Tag: Windows 7

Not yet, but soon!

Back from a relaxing vacation. Apparently Windows 7 has not RTM:ed yet but it’s getting really close. Looking forward to get hold of the bits of both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 to be able to wipe all my machines, clients and servers, and upgrade my domain to Windows Server 2008 R2. In the meantime I’m writing a few words about blue screens, it wil be out later this week. Stay tuned!

Easier GPO management using filtering

The number of group policy settings that you can use to fine tune your client and server computers are constantly growing. The more settings there are the harder it is to find them. Therefore the option “All settings” in the Group Policy Manager in Windows Vista SP1 and later and Windows 7 is a pleasure. But the best part is that you can filter out and only show polices related to exactly what you are looking for, example only settings that contain “DNS” to see settings only related to DNS.

Start gpedit.msc or the full Group Policy manager which is a part of Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows Vista and Windows 7 and go to Computer Configuration > (Policies >) Administrative templates and click “All settings”. Right click anywhere in the right pane to filter out only settings that you are interested in.

Last minute changes to the RDP protocol in Windows 7

As Windows 7 RTM is closing in really fast the Microsoft Remote Desktop Services team (formerly Terminal Services team) has announced that there are some last minute changes to the RDP protocol and that some code that was in the Windows 7 pre-RTM build is left out from the RTM code. Specifically this is related to DirectX 10.1 applications and instead of rendering those apps on the client these are in the Windows 7 RTM builds (and Windows Server 2008 R2) rendered on the host.

Other new features in the Windows 7/Server 2008 R2 RDP protocol such as playing high definition videos in Media Player and it being rendered on the client is still there, along with other optimizations and tweaks are still there to provide a significantly better RDP experience than in previous versions of Windows.

Source: RDS blog, http://blogs.msdn.com/rds/archive/2009/06/19/changes-to-remoting-model-in-rdp-7.aspx

Drivers for old Soundblaster cards in Windows 7 and Windows Vista

A problem when Windows Vista was released some years ago was the fact that Creative wasn’t too “creative” to create drivers for older Soundblaster cards. This is where the kX Project comes in as it provides drivers for most older Soundblaster audio cards in newer operating systems.

But why on earth do I mention this now that Vista has ben out for a few years? Well the reason is that I’ve heard of users (some of which totally skipped Vista) that are testing Windows 7 on older machines and does not find a driver for their Creative Soundblaster audio card.

If you are looking for a Windows Vista och Windows 7 driver for your Soundblaster range of audio card go to http://www.kxproject.com.

EDIT: URL updated.

Fool a web site into thinking you are another browser or OS

Some time ago I wanted to see a soccer game via Canal Digitals web service but as I am running Windows 7 on my Media Center connected to my TV the web service discovered this and did not let me play this using Windows Media Player and instead offered me to view it in Flash format. Viewing the game in Flash format really wasn’t the best in quality and as I and my co-watchers discovered the game was more or less unwatchable.

In halftime I had the time to do the necessary corrections to fool the web service into presenting itself as another operating system and Internet Explorer version. This made the Windows Media stream instantly and not to mention with much better quality. This is done easilty by changing the so called user agent string which is a string which presents certain information such as OS, web browser and version and some more info.

If you want to change the user agent string and fool a web site or service into thinking it is something it is not you can do this using one of the registry fixes found at http://www.enhanceie.com/ua.aspx.

What does a Windows 7 logo’ed application really mean?

Now that Windows 7 RTM is closing in and it has been announced that Windows 7 will be available to partners as early as late July I thought I’d share a few facts about what an application being certified for Windows 7 really mean. For software developers to receive the “Windows 7” logo it must pass certain required tests. The certification process include for example the following requirements:

  • No installation blocks. One common problem is that software developers check which operating system the application is trying to be installed on which causes an application to not install on the latest operating system. For an app to become certified there must be no such blocks.
  • Remote Desktop Services environment. All apps must work in a multi user environment such as Remote Desktop Services (former Terminal Services) or when multiple users are logged on locally on a client machine.
  • Handling crash data. The developers must actively participate and handle application crash data that is sent to Microsoft via the built in application error reporting in Windows. For instance if an application carrying the “compatible with Windows 7 “ logo is discovered to cause more than 20 percent of crashes the developers have 30-90 days to present a plan to fix the problem(s), or the logo is revoked. 
  • Installation and uninstallation. Applications must install cleanly to standard locations in the file system and it must be possible to uninstall the application. 
  • Support for 64-bit platform. Applications that receive the logo must fully work on 64-bit version of Windows 7, either natively or by using WoW64.

That is just a few requirements that an application must pass before it gets the “Compatible with Windows 7“ logo. More information can be found at https://connect.microsoft.com/site/sitehome.aspx?SiteID=831

Add users to local groups on the Windows clients easily

If you want to add domain users or groups to a local group on a Windows client machine automatically, this can be done using group policies. One reason could be to easily put groups or users to the local group Remote Desktop Users to allow them to log on via RDP. To control which users or groups you want to add create a new GPO in the domain and go to Computer configuration > (Policies) > Windows settings > Security settings > Restricted groups.

Once there choose to add a group and in my example find the “Remote Desktop Users” group and after that add the user or group you want to add to the local machines which that particular group policy object applies to. More information about restricted groups can be found at http://support.microsoft.com/?id=810076

Control compatibility settings in IE8 using GPOs

As Internet Explorer 8 render web pages in a new way than previous versions of Internet Explorer there is a good chance that one or more web pages you or your users regularly visit are broken or not displaying properly in IE8. Fortunately there is a compatibility mode in IE8 that makes web pages render as though they were displayed in IE7. This action is normally a manual one and the main problem here is that very few users are aware of this compatibility mode. To alleviate problems for the end users you can control the settings and compatibility list of web sites using group policy objects.

Start the Group Policy manager and go to Computer configuration > Administrative templates > Windows Components > Internet Explorer > Compatibility view and there look for “Use Policy List of Internet Explorer 7 sites”. Add the URLs for the web sites that you want IE 8 to always render in IE7 mode.

Solution to get integrated playback of blu-ray movies in Windows 7 Media Center

It’s great to see that I do not need to install any third party codec in Windows 7, all movies regardless of which type it is has played without problems. However it’s sad to see that Microsoft hasn’t integrated blu-ray playback support in Media Center in Windows 7, something I am really missing. I had to go the extra mile to get blu-ray support in Media Center and the solution I am running with now is something I am very happy with. You will soon learn why.

To get blu-ray support I evaluated both the software PowerDVD and WinDVD but the really stupid thing is that one is not allowed to use the blu-ray feature in either of those in the demo versions. This ended up with me purchasing the PowerDVD version, a choice I am very pleased with.

As it turns out PowerDVD integrates totally with Media Center in Windows 7 and whenever I play a blu-ray disc from within Media Center the PowerDVD playback software is loaded in the background. Visually it appears as though I remain in the Media Center interface and the fact that I can continue to use the MCE remote control to control the blu-ray movie is really nice. Overall this is extremely smooth and provides a great end user experience!