Just as it was the case with past upgrades to its Windows client and server platform, following the RTM and GA of Service Pack 1, Microsoft will start to automatically push the bits to Windows 7 RTM and Windows Server 2008 R2 RTM computers.

Customers with Automatic Updates enabled will be automatically upgraded to Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.

Still, the Redmond company is also offering customers the possibility to block the delivery of Service Pack 1 and continue to have AU enabled.

This can be done with help from the Windows Service Pack Blocker Tool Kit. In fact, a new version of the Windows Service Pack Blocker Tool Kit went live on the Microsoft Download Center on November 11, 2010. More »

By following a few simple guidelines, you can maintain your computer and keep it running smoothly. This article discusses how to use the tools available in Windows 7, Vista, and XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) to more efficiently maintain your computer and safeguard your privacy when you’re online.

1. Free up disk space

The Disk Cleanup tool helps you free up space on your hard disk to improve the performance of your computer. The tool identifies files that you can safely delete, and then enables you to choose whether you want to delete some or all of the identified files.

Use Disk Cleanup to:

* Remove temporary Internet files.
* Remove downloaded program files (such as Microsoft ActiveX controls and Java applets).
* Empty the Recycle Bin.
* Remove Windows temporary files such as error reports.
* Remove optional Windows components that you don’t use.
* Remove installed programs that you no longer use.
* Remove unused restore points and shadow copies from System Restore. More »

Some of Win7’s best timesavers are staring you right in the face on your keyboard, particularly via the previously underutilized Windows key. You probably already know that pressing the Windows key (Win) opens the Start menu. But now, holding the Win key in combination with other keys does a lot more.

Win7’s Windows-key combinations speed up opening system tools, navigating between files and apps, and performing other common tasks. (Note that many of these shortcuts work in XP and Vista as well.)

* Win+Pause: Displays the System Control Panel applet.

* Win+D: Shows the desktop.

* Win+Spacebar: Shows the desktop without minimizing open windows (Aero Peek).

* Win+E: Opens Windows Explorer with Computer selected.

* Win+F: Opens a Search window for finding files or folders.

* Win+Ctrl+F: Opens a Search window for finding computers on a network. More »

One way to speed up your computer is to increase your hard drive’s performance. If you’ve been using your computer for a while, you’ve probably noticed that your computer is getting slower. One reason for this is that your hard drive has gotten more fragmented over time.

This means that as you install and delete things from your hard drive, holes are being created and filled randomly with other files so, say, your video of Madonna might be broken up into thirty pieces all over your hard drive, slowing down its playback.

Well, Windows XP has a Disk Defragmenter that will solve all your woes. It takes the pieces of each file and puts them together again so they can be read in one clean pass.

Be sure to run this program at night since it takes several hours and make sure to close any open programs. Go to Start->All Programs->Accessories->System Tools->Disk Defragmentor to access it.

Click the Analyze button. It’ll tell you if you need to defragment your hard drive.

A lot of red is a bad sign. If it says “You should defragment this volume”, click the Defragment button. Come back in a few hours, and your hard drive should be purring.

Right now, I am actually looking for some instructions on how to automatically shutdown the computer by using only the built-in components of Windows Vista, without any additional “shutdown computer” applications (oh boy, there are thousands or even billions of those). I am thinking about using Task scheduler in Windows to set up a computer shutdown command in some way. Any other ideas?

I try to always use built-in functions in Windows to do a task before I use “other” software. Using little applications to perform tasks opens the door to bugs and crashes. Most of the times there are built in functions to perform most tasks. Most people just don’t know about or how to use them. More »