of Certkingdom-Med3.
E. Create a new Mediation Pool.

Answer: B,D

Explanation:


QUESTION 5
You work as a Network Administrator at Certkingdom.com. You are in the process of deploying a Lync
Server 2010 infrastructure for the company.
You have configured dial-in conferencing and verified that it is functioning properly.
You now want to notify users about the availability of the feature. The notification should include
introductory instructions such as the initial PIN and the link to the Dial-in Conferencing Settings
webpage.
What is the easiest way to send the notification with the required information to the users?

A. Open the Lync Management Shell and run the New-CsAnnouncement cmdlet.
B. Open the Lync Management Shell and run the Set-CsPinSendCAWelcomeMail cmdlet.
C. Open the Lync Management Shell and run the New-CsConferenceDirectory cmdlet.
D. Open the Lync Management Shell and run the New-CsConferencingConfiguration cmdlet.

Answer: B

Explanation:


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How many exams must I pass to gain a MCITP Certification?

In order to gain a MCITP Certification, you must pass anywhere between two and five exams. This number varies depending on what specialization you are doing, for instance if you are aiming towards one of the support technician specializations, you must only pass two exams whereas if you are aiming towards the Enterprise Administrator specialization, you must pass five exams.

Gaining an MCITP takes a generous amount of effort which not everyone is willing to put in. Currently (2009) there are 55,000 people certified with some sort of MCITP Certification worldwide. Out of the 12 different MCITP Specializations which are available MCITP Enterprise Administrator is the most popular with almost 15,000 people qualified. Next in line is MCITP Enterprise Support Technician with 10,000 and shortly followed by MCITP Server Administrator with 9,000 people certified.
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If you really wanted to stand out from the crowd as an early adopter of a MCITP Specialization the MCITP Business Intelligence Developer 2008 certification would be the one to pick with less than 200 people certified. The most popular new generation Microsoft Exam is MCTS Windows Vista Configuration with over 70,000 people certified.

If you are getting put off by the number of people MCITP certified, don’t be as in comparison to the amount of people that are MCSE or MCSA Certified in Windows Server 2003. There are 360,000 people MCSA 2003 Certified and 190,000 MCSE 2003 Certified. Even though these numbers are so high, there is still job demand for people Certified in these areas all over the world.

Becoming an early adopter of an MCITP Certification will definitely land you a job as companies switch over to the Windows Server 2008 framework as you will have the required skills and knowledge of the new technologies and features which people certified in Windows Server 2003 aren’t even aware exist!

Most OpenOffice users run Windows

However, Apache’s download stats might not tell the whole story

Nearly 9 out of 10 downloads of the new version of OpenOffice have been for Windows machines, rather than Linux, according to recently released statistics from Apache.

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Of the first 1,000,663 Sourceforge downloads of OpenOffice 3.4, 87% were Windows users, 11% were running Mac OS, and just 2% were on Linux, the team said.

A Reddit discussion, however, highlighted that these statistics could be misleading, due mostly to the fact that Linux users tend not to simply download programs from the Internet.

“Even before it was forked, how many Linux users were going to download it direct from openoffice.org instead of getting it direct from the software repository for their distribution of choice?” asked user houseofzeus.

That said, many others argued that the success of LibreOffice — a relatively recent fork of OpenOffice — has undercut the older product’s market share across operating systems.

“The LibreOffice fork is MUCH more popular in the Linux community. I prefer it to OpenOffice.org anyways due to various improvements,” wrote aliendude5300. LibreOffice’s shorter load times were widely cited as the central advantage.

OpenOffice’s lack of recent success, argues a recent Unixmen article, is partially due to the folding of the Oracle team that largely fueled the development of the office suite. Since OpenOffice was handed over to Apache, that organization has attempted to compete directly with the successful fork — and, according to most, has made little headway.

For its part, Apache stated in March that it has had to spend a great deal of time migrating infrastructure over from Oracle and rework “copylefted” components to ensure that they comply with Apache’s licensing policy.

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Windows 8 Beta: Microsoft Giveth And Taketh Away

With the release Wednesday of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT) has fixed many of the shortcomings of the developer preview it released last September. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the Consumer Preview (build 8250) has removed some useful things and introduced a few new flaws, not least of which is failing to install at least once on a machine with more than enough resources. Though it appears stable on the whole, Microsoft’s first public Windows 8 beta will do little to endear itself to IT departments and others who’ll be tasked with installing and supporting it.
 

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When the CRN Test Center reported last September the 12 things IT will hate about Windows 8, we offered mostly praise for finger-friendly Metro interface. This version improves mouse-friendliness a bit, and animations and movements are smoother.

As in the developer preview, Metro is the first screen to appear when starting Windows 8, and it still displays the active user’s ID in the upper-right corner and the word “Start” in the upper-left. What’s new is that this Start screen replaces the Start Menu, which is now completely removed. The Metro screen now automatically scrolls when the pointer reaches the edge of the screen, making mouse navigation much easier. Good-bye and good riddance to the bottom scroll bar, but the mouse still can’t swoop the screen.

When arranging an individual Metro tile with finger or mouse, other tiles move out of the way and rearrange themselves (as opposed to just nodding). Now you can see how tiles will look when dropped into place. Right-clicking on a tile still presents options for resizing the tile, uninstalling the app or “unpinning” it from “Start.”

The Desktop is still present in Windows 8 CP, sans Start Menu. When mousing to the lower left-hand corner, a thumbnail of the “Start” screen appears, but soon disappears when the pointer is moved onto it (as one might do with a menu). Clicking the left button when Start is showing switches back to Metro.

The Alt-Tab still switches between running apps, which appear in turn in the background as well as in a foreground thumbnail view. All except Metro, that is. To activate Metro from another app, users can press the Windows button (on keyboards that have one), quit the current app or ALT-TAB to the desktop and click the lower-left corner. By the way, ALT-F4 is now operational for quitting apps.

While the keyboard quit sequence is a welcome addition, Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT) has removed the task bar from the Desktop, and with it the last semblance of menu navigation. Because hidden away in the Taskbar of the developer preview was a Toolbar that allowed mouse or keyboard navigation a la Windows Menu Bar. What’s more, there’s now one less way to see all the running applications at a glance.

Check back with CRN often to keep current with Windows 8. Next from the CRN Test Center will be a report on migration to Windows 8 from various prior versions. Stay tuned.

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Microsoft’s upgrade avalanche a challenge for IT pros

In addition to the version for x86 PCs that use chips from Intel and AMD, Windows 8 will also come in a version for devices that use ARM chips. This version, now called Windows RT, will be built on the Windows 8 code base and will probably run mainly on tablets built on chips from ARM licensees Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments.

Like Windows 8 PCs for x86/64, Windows RT devices will be able to run Metro-style applications from the Windows Store created using WinRT APIs. WinRT stands for Windows Runtime and contains the API (application programming interface) library for building Metro-style applications.

However, Windows RT hardware will not run, emulate or port existing x86/64 desktop applications. Windows RT will include desktop versions of the upcoming Office 15 applications, like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, that have been designed for touch-based interfaces and for minimal power consumption.

Despite the broad availability of the beta version since late February, it is still too early for enterprises to be even considering adopting Windows 8, IDC’s Gillen said.
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“Windows 8 isn’t even in Release Candidate code yet, so it’s premature for most organizations to make any business decision about replacing Windows 7 with Windows 8. We need to see the finished product first,” Gillen said.

Gartner’s Silver believes that Windows 8 will largely be bypassed altogether, except in specific cases, such as in organizations that want to deploy Windows-based tablets to their users. It has become popular for users to come to work with their personal smartphones and tablets (mostly Android and Apple iOS devices), a trend known as “bring your own device,” or BYOD. Microsoft wants to enter that party, but Windows is currently a small player in tablets and smartphones.

At hotel titan Hyatt, the work to upgrade desktops from Windows XP to Windows 7 began in 2009 and continues today. The company expects to complete the upgrade of all 34,000 desktops in North America by the end of this year.

Hyatt’s CIO, Mike Blake, is very impressed with Windows 7, calling it “a great product.” While not closed to Windows 8, Blake said there are still many unanswered questions about the new OS.

“I’ve wavered from one end of the Microsoft spectrum to the other. I was a hater and now I’m more of a proponent, and a lot of it has to do with Windows 7,” he said.

Forrester also has found in its surveys that CIOs are moving their enterprises at a very quick and steady pace to Windows 7 and to Office 2010, according to Schadler. Almost 200 million copies of Office 2010 have been sold to date, according to Microsoft.

In fact, an argument can be made that Microsoft may be pushing out Windows 8 and Office 15 too close to their predecessors, and may find it is competing against itself, Osterman said.

“Unless there’s something really compelling in Windows 8, I don’t see the upgrade push,” Osterman said. “And with Office 15, Microsoft is going to be hard-pressed to make the case for it, only because Office 2010 is so good. Microsoft has a very nice set of products on the desktop right now.”
The next Office suite

Office 15 is in limited-access, early testing. A broader beta period is slated for the summer. Very little is known about technical details and improvements in the Office 15 applications at this point. What Microsoft is saying unequivocally is that Office 15 will be “the most ambitious undertaking yet for the Office Division.” The revamped applications, which will also include Project and Visio, will all get new “touch-friendly” UIs on tablets and similar devices.

For now, the Office product that Hyatt’s Blake is most focused on is the cloud-hosted email and collaboration suite Office 365 and its predecessor, BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite). Hyatt is deploying BPOS and plans to later upgrade to Office 365, which was released in mid-2011 and includes online versions of Exchange, SharePoint, Office and Lync. Office 365 will be upgraded again once Office 15 is released in final form.

Coming from IBM Lotus Notes, Hyatt has experienced a significant improvement in email reliability and in employee collaboration from using BPOS.

Prior to rolling out BPOS, Hyatt’s email system was down 81 times over three years, with each of those outages being 10 minutes long or more. In the 13 months since it has been using Exchange Online, Hyatt has had only three hours of downtime, he said.

Meanwhile, SharePoint Online has taken employees’ ability to collaborate with each other and with customers and partners to another level, he said.

Blake, however, isn’t too happy with the licensing scheme for BPOS and Office 365, which he finds too complicated, especially considering that they are subscription-based suites.

He wishes the Microsoft suites would be licensed and billed in the “all inclusive” model of rival Google Apps. The Google suite costs $50 per user, per year, or, alternatively, $5 per user, per month. Hyatt almost picked Google Apps over BPOS, ultimately deciding against it in large part due to users’ historical familiarity with the Outlook email client. “It was almost a coin toss between the two,” Blake said.

Instead, Office 365 has multiple versions at different prices with different mixes of components, and as Hyatt looks ahead at transferring to it from BPOS, Blake finds the licensing scenario annoyingly complex, calling the many versions of Office 365 “crazy” and “foolish.”

“With Google Apps, it doesn’t matter how many trips to the buffet you make, you’re good to go. Microsoft on the other hand segments the salad bar, the starches, the meat, and you have to say, ‘did I remember the meat? The starch?’ And if you forgot the salad, then you need to pay another license fee for that,” Blake said.
Explorer and Windows Phone

In development along with Windows 8 is the next version of the browser, IE 10, which, according to Microsoft, is designed to be “edge-to-edge fast” with “less browser and more Web.” It will offer two different interface experiences — Metro-style and traditional Windows desktop. IE10 is being designed to take advantage of hardware acceleration features; supports HTML5, CSS3 and other Web standards broadly; and will be more secure than its predecessors, Microsoft has said.

Also relevant for enterprise IT executives is the next major version of the Windows Phone OS, which hasn’t been officially announced but is said to be code-named Apollo. Some speculate it will be called Windows Phone 8 and that it will provide more code and application consistency with the desktop and server OSes than has existed up to now.

Whatever enhancements are present in Windows Phone 8, Microsoft finds itself — much as in the tablet market — as an underdog. At the end of last year’s third quarter, Android held 52.5% of the worldwide mobile operating system market, while Microsoft ended in sixth place with 1.5%, according to Gartner. In the U.S., as of the end of February of this year, Android had 50.1% of the smartphone OS market, while Microsoft had almost 4%, according to comScore.

When Microsoft does talk in detail about the next major version of Windows Phone, there are two major areas CIOs should focus on, according to Avi Greengart, an analyst with Current Analysis.

The first area is the phone IT security and management controls that will be available to IT departments via Windows server products.

While Windows Phone 7 and 7.5 are in general more advanced than their predecessor, Windows Mobile 6.5, the latter gave IT staffers more administration controls over phones, Greengart said.

“If I was a CIO, I’d be asking for a more detailed road map on what is and isn’t supported before I’d commit to deploy Windows Phone,” Greengart said.

The other major issue is the level of application compatibility. “There will be some compatibility. The question is how much,” Greengart said.

Microsoft recently said in a blog post that “today’s Windows Phone applications and games will run on the next major version of Windows Phone.”

The company also said that “all” of Windows Phone developers’ programming skills “are transferable to building applications for Windows 8, and in many cases, much of your code will be transferable as well.”
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Windows 8 touchscreen devices to cost more, Dell says

Windows 8 PCs and laptops with touchscreens will cost a bit more to buy, Michael Dell says

IDG News Service – Touchscreen laptops and tablets with the upcoming Windows 8 OS will be priced higher than their non-touchscreen counterparts, Dell’s CEO said on Tuesday.

Dell will offer a full complement of Windows 8 products when Microsoft launches its new OS, CEO Michael Dell said during the company’s quarterly earnings call. The touchscreen Windows 8 products will occupy higher price bands, which could mean higher profit margins for Dell, he said.

“Unlike other Windows transitions, this is a transition where you are going to need a new PC,” Michael Dell said, adding that touch capabilities could drive more people to buy Windows 8 tablets and PCs.

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Microsoft hasn’t provided a release date for Windows 8 but analysts expect its release later this year. Lenovo has said it will sell a ThinkPad tablet with Windows 8 when the OS is launched.

Despite excitement around the touch interface, however, the upgrade cycle to Windows 8 won’t match that of Windows 7, especially in the enterprise, Dell said.

“Corporations are still adopting Windows 7, so we don’t think there will be a massive adoption of Windows 8 early on,” he said. It also remains to be seen if buyers will prefer tablets over PCs, he said.

The computer maker has been trying to reduce its dependence on sales of consumer PCs, where profit margins are lower, and is trying to sell more higher-priced systems, such as its XPS PCs. Dell’s mobility revenue in the quarter just ended declined by 10 percent, while desktop revenue declined by 1 percent.

Its PC business underperformed as demand slowed down and more consumers opted for tablets and smartphones, Brian Gladden, Dell’s chief financial officer, said during the call. Dell has shelved its consumer tablets and smartphones over the past few quarters, keeping only its enterprise tablets.

Dell’s PC revenue also dropped below expectations because it didn’t participate in the market for low-margin, entry-level PCs, which were a big chunk of PC sales for the industry overall, especially in emerging markets such as China.

Falling prices for memory and LCDs, and the normalization of hard drive supplies, favored companies selling those low-end systems, which in turn put pricing pressure on Dell’s business.

The hard drive issues caused by flooding in Thailand last year have been resolved and drive prices will fall as the year progresses, Gladden said.

“That’s behind us,” he said.

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