Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Things you will need to Install Windows 7:
*    1 GHz 32-bit or 64-bit processor
*    1 GB RAM for 32-bit Windows 7 OR 2 GB RAM for 64-bit Windows 7
*    16 GB available disk space 32-bit Windows 7 OR 20 GB for 64-bit Windows 7
*    Support for DirectX 9 graphics with 128 MB memory (in order to enable Aero theme)
*    DVD-R/W Drive
*    Internet or phone access to activate Windows 7

Additional requirements to use certain features:
*       Internet access (fees may apply)
*       Depending on resolution, video playback may require additional memory and advanced graphics hardware
*       Some games and programs might require a graphics card compatible with DirectX 10 or higher for optimal performance
*       For some Windows Media Center functionality a TV tuner and additional hardware may be required
*       Windows Touch and Tablet PCs require specific hardware
*       HomeGroup requires a network and PCs running Windows 7
*       DVD/CD authoring requires a compatible optical drive
*       BitLocker requires Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 1.2
*       BitLocker To Go requires a USB flash drive
*       Windows XP Mode requires an additional 1 GB of RAM, an additional 15 GB of available hard disk space, and a processor capable of hardware virtualization with Intel VT or AMD-V turned on
*       Music and sound require audio output

Best Practice: Clean Install

A clean install is a install method where you completely wipe the previous operating system and start over from scratch. There are a couple reasons why you would want to do this: 

The first reason is that you purchased a built or purchased new machine with no operating system, and want to get it up and running. Another reason for a clean install is if you want to just get rid of all your trash and start fresh. A third reason for a clean install would be if you currently useWindows XP/2000/Me/98.

Two of the choices you have for purchase for a clean install is the Retail and OEM version. OEM is a one-time shot, where you install it on one machine, and it stays with that machine and cannot be transferred to a new machine or another person. 

Retail is the version where you can install it as many times as you like, but can only have one copy activated on one machine at any given time. OEM is more expensive than an upgrade, but not as expensive as Retail. 

You can upgrade with an OEM or Retail disk, but it would be silly to spend the extra money for a standalone version if you were just going to do an upgrade. Unless you later plan on wiping the system and don't want to go through the trouble of installing the previous OS, and then Windows 7. There is a way around that, but we will discuss that later.


Here is what the first step of Windows 7 Professional installation looks like.
This is the screen where you decide whether you want to do an upgrade, or a custom install. If you want a   clean install, you would choose custom.

Microsoft Windows 7 Operating System choices for clean installation:
  • OEM Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium for System Builders: 64-bit or 32-bit
  • OEM Microsoft Windows 7 Professional for System Builders: 64-bit  or 32-bit
  • OEM Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate for System Builders: 64-bit  or 32-bit
  • Retail Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium (includes both 32- or 64-bit DVDs)
  • Retail Microsoft Windows 7 Professional (includes both 32- or 64-bit DVDs)
  • Retail Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate (includes both 32- or 64-bit DVDs)
Clean Upgrade Installation
An upgrade installation comes in two varieties: clean upgrade and in-place upgrade. An in-place upgrade is for users of Vista. There are two ways of doing an in-place upgrade, either while Vista is running, or during boot time. Either way works very similar, but depending on what upgrade package you purchased may limit your options. 

If you were one of the people that purchased an upgrade through a physical store, or many traditional online retailers like NewEgg, then you likely received a DVD containing your Windows 7 software. With this disk, you can either have your computer boot from that disk, and follow the simple steps, or insert the disk while Vista is running, and do an upgrade that way. Both methods work practically the same; they just involve a couple different first steps.

If you are one of the people that bought your upgrade through channels like the Microsoft Marketplace, Digital River, the Student Discount Program, or the variety of other digital distribution methods, then you likely received a .exe file that is meant to be run while in Windows. 

This .exe file may have confused many people, but there is a way to convert that to an .ISO file which you can then burn to a DVD, or even convert it to a bootable USB drive, but more on that later. The upgrade works in a way in where it sees that you currently have an activated copy of Windows installed that qualifies for Windows 7 upgrade, and then continues on with the installation.

That covers the basics of an in-place upgrade. The clean upgrade is pretty much like a clean install, but with a little bit of a difference in the way the licensing works. The point of an upgrade is that it upgrades your old Windows 2000/XP/Vista license into a Windows 7 license, and revokes the old license. A clean Retail/OEM install does not do this, so you can continue to use any of your old Windows keys without risk of doing anything illegal. 

If you choose to upgrade your OS to Windows 7, even though you may still physically be able to activate using your old keys, you are not allowed to according to Microsoft's EULA. Other than that, doing a clean upgrade, like I mentioned before, is very similar to a clean install. You will erase everything you had on your computer and start fresh. This is your only option if you use XP/2000, but should only be used with Vista if you don't want any of your files, accounts, settings, programs, etc. transferred over automatically.


This is where you pick which drive you want to install windows to. This screen is taken during a Custom upgrade installation. From here, you can format your drives and manage partitions.


Once you get past the destination drive screens, it goes through its extraction and expansion of the installation files.

After this point in both the Clean and Upgrade installation, you will be asked for your Activation Key, Name, and Password. Thats about it.

Custom Upgrade: Previous OS Bypass

This section is for people that wish to do a bit of custom installation methods. I have found a way to do a clean install using an upgrade key. This method does not require an OS to already be installed on your machine. This method may or may not violate Microsoft's EULA, depending on the copyright laws where you live or how you manage your previous operating system's keys that you are supposedly upgrading. Use this guide at your own risk, as Benchmark Reviews,, myself, nor anyone affiliated with the aforementioned are responsible for your actions.
You may ask "Why would I want to do this?" There are many reasons as to why you would want to do a "clean upgrade". The main reason I sought out this method was because you cannot upgrade the Windows 7 preview/beta copies to a valid purchased license key. Windows 7 RC was considered Windows 7 Ultimate Retail, and that is as high as it gets, so you cannot upgrade from that. Many people have been using Windows 7 beta and RC copies, so they will run into this situation. I was looking for a way to get out of having to reinstall Win2k, XP, or Vista just to then turn around and upgrade to Windows 7. Another reason why this method might be helpful is if you are the owner of an OEM system that you bought from a retailer such as Best Buy, Fry's, Wal-Mart, etc. 

Many times, those computers come with no Windows disk, and many companies such as HP don't provide you with a restore disk. Often you must either make one yourself, or purchase one through them. If you are one of those users, then you may not have an option to reinstall your OS, especially if you have upgraded to Windows 7 preview copies. The majority of the reason I tried it was to save time and hassle, and that is the real point of all of this, not for piracy or license violations.
It is important to note a few things for this installation method. This method requires the use of either a bootable CD/DVD disk, or a bootable USB disk with the Windows 7 installation media. If you are one of the people that has the .exe file that was downloaded from a digital download provider, then you will need to follow some simple steps to convert that installation package to an .ISO file that you can use. 

There is a nice how-to on that tells you how to do this conversion. Follow the instructions carefully, because I had a bit of trouble at first, and people report mixed results. From there, you should have a .ISO file that you can either burn straight to a DVD and boot from it, or if you want to follow another link at the same website on how to convert that .ISO to a bootable USB drive. Finally, if you have not even downloaded the .EXE file and even attempted to do the update in their cumbersome method, there is now an alternative download method. Lifehacker.comhas provided links to sites and sources for tools from Digital River and Microsoft to get the direct .ISO file and a tool to convert that to a bootable USB disk for the many consumers that got their versions through the Student Discount pricing program.


During the screen where you decide whether you want to do an upgrade or a custom install, you will pick custom.


When you get to the installation destination screen, decide which hard disk you would like to install it to. After deciding on which drive you want to use, if you click on advanced, you will see options to format, delete, add, etc. partitions.


In this case we deleted all the partitions, formatted, and then clicked New. Windows will then create whatever partitions it needs, and start the copy/extraction process.


After it is done with the extraction and all that, it will prompt you for your username, password, etc. It will also ask you for your Windows product key.

This step is important. Microsoft has added a feature back in Vista where you can leave this blank and use Windows for 30 days as a trial. Normally, you would enter your key, it would verify that you have an upgrade key, verify that you have something to upgrade from, and move along. Because you are upgrading from nothing, leave it blank, and uncheck Automatically activate. Click Next.


You should then be welcomed with a fully functional Windows 7 desktop! This is not the end, however. You can freely use this for 30 days unactivated, but it will then start limiting your use, and finally lock you out completely.
This section is for people that wish to do a bit of custom installation methods. I have found a way to do a clean install using an upgrade key. This method does not require an OS to already be installed on your machine. This method may or may not violate Microsoft's EULA, depending on the copyright laws where you live or how you manage your previous operating system's keys that you are supposedly upgrading. Use this guide at your own risk, as Benchmark Reviews,, myself, nor anyone affiliated with the aforementioned are responsible for your actions.
If you now wish to activate your windows using your upgrade key, follow these steps. Click Start, move your cursor over My Computer and right-click. Select properties from the right-click menu. You should then see a window displaying useful information about your computer. 


On that screen, scroll down to the bottom. Notice how it says "30 days to activate. Activate Windows now". That means you are not "legit", or are in a trial period. Click the "Change Product Key" link and enter your upgrade key.


After entering your key, Windows should succeed in activating, and you should be rewarded with a screen saying that Windows is activated and a Windows Genuine Software badge as well. You just installed Windows 7 the "retail/clean install" way using an upgrade key and installation media.


Again, because you purchased an upgrade, you technically are not entitled to use key from the version of Windows that you upgraded from to install and activate that OS on another system. Whether you can do it or not is another matter.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

System restore

is the utility used to create a data store. If you don't have 200MB of free space, System Restore remains disabled until the space becomes available, at which point the utility enables itself. This requirement has been raised to 300 MB in Windows 7. You can clean up temp files to free up some amount of space on your Hard drive and interestingly this procedure can be automated at startup.

System Restore uses a first in/first out (FIFO) storage scheme: The utility purges old archives to make room for new ones when the data store reaches a set limit.

The file types that System Restore monitors are many but include most of the extensions that you typically see when you install new software (e.g., .cat, .com, .dll, .exe, .inf, .ini, .msi, .ole, .sys). Note that only application installations that use a System Restore restorept.api-compliant installer will trigger the creation of a restore point.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Changing default font while composing in Gmail

Here's what you can do to change the default Font in Gmail while composing a mail:

1. Go to "Settings" at the top of your Gmail page.

Monday, October 18, 2010


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