Category Archives: Windows

Zune Windows XP Theme


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The Zune portable media player is shipping very soon and what better way to celebrate with Microsoft releasing a brand spanking new desktop theme for Windows XP!

The new Zune theme is a really nice looking theme. Make sure you go ahead and download it as it won’t be available for long.

Here’s a quick screenshot of the Zune Desktop theme in action:

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The Zune Desktop Theme (for Windows XP) is available for download here.

Hidden User Accounts Control in Windows XP


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You may not know it, but there is a Windows User Accounts Control in Windows XP that allows you to do so much more with your users such as:

  • Changing default ‘users must enter a password’
  • Password changes and password reset
  • Changing group memberships
  • Changing ‘Secure Logon’ settings
  • Advanced User Management

Worse part is that Microsoft seems to have hidden this very useful application away from its users. To get to it, create a new shortcut with the following target command:

"control.exe useraccounts2" (no quote marks"")

Or enter the same command in the ‘Run’ command in the start menu. The User Accounts window will pop up allowing you to make which ever changes you like. Its quite a powerful little tool that Microsoft didn’t even bother letting you know about.

Requirements: Windows XP Professional

Windows Vista has new reduced functionality mode


It has been recently announced by Microsoft that their newest operating system “Windows Vista” will ship with new anti-piracy measures that will essentially ‘lock down’ the OS if it has not been activated within 30 days from first use.

We’ve all known since Windows XP was released that Microsoft has been trying to combat piracy in their flagship operating systems mainly with technology called Windows Product Activation (WPA). If you install Windows Vista and do not activate your copy within the first 30 days, the OS will enable a new limited functionality mode.

Without entering your key after this period, you will be presented with the following options:

  • Reduced Functionality Mode: this allows minimal use of the OS until it is validated. Microsoft has not disclosed full technical details, but they have indicated that the web browser (presumably IE) will work for about an hour before interrupting the session and forcing you to log off. Additional limitations are described below.
  • Buy a key online: hop online, buy a new key, and you’re done.
  • Phone in for activation: instructions on how to activate over the phone rather than the Internet.
  • Enter your key: Oops, it was under the coffee table book the whole time.

It has been said that Microsoft is very adamant to let end-users know that this new technology will not and cannot turn off your computer without your direct request.

For more information on the new reduced functionality mode of Windows Vista, be sure to check out the article I came across which details it very well.

Hidden password generator in Windows XP


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These days it seems as though everybody is a computer security expert, or needs to be anyway. Picking a good strong password is always a challenge, and there are many online services that will generate you a very strong password with letters, numbers, misc characters ($%*&#@!), etc, but did you know Windows XP has a built-in password generator of its own?

The folks over at Microsoft didn’t really make this feature very obvious to find, namely as it is more of a computer administrator tool than for something a ‘regular joe’ would need, but I don’t understand why. Something like this would be very useful, especially if you share a single PC, or have a number of computers on a network which contain sensitive data, or with the potential for its security to be breached.

So, how do you find and use it? Simple:

  • Go to Run on the Start menu and type ‘cmd’ (without the quotes)
  • A DOS (‘esque) command prompt window will open.
  • At the command prompt type ‘net user administrator /random’ (without the quotes)

Based upon Windows XP’s on security rules, it will generate you a fairly solid password for you to use, that will at least be harder to crack than an egg on a sunday morning!

Enjoy!

Why Vista will mean the end of the Microsoft monolith


windows_vista_logo.jpgWell, the long wait is nearly over. Microsoft’s elephantine parturition has produced an heir. Last week the company distributed ‘Release Candidate 1’ (RC1) of Vista, the new incarnation of Windows, to about 5 million favoured customers.

I guess this means Windows Vista is one step closer to being fully realized. Who would have guessed that this mammoth of an operating system would even iron out all the problems which plagued its development. Vista is coming of age and due to ship to consumers early next year with the OS avaliable in November for enterprise and business customers.

Will the next gen windows release mean the end of pesky spyware and virus issues which have been present in practically every version of windows Microsoft has ever released. We’ll have to wait and see, but judging from the two beta releases we’ve seen so far, Microsoft are at least trying to rid it’s flagship product of its problems from the past.

read more | digg story

Microsoft’s secret record of every website visited on your PC!


Windows creates invisible, undeletable files listing all the websites the PC has visited. Not only every URL but also all of the email that has been sent or received through Outlook or Outlook Express is also being logged.

This information is untouched by clearing history, internet cache folder and temporary internet files. The ‘Read More’ link below shows how to remove these hidden files to keep your internet history as secretive as ever!

read more | digg story

Messenger Plus! Live released


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The ever popular (unofficial) msn plus! package is now out and avaliable for download. It is also under a new name. Introducing…Messenger Plus! Live.

Messenger Plus! Live is the Windows Live Messenger extention which adds a slew of new functionality, new ways of interacting with your chat buddy and other cool features such as chat window transparency and scripting. Anyone who has used msn messenger and seen your buddy send you interesting new emoticons you couldn’t open, you can bet they were using messenger plus and you weren’t. With this latest version to hit the net, Messenger Plus! Live is bigger and better than ever and any ‘MSN bunny’ who spends every waking moment on MSN should definately download and install it.

Messenger Plus Live is freeware, absolutely free of charge so you can download it, try it out and if you really don’t like it (how could you not) you can just remove it at no cost to you. Messenger Plus! Live is not written or created by Microsoft in any way, its more of a third-party extention for MSN.

In case you’re not exactly sure what benefits Messenger Plus can give you, check out the features below:

  • Tabbed Chat Windows – Have one MSN window open, and be talking to multiple friends at once.
  • Quick Texts – Quick texts and text replacements allow you to send words or sentences with a shortcut, or replace words with other cool fonts or pics (im sure you’ve seen your friends use this before right?)
  • Custom Sounds – Send/use your own custom sounds during your conversation with your friends.
  • Personalized Status – Instead of “Away”, “Busy”, “Out to Lunch”, tell your friends “I’ll be back in a sec” instead.
  • Contact List Clean-Up – Great if you have your contacts all over the place, neaten up your MSN contacts list to find your friends quicker and easier.

Download:

Messenger Plus! Live 4.00.235 (4.25mb download)

This is only a few of the myriad of features avaliable. When I spend any amount of time on my computer, no doubt I’ll have MSN Messenger connected, ready to chat away at any time and MSN plus (although free) liven’s up the party and makes a good thing, that much sweeter.

Windows Live Messenger Released!


Windows Live Messenger (formerly known as MSN 8.0 beta) has been released and is now avaliable for public download.

Beta users of MSN 8 have had this software to play with for quite some time (3-4 months) and in that time, I have seen the latest version of messenger evolve into what it currently is now. Here's a quick idea of some of the biggest new features in the latest release of MSN Messenger:

 

  • See them on the screen

    Show and tell: Grab a webcam and start a video conversation within minutes.

  • Share stuff

    Set up a Sharing Folder with a friend. Drop in photos and other stuff, as many as your computer can handle. See it even when one of you is offline.

  • A network of millions

    Tap into the world's largest IM network, with hundreds of millions of customers worldwide.

  • Soon: talk to your Yahoo! friends, too

    Soon you'll be able to use Windows Live Messenger to talk to your friends who use Yahoo! Messenger with Voice. The world's largest IM network is getting even bigger.

Source: Microsoft Windows Live Messenger Official Site

If you are an avid user of MSN messenger, well Windows Live Messenger as it's now known, be sure to check out this latest version. Alot of the problems which plagued the previous version of msn such as connection drop-outs and slow transfer rates when sending/recieving files have now been fixed (thank god!).

I wouldn't call myself a microsoft fanboy, but this latest version of messenger is definately a step in the right direction, be sure to check it out.

Microsoft Office 2007 Professional Edition Public Beta 2


I recently found out that Microsoft has made avaliable Microsoft Office Professional Edition Plus 2007 Beta 2 for download. The new version of office boasts some really cool new features and is so much better than previous versions. You have to download the beta and try it out for yourself. Microsoft in the past in my opinion have really had a hard time with developing a useful user interface for the Office productivity suite ever since we first started using Word for Windows back in the day. Well, have times changed and Office 2007 (codenamed Office 12) puts those jabs at its usability to bed for good. They have completely redesigned the interface of all the components of the office suite with a more task friendly feel. Now, when we launch Word 2007, we aren't given a bland old display of paper with an unelegant toolbar atop. Instead we are greeted with a nice new look and feel with some great new graphic changes that are more task oriented than ever.

If I select a piece of text to say change the formatting of that text, I no longer have to select it then move my mouse all the way to the top of the screen to change formatting, now all I do is select the text, and as I move my mouse a smaller font panel fades into view right there beside my selected text. No more moving around all over the place!

It is the little things like this that have really impressed me with Office 2007. Instead of reading about what I have to say, go follow the link above, download it and test it out for yourselves. You will not be dissapointed.

Vista style task tips – really cool


Have you seen the ability Windows Vista has of showing Visual tool tips of your minimized tasks in the taskbar? Can’t wait for Vista to release? well Visual Task Tips for Windows XP are your answer my friends.

Visual Task Tips is a lightweight shell enhancement utility. It provides thumbnail preview image for each task in the Windows Taskbar, like in the upcoming Microsoft Windows Vista. – visualtasktips.com

These are really cool. You do need to be running Windows XP (home/pro) as it doesn’t work on Windows 2000. These ‘visual tooltips’ have totally changed the way I work with my computer. I found this website last night actually and is probably one of the best enhancements you can make to the XP shell. Once you install it, it just sits on your computer as a background process so you never have stupid annoying ‘startup’ popups for it, or system tray icons to hide.

A very lightweight and cool feature. Make sure you check it out and best part is…its totally free! Have fun.