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Product: Windows 7
Company: Microsoft
Website: http://www.microsoft.com
MSRP:
See Pricing  Purchase at Amazon.com
Review By: Andre Da Costa

with Byron Hinson, Robert Stein & Fernando Fhualpa contributing

Customizing Windows 7

Table Of Contents (70 Pages)
1: Introduction & Executive Summary
2: Pricing, Editions & System
Requirements
3:
Installation, Setup & Upgrading
4: Initial Impressions
5: Daily Usage
6: Connectivity & Networking
7: Windows Internet Explorer 8
8: IE 8 - Developer, Compatibility & Security
9: Accessories (Search, Applets, etc.)

10: Windows Media Player 12 & Media Center
11: Enterprise & Security Improvements
12: Windows Virtual XP Mode
13: Device Stage & Printing
14: Remote Assistance - Easy Connect
15: Customizing Windows 7
16: Maintenance & Power Management
17: Gaming & Desktop Graphics Performance
18: USB Transfer Tests

19: Desktop & Personalization
20: Support Tools
21: System Restore & Recovery Options
22: Tablet PC & Windows Touch
23: Windows Update & Other Enhancements
24: Windows 7 Developer Support
25: Competition
26: Conclusion & Online Resources

So I have Windows 7 RTM running on a couple systems and I am enjoying every moment of it. The increased performance, stability, features, entertainment, aesthetics and customization make it all a great experience. Customization in particular is an area Windows 7 puts a lot of emphasis on. Although I like running the Ultimate edition on all my systems, I do not necessarily need all the features on all systems. Windows 7 provides a much richer set of options in its 'Turn Windows Features on or off' applet. For instance, I am not really using Windows Tablet PC components, Windows DVD Maker, Windows Media Center and Windows Media Player on my Windows 7 64-bit install, so let’s take a look at the ability to remove some of these features.

What can you remove?

  • Internet Explorer 8

  • Windows Media Player

  • Windows Media Center

  • Windows DVD Maker

  • Windows Search

  • Handwriting Recognition (through the Tablet PC Components option)

  • Windows Gadget Platform

  • Fax and Scan

  • XPS Viewer and Services (including the Virtual Print Driver)

The ability to remove Windows Internet Explorer is probably one of the most significant options considering its high level of integration with the Windows operating system over the past 10 years. Microsoft does note there are consequences to removing certain features since third party programs and other Windows Features may have certain requirements or dependencies on functionality built.

Application Dependencies are still a factor when removing programs/components like Internet Explorer or Windows Search.

“It is worth describing the details of “remove” since this too is a place where there are engineering and customer decisions to be made. We’ve already seen one decision which is to make sure we keep the features staged for future use so that a DVD is not required. A second decision is that we also continue to support the APIs available for features where these APIs are necessary to the functionality of Windows or where there are APIs that are used by developers that can be viewed as independent of the component. As many of you know these are often referred to as “dependencies” and with Windows the dependencies can run both internal to Windows and external for ISVs”.

Windows Team member, Jack Mayo

What it suggests though is that Windows 7 is a more open platform to competing solutions that have come with the OS for years. Personally, I think it’s a good decision, in particular for the systems I plan on running Windows 7 on depending on the SKU (edition) I purchase. Do I want Windows 7 Ultimate on all my PC’s? Yes. But do I really need all the features on all the PC’s? Probably not, so the idea of having the user pick and choose is a great thing. For libraries or class rooms, it will also be a great option for administrators to utilize along with tools such as Group Policy Editor to customize their Windows systems and prevent access to functionality they would prefer students not have access to during class time.

As I noted earlier, I have Windows 7 Ultimate on a AMD Sempron, 512 MBs of RAM, a very bare bones system, personally, I use it for nothing more than Email, casual Web surfing and Backup, I don’t even have speakers connected to it, so in addition to reducing disk foot print by removing certain features like Media Center, XPS Viewer and Media Player, I can also improve the systems overall performance even more. However, if the need arises for a particular feature I removed, it can be easily re-enabled without any fuss.

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