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 »

Most existing 16-bit and MS-DOS-based programs were originally written for Windows 3.0 or Windows 3.1. Windows 7 runs these older programs using a virtual machine that mimics the 386-enhanced mode used by Windows 3.0 and Windows 3.1. Unlike on other recent releases of Windows, on Windows 7 each 16-bit and MS-DOS-based application runs as a thread within a single virtual machine. This means that if you run multiple 16-bit and MS-DOS-based applications, they all share a common memory space. Unfortunately, if one of these applications hangs or crashes, it usually means the others will as well.

You can help prevent one 16-bit or MS-DOS-based application from causing others to hang or crash by running it in a separate memory space. To do this, follow these steps: More »

With the advent of Windows 7, Microsoft made it possible for Virtual Hard Disks to be used with a machine even though they weren’t connected to a parent operating system, virtual machine technology or hypervisor. This is, of course, valid for both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, since the two platforms share the same core, and made possible scenarios such as Boot from VHD. A guide available as a free download from Microsoft offers a comprehensive insight into virtual hard disks (VHDs) in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, simplifying procedures such as deployment and configuration for IT professionals.

“The virtual hard disk file format (.vhd) specifies the format of a file that represents a virtual hard disk. To use VHDs on Windows Server 2008 and previous versions of Windows, you must install the Hyper-V role, Microsoft Virtual Server, or Windows Virtual PC. However, with Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, you can create, configure, and boot physical computers from VHDs without a virtual machine or hypervisor,” Microsoft informed. More »

With the advent of Windows 7, Microsoft introduced a range of virtualization features and capabilities previously unavailable in Windows client platforms. The latest iteration of Windows supports Boot from VHD, has its own virtualization technology that integrates seamlessly with Windows Explorer, namely Windows Virtual PC, and even allows users to access a free, activated copy of Windows XP SP3 via Windows XP Mode.

However, in certain scenarios, such as virtual-machine duplication, the default resources offered by Microsoft put users through unnecessary pain. XP-More is a free tool offered through CodePlex, designed to simplify the duplication of XP Mode items, but also additional VMs for Windows 7.

“Have you started to utilize Windows 7 XP Mode to get past Application Compatibility issues? This is a great tool for SME customers but one of the issues some people experience is setting up the VM’s for each user with the required applications on them, installing virus scan, etc. More »

With the landmark alliance inked with Novell in 2006, Microsoft stepped up its game of supporting customers with heterogeneous environments in which Windows and Linux were running side by side. The Microsoft and Novell Windows and Linux interoperability and support broad collaboration agreement covered Windows Server and SUSE Linux, but since them the Redmond company has also worked to support Red Hat customers.

The Linux Integration Components for Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V R2 are designed to provide a collection of drivers designed to enable synthetic device support in Linux OS virtual machines running under the software giant’s hypervisor role in Windows Server 2008 R2.

“We are excited to announce the availability of Linux integration components for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL 5.2, 5.3, and 5.4) which provides synthetic network and storage drivers enabling RHEL to work with the optimized devices provided by Hyper-V.

We’ve already submitted these drivers to the upstream Linux kernel in July 2009, and are looking forward to these being integrated with a future version of RHEL,” revealed Mike Sterling, Hyper-V program manager, Microsoft.

According to Sterling, Hyper-V customers that rely on virtual machines with open source platforms from both Novell and Red Hat will be able to enjoy the same level of performance for Red Hat Enterprise Linux guests, as for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. The Integration Components need to be installed on the virtualized copy of Linux running in Hyper-V. More »