Category Archives: Windows

25 years of Microsoft Windows

Computer World has created a nice article for the 25th birthday of Microsoft Windows. On November 20th 1985 Microsoft released Windows 1.0 and didn’t catch on as well as Microsoft had hoped.

It was not until Windows 3.1 which started to get the ball rolling with the major turning point being Windows 95 which really started to get home computing going en masse.

Visual Tour of 25 years of Windows

Microsoft plans to roll out browser ballot screen for Europe

Over the next few weeks starting from next week. Microsoft will be offering a web browser choice ballot screen to Internet Explorer users in Europe.

External testing of the choice screen will begin next week in three countries: the United Kingdom, Belgium and France. Anyone in those countries who wishes to test it can download the browser choice screen software update from Windows Update.

The browser choice screen software update will be offered as an automatic download through Windows Update for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. The software update will be installed automatically, or will prompt you to download or install it, depending on which operating system you are running and your settings for Windows Update. If you do not have automatic updating enabled, you can get the choice screen by going to Windows Update and clicking on “Check for Updates.”



Microsoft Security Essentials

At last the long awaited replacement for the discontinued Windows OneCare suite.

Microsoft Security Essentials is Microsoft’s free anti-virus and anti-spyware solution. It is aimed at home users and small businesses and will be available for Genuine Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 users and will be available in 32bit and 64bit editions for Vista and 7.

Below are the download links.

Windows XP  Windows Vista/7 32bit  Windows Vista/7 64bit

Windows 7 RTM is now on MSDN and TechNet

Late yesterday afternoon UK Time the RTM of Windows 7 was posted to TechNet and MSDN and took the plunge and did an in place upgrade from Windows Vista on my Laptop and Desktop.

The upgrade process took a about 3 hours on both systems and the process was flawless. I’m pleased at the smooth upgrade and saves me allot of post installation configuration and application installations 🙂

Windows 7 Anytime Upgrade prices announced

Straight from here are the Windows 7 Anytime Upgrade and Family Pack pricing details.

Windows Anytime Upgrade
WAU allows users who purchase machines with Home Premium or Starter to move up to a higher edition of Windows 7. After Windows 7 is released to market on October 22nd, you will be able to buy a retail package that contains an upgrade key from retail outlets. The pricing structure will be (US, EU, GBP):

  • Windows 7 Starter to Windows 7 Home Premium: $79.99 · €74.99 · £69.99
  • Windows 7 Starter to Windows 7 Professional: $114.99 · €184.99 · £119.99
  • Windows 7 Starter to Windows 7 Ultimate: $164.99 · €204.99 · £139.99
  • Windows 7 Home Premium to Windows 7 Professional: $89.99 · €179.99 · £119.99
  • Windows 7 Home Premium to Windows 7 Ultimate: $139.99 · €189.99 · £124.99
  • Windows 7 Professional to Windows 7 Ultimate: $129.99 · €134.99 · £84.99

Windows 7 Family Pack
Microsoft also announced that the Windows 7 Family Pack will be available on October 22 and priced at $149.99 in the US and $199.99 in Canada for 3 Windows 7 Home Premium licenses. Consumers will save $200 in the US by purchasing the Family Pack over individual copies. Microsoft did not supply pricing for markets other than the US and Canada.

Create custom wallpaper collections in Windows 7

Many thanks to Kristan Kenney of for this handy “How To”

Step 1: Organize your wallpapers
The first step is pretty easy. You will need to create a folder hierarchy (figure 1) to place your different wallpapers in (such as %USERPROFILE%PicturesAbstract, %USERPROFILE%PicturesNature, etc. – see figure 1), or tag your wallpaper images (figure 2) with categories (like Family Photos, Animals, etc).


(Figure 1 – A folder hierarchy containing various types of background images.)


(Figure 2 – Setting tag categories on images)

Step 2: Creating the registry entries for your wallpaper collection

  1. Click on Start, type "regedit.exe" in the Start Search field, and then press Enter.
  2. Provide consent or the appropriate credentials to User Account Control if prompted.
  3. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerWallpapersKnownFolders.
  4. Right click on the KnownFolders key, click on New, and then click on Key. Name the new sub-key 1.
  5. In the 1 sub-key, create a new String Value (REG_SZ) and change its name to GROUPBY.
  6. Double click on the GROUPBY string value (REG_SZ) and set its value according to the following guidelines:

    – If your wallpapers are in a single folder and you are using tags to sort your wallpapers, set the value to System.Keywords.
    – If you are sorting your wallpapers using a hierarchy of multiple sub-folders, set the value to System.ItemFolderNameDisplay.

  7. In the 1 sub-key, create a new String Value (REG_SZ) and change its name to NAME.
  8. Double click on the NAME string value (REG_SZ) and change it to whatever you wish, for example "Personal Wallpaper Collection" – this is the name that will be displayed in Windows Explorer.
  9. Right click on the 1 sub-key, click on New, and then click on Key. Rename the sub-key to whatever you wish, such as Personal Wallpaper Collection.
  10. Right click on the sub-key that you just created (e.g. Personal Wallpaper Collection), click on New, and then click on Key. Name the new sub-key MergeFolders.
  11. Create a new String Value (REG_SZ), and change its name to equal the path of your wallpapers directory. For example, C:\Users\Kristan Kenney\Pictures\Desktop Backgrounds\Abstract.
  12. Repeat step 11 for each additional folder of wallpapers that you wish to add to the collection.
  13. Close the Registry Editor.
  14. Log off and then log in in order for Windows Explorer to see the new wallpaper collection registry entries.


(Figure 3 – the Windows Registry Editor, showing a list of sub-folders)

Step 3: Enjoy!
Right click on the Desktop, and then click on Personalize. When the Personalization window appears, click on Desktop Background, and then click on the drop-down next to "Picture Location". Click on your wallpaper collection that you just created, and then choose as many wallpapers as you want (figure 4).


But wait, that’s not all!
In step 6, we went through the process of assigning a view method to the GROUPBY string value, such as System.Keywords (sort by Tags) or System.ItemFolderNameDisplay (sort by Folder name). There are other view methods available as part of the Windows Shell (Windows Explorer), such as System.RatingText (which will allow you to sort your images by rating). You can find many more to try in the online MSDN Library.

Please note, a lot of the System namespace shell properties are context specific, so there are a few that won’t work, or will produce weird results. For example, using System.IsIncomplete or System.FlagStatusText will not do anything useful with your wallpapers.

Windows 7 is now RTM

Windows 7 was announced as Release to Manufacturing at the Microsoft Global Exchange in Atlanta, Georgia, an internal Microsoft conference for Microsoft’s global sales teams and evangelists.

Here is a “sneak peek” video of the official announcement from Steven Sinofsky with Steve Ballmer formally signing off the RTM DVD’s of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

Windows 7 Sneak-Peak from MGX

When will we get Windows 7 ?

This is straight from the Windows 7 Team Blog and posted the key section with the dates of availability.

Partners & OEMs: ISV (Independent software vendor) and IHV (Independent hardware vendor) Partners will be able to download Windows 7 RTM from Microsoft Connect or MSDN on August 6th.

Business Customers: If you are a Volume License (VL) customer with an existing Software Assurance (SA) license you will be able to download Windows 7 RTM in English starting August 7th via the Volume License Service Center (VLSC). The rest of the languages for Windows 7 RTM should be available within a couple of weeks after that.

IT Professionals: There are a few ways you can get Windows 7 RTM. IT Professionals with TechNet Subscriptions will be able to download Windows 7 RTM in English on August 6th and remaining languages by October 1st.

Developers: Developers with MSDN Subscriptions will be able to download Windows 7 RTM in English on August 6th and remaining languages by October 1st.

Beta Testers & Enthusiasts: A special thank you to our beta testers is needed for their time and effort in helping make Windows 7 a solid release. The special pre-order offer we did offering Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Professional at almost 50% discount was done with our beta testers in mind. And many of you jumped at the chance to take advantage of this deal – thank you!

Microsoft update on the Widnows 7 RTM

Microsoft blogger Brandon LeBlanc has published an update on the Windows 7 RTM and this is a quote from the Windows Team Blog.

Over the past week, there have been many rumours surrounding RTM.

We are close, but have not yet signed off on Windows 7. When we RTM you will most certainly hear it here. As we’ve said all along, we will RTM Windows 7 when it’s ready. As previously stated, we expect Windows 7 to RTM in the 2nd half of July.

Brandon has also shared the step-by-step validation process for the RTM to ensure a quality is as good as it can be.

Another thing to keep in mind is that when we do a specific build internally of Windows 7 we have an extensive step-by-step validation process to ensure quality. This process takes time. Just because a single build may have “leaked” it does not signal the completion of a milestone such as RTM. As always, don’t believe everything that you read on the Internet – except this post ;-).

The timeframe has not changed and below is the timeline according to the blog.

  • MSDN & TechNet Subscribers: Subscribers will be able to download the final version of Windows 7 a few weeks after we announce RTM.
  • Volume License (VL) Customers: Windows 7 will be available to Volume License customers on September 1st.
  • Consumers, Enthusiasts, & Beta Testers (Everyone else): The retail version of Windows 7 will be available in stores October 22nd. If you pre-ordered Windows 7, it should be delivered sometime around the October 22nd timeframe (depends on the retailer).
  • On New PCs: OEMs are expected to start shipping new PCs with Windows 7 pre-installed on them around October 22nd.