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Banki
02-23-2009, 03:26 AM
Windows 7 hints and tips on getting you set up

I finally got some free time the other weekend to try out the beta of the new windows OS: windows 7. I did run into numerous problems with it, 99% of which I resolved. So that others can learn from my experiences of solutions to problems I hit I thought Iíd share a load of them. If you haven't tried windows 7 beta yet I urge you too as it's a good OS. So here we go.

First off find yourself a copy of windows 7 beta and a serial for it. The download can easily be found on wbb. :)

Next check your spec can run windows 7:

Windows 7 Beta recommended specifications Beta Recommended Specs: Processor Speed 1 GHz (Either 32-bit or 64-bit)
Memory (RAM) 1 GB
Graphics card DirectX 9.0 capable
Graphics memory 128 MB
HDD free space 16 GB
Other drives DVD-ROM
Audio output

Source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_7

Dual booting
Not everyone will be doing this but as itís a beta itís always a good idea to have your main OS alongside windows 7 so if you donít like it / screw up you can remove it with little loss. First off get yourself a copy of acronis disk director (search wbb), burn it with something like poweriso to a cd then pop the disc in, reboot and go into your BIOS and change your boot priority to boot from CD first. Then boot from CD, select resize partition or something similar ( I canít remember exactly) and make the current partition smaller. (Leaving at least 20gb spare). Then create a new partition on the un-partitioned space and format it to ntfs.

Right now weíve got our partition itís time to get installing. Burn windows 7, pop the windows 7 disk in, boot from it and simply follow the onscreen instructions. As youíve already formatted the partition thereís no need to do it here and I wouldnít recommend it anyway as when I selected format it took about 10 seconds to do it and just seemed a bit dodgy to me. By the way at this point it doesnít matter what operating system youíve already got installed (if any). Next, select the new partition you made before and install windows 7 there. The install time took me a total of 23 minutes which is the faster OS Iíve ever installed. :P

Once youíve installed and rebooted a number of different situations could arise if your dual booting and I will do my best to cover them all. But in case I miss anything see here for alternative instructions:

http://apcmag.com/the_definitive_dualbooting_guide_linux_vista_and_x p_stepbystep.htm

If you have XP installed first, windows 7 should overwrite the bootloader making it impossible to boot xp. To bypass this boot into windows 7, and install this:

http://neosmart.net/dl.php?id=1

Easy bcd is a great program and very easy to use. All you simply have to do now is install it, open it up and select add/remove entries. Then just select the type as windows xp, put the drive letter to whatever drive xp is installed on, then type in whatever you want to appear on the bootscreen in the middle text box. Hit ok and your done. Play around with easy bcd to change a few more settings such as boot timeout and default os. Itís rather straight forward. ;) Reboot and you should be able to boot into either XP or 7. :)

If however after installing 7 youíve still got XP but not 7, then keep the 7 disc in and boot from it again. Then select repair at the first screen and select the repair startup option when you get to it. If you still donít get into 7 after this then try it a few more times as it can take a while. If you then get into 7 then just follow the instructions in the paragraph above.

If you have vista installed first then just install 7 on the new partition and it should add itself into the boot manager automatically and you should straight away be able to select it or vista as the start up. Job done. :P

If however your like me and had XP and vista installed first then itís not too hard. After installing you should be able to access both vista and 7 but not XP. If you can access XP now as well without any config then all the better. :P If however when trying to boot into XP you just get a blank screen or a ntldr error then youíve got a few more things to do.

If you get a ntldr error then boot into vista, then search on the XP and vista partitions or any other partitions for a file called ntldr, when you find it note down the drive letter that itís on (C, D, E etc). Then install easy bcd and look at the XP entry and check that the drive letter itís registered to is the one where you found ntldr on. If its not then edit the entry to point towards that drive letter where you found ntldr. Depending on what happens you should now be able to boot into XP or get a black screen when attempting to boot into XP. If you get the latter option then continue.

If you get a black screen when attempting to boot XP then do this. Boot with the XP install disc (Sorry this is the only way I know how to do this, if someone knows a better way then tell me), then get to the part where you select the drive you want to install XP on. Note down the partition numbers of each drive and the corresponding partition size. Then boot back into vista and search your harddrive(s) and partitions for boot.ini. Then there should be two places where the .ini file says partition (a number). Work out from the info you noted down earlier about your partition numbers which partition windows XP is installed on NOT the ntldr file. Put this number into the boot.ini to overwrite the previous number in the sentence.


So an example. Say you see this as your original boot.ini file:


timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOW S
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Micro soft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect

If windows XP was on partition 3 for example then you would change the boot.ini file to this:

[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition([b]3)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(3)\WINDOWS="Micro soft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect

If you get an error when saving, make a new text document, paste in a copy of the boot.ini file you just tried to save, go to save as, select all files and save it as boot.ini Then drag and drop this new boot.ini across to the folder where the original boot.ini was on and select yes to overwrite. Thus the vista bootloader will detect the NTLDR file on whichever partition it's installed on which then points to boot.ini which loads XP from whichever drive XP is installed on. Obviously if your have multiple harddrives the operating system are installed on instead of just partititons like me just adjust the boot.ini method accordingly.

Now you should be able to boot into all 3 operating systems. :)

Getting rid of the annoying beta items
Hate that watermark on your spanking new desktop of windows 7? The annoying ďSend feedbackĒ link on top of every windows? Well hereís how to get rid of it.

Run this:

http://www.mediafire.com/?0zmotmzynn2

Couldnít be simpler eh?

Antivirus / firewall / internet security software
The biggest problem and indeed the only long term one Iíve had with windows 7 is security. My beloved bitdefender doesnít seem to be windows 7 compatible or at least 2008 isnít and I donít want to use 2009 which may or may not be compatible as I could never get it to work with rapidshare manager. Apparently kaspersky, NOD32, Norton, avast, avira premium and AVG are windows 7 compatible now but not all of us may have unexpirable keys for that. The best antivirus solution I found was avira antivirus free. It works perfectly with 7, has daily updates and best of all itís free! As for a firewall this is where life became tricky. I tried comodo firewall and it didnít install for me. Itís hit and miss whether it will for you. Apparently if it does then itís hard to get rid of it afterwards and leaks outward connections on windows 7. I also tried zone alarm firewall also to no effect. However, I found the only thing that I could get to work was the old fashioned windows firewall. True itís not perfect but itís better than nothing. Use it with:

http://www.sphinx-soft.com/Vista/order.html

for the best effect as this can be used to control program and service connections to the internet creating rules for each program which windows firewall is default lacking. :)

Oh and donít use windows defender, use spybot instead its far more superior for finding spyware etc.

Driver compatibility
7 is supposed to be compatible with all vista drivers Ė I found this mostly to be the case. I did manage to install all of my hardware even a 10 year old remote control device with no manufacturer support! :P I found the best way to install drivers was to put the disc that came with the hardware in your drive, do nothing then attach the hardware. 90% of the time this will then find and install the driver and it will work fine. For my printer, windows update conveniently even found the correct driver. If you screw up just uninstall the driver in device manager and try again or google for the correct driver. :) A note worth mentioning is that for nvidia graphics windows update will automatically source your drivers for it. For realtek sound, just use the latest hd drivers from the realtek website that are supposedly for vista. :)

Program installation
I found that most of my programs installed great and easily. Any problems you can try right clicking on the .exe and select run in compatibility mode for vista or XP if that doesnít work. However, if that doesnít work and you get the horrible filenamegoeshere.exe has stopped working error then your best bet is to try and find the most recent update of the software. Otherwise itís probably not going to work. Hopefully compatibility issues will be erased when 7 is out of beta.

Codecs / video playback
Finally! Microsoft have installed a lot of codecs default with windows media player 12! These include H264 and xvid/ divx. However this wasnít that great for me as I installed a codec pack which completely clashed with these codecs screwing up my video and sound on video playback. It annoyingly took me a day to realise this wondering why all my videos had jumpy sound and video. The best option I would say is to avoid codec packs and to use the default windows codecs. For everything else use VLC media player:

http://www.videolan.org/vlc/

lazy mans mkv as I found VLC could only play the sound back for some mkv files:

http://www.free-codecs.com/download/lazy_man_mkv.htm

and realplayer alternative as realplayer is a bit much just to play realmedia files:

http://www.free-codecs.com/download/real_Alternative.htm

Obviously if you need anymore codecs follow the trend and install them individually and if your video screws up get rid of the codec as youíve most likely got it default with windows.


TV Card support
Also worth mentioning is how good windows media center is for tv card support. If youíve got a tv card like me and sadly I had tonnes of compatibility problems with xp and sadly never got it to work with XP, with windows 7 you can use windows media center to configure and use it. Simply open up windows media center, select TV and follow the onscreen instructions. If you canít get it to open in full screen mode properly then I suggest that you select monitor settings in the settings of windows media center and select a lower screen resolution to get it to work properly. When I finally got this working I was extremely pleased with the results, with 100% compatibility with my TV card. Yes window media center was in vista as well but the GUI has been redesigned a bit to make it more user friendly. The sad thing about the updated version of windows media center though is that windows media center records to a new format Ė wtv. This is an ok format but converting to other formats is a pain in the butt. As far as I know there are only 3 programs that can convert out of it Ė wtv to avi converter which you have to buy for $30, wtv to dvr-ms which I could never even get to work for me or MCEbuddy beta which sits in your tasktray and automatically converts recorded tv to divx, wmv or H.264. While I found this to be the best option you have to wait about a month to get on the beta testing list which is a bit of a pain and the beta is only in command line interface.

Miscellaneous

Winrar Ė Thereís a bug with winrar and windows 7 Ė after installation your right click menu in my documents will probably be very wide. To fix this open winrar > options > settings > integration > uncheck the box for show icons in context menu and hit OK. Sorted.

Run command Ė Itís obvious but not always. To have the run command in your start menu, right click the task bar, select the tab for start menu, hit customise and check the box for run command and save.

Elongated start menu Ė Hate the rubbish little start menu with the scroll bar? Go back to the screen where you checked the box for the run command and change the number in the box at the bottom for number of programs to show in the start menu to about 20. This should make it higher. :P

Hidden drives in my computer Ė With windows 7 MS have implemented what I believe is a new security based idea Ė to remove drive lettering of partitions / drives to make them virtually inaccessible when using windows 7. You may either love or hate this. To implement this on a drive: on your search bar in your start menu search for diskmgmt.msc. Then right click on the partition / drive you want to access / hide, select change drive letter and paths then either remove an existing letter to hide it from my computer or add a new letter to show it.


Well I think thatís everything Iíve learnt over the last few days jotted down. Any problems that you might have that arenít listed here or if you need more detail then drop me a PM or reply here and I might be able to help. But do try windows 7 Ė I was one of those that loved XP and hated vista but I think Iíve finally found XPís rival. I thought I was going to use it as a play around with OS but this has become something that I could seriously and am using as my main OS even though itís only a beta. Its start up and shut down times are awesome and itís a pretty swift OS for general use. Iíve found no bugs whatsoever (so far?) and the only problems Iíve found are with compatibility issues with programs that will be resolved just as they were when vista became older. I love the new dock style task bar and even just small details such as a revolving desktop image. Thereís not one thing I donít like about the actual OS and I can seriously see this becoming XPís successor. Finally MS have redeemed themselves from what is arguably the monstrosity of vista. I and Iím sure many others eagerly anticipate the final release of windows 7.

So go try it and see what all the fuss is about!