Archive for the 'Windows 7' category

New HP TouchSmart 600 and 300: choice quotes on the software

October 13, 2009 8:23 am

This third-generation TouchSmart PC is boosted by Windows 7’s gesture support, but HP’s custom multitouch software is even more impressive.

But as with the earlier models, on the TouchSmart 600 it’s HP’s custom software that really shines. Version 3.0 is a significant upgrade, offering touch-friendly versions of Hulu, Netflix, Twitter […]

And the HP apps now multitask, letting you hop back and forth by sliding them around with a fingertip. The interface is responsive, and is the benchmark for upcoming Windows 7 all-in-one PCs from Acer, Asus, Dell, Gateway, and MSI.


[…], but more important is what HP is doing with its own TouchSmart application. It’s added panes for Hulu, Netflix, Twitter and an HP Music Store powered by Rhapsody, which work in nicely with the rest of the touch-friendly apps onboard and a bit of underlying Microsoft technology keeping things humming — like a nice big handwriting pane for quick Rhapsody searches. There’s also a voice controlled recipe app that can capture recipes from popular recipe sites and read them out loud to you, and the photo app can hook up with a phone over Bluetooth and pull off photos.


But to really take advantage of the system, you’ll want to use the TouchSmart interface and the wonderful, custom apps.

The one downfall here is that HP has designed TouchSmart to run all of the bundled apps at once. You’re truly multitasking, and that means stacking HDTV, Hulu, Netflix, photo editing, a browser, Twitter, and even more video playback. The system generally handles itself admirably, but the TV tuning definitely tips the scales on occasion (just watch the video for interface stutters). If I were to use the system as my DVR on a regular basis, I’d probably cut down the fat on HP’s apps and buy myself some resources.

I want to love the TouchSmart 600, but I just really, really like it a lot. The functionality is all there; no one can question the full media suite of apps, like Netflix, Hulu, and Twitter, let alone the full Windows 7 OS sitting right behind HP’s optional software. It’s the light performance hiccups coupled with a less than 100% touch interface that stop me from screaming at the top of my lungs, "YOU SHOULD BUY THIS RIGHT NOW OR GIVE UP ON LIFE COMPLETELY."

While HP has clearly borrowed from Sony in its wall-mounting and video input capabilities, the software designed for its touch interface is unique and just as compelling.

As promising as we find HP’s new touch programs, Recipe Box in particular, we found the touch interface unresponsive at times, and the main touch software carousel can be slow to load.

Neither Sony nor Gateway have put as much effort into their respective touch software as HP has.

You might also appreciate the numerous video tutorials included with the system to help you navigate the new touch software.

HP continues to put its TouchSmart user interface on top of Windows 7 and it is one of the best I have seen. The new stuff comes in the way of applications; there are now loads of new third party applications, including Hulu, Twitter and Netflix. The interface is as smooth as a baby’s bottom and the main set of tiles fan across the screen and you can easily flick to toggle them. Again, check out the full review of the TouchSmart 600 to get a glimpse of how it really works. HP may just have a method to its touch madness.

Not only is the touch interface on the refreshed tx2 much better than anything else we’ve used on a notebook, HP is adding cool new apps like Twitter and Hulu, with more to come.

What makes the “new” tx2 stand out is what it does with touch.

Unlike the very limited MediaSmart software HP bundled previously, this machine has HP’s full TouchSmart treatment, which means it has the same slick tile interface and nearly all the same applications. These include photos, music, weather, notes, games, a touch-friendly Web browser, and more. Just like on the desktop, you can move smaller menu items to the main menu by dragging the tiles up, or vice versa.

HP has released two new TouchSmart All-in-one PCs and these latest models come preloaded with an  impressive, and very much improved upon set of built-for-touch applications.

HP’s new all-in-one TouchSmart PCs come with an improved touch interface and some new apps. I really like Recipe Box, an application that organizes all of your online recipes. The application can be controlled with your fingers or through a Bluetooth headset. I rarely cook, but I’d probably be willing to spend more time in the kitchen if I had something like this.

The new TouchSmart PCs have a touch interface that’s a lot more lively than previous versions.

The new TouchSmart PCs come with touch applications for Hulu, Netflix and Twitter. Consumers may have fun with these applications, but I found the business applications HP had on display much more compelling.

Edit [adding more stuff just because]:


I will hand it to HP and Sony: their interfaces are gorgeous. The HP interface I saw last week has a number of simple tools – a recipe box, for example, that can take recipes from the web and import them into a private database – as well as the standard stretch’n’drag photo and note-taking applications that make touch actually compelling.

I’m sure there will be more, and there will be more criticism too. Developing software is always about trade-offs, and sometimes customers want other trade-offs to be made; that’s why software is never “done”.

But these first few reviews make me feel it was worth the time, working on the TouchSmart software. And yes, the “shell” that hosts all the various applications is still written in WPF. WPF rocks!

Running Windows 7 RTM on REALLY old hardware

August 3, 2009 8:43 am

How old? How about a laptop shipped in 2000, a Dell CPx H450GT:


Obviously this is from before I started my current job… One of the benefits of my current job is being able to verify soon after RTM that the Windows 7 bits you can obtain “out there” have not been messed with. Anyway, let’s see how it looks:


There’s no display driver for this system’s ancient ATI Rage Mobility M1, so it runs in standard 800*600. Thus the black frame inside the physical bezel. On to the desktop:


No sound driver, either. I think it’s an ESS Maestro 2 or something. I haven’t really spent a lot of time looking for drivers. This system used a Xircom RBEM56G-100 multifunction Ethernet/Modem CardBus card for network connectivity, and as you can see there’s also no driver for that (“x” over the network icon in the notification area.)

Okay. On to some system specs:


A 450 Mhz Pentium III. 256 MB RAM. Naturally, Windows 7 wouldn’t normally install on something as low end as this, but there are ways around that. They involve making a bootable USB drive, copying the Windows 7 install files onto it and then messing a little with a hex editor and winsetup.dll.

Now the most interesting part: actual performance of the system:


Not too shabby. Only 28 processes and it’s able to run with 256 MB with 87 MB Available. The processor curve looks pretty normal too. Mind you, this thing probably won’t be able to run much else than a browser, but since I didn’t look for network drivers I don’t have Internet access from this system anyway.

Well, there you have it. A really old laptop, running Windows 7. Pretty cool. Great job, Microsoft!

I was going to try this on two other systems I have lying around (collecting dust) as well, but one of them failed with an ACPI Stop error 0x000000A5 (0x0001000B, 0x50434146,…) which, after some digging, turned out to mean that the BIOS on this system didn’t follow the ACPI specs of the FACP table. More digging into the BIOS showed that the length entry in the table (and the table length itself) is supposed to be longer than it is, although it actually is as long as the table entry says. The other system is so old that it doesn’t have the ability to boot from USB, and the CD drive is unable to read CD-R discs, so it’s more trouble than it’s worth. It’s only got a PII 400 MHz and 192 MB RAM, too. That would be really interesting to see running Windows 7.

So, maybe Windows 7 really can breathe new life into old hardware. This may be a little extreme, but anything from within the last five years should probably do just fine. If it follows the ACPI specs and can boot from USB or CD/DVD, that is.

Windows Vista Ultimate customers get the shaft – again

June 26, 2009 8:04 pm

A lot has been written about how Windows Vista Ultimate was a major disappointment. First it was billed as the version that would “keep on giving” in the form of Ultimate Extras – cool new features that would be exclusive to Ultimate customers. When those extras finally materialized most people were underwhelmed. The extras were mostly Language Packs, DreamScene (with a few content packs) and a game or two. And for that, people paid a hefty premium over the Home Premium edition.

Now Microsoft has published special early upgrade pricing to entice people to rush out and get Windows 7 “while supplies last”. And they’re at it again. Guess what the upgrade price for Windows 7 Ultimate is:




Sorry to shout there. At least this time there’s no promise of “Extras”. Only BitLocker and Language Packs (in addition to the Professional features). Not sure that’s worth $120 over the Professional Upgrade or $170 over Home Premium (even considering XP mode.)

Oh, and you can’t do an edition “downgrade” from Vista to 7. You can buy the upgrade package, but you’ll have to use it to do a “custom install” (i.e. clean install) and then reinstall all your programs and data. Despite that inconvenience, I’ll go for the Home Premium upgrade, thank you very much. I’m done being an Ultimate customer. Or is that Ultimate fool?

(And just for the record, Windows 7 is a fantastic product in my opinion. I hope Paul Thurrott is right when he says it may be the next Windows NT. Unfortunately he also seems to be right about how Microsoft can mess things up with their pricing)

Pictures in my Windows 7 Theme Pack

January 28, 2009 10:29 am

In case you’ve seen my Windows 7 Theme Pack, here are the pictures that are in it. You may want to know if they’re worth it before you download the 12+ MB of .themepack file.

Old, eroded brick wall 

Clouds in the sunset

Sunset 2


A huge mural of Peanuts comics

Downtown skyline with Mount Rainier in the distance

Loom heddles 2

Dale Chihuly's glass ceiling at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas.

View from the Crab Shack

Grand Canyon sunset

Freshly cut strawberries