Tactical Advice

5 Windows 7 Improvements Users Can Put to Work

Enhance the end-user experience with these five tools.
This story appears in the June 2010 issue of BizTech Magazine.

As Windows 7 goes mainstream, many end users are looking to enhance their experience. The Microsoft operating system, which generally has been well received, is considered a milestone release, promising success on the level of Windows XP and Windows 95. If your business is making the move to Windows 7, here are five improvements that your users can put to work.

1. Problem Steps Recorder


Photo: Epoxydude/Getty Images

For a help desk, few situations are as frustrating as when an end user calls with a support problem they can’t fully articulate. With the Problem Steps Recorder, when a user encounters an issue, such as a program crash, Windows 7 can record that user’s mouse clicks, keystrokes and other actions leading up to the crash, and then generate a report on those actions and all system responses. Users can even add their own comments along the way. Once the recording process is finished, the user can save the recording onto a network share, where IT staff can retrieve it and view a detailed report of the issue in their browser.

2. Windows Mobility Center

The Mobility Center is a compilation of everything a mobile user needs to access quickly, all in a single easy-to-use interface. Once launched, users can adjust display settings, volume controls, power management settings, wireless utilities and device synchronization controls from a single screen. The Mobility Center also includes Presentation Settings, a value-added feature that lets users turn off wallpaper, disable the screen saver, change the system volume and disable system notifications with a single mouse click, eliminating common distractions when giving a presentation.

3. Aero Peek

This handy new feature lets users view desktop gadgets and folders without having to minimize open windows on the screen. To access this feature, users simply move the cursor over the right side of the taskbar. All open windows then become transparent and the desktop can be viewed as though the windows were minimized. By moving the cursor away from the peek button, the windows are instantly restored.

4. Action Center

The new Action Center applet is the latest installment of what used to be the Windows Security Center. The Action Center includes all the security-related functionality of its predecessor but also offers access to common maintenance features, many of which used to be found in other locations. For example, users can view backup status and launch the Backup utility, find solutions for reported problems and even launch System Restore — all from this single interface.

5. Libraries


Photo: Ballyscanlon/Getty Images

The Libraries tool is the ultimate enhancement of Windows 7. It is similar to an iTunes library: While a user may not know where all his MP3s are located, he can open his music library and see them all in one place. Windows 7 Libraries work much the same way. Even though a user’s files might be in several locations on the physical hard drive, the Library keeps track of where they are and presents them to the user as though they were all in a single location. Even better, the Backup utility understands libraries. So instead of chasing down their myriad work files, users can simply back up their libraries, knowing exactly what they are saving.

Jason Holbert is a Tier II desktop support technician at Harcros Chemicals, a chemical manufacturer and distributor based in Kansas City, Kan.
Sign up for our e-newsletter

Security

Why Cloud Security Is More E... |
Cloud protection services enable companies to keep up with security threats while...
Securing the Internet of Thi... |
As excitement around the connected-device future grows, technology vendors seek ways to...
Tools to Maintain Mobile Sec... |
Far-flung devices pose serious challenges, but a variety of technologies can help protect...

Storage

The New Backup Utility Proce... |
Just getting used to the Windows 8 workflow? Prepare for a change.
How to Perform Traditional W... |
With previous versions going unused, Microsoft radically reimagined the backup utility in...
5 Easy Ways to Build a Bette... |
While large enterprises have the resources of an entire IT department behind them, these...

Infrastructure Optimization

Why Cloud Security Is More E... |
Cloud protection services enable companies to keep up with security threats while...
Ensure Uptime Is in Your Dat... |
Power and cooling solutions support disaster recovery and create cost savings and...
The Value of Converged Infra... |
Improvements in security, management and efficiency are just a few of the benefits CI can...

Networking

Securing the Internet of Thi... |
As excitement around the connected-device future grows, technology vendors seek ways to...
How to Maximize WAN Bandwidt... |
Understand six common problems that plague wide area networks — and how to address them.
Linksys Makes a Comeback in... |
The networking vendor introduced several new Smart Switch products at Interop this week.

Mobile & Wireless

Now that Office for iPad Is... |
After waiting awhile for Microsoft’s productivity suite to arrive, professionals who use...
Visualization Can Help Busin... |
Companies need to put their data in formats that make it consumable anytime, anywhere.
Linksys Makes a Comeback in... |
The networking vendor introduced several new Smart Switch products at Interop this week.

Hardware & Software

Visualization Can Help Busin... |
Companies need to put their data in formats that make it consumable anytime, anywhere.
The Tools That Power Busines... |
Ever-evolving analytic software can greatly improve financial institutions’ decision-...
XP-iration Date: Today Is th... |
It’s officially lights out for Windows XP as an operating system. Here’s how the world is...