1. Problem Steps Recorder

As the local PC guru you’re probably very used to friends and family asking for help with their computer problems, yet having no idea how to clearly describe what’s going on. It’s frustrating, but Microsoft feels your pain, and Windows 7 will include an excellent new solution in the Problem Steps Recorder.

When any app starts misbehaving under Windows 7 then all your friends need do is click Start, type PSR and press Enter, then click Start Record. If they then work through whatever they’re doing then the Problem Steps Recorder will record every click and keypress, take screen grabs, and package everything up into a single zipped MHTML file when they’re finished, ready for emailing to you. It’s quick, easy and effective, and will save you hours of troubleshooting time. More »

Microsoft has updated a tool that is offering customers the possibility to streamline upgrades to the latest versions of its Windows client platform. Version 5.6 of the Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) is now available through the Microsoft Download Center. As it was the case with the previous releases of the utility, the latest Build is offered as a free download. Customers can leverage the Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.6 in the context in which they need to upgrade older machines to either Windows Vista or Windows 7.

“The Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) version 5.6 contains the necessary tools and documentation to evaluate and mitigate application compatibility issues before deploying Windows 7, Windows Vista, a Windows Update, or a new version of Windows Internet Explorer in your environment,” Microsoft stated. More »

Although customers can already download version 4.6 of Microsoft Application Virtualization, the Redmond-based company is now offering for download the second major upgrade to its predecessor. Application Virtualization (App-V) 4.5 Service Pack 2 (SP2) is now available through the Microsoft Download Center, bringing to the table the latest updates to App-V 4.5. The main changes highlighted by the software giant for the evolution of App-V 4.5 with the release of SP2 involve virtualization support of Office 2010 and of SQL Mirroring.

“This service pack provides the latest updates to Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5. Because Microsoft Application Virtualization service packs are cumulative, you do not have to install Service Pack 1 before you install Service Pack 2. Service Pack 2 includes all of the fixes that were included in Service Pack 1,” Microsoft revealed. More »

Application Virtualization (App-V) 4.6 is one of the key components of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack 2010, a release which is tailored specifically to Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Office 2010. Microsoft Software Assurance customers can access App-V 4.6 immediately via MDOP 2010. In addition, the Redmond company has made available the solution accelerator to MDOP customers via MDOP 2010 which is available for download via the Microsoft Volume Licensing Site (MVLS). In addition, customers that only want to evaluate MDOP 2010, can grab the bits from MSDN and TechNet.

“App-V will help save money immediately by freeing up administration time from IT and enhance end-user productivity. It is an out-of-the-box platform to enable you to migrate your applications and deploy Windows 7 faster and easier. We offer much tighter integration with more products (Office 2010, SCCM, 3rd Party Distribution Systems) and we support both Windows 32/64-bit applications and x86/x64 platforms on desktops as well as Terminal Servers. App-V client deployment is easy and plugs into your existing deployment workflows,” revealed Karri Alexion-Tiernan, director of Product Management for App-V. More »

Microsoft has made a range of resources available for download in an effort to streamline the process of leveraging the Windows 7 evolution, focusing, among other aspects of the operating system, on the Aero graphical user interface advances. An illustrative example in this context is what the Redmond company referred to as an intermediate solution addressing managed code developers specifically. The Taskbar Sample .NET Interop Library is a new managed code wrapper that Microsoft hopes will make the lives of managed code developers easier.

“The Taskbar Sample .NET Interop Library allows developers to: create and manipulate JumpLists including tasks and items; display Dynamic Overlay Icons, Thumbnail Toolbars; use the Taskbar progress bar; control Custom Thumbnail Preview, and custom Preview also known as AeroPeek,” revealed Yochay Kiriaty, Windows 7 technical evangelist on the Client Platform Evangelist Group. More »