Windows 7 – A Step In the Right Direction

I have been working on and teaching Windows Vista since Beta days and have found many useful tools and functionalities of the product that helps to make day to day using more productive.  However, with that said I have also found that applications have been very slow to the market (at times) to make adjustments.  I have also been frustrated with User Account Control, and like most administrators I turned off that feature. 

Microsoft released Windows 7 beta on the 16th of January and already there is a lot of buzz about this new installment of Microsoft’s client OS.  I have personally been on the OS for over a week and have found many improvements over Windows Vista.

User Account Control (UAC)
This is one of the major improvements.  Interestingly, it has nothing to do with making allowing more programs actually work.  It has everything to do with the user experience.  The product team did a lot of user testing and found certain windows components accounted for most of the UAC prompts.  Many of those were duplicate prompts as somebody was installing for making a system change.  This has all changed and the user will primarily be prompted when something is trying to install on the computer.  Either intentionally or unknown to the user. The product team also made changes to the level of UAC control

Improved User Account Control in Windows 7

Improved User Account Control in Windows 7

There now are four different levels of UAC all about the level of notification.  By default, UAC is turned on for an upgrade and installation and it is set to Notify me only when programs try to make changes to my computer and Don’t notify me when I make changes to Windows settings.   Moving towards the Always notify end will add more notifications, especially with the Windows Settings and of course Never notify does the opposite. 

The things to remember when doing this is that you have turned off UAC.   There is no turning on or off UAC.  It is all in this one control panel for UAC.

Problem Step Recorder
The other buzz that I am hearing and seeing is the Problem Step Recorder (PSR).  This is a great tool that Microsoft came up with to help users convey what is actually happening when something does not work with Windows 7.

Once started, the tool is very easy to use.  Do the steps that caused the issue and the recorder will record each mouse click and what is happening.

Step Recorder in Windows 7

Step Recorder in Windows 7

There is also the ability to create a comment about something that is happening.

Ability to Comment in PSR

Ability to Comment in PSR

At the end of the report, PSR will give more detailed information about what is happening when the error occurred. 

PSR Additional Information

PSR Additional Information

This is a great tool that will help in my support situations to troubleshoot and track what is going on.  Documentation will also be easier since now there is a soft copy that can be stored for later user.

Stay tuned, more to come from the Windows 7 front.

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