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Windows 7: Windows 7 Tips and Tricks Guide

04 Nov 2008   #1

Vista X32. Windows 7 32bit
Windows 7 Tips and Tricks Guide

"Windows 7 Build 6801 Tips and Tricks Guide

By Chris Holmes (Chris123NT) and Kristan Kenney (Nighthawk)

Well it’s that time again. PDC has come and gone, and with it comes a build of the much anticipated Windows 7. Windows 7 delivers many new and interesting features, and in our opinion comes much closer to delivering on that wonderful “Longhorn vision” we saw at PDC 2003. The purpose of this guide is to offer insight into some of the cool new features in Windows 7 build 6801 and also to provide workarounds for some of the minor issues we encountered while using this build. Let’s get to it then shall we?

Open a folder in a new process:
By default, Windows Explorer opens all folders within one process. You can change this through the Folder Options dialog, however this will cause all folders to open within new processes. With Windows Explorer in Windows 7, you can selectively open folders in a new process by using the context menu.

1. Right click on the folder you wish to open while holding down the Shift key on your keyboard.

2. Select “Open in New Process”.
Run as another user
In Windows Vista, while you were given the ability to run a program as an Administrator, you had to use the command line to run programs as another user (or otherwise specify that you wished to do so using the properties dialog for that shortcut/program). In Windows 7, you can now perform both actions: Run as an Administrator, or Run as another user.

1. Right click on the shortcut or executable you wish to run while holding down the Shift key on your keyboard.

2. Select “Run as another user”.
Use Virtual Hard Disks (or “VHD”) files as real hard disks using the Windows 7 Shell:
Windows 7 allows you to create and manipulate virtual hard disk files (or “VHD”s) as if they were real disks. This is great as it allows Virtual PC users to mount their virtual disks within a live Windows installation without the need of booting the virtual PC environment.

To create virtual hard disks:

1. Click on Start, right click on Computer, and then click on Manage. Provide consent to the User Account Control dialog if required.

2. In the left hand pane, click on Disk Management, and wait for it to load.

3. In the menu bar, click on Action, and then click on Create VHD.

Here you will be able to specfify the size and the location of the virtual hard disk file.
To attach a virtual hard disk file:
1. Click on Start, right click on Computer, and then click on Manage. Provide consent to the User Account Control dialog if required.

2. In the left hand pane, click on Disk Management, and wait for it to load.

3. In the menu bar, click on Action, and then click on Attach VHD.

In the dialog that appears, you can specify the location of the VHD file as well as mark it as read-only.
Initializing virtual hard disks:
1. Click on Start, right click on Computer, and then click on Manage.Provide consent to the User Account Control dialog if required.

2. In the left hand pane, click on Disk Management, and wait for it to load.

3. In the menu bar, click on Action, and then click on Attach VHD.

4. Specify the location of the VHD file and click on OK, the Disk Management Service will go ahead and mount the VHD file.

5. Once it is mounted, right click on the virtual disk (which will show up as a blue hard drive) and click on Initialize Disk.

6. In the dialog that appears, select the partition style you wish to use and click on OK. The Disk Management Service will now initialize the disk for use.

7. Right-click on the unallocated space in the virtual hard disk and click on “New Simple Volume”, and follow through the instructions in the wizard to create a new partition within the VHD.

Now, if you go to Windows Explorer, you’ll see another hard drive here, which is the virtual hard disk – you can interact with it as if it were a real hard drive.
Some new Desktop Window Manager (DWM) registry keys to play with:
While hunting through the registry in this build, we noticed some new registry entries that control the overall appearance of Windows Aero. To edit these keys, open the Registry Editor and point it to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM.

The new registry keys are all DWORD (32-bit) values, and are named:

· ColorizationAfterglow

· ColorizationAfterglowBalance

· ColorizationBlurBalance

· ColorizationColorBalance

· ColorizationGlassReflectionIntensity
Jerky DWM animations (perhaps driver related?)
One thing we’ve noticed in Windows 7 when using NVIDIA graphics cards is that the animations for the Desktop Window Manager are not smooth. One reason for this could be that DWM now turns off transparency and blurring when rendering effects (as well as for Flip3D). To work around this so that you experience is a bit smoother, turn off the animations:

1. Click on the Start button, right click on Computer, and click on Properties.

2. Click on Advanced System Settings in the task pane and accept any UAC prompts that may appear.

3. Under Performance, click on Settings.

4. Uncheck “Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing”.

5. Click on OK.
Use the “Snap to Side” features for quick maximization.
Windows 7 includes a nice new feature that maximizes any window that you drag to the side. To do this, simply click, hold, and drag any window to the side of your screen and an Aero border should be displayed, let go of the mouse button and it will resize the window. Drag the window away from the side of the screen to restore it to its previous state. You can also double click on the top or bottom borders to maximize the window vertically.
X64 Users: Use 64-bit Windows Media Player by Default
We seriously have no idea why Microsoft still makes use of the 32 bit Windows Media Player in x64 builds of Windows, but thankfully there is a way to change that. The advantage of changing to the 64-bit WMP is that you only have to install one set of codecs (64 bit ones) and it keeps the system that much cleaner and easier to manage. If you’d like to do this, then follow the directions below.

1. Open a command prompt (as administrator).

2. Type “unregmp2.exe /SwapTo:64″ without the quotes and preserve the caps (command is case sensitive)

3. Now open up the registry editor.

4. Navigate to HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\wmplayer.exe\

5. Double click the “Path” Value

6. Change “%ProgramFiles(x86)” to “%ProgramFiles%”

7. Close the registry editor and enjoy 64 bit Windows Media Player.
Fix for Audio on Dell Laptops with 1500n Wireless Cards
We are highlighting dell laptops with this fix because that’s what Chris is running this build on, but we would imagine that this issue affects anyone who has a Wireless N card in the system, regardless of the sound card. The basic scope of this issue is that, when the wireless antenna is activated, the audio will deteriorate at random, and the deterioration of audio quality happens very quickly in most cases. The following is a workaround that I devised, based on the Dell 1500N Wireless card (other cards should have these options as well). To work around the issue, do the following:

1. Click start and type “devmgmt.msc” in the search box and hit enter (Give consent to any UAC screens)

2. Expand “Network Adapters”

3. Right click the wireless card and go to properties

4. Click the Advanced Tab

5. Click the following settings and make the prescribed adjustments:

a. IBSS Allowed – DISABLED

b. Band Preference – B/G

c. Disable Bands – DISABLE 802.11a
Unknown Device Showing in Device Manager
On some machines we have noticed the presence of an unknown device in the device manager that doesn’t seem to be tied to any piece of hardware in the specific machines.

The Compatible ID’s for the device are as follows:



Now, it seems that this points to a file in C:\Windows\System32\Drivers called blbdrive.sys. Our best guess is that it has something to do with the Block Level Backup Engine (which is responsible for image-based backups in Windows Vista and higher, through a feature called CompletePC Backup and Restore), but we’re not 100% sure. If anyone has any information on this please let us know.
Force Internet Explorer 8 into compatibility mode (if your websites do not render correctly)
Internet Explorer 8 has an updated rendering engine which can fail to render certain websites correctly (let’s see… most online banking websites… YouTube… Gmail….) however we can fall back to compatibility rendering which resolves 98% of these issues.

To enable compatibility view for all websites:

1. Open Internet Explorer.

2. Click on Tools and then click on Compatibility View Settings.

3. In the dialog that appears, check “Display all websites in compatibility view”.

4. Click on OK.
Windows 7 includes a feature that was stripped from Windows Vista (due to confusion amongst some dimwitted beta testers who couldn’t take five minutes to figure out the system) and hopefully it’s here to stay. It’s called Libraries, and basically what it allows you to do is aggregate all of your files into “libraries”, so even if you have all of your pictures thrown amongst your hard drives and multiple folders, Windows will bring them all together in a collection – you can do this for just about any type of file imaginable.

Windows 7 includes several libraries by default – Communications, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, and Videos – the types of data that people are looking for constantly in their day to day lives. We think this will really increase productivity, and it’s great to see that it’s coming back.
Windows Sidebar… or lack thereof…
The sidebar has been integrated with Windows Explorer in the sense that there is no actual “sidebar” for the gadgets to attach to. Rather, they float around on the desktop and can be snapped to the sides or the top or bottom of the screen, which is great. But, in case your wondering, at this point the gadgets are still hosted by the Windows Sidebar process, which can be located at %ProgramFiles%\Windows Sidebar and %ProgramFiles(x86)%\Windows Sidebar (32-bit version of the sidebar when using 64-bit Windows).

There’s also one gadget missing that was included with Windows Vista, which is the notes gadget. You can however, port this gadget over from Vista. Just make sure to either put it in C:\Program Files\Windows Sidebar\Shared Gadgets or your user specific gadgets folder. Putting gadgets in C:\Program Files\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets will NOT work.
No purchase necessary, Windows Mail not included.
One move that we don’t quite agree with is the lack of a proper e-mail client in Windows 7. Instead, Microsoft wants you to download Windows Live Mail from their website when you connect to the internet to get started with sending and receving email… which is great, don’t get us wrong, but it’s going to confuse the hell out of a lot of people who are used to getting a brand new computer and wanting to have their email set up without downloading and installing another program to do it.
High DPI scaling to prevent blindness
Windows 7 has vastly improved DPI scaling over what was found in Windows Vista. Previously, you would change your DPI setting and then have to restart the computer, whereas in Windows 7 all you have to do is log off and log back in. It’s a lot nicer."
Windows 7 Build 6801 Tips and Tricks Guide at Chris123NT’s Blog

My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Nov 2008   #2
Bare Foot Kid
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate

Cool find Norm!...

Later Ted
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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