7 Features in Windows 7

Now that Microsoft has released the RTM (release to manufacture) version of Windows 7 to its TechNet/MSDN subscribers and the final release being scheduled to be in end of October, I am sure most of us would have got our hands dirty with at least one of the releases (Beta, RC or RTM).

If I am to tell, I have been using Windows 7 from beta to RTM and there are a lot of new features which simply took my breath away. If I am to name a few,

1)  The new super bar (formerly known as the task bar) – this is awesome, its more visible and you can pin and unpin your favorite applications and mostly used applications on to the super bar now. It’s that you don’t have to search them anymore.

2)  The Aero Snap – This is one of my personal favorites. This feature helps a lot when creating reports. It automatically adjusts any 2 documents for a comparison view. It’s simple just drag your windows to both the extreme corners of your desktop and Windows 7 will automatically resize them to fit your screen for a compatibility view.

3)  The Aero Peek – allows you to peek through the applications which are opened in your super bar rather than opening them and allows you to have a preview of those opened programs.

4)  BitLocker To Go – Security to the max – Encrypt your USB drive – no more data theft

5)  Media Center included in all the editions from Home Premium and above , unlike Windows Vista where you had the media center in Home Premium and Ultimate. Using Media Center you can manage your pictures and videos in one place. Pretty neat!

6)  One of the fast and secure browsers – IE8 – the best part is unlike SOME other browsers it doesn’t save your passwords in plain text. 

7)  Aero Shake – gives the “Awe” to the audience when you demo this 🙂 I simply love this. Shake one of the opened windows and the rest of the windows minimizes and maximizes.

I can simply can go on like this if time allows, but it doesn’t (unfortunately time is not a good friend of mine)

Until next time!

Shortcut keys in Windows 7

The hottest topic in the IT industry these days is Windows 7 and its release. I have gathered some of the keyboard shortcuts which you can use in Windows 7 and I am sure this will be very useful to you and make you more productive by allowing you to achieve tasks quicker and simpler.

Microsoft has included a keyboard shortcut to create new folders in Windows 7

  • Ctrl+ Shift+ N

There are a lot of shortcuts associated with the Windows Key on your keyboard.

  • Win Key+ Spacebar = Aero Peek
  • Win Key+ Up = Maximize Window
  • Win Key+ Down = Restore
  • Win Key+ Left = Move Window to left
  • Win Key+ Right = Move Windows to right
  • Win Key+ Home = Minimize all windows except for the active windows
  • Win Key+ + = Zoom In
  • Win Key+ – = Zoom out
  • Win Key+ X = Mobility Center
  • Win Key+ P = Connect to additional display (external display)

There are much more, but yet to discover J

BitLocker and BitLocker To Go in Windows 7

Microsoft introduced BitLocker in Windows Vista and it was one of the most important security features introduced with it. Since Laptop/Notebook theft is increasing day by day, Microsoft introduced this feature which helps you to encrypt the whole hard drive in your computer. So even if a computer or a notebook is being stolen from an organization, they don’t have to worry about their data or any compliance regulations as no one will be able to recover the encrypted data.

Now, the usage of USB drives has increased tremendously. Day by day the size of the USB drives shrinks whereas the capacity expands. The more capacity means you will be storing more data in it, and the smaller in size makes you to lose it more easily. As a data protection solution Microsoft has introduced a new feature called BitLocker To Go in Windows 7. BitLocker To Go helps you to encrypt your USB drives so even if you lose, it will only be the hardware and no one will be able to access your encrypted information. Windows 7 comes with both BitLocker and BitLocker To Go.

Let’s have a look at on how to encrypt your USB drives using BitLocker To Go in Windows 7

Basically, what happens when you enable BitLocker To Go on a USB drive is that it encrypts the drive and assign a password. So every time you plug in the drive you will be prompted to enter the password in order to access (read and write) the drive.

Once you encrypt your USB drive using BitLocker To Go you should be able to access the drive on computers running Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP provided that you enter the password correctly.

How do you do this?

  • Plug in your USB drive and open My Computer (Picture 1)
  • Right click on the USB Drive and select “Turn on BitLocker” (Picture 2)
  • You will get the BitLocker initialization box (Picture 3)
  • Once the initialization is done you will be asked to enter a password or you can use a smart card authentication (we will be using a password here) (Picture 4)
  • You will be prompted to save the key or print the key (for recovery purposes, in case you lose or forget the password) (Picture 5)
  • Save the key (we will be saving the key here) (Picture 6)
  • After you confirm your password and click next you will be prompted to click start encryption (Picture 7)
  • The encrypting process begins (Picture 8)
  • And the completion (Picture 9)
  • Once you click close on the completion window, your My Computer window should show a new icon for your USB Drive (Picture 10)

Now that your USB Drive is encrypted, Lets see on what happens when you plug this on to a Windows 7 machine

When you plug in a USB drive which has BitLocker To Go turned on, instead of the default autorun you will be prompted to enter the password to open the drive. (Picture 11)

When you plug in to a Windows Vista or a Windows 7, it will give you the autorun Window where you will have to choose and run the BitLocker To Go reader. Once you do then you will be able to enter the password and access your drive. (Picture 12, 13 & 14)

When you use the BitLocker reader to access the USB Drive either using Windows XP or Windows Vista you will ONLY be able to read data which is on the USB Drive and copy files and folders form the USB Drives to your computer. You WONT be able to write directly to a USB Drive protected by BitLocker To Go using XP or Vista. For this you will require a Windows 7 (to add and remover files).