Upgrading From Media Center XP to Windows 7 (MCE to WIN7 upgrade)
Upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7: Implementation Phase
For the final assignment on computer essentials, I opted to upgrade my operating system. Luckily for me I was able to obtain it through the school’s Microsoft software partnership at no cost to me. I began the install immediately and it took well over 2 hours. The reason it took so long is that there is no way to directly upgrade from windows XP to windows 7 so a clean installation is required. I found this out from using the windows 7 upgrade advisor. I had a high enough rating in the windows experience applet to go ahead with the upgrade. Windows experience rates how your PC will run windows 7 in comparison with other PCs. Mine had over a 4.0 rating which means it is able to use the Aero features as well as graphic intensive programs. After backing up all files that I wanted or needed to save to my external hard drive, I began by inserting the windows 7 installation disc. The first screen asks what type of install I wanted to do so I selected clean. After loading files for quite some time and about two hours and multiple restarts later, I could finally setup Windows to my liking.
The first thing I did was change the appearance of windows to have a personalized background of my pictures and make the windows transparent pink and to change the sound scheme. The Aero experience is definitely much improved including the shake, snap and peek features. I like the shake feature a lot better than the show desktop feature because the window I need never loses focus and with a simple shake of the mouse I can minimize all unnecessary windows. I like the snap feature because by simply dragging a window to the edge of the screen I can resize it and make it fit nicely next to other windows I have in use. I like the peek feature because it kind of gives you the power of X-ray vision, making all open windows transparent to make the desktop visible.
Next I installed the programs I needed for school, including Game Maker 7, Microsoft Office and Lab Sim. Next I download and opened gadgets that I use frequently, such as CPU monitor, say it aloud, and several others. I also installed my printer, a Canon, along with its specialized drivers that allow it to act as a printer and scanner as well as a fax. I set my printer up to make full use of its capabilities by setting it up as a shared network Wi-Fi printer. I installed my Bamboo tablet and appropriate drivers, as well as my memory card reader and the game I play Funkeys and the software for its USB reader. I had some issues finding the drivers for my memory card reader; however it reads cards just fine. I am currently upgrading to Microsoft Office 2010, and haven’t had any problems.
The only downside of Windows 7 is that it is a lot slower to start up and sometimes take a long time to load and open files and programs. It also sometimes takes up all of the CPU processing power and makes it run at 100% for sometimes upwards of 5 to 10 minutes and more. I have shut of some of the aero features since and have had little to no issues. I also setup a homegroup with my PC and my fiancé’s windows 7 laptop. The homegroup is a great feature and takes the headache out of setting up a home network and shared files. I can now access files from all of my computers except my netbook using homegroup. I used to have to spend hours sharing and unsharing files and folders on my home network only for them to be inaccessible just minutes later.
I had to install the drivers for my Acer monitor as well, so I can use it on multiple modes for different things, such as my Xbox. I went in to my network and internet control applet and setup my home Wi-Fi network to be a shared connection through an Ethernet cable with my Xbox, to avoid purchasing a separate wireless adapter for the Xbox. At first, this proved to be quite a task because the Xbox wouldn’t connect no matter what I did; however after I restarted both systems it seems to connect just fine.
After installing windows 7, I can now use my tablet in the office suite for hand writing recognition, and in One Note for text entry, which was a major selling point for me. I also configured the text to speech function in Windows 7 through the speech applet. I use this feature quite often, especially when writing papers such as this one. It helps to have it read aloud to make sure that the grammar and flow work well in context. The return of text to speech was another big selling point of windows 7 for me because I utilize it frequently.
Windows Media Player is also better written for windows 7 and is much more intuitive than previous media player editions. For one thing there is a lot more supported file types without the hassle of downloading individual codecs, and also has a 15 second preview feature to ensure you have the right file. The Live tool suite is also great and though available on XP service pack 3 and vista, it functions much better on Windows 7. Windows live essentials includes messenger, photo gallery, mail, writer, movie maker and more. Writer is a new program that helps with blogging and makes adding pictures and videos a snap. The other programs are old Microsoft stand-bys but by all means have been updated to be the latest and greatest.
One other issue I have with Windows 7 is that the update process leaves something to be desired. I miss the days where I could go to the website versus it being built in to the operating system. I don’t necessarily like that windows 7 is more user friendly, because that makes less work for techs like myself, especially since people with very little knowledge of computers can do more with the easier to use graphical interface.
I love the new remote streaming media feature, because I don’t like to bog down my netbook with media files. Basically it works by associating all of the libraries on your PC and laptop with a live ID to access the media remotely. As long all of the files are online, (and your PC has an internet connection) you will be able to access all of your photos, videos and music on the go. Simply log in and see all your files as if you were on your home network. This feature is great using a homegroup as well.
Another feature I am absolutely satisfied with is the action center. It consolidates all windows based notifications in one place and many can be resolved with one click. Action Center shows important messages that require user action to resolve. Items in red require immediate attention such as outdated antivirus protection and yellow items are just suggestions such as running a defragmenter or other things that are not of a pressing nature. It has security (red) and maintenance (yellow) issues divided by type and severity. If you are having a problem this is a good starting point to begin troubleshooting from.
Windows 7 uses Automatic Stream Management (ASM) that routes audio according to type, if it’s music, it plays through your speakers, if it’s a VoIP call it will route through your headset. ASM also allows a portable media player to be connected and play through your computer’s speakers, as well as controls for muting or turning down the volume for all sounds while maintaining volume of the desired audio. There are also many new video features such as ÿ+ P to turn the display on to an external device such as projector mode.
There are many device related features such as Device Stage which acts as a home base for all of your hardware devices. When you plug a device in a list of the most common tasks for that hardware will show up. Device stage has the ability for manufacturer personalization so you may see a picture of your actual device, along with features that were previously only available in separate menus. You can also see the status of the device, with troubleshooting options.
Another feature of Windows 7 that is very useful is location aware printing. Any time you print from a network printer Windows 7 remembers whether you are at work or home and then assigns a printer accordingly based on your location. You can also pair networks and printers manually. One feature of Windows 7 I found intriguing is Ready Boost. It uses an external memory device such as a flash drive to boost RAM capacity. Ready Boost supports up to 8 devices and can utilize up to 256 GB of additional memory.
Another thing I was impressed by were the vast improvements in the paint application. It now allows for textures and digital brushes for many more options. I often use paint for simple graphic editing, such as video game sprites, so I don’t have to load PhotoShop. Paint often comes in handy for simple copy and paste files saves as well, such as screen shots, though much of that has been eliminated with the snipping tool. Paint is also now touch screen and multi-touch compatible so it comes in handy when using it on a tablet PC. Another classic windows program that got a makeover was the calculator. The calculator now includes programming and scientific modes, and holds a history of calculations performed. There is now a unit converter built in for units, such as temperature and fuel, as well as auto payments and other frequently used calculations.
BitLocker is another great feature of windows 7, and allows for easy file encryption even on portable devices. If BitLocker is turned on all files on that drive are automatically encrypted for protection. BitLocker automatically sets up partitions that allow for maximum encryption without preventing the operating system from starting.
In conclusion, upgrading to windows 7 was the best possible option for me and I am very pleased with the outcome of this project. There are many features, whether its windows live, Microsoft office 2011, Windows Media Player 12 or BitLocker they are all very useful. Even just the operating system tweaks such as peek, snap and shake are invaluable to the Windows 7 experience. This is by far the best Microsoft operating system and the most user friendly. Windows 7 has something for everyone and I will definitely recommend it to clients whenever it is feasibly possible. I will definitely use my PC with Windows 7 a lot, and enjoy using it more than when I used it with windows media center XP 2005.