Windows 7 tip: (elevated) command prompt anywhere

via Download Squad by Lee Mathews on 2/9/09

The command prompt here power toy was a feature that a lot of users requested be built-in to Windows 7. Microsoft listened, and added it to a secondary context menu.

By holding shift and right-clicking a folder, you’ll see additional commands not listed on the standard menu, such as open in new process, copy as path, and open command window here. Suppose you need a command window with elevated privileges. Then what?

In Windows Vista, it could be done through the start menu by typing cmd into the search box and holding shift+control and hitting enter. This works in Windows 7 as well.

Combine the two, and you’ve got a right-click elevated command window shortcut: shfit+control+right click on a folder and choose open command window. Check your title bar: if it starts with Administrator, you’re set!

Some other sites have posted registry hacks to add a context menu entry for the admin option, but why bother? It’s already there – just hidden!

How to Get Your Copy of Windows 7 on Friday

via Wired Top Stories by Michael Calore on 1/8/09

Windows7

Microsoft will make the first public beta of Windows 7, the next version of its desktop operating system, available as a free download on Friday. There are several limitations, however, so even if you’re excited and committed to trying out Windows 7 Beta 1 on your home PC, check out this list of rules, requirements and considerations.

We culled this list from a post on the official Windows blog and its comments, so check it out before taking the plunge:

  • Windows 7 Beta 1 will be made available for a limited time during the day on January 9, 2009.
  • Visit the Windows 7 page on Microsoft’s website for the link.
  • It will only be made available to the first 2.5 million people to download the code. Demand will be huge, so prepare to act quickly.
  • Microsoft has not announced a specific time on Friday for the release, but we can expect it will be later in the day so the west coast of North America isn’t left out.
  • Windows 7 Beta 1 will be offered as an ISO image. It’s around 2.5 or 3 gigabytes, so you will need a DVD burner if you want to install it.
  • You will be required to register before downloading so Microsoft can give you a product key.
  • It will be build 7000.
  • The beta will only support Windows Vista SP1 to Windows 7 upgrades. If you’re not running Vista SP1 right now, upgrade before you try to install the Windows 7 beta.
  • There is also a clean install option for the Win7 beta.
  • There is no upgrade path from XP.
  • There’s only one version of the beta, which Microsoft says “is roughly equivalent the Ultimate edition of Windows Vista.”
  • The Windows 7 Beta will expire on August 1. You will probably be forced to go back to using Vista SP1 on August 1 (or maybe upgrade to Win7 Beta 2?).
  • English, German, Japanese, Arabic, and Hindi versions will be available Friday.
  • Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions will be available (except for Hindi, which only gets a 32-bit version).
  • If you’re upgrading, remember to back up your PC. It’s a beta, stupid!

If you miss out, there will be other ways to get the beta in the near future. It’s likely Microsoft will be handing out hard DVDs of the code at developer events and consumer conferences throughout the year. And of course, (cough) there’s always BitTorrent.

Calgoo goes free: sync Google Calendar, iCal, and others for free

via Download Squad by Danny Mendez on 7/28/08
calgoo ical google calendar sync

Since the dawn of time Google Calendar, we’ve been waiting for a free, easy way to fully synchronize our Google Calendar to desktop calendar clients like iCal. We’d love to be able to access the same calendar data across multiple computers, but it’s always been a messy affair, not free, an incomplete solution, or PC only.

Well, Calgoo has been one of those paid options up until now, but the minds behind the program just announced that it is free from here on out. That’s right, Calgoo is now the free option in Google Calendar and desktop caledar synchronization. Calgoo officially supports 30 Boxes, Apple iCal, Microsoft Outlook, and — of course — Google Calendar.

Calgoo’s “Chief Owl” will not employ ads in the app in order to pay for the costs of developing the program, but the team will begin to run ads on Calgoo Hub and possibly other future products. As for the software itself, it’s pretty easy to use, and it provides for two-way synchonization, which means that any changes on one calendar will apply to the other.

[via WebWorkerDaily]

Opera turns 9.51

via Download Squad by Brad Linder on 7/3/08
Opera 9.5.1

Hot on the heels of Opera 9.5, the Opera team has released version 9.5.1 of their desktop web browser. The new version includes some recommended security and stability updates. But there are also some other handy changes. Here are a few highlights:

  • Fine-tuned the new default skin
  • Saved images no longer recorded in the file transfer window
  • Fixed an issue that could be used to display arbitrary code
  • Fixed a stability issue with Yahoo! Mail
  • 64 bit Linux package now available

Overall you won’t notice a ton of changes to the interface. But if you’re currently using Opera 9.5, we’d recommend updating for the security enhancements alone.

Skype to launch unlimited international calling plan

via Download Squad by Brad Linder on 4/21/08
Skype unlimited plans

Have friends, relatives, or business contacts located in faraway lands? Internet telephony company Skype is launching its first plan that lets you make unlimited international PC to telephone calls, assuming you’re calling a landline in one of 34 countries covered by the plan.

Most of Europe is covered, as well as the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.The $9.95/month plan doesn’t cover calls to cellphones in all areas, but you can call mobile phones in the US, Canada, China, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

Or you can just convince everybody you know to install Skype on their computers and mobile phones so you can make Skype to Skype calls for free.

[via AP]

Sneak peek at OpenOffice.org 3.0

via Download Squad by Brad Linder on 3/20/08
OpenOffice.org 3.0 beta

OpenOffice.org 2.4 may be just around the corner. But if you laugh at stable releases and always want to have your hands on the latest beta software, you can download an early beta version of OpenOffice.org 3.0 today. Just check out the list of OpenOffice.org mirrors, choose a download site, and then find the Developer folder and the DEV300 supfolder and you should be able to download a Windows, Linux, or Mac installer. That’s right, there’s even an OS X installer. OpenOffice.org 3.0 will be the first version of OpenOffice to feature a native Mac client.

So what else does OpenOffice.org 3.0 have that version 2.3.1 is missing? Well, a bunch of bugs. This is a developer preview, after all. But there’s also a ton of new features, including the startup screen you see above. That’s what you’ll get if you launch OOo-dev without choosing a specific application like Writer or Calc first. Here are a few other changes:

  • Multi-page view in Writer
  • Office 2007 document support
  • New Calc theme
  • Maximum number of columns in Calc jumps from 256 to 1024
  • Multiple users can edit spreadsheets simultaneously

These are just a few of the changes already included in OpenOffice.org 3.0 beta. There are thousands of other tweaks and bug fixes in the works. What features would you most like to see in the next major release? OpenOffice.org 3.0 is scheduled for a September, 2008 launch.

[via OpenOffice.org Ninja]

No Vista installation CD? You can still download a Vista recovery disc

via Download Squad by Brad Linder on 1/26/08
Vista Recovery Disc

The Windows Vista installation DVD includes more than just the files you need to install an operating system. There’s also a recovery center which helps you deal with operating system problems. It can search for problems, find system restore points, restore from backups, or fix a broken boot manager. The problem is that many, (if not most) home computer users don’t have a real installation disc. What they have is a system restore disc provided by their computer manufacturer.

A few months ago we discovered that you could create your own standalone system recovery disc using tools included in Windows Vista SP1. But if you haven’t downloaded the beta version of SP1, or if something has gone horribly wrong and your computer is in an unbootable state, you might need to look elsewhere.

Fortunately the folks at NeoSmart have put together a downloadable recovery disc image. The ISO is about 120MB, and you’ll have to burn it to a disc before you can use it. So you’ll need a working computer of some sort to play. If you’re running Vista and you don’t already have an install disc or a recovery disc, we’d highly recommend creating one now. The recovery center is really one of the most useful new features included in Windows Vista.

[via CyberNet]

Customize Windows settings with FreshUI

via Download Squad by Brad Linder on 1/21/08
FreshUI

If you’re looking for an easy to use application for tweaking just about every setting you could ever want to tweak in Windows, you might want to check out Fresh UI. While Fresh UI is hardly the only game in town, this Windows tweaking tool is both powerful and easy to use. And it has features that work with pretty much every version of Windows from Windows 95 through Vista.

Fresh UI divides tweaks up into a couple of different sections, including UI tweaks, system tweaks, and hardware settings. For example, you can customize Windows folder context menus, change the layout of the Windows start menu, or change what items show up on your desktop.

You can adjust most of these settings by making registry changes or using windows tools like gpedit.msc, but Fresh UI makes it much easier to adjust hard-to-find Windows settings. And best of all, it’s free.

[via Confessions of a freeware junkie]

How to make Windows look like OS X, Linux, or… Windows

via Download Squad by Brad Linder on 1/1/08
Fedora transformation pack

Love it or hate it, Windows is still pretty much the dominant operating system in the world. And while your heart may be with OS X or Linux, there might be just a couple of programs that you have to run on a regular basis that keep you coming back to your Windows machine. But just because you’re running Windows Vista or XP doesn’t mean you can’t pretend you’re using your OS of choice.

We’ve covered transformation packs that let you change the look and feel of Windows in the past. But Makeuseof has found a few packs that we weren’t aware of. For example, you can grab a Fedora or Ubuntu transformation pack that makes your desktop look like Linux. Each transformation pack includes desktops, program icons, and tools for customizing visual styles. You can also use transformation packs to make Windows look like OS X or make XP look like Vista.

We probably don’t need to tell you that beauty is only skin deep. Under the hood, if your computer is running Windows, you still have all the usual goodies and frustrations from the Windows registry to the blue screen of death. But at least these transformation packs can make your PC a bit easier on the eyes.

Windows XP Service Pack 3 FAQ

[originating url]

t’s time to say goodbye to an old friend. Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3), due in the second quarter of 2008, will be the final XP service pack , according to Microsoft. It can’t come a moment too soon: XP SP2 (see my review) shipped over three years ago at this writing, and the company has since shipped hundreds of hot-fixes for the OS, giving users a painful updating experience, with multiple reboots. XP SP3 will consolidate all of these fixes into a single package and, surprisingly, add a few new features, including some that–go figure–debuted first in XP’s successor, Windows Vista. Here’s what I know about Windows XP Service Pack 3.

Q: What is Service Pack 3?

A: Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) is the final Windows XP service pack, a collection of previously-released fixes and product enhancements, as well as a few new features that are unique to this release.

Q: Does SP3 include everything from SP1 and SP2 or do I need to install those first?

A: Because XP SP3 aggregates all of the previously-released XP fixes, you will not need to install SP1 or SP2 first: XP3 includes everything that was in those updates as well. That said, the same SP3 installer will work fine on any version of XP, regardless of which service packs and fixes were previously installed.

Q: Windows XP SP2 was released over three years ago. Why the delay on SP3?

A: While Microsoft is an enormous company with over 77,000 employees worldwide and over $50 billion in annual revenues, its organizational structure actually constrains which products are actively developed in some cases. For example, while a large team of developers, product managers, and program managers are involved during the ramp-up to any major OS release, Microsoft then pushes the product into its support organization for follow-up development in the form of hot-fixes, service packs, and so on. Other teams work on out-of-band updates that are typically shipped via the Web and, eventually, a new or existing team is constituted to work on the next major release and the entire process begins anew.

With Windows XP, however, Microsoft was forced to temporarily halt development on XP’s successor, Windows Vista, in order to complete XP SP2. That’s because this release, though provided to customers for free as a typical service pack, was in fact a major OS upgrade and was developed outside of the company’s support structure, a first for any service pack release. After XP SP2 was completed, the people involved with that project moved onto other things, typically Vista or Windows Server 2008.

In the case of Windows XP SP3, Microsoft simply dedicated every available employee it could to completing Windows Vista, which by that time was years behind schedule. So it’s only been since the beginning of this year that anyone turned their attention back to XP’s next and neglected service pack.

Q: What are these new features I keep hearing about?

A: Windows XP Service Pack 3 will not include any major new features, but it will include four minor new features that improve the system’s reliability and security. Contrary to reports, Microsoft has been very up-front about these functional additions for quite some time now.

These new features include:

Network Access Protection compatibility. Announced years ago, this feature allows Windows XP machines to interact with the NAP feature in Windows Server 2008. This functionality is built into the RTM version of Windows Vista as well.

Product Key-less install option. As with Windows Vista, new XP with SP3 installs can proceed without entering a product key during Setup.

Kernel Mode Cryptographics Module. A new kernel module that “encapsulates several different cryptographic algorithms,” according to Microsoft.

“Black hole” router detection algorithm. XP gains the ability to ignore network routers that incorrectly drop certain kinds of network packets. This, too, is a feature of Windows Vista.

And that’s about it. Nothing dramatic, as promised.

Q: That’s it? Is there anything else?

Nothing else new. There are updated applications, which shipped long ago as separate downloads, like Internet Explorer 7 and Windows Media Player 11. And there are even some features that have been removed, like the taskbar-based Address Bar option.

Q: Why is Microsoft even bothering to release this update? Isn’t everyone moving to Windows Vista?

A: Given the relative security, stability, and reliability of XP with SP2, and the subsequent release of Vista, XP SP3 may seem like a pointless update, but nothing could be further from the truth. Many businesses will roll out new XP-based PCs in the coming years, and as anyone who’s had to update an XP SP2 system can tell you, the 100+ updates that Microsoft has shipped since SP2 can be a nightmare to deploy. If you’re already running XP and have been regularly updating your systems all along, the release of XP SP3 will be a minor event. But if you have planned XP deployments in the future, look very carefully at this release and consider it the baseline for your next generation of PCs. Or, you could always consider Vista, which will of course be updated with genuine new features far longer than will XP.

Q: When will Microsoft ship XP SP3?

A: The company says that Windows XP Service Pack 3 will ship in the second quarter of 2008, or about three months after Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2008. However, you can now download a near-final version of XP3, the Windows XP SP3 RC refresh.

–Paul Thurrott
October 12, 2007
Updated October 21, 2007; December 5, 2007