A new Windows Sysinternals tool available for download allows Windows 7 users to map out the system memory usage of their machines. Developed by Windows gurus Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell, RAMMap 1.0 is now available for download both as a standalone utility and as a part of the Windows Sysinternals package.

RAMMap is capable of showing customers just what is happening to their physical memory, beyond anything the Task Manager is capable of doing. The utility is designed to integrate seamlessly with Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, but also Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

“Have you ever wondered exactly how Windows is assigning physical memory, how much file data is cached in RAM, or how much RAM is used by the kernel and device drivers? RAMMap makes answering those questions easy. RAMMap is an advanced physical memory usage analysis utility for Windows Vista and higher,” an excerpt of the tool’s description reads. More »

If you find yourself tripping over new Windows 7 features or missing favorite old ones, I’ve got some tips that will come to your rescue.

Lost in all the glowing Windows 7 reviews and marketing hype is the fact that not everything about Microsoft’s new OS is an unqualified success. You don’t have to use Win7 for very long before you notice one of your favorite features of earlier Windows versions is changed or missing.

But if you don’t like the default Win7 interface and the features that Microsoft prefers, no problem! A few simple tweaks can let you adjust Win7 to your own liking. Even better, some of the following tips also apply to Vista and XP.

The return of the Quick Launch toolbar

Annoyance: The latest Windows versions let you place the Quick Launch toolbar on the taskbar. From there, you can launch your favorite applications, documents, or folder windows with a single click. In Windows 7, unfortunately, Quick Launch is MIA.

In Win7, a new Taskbar combines elements of the classic Taskbar and Quick Launch toolbars into one. To be sure, many people like the new Taskbar. Al Arnston is one of several readers who suggests that Win7’s “Pin to Taskbar” feature trumps Quick Launch. But you may disagree. More »

Following the same behavioral pattern as with the release of Windows Vista, software developers have striven to offer the masses the possibility to disguise Windows XP as Windows 7. There are plenty of freeware products on the market ready to emulate various features of the yet to be officially released operating system from Microsoft.

Seven Transformation Pack is the most prominent piece of software in the bunch, which has a tradition in making XP emulate the looks of ulterior operating systems launched by Microsoft. Vista Transformation Pack was created by the same developers and raked up positive attention. Also, there are various pieces of software dedicated to imitate different features in Windows 7, such as the new taskbar and system tray layout, Start Menu and even the font and icons, as well as the glass effect given by Aero theme.

SevenMizer is not a superset of all of the above, but comes with an extremely easy installation at the end of which you’re going to receive a makeover of the old, dusty XP look, turning it into a very close resemblance to the interface in Windows 7. The best part is yet to come: you don’t have to make any sort of configuration and what you see is all there is to know about the application. More »

Have you ever clicked on the Shutdown or Restart button in Windows and have absolutely nothing happen? Sometimes Windows gets stuck because of some process that has become hung, meaning it is running, but can’t be ended in the normal way.

Hence, you try to shutdown or restart your computer, nothing happens at all. If you’re lucky, after a minute or two, you might see a message pop up saying that a process is hung and you can either let Windows try to end it or you can press End Now. I always prefer End Now!

Unfortunately, sometimes Windows simply refuses to shutdown and it won’t give you any kind of message. Don’t worry, the underlying cause of this is still a hung process, so all you need to do is kill the non-critical Windows processes one by one or modify the registry so that a hung process is automatically ended without manual intervention. I’ll explain both methods. More »

Learn how your hard drive and graphics card impact your system’s performance, and dig deep under the bonnet to discover and fix hardware issues.

In previous guides we have looked at improving your system’s performance by simply removing unwanted programs. The next area we want to understand is the impact your hard drive and graphics card have on your system.

Before we start examining your computer, we need to see what Windows Vista believes is possible from the system when it’s working at its best. Searching for ‘Performance’ in Start Search should lead you to the Performance Information and Tools analysis of your system. If any numbers are low, then you may wish to consider looking at these areas for replacement. My laptop has a lowest rating of 4.3, which is more than adequate, but should one number be low compared to the rest, I would consider replacing that element. If your computer is running low on RAM, for example, it will use the hard drive as an extension of memory, but this deals a fatal blow to your computer’s performance because the hard drive can be 1,000 times slower than memory. In my experience, a Windows Vista PC with just 1GB of memory will struggle unless your system is only lightly used. More »