In time, the Microsoft Windows XP tweaking series covered a lot of ground, from minor to serious, these optimizations were mostly software/OS oriented. So, we thought it’s about time to ‘sing another song’ and go from software to hardware tweaks. In today’s episode, we’ll only cover printing tweaks, mostly intended for printer servers or users dealing with large amounts of printing jobs, but some of them might also be useful to any average user owning a printer.

For those of you just joining us, here’s the deal with this series: it provides immediate access to registry tweaks hidden in Windows XP that will help you unlock cool features just by using Notepad. You don’t need to install any other tweaking program, because you’ll do the optimizations by yourself. More »

If you read our latest articles about tweaking Microsoft Windows XP by modifying the registry, we surely know we’ve covered the customization of the Internet Options window. On the other hand, if this is your read about the XP registry tweaks saga, here’s the basic idea: we provide an absolutely free, easy to perform tutorial on how to unlock hidden secrete inside good-old XP, just by using Microsoft Notepad.

Internet users will also be interested in another important XP application: Outlook Express. OE is the default email client integrated into Windows XP and covers the basic functions for this of software. In this article will cover a few Outlook Express tweaks that will ease your work with this program or at least improve it a bit.

Let’s start with the preparations: as always, you’ll have to create a .reg file that must run after adding the customizations. This process is described in detail in the first article about Windows XP tweaks, so take a look here for all the details. Now that you’ve created your tweaks.reg file and added in Notepad Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 at its beginning, you can choose of the following tweaks and paste it below that line. More »

Microsoft released the Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 installation software feature update just a couple of days ago, and users should make sure to deploy the refresh in order to make sure that installation tasks will go as smooth as possible.

Customers can also check out KB976902, the knowledge base article that is accompanying the update in order to get an idea of what the refresh is all about.

They’re bound not to miss Microsoft’s reference related to service pack deployments, and in this regard, Windows 7 SP1 will undoubtedly come to mind.

“This software update will be a prerequisite to install service packs. Additionally, this update improves reliability when you install or remove Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 updates and service packs,” the Redmond company states. More »

In the latest article of our Microsoft Windows XP tweaking saga, you’ve learned how easily tabs in the Internet Explorer Options window can be hidden. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at these tabs and see how you can hide or disable only specific options instead of the entire tab, but, before we go any further, let’s go through the details and highlights of these tweaks.

This is the thirteenth episode in a series of articles that provide an easy to understand tutorial on how to unlock hidden tricks behind Windows XP. Why is it so easy? Because you don’t need to install or run any third-party software, you don’t need any advanced knowledge of computers and Windows, all you need is good-old Notepad.

Before we get started, you need to perform a few easy steps that are thoroughly explained in the first article of this series. Please read it now, because these steps are crucial in the tweaking process and you may not understand the meaning and purpose of the bolded lines below…

Now that you’ve read the first article and the tweaks.reg file on your desktop is opened in Notepad with the Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 line at the top, let’s continue our tweaking of Internet Explorer’s Options window. The first tab is, of course, General, so we are going to start there and make our way to the other tabs on its right.

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Control Panel]

Do you want to make sure nobody can change your browser’s homepage? Just by adding the two lines above to your tweaking file, this option will be disabled in the Internet Options window, making the easiest way of changing the homepage unavailable.

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Control Panel]

Of course, the tweak above is not irreversible, so if you’d like to enable the homepage option, add these two lines to tweaks.reg and you’ll be able to change your IE homepage once again.

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Control Panel]

The next module in the General tabs is Temporary Internet Files and, as you might have guessed already, if you add the two lines above to tweaking file, users won’t be able to alter this module’s settings after you run tweaks.reg. Just like in the example above, replacing 1 with 0 will enable the settings back, allowing you to modify them as you see fit.

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Control Panel]

If the Cache dword disabled only the Settings button, the two lines above will disable all three buttons in the Temporary Internet Files module, so cookies and files cannot be deleted. As usual, all buttons can be activated by replacing 1 with 0 in the second line.

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Control Panel]

If you were looking for a way to block other users from clearing your history or changing the number of days to keep in history, appending the lines above to tweaks.reg will finally allow you to do just that. These options can be reactivated at any time, just by replacing 1 with 0 and running the tweaking file again.

As I’m sure you’ve already discovered the pattern for these tweaks, I won’t go into details for each one of them and I’ll just provide a list of words (that should replace any of the above – Homepage, Cache or History) and the module or button they will disable in the Internet Options window.

Colors – The Colors button (General tab)
Fonts – The Fonts button (Fonts tab)
Languages – The Languages button (Fonts tab)
Accessibility – The Accessibility button (Fonts tab)
SecAddSites – Add/Remove button sites (Security tab)
SecChangeSettings – Security level for this zone button (Security tab)
Ratings – Content Advisor module (Content tab)
Certificates – Certificates module (Content tab)
FormSuggest – Forms in the Autocomplete Settings window (Content tab)
FormSuggest Passwords – User names and passwords on forms in the Autocomplete Settings window (Content tab)
Profiles – My profile button (Content tab)
Connection Settings – Dial-up and Virtual Private Network settings and Local Area Network (LAN) settings modules (Connections tab)
AutoConfig – Automatic configuration module in the Local Area Network (LAN) settings window (Connections tab)
Proxy – Proxy server module in the Local Area Network (LAN) settings window (Connections tab)
Messaging – E-mail, Newsgroups, Internet Call (Programs tab)
CalendarContact – Calendar, Contact List (Programs tab)
ResetWebSettings – Reset Web Settings… button (Programs tab)
Check_If_Default – ‘Internet Explorer should check to see…’ checkbox (Programs tab)
Advanced – Any changes in the Advanced tab

So, to wrap things up, if you set the dword for any of these values to 1, the corresponding modules / buttons will be disabled and setting it to 0 will reactivate them.

This is where this episode ends and all Internet Options tweaks. Next in line is Outlook Express, but until then, don’t forget to send us your suggestions for other Windows XP tweaks that should be published.

Until then, feel free to take a look at some other interesting Windows XP tweaks in the previous articles of our series:
part 1 , part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7,part 8, part 9, part 10, part 11

This is why the operating system received an update set up to ensure that there are no issues in Windows 7 RTM that could prevent the integration of SP1 or additional updates from the Redmond company.

A new release of the System Update Readiness Tool went live this week, and is currently available to customers either through Windows Update or as a standalone download via the Microsoft Download Center.

“This tool is being offered because an inconsistency was found in the Windows servicing store which may prevent the successful installation of future updates, service packs, and software. This tool checks your computer for such inconsistencies and tries to resolve issues if found,” Microsoft stated. More »