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Fredric Paul
Fredric Paul

Windows 7 Update: Timing, Tips, And Security

Lots of Windows 7 news this week, but here's the big one: If you want to download the Release Candidate version, better do it soon -- it won't be available after today.

Lots of Windows 7 news this week, but here's the big one: If you want to download the Release Candidate version, better do it soon -- it won't be available after today.But the end of the "free" Windows 7 Release Candidate is only part of the week's Windows 7 news and coverage that small and midsize businesses should consider. There's also new tips on dealing with the Windows 7 interface, and some important warnings about the OS's XP Mode.

Many folks are starting to complain about Windows 7's interface oddities. For example, it turns out that Windows 7 has a bunch of "hidden" interface features that are only now coming to light. InformationWeek's David Methvin reports on the OS's new interface for controlling sound, for example, saying that while it's much more attractive than earlier versions of Windows, it's not easy to discover key functionality -- like the Mute button -- unless you actually hover the mouse over the volume control. Similarly, how would you know that clicking a device picture actually takes you to the device properties? It turns out there may be more to Windows 7 than meets the eye -- and that's not necessarily a good thing.

Meanwhile, over at ChannelWeb, Samara Lynn points out 7 Ways To Maximize The Power Of Windows 7. Here's the list, briefly (check out the original for the full scoop):

1. Upgrade From Vista SP1 2. Turn Off Or Modify System Protection 3. Utilize The Windows Experience Index 4. Tweak Visual Settings 5. Modify Data Execution Prevention 6. Customize The Power Management Plan 7. Fine Tune User Account Control

That may not solve every "issue" with Windows 7 of course. ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes chips in with three Windows 7 annoyances, and how to fix at least one of 'em:

Annoyance #1: Taskbar. On the taskbar, the lack of program names, and the inability to tell what apps are actually running and which are just links. To fix, "right-click on any blank patch of the Taskbar and choose Properties, and then on the Taskbar tab youll see Taskbar buttons options drop-down box. Choose Combine when taskbar is full."

Annoyance #2: Poor tray notification management. The system tray can quickly fill up with various software programs, and Microsoft reduces clutter by hiding some of them so you can't tell what's actually in there. The System Explorer feature of Windows Defender in Vista is missing in Windows 7, so the only way to see what's there is to uninstall the apps or use MS Config!

Annoyance #3: Too many editions! Lots of folks have complained about this one -- including bMighty -- and only Microsoft can do anything about this one...

Inheriting XP's Security Woes There are also increasing concerns about the security of Windows 7's XP Mode. Sophos's Chief Technology Officer Richard Jacobs writes that:

"Microsoft [is] not providing management around the XP mode virtual machine (VM). This creates the potential for a security disaster. XP mode is an independent Windows instance, that shares the odd folder and device with the host Windows 7 installation. What it doesn't share is processes and memory. So it doesn't share security settings, security software, patches etc. It does not inherit any security from the host. When you use XP mode, you need to patch the copy of XP as well as the host Windows 7. You need to manage settings separately, configure two personal firewalls and install and manage two copies of anti-malware software."

Worse, Jacobs writes, Microsoft doesn't provide tools to manage these issues.

A busy week to be sure...

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