Category Archives: Windows 7

Thoughts on using Windows 7 with a touch screen

Not too long ago, I wrote about the first affordable consumer touch screen monitor that I’ve seen to date, the Acer T230H.  A few days ago, I actually went out and bought one of these for myself.  Computing with a touch screen monitor is quite different than the experience one receives with a mouse and keyboard.  There are many advantages to using a touch interface, but also a few disadvantages. Continue reading

Finally, an affordable touch screen monitor to use with Windows 7 Touch

Somewhat recently, Acer released the first affordable touch screen monitor for use with Windows 7′s touch capabilities.  The 23″ Acer T230H has an average price of $370, and is available from most major retailers at that price.  While Acer’s monitors are typically cheaper in price than others, my personal experience with Acer’s products has been very good.  All of our favorite features become much easier to use when coupled with Windows 7 Touch.

  • Shake - shake window back and forth, all other windows are minimized
    In my experience, this feature has made little sense when used with a mouse.  With the power of touch, shake makes more sense.
  • Jump lists - click, hold, and slide up to reveal Windows 7′s jump lists, which include shortcuts to various tasks for the selected application on the task bar
  • An article from Microsoft: My favorite ways to use touch

To put this into perspective, a 19″ touch screen monitor from Planar costs around $929 (Source: newegg.com); that’s kind of cost-prohibitive for the average consumer.  Prices for touch technology are coming down rapidly, and I think it is safe to assume that other computer monitor manufacturers will join the game soon.  Acer T230H tech specs are listed below:

  • Connectors: HDMI, DVI, D-Sub
  • Contrast Ratio: 80,000:1 (ACM)
  • Max. Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (16:9 widescreen)
  • Pixel Pitch: 0.265 mm
  • # of Colors: 16.7 million
  • Brightness: 300 cd/m2
  • Response Time: 2 ms (GTG)
  • HDCP support: Yes
  • Built-in Speakers: Yes
  • Warranty: 3 years parts/labor limited

The Integration of Firefox 3.7+ and Windows 7

Last night, I took a chance and downloaded the nightly build of Firefox 3.7 Alpha 4 Preview.  I was impressed with the UI enhancements, and also with what was under the hood.  Please know that this version is not recommended for daily use, but only for previewing the new features, as there are still many bugs that need to be worked out.

Peek

Jump Lists

DirectWrite

DirectWrite hardware acceleration is not enabled out of the box at this point in the release process, but can be enabled by navigating to about:config, and changing the gfx.font_rendering.directwrite.enabled setting to true.

Aero Glass

I don’t have a screenshot for this, but you can see an example of Aero Glass above.  Apparently, the glass-like effect provided by Windows Aero was turned off in the latest builds due to a few bugs, but to my knowledge, future versions of Firefox will support Aero-based themes.

Projected release date for Firefox 3.7: May/June 2010
Projected release date for Firefox 4.0: October/November 2010, early 2011?

As far as I’m concerned, the sooner they release these new features, the better.  These features represent major productivity enhancements, and I want to use them!

Windows Experience Index assessment details in XML format

Since coming from Windows XP to Windows 7 (skipping Vista), I’ve come to love all of its new features, including the Windows Experience Index.  For those who are not aware, the Windows Experience Index is a score based on the performance of the CPU, RAM, graphics, gaming graphics, and the hard drive.  Microsoft touts it as a way to see how floor computer models match up against one another, specifically to be used when buying a new computer.  In addition, the Windows Experience Index can be used to do more than just calculate a score.  In fact, detailed results are constructed in XML format, and saved within a directory on your computer.

Control Panel: Windows Experience Index

Control Panel: Windows Experience Index

Continue reading

Windows 7 Cheat Sheet (Shortcuts/Hotkeys, Reference, etc.)

Just moments ago, I finished creating a Windows 7 reference card or cheat sheet (whichever you prefer), which includes various hotkeys/shortcuts, as well as general information on Windows Flip 3D, Windows Aero, Windows Snap, and Windows Peek.  See below for the download link (4-page PDF).

Windows 7 Shortcuts and Cheat Sheet (2-page preview)

Windows 7 Shortcuts and Cheat Sheet (2-page preview)

Download the Windows 7 Cheat Sheet (PDF)

Rebuttals… Because Windows 7 rocks my socks off

“The Start Menu in Windows 7 will be an area of much consternation for veteran Windows XP users.” —James Perlow at ZDNet [link]

Yes, the Start Menu is different in Windows 7, but the core functionality is the same.  Windows XP users are still able to view programs by clicking a menu item, and the Control Panel, Printers, Documents, etc., are still easily accessible from the same place.  Perlow, the author, also mentions that the Run menu is no longer directly accessible from the Start menu, and complains that power users will have to turn it on.  Wow… is this laziness or what?  In just a few clicks, this functionality can be restored… BUT, and this is a huge BUT, I am willing to bet that power users aren’t going to want to use the Run dialog that much in Windows 7.  The beauty of this setup is that you can type your command directly into the “Search programs and files” box in the Start menu.  I think it’s also worth mentioning that users can open up the command prompt very easily by holding SHIFT and right-clicking on a folder in Windows Explorer, then clicking Open command window here.  This was available in Windows XP, but only via a PowerToys installation. Continue reading

From Windows XP to Windows 7: A Bittersweet End

I never thought I’d see the day where I would willingly leave Windows XP and move on to something else, but in walks Windows 7, which changed my mind for good.  I was severely disappointed with Windows Vista, and never made the switch.  I viewed Vista as a downgrade with all of its bugs and performance problems.  XP was a simple, unadulterated love affair.  It was the dignified lady of the PC world.  She was simple, stable, and dependable.  Lady XP welcomed PCs as low as 300 MHz, and life was good.  The rich, the poor, the middle class−we all loved her!  Yet, the time comes where every dignified lady must retire, and hang up the hat.

I won’t go into detail about each new feature Windows 7 has to offer, but I will list a few things that stood out to me. Continue reading