Starting with Windows 7, Microsoft made the Windows key more useful with some excellent shortcut keys. In Windows 7, you can use the Windows key in combination with numbers 1-9 to cycle between the applications in the taskbar.
Windows Vista did have a similar feature, but it was only limited to the applications in the quick launch bar. We had covered more such shortcut keys in our Ultimate List of Windows button shortcut keys.
ActivateByNum is a freeware, which will allow you to use the Windows key + number, task switching functionality from Windows 7 in Windows XP and Vista.
Techie Buzz Verdict
The Windows key + number task switching comes in pretty handy when you want to navigate or open applications without using the mouse or Alt + Tab key combination.
This should definitely come in handy on Windows XP, however it might disable the Quick launch hotkeys on Windows Vista.
Rating: 3/5 (Good)
In the past we have told you how to change default Windows desktop icons, using a inbuilt feature in Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. But what if you want to apply a new icon pack to your system?
Also Read: Browse and Download Free High Quality Icons
Icon Tweaker is a excellent freeware that will allow you to update the icons used on your Windows XP system with a different icon pack.
Icon Tweaker comes loaded with several built-in icon packs. In addition to that you can also download and install icon packs from the internet.If you are feeling adventurous, you can create your own icon packs using the software.
If you think you messed up something or want to go back to using the original icons, you can do that with a single click. Icon Tweaker only works with Windows XP and lower PCs.
You might be terrified or anxious about people hacking into your computer and gains access to your confidential data. To avoid unauthorized access, you may have set a password in your Windows XP account that you can remember easily. Even with a password set, hackers on the internet can break into your account and get access to your files. So, what do you have to do now? You better set a blank password or use no password at all.
Yes! Using a blank password (or no password at all) can make your computer more secure. Accounts on Windows XP that are not secured by a password, cannot be accessed remotely over the network or the Internet.
An official guide from Microsoft on Password strength suggests using blank passwords on Windows XP machines when the following criteria are met:
- You only have one computer or you have several computers but you do not need to access information on one computer from another one
- The computer is physically secure (you trust everyone who has physical access to the computer like your family members)
However, using blank password (or no password at all) is not always a good idea particularly when a computer is not in a secure location. For instance, your laptop is not physically secure so, setting up a strong password is a must!
P.S. Running the command gpedit.msc in the Run box and disabling the setting “Limit local account use of blank passwords to console login only” available under Local Policies will allow youto access your XP Professional computer over the network ever after the password is blank
Windows 7 brings in several improvements over Windows Vista but one of the most noticeable one is the new taskbar which is more compact and space saving in addition to Jump Lists.
If you are using Windows XP and have no plans to switch to Windows 7 even when it is available for $30 a nifty freeware called ViGlance adds a Windows 7 taskbar to Windows XP.
ViGlance is pretty decent as it uses only about 10MB memory and also provides users with thumbnail previews and the ability to pin favorite applications to the taskbar.
In addition to that it also replaces the start button with Windows 7 Orb replica. Overall a pretty neat implementation of the taskbar.
Download ViGlance [via Cybernet News]
As far as Microsoft is concerned Windows XP is dead. However, for thousands all over the world it is still the best Operating System. In case you are reluctant to let go of the performance king that is XP, there are tons of software available to back port Windows 7 features into XP.
Over the years numerous utilities have been developed to bring Aero like transparency and blur to Windows XP. WindowBlinds probably does it best. However, it’s not free and may be overkill for many. If you are looking for a free, light-weight solution you will be pleased with Border Skin.
Installing and using Border Skin is straight forward. All you need to do is extract the files. You will also require .Net Framework 3.5. Border Skin comes with as many as 20 themes. All of them are variations of Aero and looks cool. The blur effect as well as reflections are done really well. In fact they are almost as good as original.
Border Skin is an impressive utility whose biggest strength is its simplicity. Go ahead and check it out. Let us know whether you were equally impressed.
[Download Border Skin]
Note : Some Antivirus software may erroneously detect Border Skin 0.2.3.exe/Border Skin 0.2.3/Hook DLL.dll as a backdoor/trojan.
Here’s how to change the standard icons you normally see on your Windows Desktop.
These instructions are for Windows XP.
Scroll on down further to see how to do this in Vista or Windows 7.
Right click on an empty spot on your desktop and select Properties. Then choose the Desktoptab as shown.
Click the Customize Desktopbutton. Select the icon you wish to change and then click the Change Iconbutton.
You’ll see the location of the current icon and clicking Browsewill allow you to choose a new icon.
Here you can see that I’ve selected an icon from the shell32.dllicon library. Hit the OK button after you’ve selected the icon you wish to use.
You should now see the changed icon in the list. If you are done changing icons, you can hit OK to save your changes. You will have to hit another OK button after that to exit the Desktop properties.
Now you can see the changed icon on your desktop.
Instructions for Windows Vista and Windows 7
Right click on an empty spot on your desktop. Then select the Change desktop iconslink.
The rest of the procedure is pretty much the same as what I showed you above for Windows XP.
That’s all there is to it. Now you can make your Windows a little more personal.
Why would you ever want to do that?
Keith just posted an article telling you how to make Windows 7 look like Windows XP. I’m actually dual booting XP and 7 so I don’t miss XP yet. I’d also be the first to tell you that I love the new eye candy in Windows Vista and Windows 7. However, it does come with a price. The window transparency and other visual effects might make an older PC that was designed for XP run just a little sluggish. The same is true on machines that were made to run Windows 95 or 98 but now have Windows XP on them.
Are you on a minimalistic kick?
Sometimes I’m in favor of dropping the eye candy and going back to basics. Maybe there are a few others out there who feel the same way.
Do you need to squeeze every last ounce of power out of your PC?
Some PC gamers would agree that anything you can do to drop Windows system requirements will help you boost your FPS (frames per second) and get you more kills in that favorite game.
Here’s what I’ve done.
The basic procedures are the same for Vista and Win7. In XP you won’t see step B, you’ll just select the Advanced tab.
A. Right click on My Computeror Computerand choose properties.
B. Click on Advanced System Properties
C. Click on the Performance Settings
D. Put your dot in the Adjust for best performance.
E. Click OKall the way home.
Now Compare Win7 and Win2k.
As you can see, the main similarities are the window borders and the Start button.
Windows 7 screenshot
Windows 2000 screenshot
win2k image from guidebookgallery.org
That’s it. All of the features are still there, it’s just got that old Classic look to it. Do you love it or hate it? Do you have a better idea? Please comment below.
I have used Windows XP more than any other OS from Microsoft and in fact I still have a test machine that runs Windows XP.
Back in the days Windows XP was a huge overhaul from Windows 98 and the failed Windows Millennium, however that look has stuck with me for quite sometime.
Also Read: Stunning Windows 7 Wallpapers
If you are using Windows 7 and are nostalgic like me about Windows XP, you can now download a Windows XP theme and use it on Windows 7.
XP Luna is a theme for Windows 7 that will bring the look and feel of Windows XP to Windows 7, definitely worth it if you want the simple looks of XP and the power of Windows 7.
Download XP Luna Theme [via Ask VG]
Tomorrow is the D-day when Microsoft will be releasing Windows 7 RTM to TechNet and MSDN subscribers among other people.
Windows XP users will not be able to directly upgrade to Windows 7 and they will require to perform a fresh install which will mean that all the applications will be wiped out and you will need to reinstall everything from scratch on Windows 7.
Nirmal from Life Rocks has written a excellent upgrade path for Windows XP users to Windows 7 that will help you backup all your user settings and data to a external drive and then restore them back on the new Windows 7 installation.
Also most of Windows Vista users will be easily be able to upgrade to Windows 7, so you can download the ISO and burn it to a DVD and then install it on Windows Vista without losing your settings.
To check if your PC is ready to be upgraded to Windows 7 or requires a fresh install you can download the Windows 7 Upgrade advisor.
There has been lot of discussion about new operating systems cropping up to beat the legacy of Microsoft based operating systems, however much they try they have not been able to penetrate the market and may not be able to do in the future.
However more than anything, one thing that changed everything for Microsoft was Windows XP, it actually was really the most accepted operating system Microsoft ever made and will always remain that way, no matter how much Windows Vista or Windows 7 improved, Windows XP will still be remembered by many as a operating system they can always fall back on.
However now that Microsoft has decided to retire Windows XP in the coming year, it would make a great decision to offer a free if not a open source version of Windows XP to users.
This would definitely cut down privacy and stamp Microsoft’s authority on a lot of people who are solely concerned that Microsoft sells operating systems at a cost they cannot afford to buy at.
With Windows 7 already making a huge impact on people, letting out Windows XP for free will not only increase the credibility of Microsoft, it will also enhance their image among people who hate them for the price factor.
If Microsoft makes the decision to make XP free, it will not have to compete with the growing popularity of Ubuntu and other Linux based desktops, since most of the people moving to them are looking to save costs while building affordable personal computing systems.
Will providing free operating system make a loss? Not that we think, in fact it will bring more and more people who are breaking away from Microsoft back home.
What do you think about this? Should Microsoft give away Windows XP for free? Join the discussion and let us know.
Windows 7 has several new things built into it, one of it is that it displays both the date as well as the time in the system tray.
Windows XP and Windows Vista do not have this feature built into them, but if you want to display the date and time in the system tray, AskVG has discovered a tiny portable utility called TClock will help you with it.
Continue reading Windows 7 Date/Time Format In Windows XP & Vista
Microsoft operating systems have made several transitions in the looks and feels department over the years, and they always make people want to have the same look and feel for their old OS without the need to upgrade their entire system.
In the past we have tried to take care of these needs by telling users how to make their PC look like Windows Vista, however times have changed and it is Windows 7 that is ruling the roost today.
So what better way than have your Windows XP OS transformed to look like Windows 7, albeit without the costly upgrades.
Continue reading Transform Windows XP To Look Like Windows 7
Quite frankly we are very much disappointed with the default Windows Explorer in XP and use xPlorer2 Lite one of the several Explorer alternatives we had told you about earlier, but the explorer in Windows Vista is definitely much better than the one available in Windows XP and we have been loving to use it.
Quite sometime back we had told you about some useful tools that would allow you to change the Windows XP Explorer to work like the one in Windows Vista, but if you are not comfortable with installing multiple tools, we came across a tool that will allow you to experience Windows Vista explorer in XP.
Continue reading Windows Vista Explorer For Windows XP [ViSplore]
Internet Explorer 8 has some nice improvements over Internet Explorer 7, but that said many users have been through crashes and more over time, and may want to uninstall Internet Explorer 8 and continue using the older stable version, as with our tutorial about uninstalling Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer 7 in the past, we would like to continue the trend and show our readers how to uninstall IE8 in Windows XP and Windows Vista.
Uninstall IE8 in Windows XP
Uninstalling IE8 in Windows XP is pretty much simple. Open up the Control Panel and click on Add/Remove Programs. In the listed programs find Windows Internet Explorer 8 Beta X (where X would be the beta version you installed) and click on the Remove button.
Continue reading How to Uninstall IE8 in Windows XP and Windows Vista
If you plan on sticking with Windows XP for as long as you can, there are a lot you can do to optimize it and better your XP experience. Even though a lot of us are guilty of not performing it, basic maintenance is essential. If you don’t already do so, you should run Disk Defragmenter (Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter) or another defragmentation tool on a regular basis. Not only will this speed up hard drive access times, but it will reduce the chances for data and operating system corruption. If you add regular anti-virus and anti-spyware scans to your maintenance regiment, you will keep XP running for longer periods of time without error. Performing maintenance is not all you can do to keep XP running optimally. Microsoft has also released some free tools that will help you use Windows XP more efficiently.
Microsoft’s SyncToy allows you to synchronize data between folders. This utility is easy to use, and it will allow you to quickly set up synchronization rules, and ensure that your data integrity is maintained while synchronizing. This is especially useful when synchronizing files between a flash drive (or external hard drive) and your desktop or laptop. It is easy to use and freely downloadable from Microsoft.
Continue reading Three Essential Microsoft PowerToys