Optical Character Recognition may not ring a bell too many; the acronym OCR has more chances of doing that, but still manages to raise a few eyebrows. However, there are plenty of users that require character recognition software in order to create editable digital copies of physical documents. The scenario is simple: scan a document and then shove the digital result into an OCR program to detect the characters and make the piece editable.

The success of the entire procedure relies solely in the OCR software’s ability to accurately detect the letters. Professional solutions jam-packed with useful features and extraordinary results are present on the market at substantial costs, of course. However, cheaper alternatives equipped only with a minimum set of tools can be employed for less complicated jobs.

PDF OCR from PDFZilla is no complicated program that comes free of charge. It features only the necessary options. The interface is intuitive enough to allow even the noobest of all noobs to get by without having to ask for directions. Everything is available in plain view and within easy reach. The feature rack comprises navigation buttons that allow you to browse the document page by page or move straight to the first/last one. Additional helpers include zoom options for better viewing of the document (there is also a button that shows the document at actual size). More »

Dragging files between folders with Windows Explorer is fine for some tasks, but when it comes to heavy-duty file management you need a better tool. If you’re willing to do a little typing in exchange for power and flexibility you can’t get with Windows Explorer, get to know Robocopy.

Robocopy (the name is short for Robust File Copy) was introduced with the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit and is included in all editions of Windows 7. Its many strengths include the ability to copy all NTFS file attributes and to mirror the contents of an entire folder hierarchy across local volumes or over a network. If you use the right combination of options, you can recover from interruptions such as network outages by resuming a copy operation from the point of failure after the connection is restored.

The Robocopy syntax takes some getting used to. If you’re familiar with the standard Copy and Xcopy commands, you’ll have to unlearn their syntax and get used to Robocopy’s unconventional ways. The key difference is that Robocopy is designed to work with two directories (folders) at a time, and the file specification is a secondary parameter. In addition, there are dozens of options that can be specified as command-line switches. The basic syntax is as follows: More »

Accompanying the public release of Windows 7 Beta Build 7000, Microsoft made available additional downloads, including the Language Interface Pack for the operating system, as well as the Windows Automated Installation Kit. The WAIK went live at the end of the past week, almost concomitantly with the Windows 7 Beta downloads, with the Redmond company emphasizing the connection between the solution and the next iteration of the Windows client. Serving a collection of resources aimed at streamlining the process of installing and customizing Windows installations, the Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows 7 Beta) weighs in at 1376.1 MB and is packaged as an ISO DVD image.

“The Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) is a set of tools and documentation that support the configuration and deployment of Microsoft Windows operating systems. By using Windows AIK, you can automate Windows installations, capture Windows images with ImageX, configure and modify images using Deployment Imaging Servicing and Management (DISM), create Windows PE images, and migrate user profiles and data with the User State Migration Tool (USMT),” Microsoft explained. More »

Microsoft promises to optimize the amount of disk space that Windows 7 will consume in comparison to Windows Vista. Essentially, the Redmond company is laboring to decrease the installation footprint of the operating system with the next iteration of the Windows client. While the software giant failed to indicate just how much occupied disk space it was going to shave off in Windows 7, it did inform that it was looking to have Windows Vista beat in this aspect.

“As we develop Windows 7 it’s likely that the system footprint will be smaller than Windows Vista with the engineering efforts across the team which should allow for greater flexibility in system designs by PC manufacturers. We will do so with more attention to defaults, more control available to OEMs, end-users and IT pros, and will do so without compromising the reliability and robustness of Windows overall,” revealed Michael Beck, a program manager in the core OS deployment feature team. More »

Speed Launch is an application designed to deliver a breath of fresh air to the process of launching mundane and repetitive tasks in Windows, offering a high level of flexibility in comparison to what is available by default with the operating system. The product of a collaboration between Matt Dyor, a patent attorney working with Microsoft’s Server and Tools Business, and David Craig, a support escalation engineer with Microsoft Office Delta Force team, Speed Launch will centralize all the shortcuts thrown at it (actually dragged and dropped), and will classify and then launch them in accordance with keywords that the end users will set up.

“Speed Launch lets you open anything you use frequently in seconds. Just take the “thing” (document, program, or website), drop it on the bull’s eye, and then give it a name that appeals to you. To open it any time later hit “Windows Key + C” and the launch window will open. You just type the name and hit enter. It’s that simple,” Dyor stated. More »