Microsoft has warned users of the attest iteration of its Windows client and server platforms that they could experience problems related to their machines, when the OS stops responding for no apparent reason.

According to the Redmond company, the problems reported by customers do not fit any pattern, and appear to happen at random.

Fortunately enough, the software giant already has a solution for the problem available to affected customers running Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

“A computer that is running Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7 stops responding randomly,” Microsoft stated.

“Applications or services that are running on the computer stop working correctly. Additionally, you cannot log on to the computer by using the remote desktop connection utility,” the company explained. More »

Uninstalling and reinstalling inbox audio driver repeatedly on Windows 7 or Windows Vista might not be the best thing to do, as Microsoft has warned that users could leave their platforms incapable of playing audio. The Redmond company does not specify the exact number uninstalls/reinstalls needed for some DirectSound output to be rendered unable to play audio, but apparently, just several such actions are sufficient.

Here is the scenario described by the software giant: “You use software to render/play audio via the DirectSound API (for example: DDK tool Graph Edit). On Vista or Windows 7, via a driver testing tool (or manually) you uninstall and then reinstall audio drivers such as “High Definition Audio Device” (HDAudio) several times. You attempt to render/play the audio stream again to a non-default DirectSound device (for example – DirectSound:Speakers as opposed to Default DirectSound device).”

Provided that users managed to reproduce the situation exemplified above, Microsoft indicates that no audio will be produced as a result of the stream leveraging a non-default DirectSound device for rendering. In addition, Vista and Windows 7 customers will receive the following error message: “These filters cannot agree on a connection. Verify type compatibility of input pin and output pin. Cannot play back the audio stream: no audio hardware is available, or the hardware is not responding. (Return code:0x80040256).” More »

Customers testing the virtualization extensions of Windows 7, namely Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode have been experiencing performance problems in scenarios in which sharing folders are enabled. Ben Armstrong, Program manager on the core virtualization team at Microsoft, revealed that the issues reported are connected with the latest development milestone of Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode, namely the Release Candidate Builds. Fortunately enough, a hotfix is already available from the software giant.

“A number of users have seen performance issues using shared folders / having shared folders enabled with Windows XP Mode on the RC release of Windows Virtual PC. This can be addressed by installing this hotfix inside the virtual machine. Please note – this hotfix is for Windows XP and is installed inside the virtual machine, not in the host operating system,” Armstrong noted.

Knowledge Base Article 972435 doesn’t mention Windows XP Mode, a Windows 7 feature, which is available as a standalone download. However, the resources designed to help customers resolve “slow performance when you try to open a redirected drive on a remote computer through a Terminal Services session” applies to Windows XP Professional.  And Windows XP Mode is indeed based on a free and pre-activated copy of Windows XP that is available for Windows 7. More »

1. Delete items from address bar history
While it’s very handy to have your recently visited pages autocompleted as you type, it’s not always desirable. Go to the address bar (Ctrl-L), start typing an address, and the drop-down menu will appear with the URLs of pages you’ve visited. You can highlight and delete these at will, for maximum privacy.

2. Protect your PC from malware
You don’t have to visit the seedy side of the web to pick up a virus – even the best social networking sites regularly host all kinds of malware. But you can reduce the chance of infection by installing NoScript. This handy add-on blocks Javascript, Java, Flash and other executable content from running unless you explicitly allow it, and is a great way to keep yourself safe online.

3. Speedily search for images
Browse Google images and your results are split into blocks of 21. But use CoolIris and you’ll get all your results displayed on a 3D photo wall, a much faster and easier way to find the images you need. It only works with some sites, unfortunately, but as these include Google, Flickr, Picasa, Yahoo, Photobucket, Facebook and MySpace then you’ll still have plenty to browse. Especially as it searches and displays YouTube videos, too. Give it a try. More »

Our colleagues over at What Laptop are in the middle of posting useful tips and Q&As for solving all sorts of common notebook and netbook problems, for beginner to more experienced users, so we’ve collated 12 of the best for your reading pleasure.

1. Clean and speed up your laptop OS

It’s all too easy to fill your laptop’s hard drive with files and applications, and the more software you add the slower it’s likely to run. Traces of programs are even left behind after you’ve uninstalled them, potentially slowing your laptop further. Thankfully, it’s easy to spruce things up using an application called CCleaner. Read on to discover how to download and use it.

2. Protect your laptop’s data

Due to the portable nature of laptops and netbooks, the data it holds is unfortunately always at risk of both theft and loss. While it’s impossible to keep your laptop 100% safe at all times, you can ensure that your data is kept safe, even if your laptop is stolen or lost, by encrypting it. One particularly easy free solution you can use is TrueCrypt. Read on to discover how to download and use it. More »