Win 7 question thread - for everybody

I didn’t really see a generic questions thread for “post-install” Win 7, so hope no one minds yet another one. Anyone else feel free to ask your own questions here too. Here are a few I have so far:

  • What UAC are you guys using? I had it “off” in Vista, would that be a fine in Win 7 too or open a giant security hole?

  • I never got used to Vista’s file management. Do you all like file managment in 7? It seems less of a pro user tool.

  • I can’t find the anti-phishing option to turn off in IE. Where is it?

  • Are there any powertoys or the like for Win 7?

  • Do you have any performance tips you use for Win 7?

  • Is there a preferred Anti-Virus program for Win 7 (outside of MS’s own)?

  • There were only 8 critical updates. That sound right? I expected to have like a thousand.

  • I usually go on a service hunt for things I won’t think I’ll need. With only a dual-core processor and 4 gig of RAM would that still be beneficial? (using 64-bit version)

  • Heard any horror stories of X-Fi drivers? I have the PCI Express X-Fi Titanium.

I keep UAC at the default level in Windows 7 and it’s not driving me crazy, and I wanted to kill the UAC designers in Vista. Now it harasses me about as much as elevation does in Mac OS X. In other words, it’s a reasonable amount now.

UAC: I’ve just left it at the default, since I don’t seem to have too many programs that trip it too often (usually just the first time I start up Steam or certain games). I wish I could automatically approve Xfire though, since it prompts every time I log in…

The anti-phishing stuff is under Safety->SmartScreen Filter now, I think.

File management with Explorer was a bit annoying at first until I re-enabled the tree view (right-click in the left panel and enable Show All Folders).

I’m not sure what Creative compatibility is like since I used the upgrade to Win7 as an opportunity to pull out my old Audigy 2 and just use the motherboard sound now.

A couple more questions to add to the list (thanks for the advice on UAC).

  • Do you guys install ALL the Microsoft Windows Essentials? The add-ons I’m considering not installing are: Messenger, Toolbar, and Family Safety. I’m concerned I’ll miss some new functionality, but would like to lessen bloatware.

Since I have XP, I will need to format the partition that the OS is on currently. Does that MS Easy Transfer program work with partitions, or only external hard drives? MS’s webpage does not make that clear.

I turned UAC off - in Vista I had it tweaked down a level. It’s the way it doesn’t store policies - I need to constantly reapprove certain exes.

Keeping an open mind about file exploring. I don’t do a huge amount of this really. I’ve got explorer on the taskbar opening at the library view, which has been good so far.

For some reason, W7 gets onto my wireless network much quicker than Vista, which is great - I can have Steam and Messenger start with the OS now, which wasn’t true before…

Personally, I’d copy the data manually, and nuke your full HD. When you boot from the Win7 install DVD, when you get to the main installation screen you can choose “delete” after you select your hard drive. I have the upgrade version of Win7 and it didn’t ask for an old version after it saw the drive even though I removed all traces of Vista.

Some recommendations from your questions, in no particular order:

  • Try the default UAC level. I’m betting that will be fine for you now it’s about 1/2 less intrusive than before. Your only issue will be, as with Vista, marking new networks as to what they are (public, home, work.) But as far as programs go, I have had very few issues.

  • You get used to the file management. You also get used to the homegroups but as with Vista you can go around all this and set up standard shares. As with Vista it’s a bit of a PITA, but homegroups were at least an attempt to make this easier for folks to do.

  • No powertoys that I have found yet. Also no super boosting performance tips that I have seen yet. As with Vista, disabling graphics options helps, but I’ll warn you that you disable a lot of the “cool” stuff about Win7 when doing so.

  • Sounds about right on critical updates, especially so if you haven’t installed any Office product yet. Stock drivers are pretty solid but I can’t comment on the X-Fi stuff, I ditched mine long ago when I went to headset gaming.

  • Use Microsoft Security Essentials for your AV. There are other products that are free, but they occasionally nag, or they limit the functionality. MSE is COMPLETELY free and having used it since beta, it’s a damn nice product.

  • You didn’t ask about gaming, but I’ve found Win 7 to be the most stable gaming platform I’ve used to date. And I’m on 64-bit, which is saying a lot. I haven’t yet loaded up a lot of old stuff, but most of my major games from the past 2-3 years all run perfectly.

  • I have the default UAC still enabled and so far I’m cool with it.

  • I’m running the same X-Fi soundcard and so far no issues at all with the drivers that Win 7 installed.

  • As far as performance is concerned, I RAM is the key with 64bit Win 7. Unfortunately Win 7 came out at the worst possible time as RAM has jumped up in price =( I’d like to get 8 gigs but I don’t want to spend ~ $200 or more on DDR2 RAM.

Ok, the one thing that’s driving me nuts - where in the hell is Game Controllers in the Control Panel? I’d like to be able to calibrate my sticks and check for button response but I can’t find the damn thing.

It’s under Devices And Printers now. There’s a new device model in Win7 that tries to treat multifunction devices as a single device rather than a bunch of separate devices, but that means everything’s merged into this single category now.

Use the default.

  • I never got used to Vista’s file management. Do you all like file managment in 7? It seems less of a pro user tool.

I do like file management in Win7 but I also prefer Vista to XP. I suspect you just need to adjust to the new style, it isn’t any less “pro”, just different (and IMO better once you get used to it).

  • I can’t find the anti-phishing option to turn off in IE. Where is it?

It is called SmartScreen filter now and can be enabled/disabled via custom security settings from the Tools/Internet Options/Security area.

  • Are there any powertoys or the like for Win 7?

None that I use, but Win7 has the functionalty of the ones I care about (eg. ClearType tuner) built in.

  • Do you have any performance tips you use for Win 7?

Install as much RAM as your motherboard allows. Buy a good SSD if you can.

  • Is there a preferred Anti-Virus program for Win 7 (outside of MS’s own)?

I just use Microsoft Security Essentials now.

  • There were only 8 critical updates. That sound right? I expected to have like a thousand.

The OS was just released and already has the benefit of the growing pains Microsoft went through with security in Vista.

  • I usually go on a service hunt for things I won’t think I’ll need. With only a dual-core processor and 4 gig of RAM would that still be beneficial? (using 64-bit version)

IME OCD people who go crazy searching for services to disable screw themselves and make system performance worse on average than if they kept the defaults. Feel free to disable system restore if you know you’ll never use it via the System/System Protection control panel. Also be sure to disable startup/taskbar programs of apps that install them that shouldn’t, but I wouldn’t mess with any of the default Windows services other than system restore.

  • Do you guys install ALL the Microsoft Windows Essentials? The add-ons I’m considering not installing are: Messenger, Toolbar, and Family Safety. I’m concerned I’ll miss some new functionality, but would like to lessen bloatware.

No. Personally the only ones I install are Photo Gallery and Movie Maker. The rest of the stuff in that pack is stuff I don’t need (I don’t use MSN as an IM client, I use web mail via gmail and never use local email clients anymore, etc). Just install what you’ll use for now, if you need something later you can just install it later.

Here are my suggestions/comments after installing Win7:

Change the Time server to something besides “time.windows.com”, which is pretty unreliable (probably getting hammered).

If you have problems activating your Upgrade edition of Win7, keep this link handy.

Install Fences for managing desktop icons.

If Win7 updates your Ethernet drivers and you lose your Internet connection, you probably just need to reboot.

There’s still a bit of tweaking to do: hidden files/folders and file extensions are still turned off by default, I like to turn them on. The QuickLaunch bar is also off by default.

You’ll be happy to know, NetFlix makes a return appearance in Media Center (it was absent from the beta and RC1).

Pretty easy upgrade, all things considered.

  1. Leave UAC on. Honestly, it’s mostly fine in Vista at this point, as Vista has served its purpose in shaming developers into doing things right.

  2. Don’t worry about how to configure IE, since you’ll never use it. Chrome or Firefox, right?

  3. The one big change I made to the Win7 UI was to disable grouping on the taskbar. What happened if I would leave it on is that I would download something in Firefox, which’d open up that little Download Manager window. Then I’d go off to some other app, and when I clicked on Firefox in the taskbar, instead of switching, it’d give me the Aero Peek thing where I had to choose which window I wanted to switch to. Fuck that. Once you disable grouping, though, it’s all good.

  4. Get used to searching. You asked, for instance, where something is in the control panel – don’t worry about it. Just type in like “Game Controller” or whatever into the search bar in the start menu. This worked pretty well in Vista, and works even better in Win7.

  5. Don’t install any of the Live Essentials (sic) unless you actively want them. I don’t think I bothered with any of them.

The one thing about UAC that annoys me is the whole “run as administrator” thing. I’ve had a couple installs fail the first time because I just double-clicked, and I had to Google and find out I needed to right-click and run as administrator. First of all, I am an administrator, and secondly if it needs more permissions, fucking ask. Don’t just fail silently.

I quite like the new “pin to task bar/start menu” paradigm. It’s easy and removes the need for quicklaunch.

The other thing that annoys me is when some operation takes a long time but needs the elevation prompt at some intermediate point. The prompt has a timeout on it, and a few times now I’ve wandered off to do something else only to come back to the patch or whatever failing because I wasn’t sitting there at just the right time.

  1. Type “UAC” into the start menu. Open Change User Account Control Settings. Change to "Notify me only when programs try to make changes to my computer (do not dim my desktop). Apparently no one’s managed to write a video driver that can actually switch to the secure desktop quickly; this will make UAC much less frustrating.
  2. For god’s sakes, just use Firefox.
  3. Perfwise it’s fine out of the box.

Bluurk. Just discovered I get awful sound interference when pulling stuff off the hard drive (I think). Opening pics or scrolling a website… Didn’t happen under Vista :(

Realtek sound. That’s annoying.

I think that’s due to either PCI latency in the motherboard settings or bad driver.

I’ve got a Windows 7 question: A buddy of mine ordered a couple of copies, and he’s not planning on using one. Which means that he’s shared the activation key for the other with me. I’d like to download a legitimate version with which I could use said activation code. Is there any official site where one can do this? I can’t seem to find one.

Basically, what I’m looking for is a legit demo that can be fully activated. It’s Home Premium that my code is good for, but I’m not sure yet if it’s 32 or 64 bit. Still waiting to hear back from my buddy about that.

I do love that I can just type something and not have to go searching for the start menu shortcut. Today at work I was helping a co-worker connect to a server with Remote Desktop and he couldn’t find the shortcut. I couldn’t help thinking that in Win 7, you don’t have to search if you know what it’s called. I’ve been using MMC on a Win 7 box and I have no idea where it is on the Start Menu, or if it’s even anywhere.