Bittersweet Taste of Windows 8 Pre-Beta

Windows 8 is still in development and Microsoft is yet to announce a shipment date but I can’t wait to share what I think about Windows 8 pre-beta. The new OS will run on laptops, desktops, netbooks, servers, media center PCs, and tablet PCs. The pre-beta version for developers is out and I was able to run it on my HP laptop built for Windows 7. So far, I have a bittersweet taste in my mouth about Windows 8. Although installation of Windows was smooth, the Metro user interface is quite confusing. The Metro UI seems like it would be best for Smartphones, not notebooks.

Let’s start with the good news. I was excited to work on a new operating system. It took about 10 seconds to boot. It has secured boot, superb Smart Screen, reset/refresh pc, and client hyper-v. Now, companies, for the first time, will be able to integrate their employees tablet PCs into their networks. I am sure that many network administrators welcome this news.

Next, there is definitely a good reason why enterprise users should not upgrade to Windows 8. That is simply because in Windows 7, the enterprise Desktop mode is Windows 7. This is a problem that Microsoft will have to deal with if they want people to migrate en mass.

On my laptop, now running on Windows 8, I was able to use the classic Start menu, like in Windows 7. I was able to do this the same way I could choose the Metro UI. So, if users upgrade and the don’t like the Metro UI, they can go back to a Windows 7 look and feel.

The bad news is that Windows 8, without the Metro interface, is very similar to Windows 7. Nothing has really changed.  In the past, people get excited when there is a launch of a new Microsoft operating system due to new features, look, and feel. That excitement and rush has effectively faded out. In fact, the technology World is more anxious for the next iPhone to hit the market than they are about Windows 8.

One more thing, Microsoft is also trying to keep older versions of Windows, Linux, and other operating systems off Windows 8 computers. That means users may not be able to dual boot their computers. By dual booting, as it is today, one could have both Windows 7 and Linux operating systems on a computer. This might not be the case in the future.

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7 Ways to Speed Up Windows 7

Windows 7 is the most demanding Windows operating system to date. It requires at least 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of hard drive space, and recommends a multi-core processor. Due to these tough requirements, it could help you out to tweak Windows 7 to run more efficiently.

Disable Visual Effects

The visual effects in Windows 7 are nice and add to the experience. They aren’t that great if your computer is running really slowly though.  To get a speed boost, you can use the steps below to disable the visual effect.

  • Locate and right click on “Computer” and then select “Properties”.
  • Click on “Advanced System Settings”.
  • In the new window that just opened up, select the “Advanced” tab in it.
  • Next, Under “Performance”, click on “Settings”. Choose “Custom:” Options from it.
  • Next, uncheck all of the options and select only the last four options.
  • Click Save and then restart your computer. Keep in mind you can always undo what you just did.

Disable the Aero Theme

The Aero theme is another cosmetic improvement in Windows 7. However, it can really slow the PC down. The Aero user interface really taxes your graphics card and your CPU. If you need the extra speed, then it is not a bad idea to disable it.

  • Right Click on your Desktop and select “Personalize”.
  • Click the Window Color Tab.
  • Uncheck the Box that says “Enable Transparency” and then click on “Open classic appearance properties for more color options”.
  • Next, a window will open up.
  • Apply either the Standard or Basic theme from it. We would recommend the Standard theme.

Defragment Your Hard Drive

If you haven’t defragmented your hard drive in a while, you should take the time to do this. You can get to this by clicking start, in the search box type “defragment”, and then by clicking on the defragmentation tool.

Have a USB drive sitting around? Use Windows ReadyBoost

ReadyBoost is a feature in Windows 7 that allows you to add system memory by connecting a flash drive. If you are on the low-end when it comes to memory, this is a good thing to try. Keep in mind that it is better to just buy more memory then to go out and buy a flash drive for this only.

Clean the Hard Drive

Windows 7 needs a certain amount of free disk space to function properly. Moving or deleting old programs, files, and folders can help your hard drive run more efficiently.

Stop Unneeded Programs from Automatically Starting Up

You can make your Windows 7 machine run faster by only starting up programs as they are needed.  There are probably quite a few unneeded programs that you didn’t even know were opening at startup. To manage windows startup, click start, type “msconfig” in the search box, hit the enter key, and click on the startup tab. From here you can disable programs that you don’t want Windows to automatically start up.

Turn Off Desktop Gadgets

Every Gadget you add requires system resources to run. You can turn some or all of these gadgets off. Turn them off by typing “gadgets” into the start menu search bar, choose “View list of running gadgets” and then select each gadget you want to get rid of and click Remove.

Windows ReadyBoost – How to Use It and a Performance Analysis

Windows ReadyBoost is a cool feature that is newer and only available in Windows 7 and Windows Vista. You plug in a USB flash drive and then Windows can use the flash memory to increase its memory size since flash memory is faster than most hard drives. If your computer is running slow, enabling ReadyBoost could be a good thing to try if you have a USB stick sitting around.

How to Enable ReadyBoost

Turning on Windows ReadyBoost is super easy. Just take your flash drive and plug it in to your PC. After you do this, Windows should pop up a message asking how you want to use the flash drive. Click on the option that says “Speed up my system Using Windows ReadyBoost”. That is it. Keep in mind that you will not be able to use any space that you give to ReadyBoost.

If the ReadyBoost popup did not come up automatically for you, then you may have disabled the ReadyBoost service. Click on Start -> Type services.msc into the search box, hit enter, and then check the ReadyBoost service to make sure it is enabled.

Analyzing ReadyBoost Performance

Generally speaking, ReadyBoost helps your computer’s performance a lot more when it comes to tasks that are not CPU intensive. So, application load/close times, application switching times, etc saw the most improvement. AmandTech performed a benchmarking test which can be found here.

In their test, they found that adding 1 GB worth of ReadyBoost flash memory took seconds off of different application load and close tests. For example, using 512 RAM + 1 GB ReadyBoost, they were able to open Adobe Photoshop CS3 13 seconds faster. This is a nice improvement.

More RAM is always Better

Not matter how you look at the performance tests by AmandTech, the bottom line is that adding more memory is the better thing to do. Just by adding another 512 MB of RAM, they were able to cut load times of Photoshop by 26 seconds. Compare this to the 13 seconds cut by using 1 GB of ReadyBoost. So, you if you don’t a flash drive sitting around and you are looking for more performance, upgrading your memory is the way to go. However, if you already have a flash stick sitting around that is not being used, you might as well put it to good use and boost your PC’s performance.

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