Tactical Advice

Windows 7: Enhance the End-User Experience

If you're migrating to Microsoft's new OS, here are five improvements that your users can put to work.
This story appears in the March 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

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

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 all 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.

For more help and information about Windows 7, check out our resource center.

Jason Holbert is a Tier II desktop support technician at Harcros Chemicals, a chemical manufacturer and distributor based in Kansas City, Kan.
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