Daily Musings

Posts Tagged ‘windows 7

2012 brings with it a sea of changes in terms of OS we use. Microsoft is all set to release Windows 8 sometime later during the year (most probably Sep-Oct). As they did with Windows 7, they started to launch a series of previews for developers/end users. Windows 8 Developers Preview was launched in the fourth quarter of 2011 and then Consumer Preview was launched sometime during Feb-March 2012. Now Microsoft has also released Release Preview which is supposed to be the pre-cursor for what we (as end users) are actually going to get with the final release.

Since the release of Consumer Preview, I had wanted to download and try out the new Windows but couldn’t do so firstly because of lack of an internet connection and then because the connection I did manage to get had a download cap of 5 GB (after which the speeds reduce to pathetically slow levels) and the Windows 8 Consumer Preview ISO file is around 3.3 GB (for 64Bit). Finally, I got hold of a copy of Windows 8 Consumer Preview (although the Release Preview has already released) in the DVD of my favorite tech magazine – Digit (http://www.thinkdigit.com). Apart from Windows 8 CP, there was another DVD which contained the latest Ubuntu Precise Pangolin (12.04) and Fedora 16 (Fedora 17 is also available for download now).

Since the days of Windows 7’s preview I got excited about the way Microsoft started to change its course in terms of the usability they started to provide and so I decided to install Windows 8 first. I created a bootable USB drive of Windows 8 using the same method I used for creating USB drive for Windows 7 (Click Here).

Installation was pretty simple (some enhancements to the installer found with Windows 7) and fast too. I was mighty impressed by the new (minimal) boot screen and the startup time of the Win 8 (I feel this is the fastest Windows by far). Win 8 seems to be directed towards touch interfaces from the ground up. Right from the login/lock screen to the start page (YES! we are greeted with a start-page akin to that found in the Windows 7.5 Phone with all the app tiles (known as Metro Interface). The start page has tiles for almost all the required apps including videos, internet, music, pictures, games, desktop etc. We still have the good ol’ desktop albeit with a change and mighty one at that! There is no start button…no menu… only a plain looking desktop (similar to that found on Win 7).

This desktop has some hot-spots (I couldn’t find another name for it) on three corners of the desktop and one hot-spot is common for Start page too. The hot-spot in top-left corner displays a list of open metro apps (this one is the common hot-spot). Another one can be found in the bottom-left corner which is a short-cut to open the Start page. Then there is another hot-spot in the bottom-right corner which brings up a transparent dock on the right hand side of the desktop. This dock has a few icons which link to 1. Start Page, 2. Settings, 3. Devices and there are two more icons which I do not remember for now 🙂

So basically, there are tons of ways to go back to the Start page which means Microsoft wants users to use its metro interface more than the desktop which brings to fore their future plan of doing away with the traditional desktop altogether (in favor of Metro Interface).

I must say Microsoft has learnt a lot from the debacle of Vista and started preparing well for future versions of their OS. And they did pretty decent job with Windows 7 and have definitely moved a step farther with Windows 8. Windows 8 is the best looking and most user-friendly OS by Microsoft IMHO. The metro interface is a refreshing change from the boring screen filled with icons. This is a department where MS has really made a change. Almost all other OSs including iOS, Android, Ubuntu (and other Linux based OS) are bland. They have got this common feel to them. The same old screen with icons feel. This is where the Windows 8 is very VERY different.

Now about the apps: The apps are nothing much to write home about. Similar features as those found in apps of today (geared towards touch based devices and inbuilt social capabilities in them). Even the desktop apps has minor tweaks which would go a long way in being more user-friendly (for those who do not have touch based devices or those who do not like the metro interface). One very good tweak is the inclusion of the ribbon in almost all the native apps (including Explorer) which makes it easier and faster to work.

But, all the prettiness of Windows 8 ends here. It looks and feels very good, but works very badly (at least my copy of Consumer Preview did). The metro apps worked for sometime and later started to hang at the start-up splash. The saving grave was that the apps terminated after a few seconds instead of throwing errors in unknown language. After searching the net, I found that other users had faced this problem too and some fixes were floating around which worked for some people. I tried 2 fixes one of which involved editing the registry and the other one was related to some settings. None of them worked 😦

After a while only the desktop was usable and so I tried it for sometime. It turned out to be good enough but if the minor tweaks of the desktop were provided as a Service Pack for Win 7 then it would have been better. Instead MS decided to release a complete new OS with an interface which doesn’t work and the one which works is not too different from the existing one.

After some online research I found that the users of Release Preview were also facing the same problem ..so its got to be a problem at the basic level and MS should fix it before the final release.

After the above mentioned turn-off I decided to try other OS too. My first thought was to install revert back to Win7 and hence I started to make a bootable USB drive of Win 7. But, to my horrors, I was not able to do so as UltraISO (the software I use to create bootable Win 7/8 USB drive) threw an error that I need to format my USB drive. After formatting I tried again only to see the same error. I again and again formatted with different options including quick, full format and tried different FS too. I even tried to format using cmd but this too didn’t help.

So, I decided to use my other USB drive and install Ubuntu. I created a bootable USB drive for Ubuntu and started to boot/install Ubuntu. To my wonders and surprise, I got problems in installing Ubuntu too. Ubuntu loaded without any problems but while installing, it showed errors. I thought it was some problem with the ISO image and hence I decided to install Fedora. Fedora started fine but I got the same problem while installing. I inferred that the partition which is using Win 8 is causing some problem. So, I formatted the partition which contained Win 8 and then tried again. This time the installation completed successfully and I booted into Fedora.

Fedora has a very pleasant interface (it uses GNOME 3+) which is a combination of both looks and usability. I really liked the Fedora interface. I had to re-install Fedora because I botched up my internet connection settings. I then used Fedora for a day or two and decided to install Ubuntu.

This time Ubuntu installed perfectly. Ubuntu too has got a pretty decent interface (it uses Unity instead of GNOME 3). I used to Ubuntu for 2-3 days and then switched back to Win 8 just to check if the problem cropped up again. This time again, the metro apps worked for a minutes and then gave in. I used Win 8 for a day and then decided to switch to Win 7 and got the same error I got while creating bootable USB drive. So I installed Ubuntu again only to create a bootable Win 7 USB drive and switched back to Win 7 last night.

In my opinion Ubuntu 12.04 has the most practical and usable interface. It has come a long way from being a buggy Linux distro to a much stable and better looking (usable too) OS. All three OS were very different in their user-interface and usability. All are good and would find their own fans. For me, it was Ubuntu. The reason why I switched to Win 7 instead of Ubuntu is because I wanted to use my computer as a virtual wifi router and share my mobile internet broadband connection with my Android phone and I didn’t have the patience to try doing that in Ubuntu 😉

A snap review of all three OS:

Win 8: Good Looks, neat, new interface, loads very fast but apps stop working after a while and difficulty in switching to other OS due to FS (so I believe).

Fedora 16: Stable, nice-jazzy interface, ultra-fast.

Ubuntu 12.04: Stable, most usable, fast.


After Day one, I was ready to install and softwares and start using the OS. As my system’s configuration ain’t enough for all the eye-candy of Windows 7, I settled for the Windows 7-on-diet. Here’s the look of my desktop.

My Windows 7 Desktop

My Windows 7 Desktop

I even tried to change the theme (there are laods of of them), but only the desktop background changed and rest remained the same. This happened because of the scarcity of the resources, out of which, main problem was very less physical memory.

Now comes the interesting part… I downloaded and installed latest versions of the regular softwares I use. As of now, none of them have a version for Windows 7 (quite rightly so, because the OS has not released as yet). The regular versions for Xp/Vista worked fine with Windows 7 and I had no problems in installing and using them.

The list of softwares that I use are: Avira AV Personal Edition, Foobar2000 (for music), uTorrent for torrent downloads, Firefox 3.5 beta 4 for browsing, Irfan View for images, 7Zip for archives, Google Talk and Yahoo Messenger. There some more softwares, which I use, and hence, will install during the course of time.

All the softwares I installed, worked perfectly. There was no problem what-so-ever. I haven’t installed Visual Studio, which I will have to, very soon, as my work depends on it. Installing and using VS would be the real challenge for the OS. Lets see whats in store for me….

My first day with Windows 7 was a mixed bag of emotions filled mostly with awe. Yes!! I was awe-struck with the look, feel and performance of Windows 7.

The good things about Windows 7 are:

  • Streamlined interface. Better navigation capabilities.
  • Automatic Performance adjustments according to user’s system configuration.
  • Very Good Looks and capability to change themes (I remember the good old days of Windows 98.)
  • Addition of Sticky Notes (Can come handy at times).

Certain problems that I faced with it were (yes..were…coz I have solved them now):

  • The sound card driver was not detected initially and I have to use the “update driver” option from “Device Manager” to get the driver. But the good thing was that the driver was detected and downloaded automatically. No manual download and installation was required from my part.
  • The other problem was with graphics. In XP, although my graphics solution was not detected, still I didn’t need to install graphics drivers seperately. Here, the OS set the graphics to be “Standard VGA”. And although this setup had set the required resolution of “1024×768” and color depth of 32bit, but the refresh rate was very low which caused a strain to my eye. And, there was no option to change the refresh rate. Then I downloaded the latest graphics drivers for windows (no drivers for windows 7 as yet) from the manufacturer’s site and tried to install it. At first, it gave an error during installation that its not meant for this version of OS. But then, it provided an option to install the software with recommended settings, and I did the same, which gave the required results i.e. the drivers were installed finally and I was able to change the refresh rate.

Below is the video of the first run of Windows 7 on my machine (Again with FM as background music :P):

After Days of agony, I successfully installed Windows 7 yesterday with much-needed help from our-very-own Google :). I take it as an achievement because of the fact that I didn’t use my DVD drive to install it and instead, I used my new USB Flash drive to do the same.

After many tries, I had almost given up, as I was not able to boot my PC with the USB drive. I had tried many a methods given on the internet. The problem with all those methods was that they were meant to be acted upon in Vista; and I wanted to use my XP machine for it. Finally I found a article which was yet another article about the doing the specified task in Vista. But, thanks to a person who had commented in that article, I got what I was looking for. After that I mingled all the steps to boot and install from my USB drive.

As daunting a task it was for me, it might be for others too. Hence, I decided to bring together and filter all those steps to present a short-yet-working step-by-step solution of installing “Windows 7 from a USB Drive using Windows XP“. Here is the solution:

  • Download Windows 7 RC iso file from here (Remember it’s a 2.39GB of download, so it will take time…Have Patience 😉 ).
  • Make sure your USB drive and motherboard support booting from a USB Drive.
  • Prepare your USB drive by- (1) Formatting it (Go to My Computer and right-click on your USB Drive. Then left-click on “Format”). (2) Making it “Active” by going to “Computer Management” under “Administrative Tools” in Control Panel. Then click on “Disk Management” in the left-hand panel. Then select your USB drive in the right-hand panel and make it active by right-clicking it and then selecting the appropriate action.
  • Now comes the part which made me tear my hair out..Making the USB drive bootable..The simplest solution is to download an ISO utility called UltraISO and installing it on your system. Then run UltraISO and open the Windows 7 RC iso file which you downloaded in the first step. Then click on the “Bootable” option in the top menu. Then select “Write To Disk”. Now make sure your USB drive is selected as the destination and click on the “Write” button. Your drive is bootable when it shows “Burn Successful”.
  • Now You can restart your system and change your BIOS settings to boot from the USB drive. The setup starts automatically and is easy to perform.

Hope the above solution will help those who need a solution for installing Windows 7 from a USB drive. This method might be workable for other OS’s too if someone has a bootable iso file of the OS to install.

Here is a video of my installation experience (with FM Radio as background music :P):

After days of facing the Heat-Wave, yesterday brought some relief in the form of thunder-showers. A super-cool weather followed and still remains to sooth our lives :D. A welcome respite from the burning-Sunny days it has been.

A day before, my 3 year-old CRT monitor started giving me jitters. The display would go blank (No Display Signal) any moment and then get back after a slap or two. Sometimes even these slaps didn’t work and I got so frustrated with it that I decided to replace it with my 11 year-old CRT monitor (I haven’t changed it as yet, though). It was happening so randomly that I could not complete my work and hence decided to leave it as is. Then yesterday, I was not able to switch my monitor and get my work done because of the power-cut which, in turn, was due the bad (or should I say, Good :)) weather.

..After anxiously waiting for a week or so, I finally got my hands on the RC of Windows 7 this sunday. As my DVD-Writer is at fault (yes..DVD-Writer too :(), I searched for ways to install Windows 7 from my USB drive. After hours of Research and work, I finally got a bootable USB drive with W7 setup ready to be installed. Then I took a backup of my music library and the moment I wanted to start the installation process; BLANK!!…uuurrrrgggghhhh…the monitor… What happened next has been described above.

And so, here I am waiting for my turn to get down-and-dirty with W7. I hope today would be THEE day of reckoning for me(Let’s pray to the rain-gods…Amen).

I missed the bus to download the beta of Windows 7 which was available for download in January this year. But this time around, Microsoft has listened to my prayers and its Release Candidate 1 (which is available for download at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/) will be available all through July, 2009. Finally I too might get the chance to get my hands dirty with this latest installment of the ever-so-popular, our very own WINDOWS.

Now that I am talking about Windows, I wanted to say something about Vista too. Although I know that a majority of people using it, find it to be one of the worst OS to come out of MS’ stable, but I don’t hate it as much. Or, should I say, I love it. Actually, I like it a lot. This might be attributed to the fact that I didn’t face any driver-related issues which many a notebook owners face.

Also, I am happy using Vista because I readily disabled its UAC (I took gr8 pains to actually do that 😉 ) at the very instant it surfaced its ugly head. The reason of my liking might also be attributed to the fact that I liked its visual appearence a lot (until I saw the KDE 4).

One problem that really annoys me about Vista is its slow transfer speeds, between various storage mediums. All in all it has been a good experience for me (for me atleast). Last but definitely not the I would like to mention that my journey with Vista has been a pleasent one because I used it for just a
MONTH!! :P. Now, I am happily using the latest version of my fav. Linux distro.

Coming back to Windows 7, I have read many good reviews of its beta on various online forums and reputed tech-magazines. But am yet to try it out myself and man!! I can’t wait to try it – RIGHT NOW!!

P.S. I have kept my fingers crossed 🙂