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Beta testing Windows 7 - Part3

Well, I went shopping and here is what I came up with. I like to utilize local vendors when ever possible, but this system had a processor requirement that I could not find cheaply from my favorite vendor. I wanted a Quad-core processor that has Virtual Technology (VT). I also want to be able to assign programs to cores (very cool!). I did a little research and found the Intel Q8400 processor a good match. It has Quad cores, Virtual Technology and was the cheapest I could find in-stock locally. My first stop was at Fry's Electronics where I picked up a ...

Intel Q8400
Intel Core 2 Quad Q8400

I then went over to my friends at Technology Partners Inc. where I picked up the rest of the components (less the case, that's coming). Here's the list of parts:

Intel DG41RQ Motherboard
Intel DG41RQ Motherboard
Buffalo DDR2 PC6400
Buffalo DDR2 PC6400 Memory (2gb x 2)
Microstar NX8400GS
Microstar NX8400GS Video Card
Western Digital 3200AAKS
Western Digital 320 gb Hard Drive
Liteon 24x DVD-RW
Liteon 24x DVD-RW
iMicro 500 watt Power Supply
iMicro 500 watt Power Supply

All these components have standard specifications, except for the motherboard. Taking in to consideration that I am going to use a 64-bit operating system, I need to have a larger amount of memory. By using a 64-bit operating system, I am also getting past the 4 gigabyte memory limit that plaques 32-bit. The Intel DG41RQ has a maximum memory capacity of 8 gb (2 x 4gb). Since 2gb modules are rather inexpensive, I decided to go with 4gb of memory (2 x 2gb) for right now.

Since Windows 7 is built on Windows Vista, finding drivers was simple. Both manufacturers, Intel and NVidia, both have Windows 7 32 and 64-bit drivers on their web sites.

I guess it's time to built this system. But I still need a case. I think I'll go see what Antec has been up to.

Till then,
Scott

Beta testing Windows 7 - Part 2

Since my last post, Windows 7 RC1 has been released. I am now assembling a production system to use for the installation of RC1. I have changed my mind on how I wanted to test this new OS from Microsoft. My original idea was to use a typical system with components that were widely available.

I then thought back on all of the new technology that has come out since Windows XP was released. I think everyone will agree that Windows Vista was somewhat of a stepping stone. Just like Windows Millennium was to Windows 98SE.

We now have hard drives over 1 terabyte, Quad-core processors and 64-bit computers. And quite a bit of these are now out in production systems, like yours. 64-bit enabled motherboards have been out for years now. If your computer’s motherboard was manufactured within the last few years, your computer is probably 64-bit compatible.

With that said, I started to look at some of the features of Windows 7 and what hardware I would need to run them. As I stated before, 64-bit enabled computers are pretty much main stream now, and with the memory limit of 128 gigabytes, opposed to 4 gigabyte memory limit on 32-bit, I think this is the way to go.

Note:
You cannot do an in-place upgrade of a 32-bit operating system to a 64-bit operating system. To do this, you have to backup your files and settings and then restore them to the new installation.

Microsoft has had two different versions (32-bit & 64-bit) of their Windows operating systems (XP & Vista) that support x86-64 architecture since 2005. So I will use the 64-bit for this installation. I also want to use the Windows XP mode for Windows 7. This requires a processor that has Virtualization Technology (VT). The Intel E6600 processor in my system has VT. So the VT processors are out there, you just have to check with the manufacturer to see if it is compatible.

So with all of that information, I am going to put together a production system in the next few days from standard parts from my favorite vendors. I already have a parts list and it’s time to see how cheaply I can put this together (I have a big surprise for what I use as a monitor).

Till then,
Scott

 

Track free space on your computer with SpaceMonger

One of the software tools I use quite often client systems is SpaceMonger. SpaceMonger is a tool for keeping track of the free space on your computer. It shows graphically the size of each folder and file on your computer.

SpaceMonger

Each file or folder on a given drive is displayed in a box in the main window whose size is a relative comparison to all the other files in your system. So, for example, if the "Windows" box takes up 90% of the screen, the "C:\Windows" folder and all its sub-folders and files are taking up 90% of your "C:" drive.

SpaceMonger runs on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 RC1.

Click here to download the latest version


Free Microsoft Tools for Windows Vista

These free applications can add fun and functionality to the Windows Vista experience.

SyncToy v2.1
SyncToy helps you copy, move, rename, and delete files between folders and computers quickly and easily.
Click here to download

Microsoft Network Monitor 3.3
Tool to allow capturing and protocol analysis of network traffic.
Click here to download

Windows SteadyState 2.5
Whether you manage computers in a school computer lab or an Internet cafe, a library, or even in your home, Windows SteadyState helps make it easy for you to keep your computers running the way you want them to, no matter who uses them.
Click here to download

Windows Help program (WinHlp32.exe) for Windows Vista
WinHlp32.exe is required to display 32-bit Help files that have the ".hlp" file name extension. To view .hlp files on Windows Vista, you need to install this application.
Click here to download

Windows PowerShell 2.0 for Windows Vista
Microsoft Windows PowerShell is a command-line shell and scripting language designed for system administration and automation. Built on the .NET Framework, Windows PowerShell enables IT professionals and developers to control and automate the administration of Windows and applications.
Click here to download

Windows NT Backup - Restore Utility
Utility for restoring backups made on Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 to computers running Windows Vista and Microsoft® Windows Server® 2008.
Click here to download

Windows Easy Transfer for Windows XP
Download Windows Easy Transfer for your Windows XP-based PC so you can automatically copy your files, photos, music, e-mail, settings, and more to your new Windows Vista based PC. This software enables you to transfer data with Easy Transfer Cables or across a network, external drive, or CD/DVD.
Click here to download

Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator 1.4
Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator allows users to create or modify keyboard layouts.
Click here to download

Free Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XP

PowerToys add fun and functionality to the Windows experience. What are they? PowerToys are additional programs that developers work on after a product has been released.

Color Control Panel Applet
Professional-level photographers and designers know that getting consistent, accurate color from file to screen to print and beyond is a requirement for great results. This new tool helps you manage Windows color settings in one place. Download or learn more.

SyncToy
With new sources of files coming from every direction (such as digital cameras, e-mail, cell phones, portable media players, camcorders, PDAs, and laptops), SyncToy can help you copy, move, and synchronize different directories. Download or learn more.

RAW Image Thumbnailer and Viewer
Are you a serious photographer? Now you can organize and work with digital RAW files in Windows Explorer (much as you can with JPEG images). This tool provides thumbnails, previews, printing, and metadata display for RAW images. Download or learn more.

ClearType Tuner
This PowerToy lets you use ClearType technology to make it easier to read text on your screen, and installs in the Control Panel for easy access.

HTML Slide Show Wizard
This wizard helps you create an HTML slide show of your digital pictures, ready to place on your Web site.

Open Command Window Here
This PowerToy adds an "Open Command Window Here" context menu option on file system folders, giving you a quick way to open a command window (cmd.exe) pointing at the selected folder.

Alt-Tab Replacement
With this PowerToy, in addition to seeing the icon of the application window you are switching to, you will also see a preview of the page. This helps particularly when multiple sessions of an application are open.

Tweak UI
This PowerToy gives you access to system settings that are not exposed in the Windows XP default user interface, including mouse settings, Explorer settings, taskbar settings, and more.

Version 2.10 requires Windows XP Service Pack 1 or Windows Server 2003.

Power Calculator
With this PowerToy you can graph and evaluate functions as well as perform many different types of conversions.

Image Resizer
This PowerToy enables you to resize one or many image files with a right-click.

CD Slide Show Generator
With this PowerToy you can view images burned to a CD as a slide show. The Generator works downlevel on Windows 9x machines as well.

Virtual Desktop Manager
Manage up to four desktops from the Windows taskbar with this PowerToy.

Taskbar Magnifier
Use this PowerToy to magnify part of the screen from the taskbar.

Webcam Timershot
This PowerToy lets you take pictures at specified time intervals from a Webcam connected to your computer and save them to a location that you designate.

Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XP are available here.

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