the NEXT version after Vista

By | March 1, 2009
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Wow – I can hardly believe it’s nearly March. Anyone would think February was a shorter month or something… ahem.

Still, as well as writing a big article about Windows 7 (the NEXT version after Vista – not out yet but I’ve managed to have a go on it), telling you about an online thesaurus and answering a question about emails, Claire and I have also managed to finish off the eBay book we’ve been working on.

You can read more about it here: more about the ebay book.

It covers both how to save money by buying things from eBay instead of the supermarket and how to make a few bob by selling things you don’t want any more.

By the way, even if you don’t want a trial copy of the book, it’s worth reading the letter about it. You’ll discover a tip that can save up to 55% vs Tesco on ordinary shopping. It’s in the box on the right just below ‘Sold for MORE now it’s second hand’

Just click here: more about the ebay book

Mini-article – Window 7

You might have heard that there’s a new version of Windows in the pipeline. It’s called (cleverly enough) Windows 7 (because it’s the 8th version they’ve brought out – hope they’re better at programming than counting…). Now it might seem like it’s not very long since Vista came out. But Vista hasn’t sold as well as Microsoft hoped, so they’re bringing forward the next version in the hope it’ll do better. It should be out towards the end of the year.

I’ve had a go on a pre-release version (called a beta test version), and here’s what I think about it:

The first thing I noticed is that when your PC is starting up, instead of the bar across the bottom of the screen running from left to right, you get a Windows logo pulsing with light. Very fancy. And the fanciness continues when the PC finishes starting up. It looks a lot like Vista, but with more “glassy” looking bits. Quite swish… but in my view all a bit irrelevant. The question is, how does it work?

Well, it works a lot like Vista. You might even think it’s basically Vista with a few extra bells and whistles… but Microsoft say that’s not true.

One change I’m glad to see is that when you want to turn it off, the main option in the start menu actually does turn it off. In Vista it just put it into stand by – which means if you then turn it off at the mains, it’d get all confused. This way is much better. It turns on and off quicker than Vista (or XP), too.

I’m also pleased that it seems to run more smoothly and even a bit quicker than Vista. And if you need to network several computers together, it’s much easier than in Vista.

A brand new taskbar
The taskbar has changed so instead of each program that’s running have a wide button at the bottom, with its name on, you get a little square pictorial icon. If you hover the mouse over it, you get a small picture of the screen of that program. And if you point the mouse at THAT, you get a full size version, on top of whatever is currently on your screen. It’s useful if you often have several programs running – like I do.

You can also have shortcuts for programs you use a lot in the taskbar, looking much the same as the buttons for programs that are running. I think this could lead to lots of confusion over whether a particular program is currently running or not, so I’m not convinced it’s a good idea, even though it looks pretty.

The Ribbon
If you’ve used the latest version of any Microsoft Office programs, you’ll have used what they call the ribbon. It’s a bar at the top of the program with the most common features on it and instead of the File, Edit, View… menus you have tabs which change which options are shown. I’m not sure whether it’s better or worse – just a different way of doing things. But Microsoft obviously like it because they’ve introduced it into the free programs Paint and Wordpad. So if you’re used to using them, you’ll have to learn a few new things if you upgrade.

One more way to confuse you…
There’s one more confusing new feature, called libraries. You know how in XP you have “My Documents” and in Vista it’s called “Documents”? Well, Microsoft obviously decided that changing the name didn’t confuse enough people. Now you still have your own My Documents folder (back to including the “My” again). But you also have a Documents “library”. Which displays all of the files in your my Documents folder and also ones in other places you ask it to include. Confused? I think everyone will be. Luckily you can just ignore this new feature.

There’s also a library for all the music on your PC, wherever it’s stored, which does make a bit more sense.

Overall, I’d say Windows 7 is an improvement. It’s quicker and slightly easier to use than Windows Vista. But I wouldn’t say it’s worth upgrading if you have Windows Vista. And if you are thinking of buying a new PC, I wouldn’t wait until Windows 7 comes out at the end of the year – it’s not that much better.

Though I have to say, since I live in Cumbria, I was impressed. One of the desktop backgrounds you can choose is a picture of Grasmere village. Better than those tulips…

Websites of the month – and
These two websites can be handy for looking things up without leaving your computer. is particularly useful when you need to find a word that means the same as something else.

Reader’s Question
How do I change the font size in an email I’m writing? I don’t seem to have the box that other people have.
To alter font sizes in emails you need the email to be in “rich text format” (as opposed to plain text format, which has only very basic formatting – without different sizes).
If you click on the format menu, there’ll be a dot next to either rich text or plain text – if it’s plain, click on rich text. Then you choose the font and the font size in the boxes just above whether you type the email itself.

Word to the Wise – OS or Operating System
The Operating System is a program that makes your PC work. It uses the physical gubbins to run all the programs you use and it keeps track of all your files. The different versions of Windows are the most common examples but you might have heard of Linux – and if you have an Apple Mac, you’ll have an Apple OS. Generally, whenever you hear someone talk about the “OS” just replace it with “Windows” and it should make sense!

Right – that’s all for now.
Don’t forget to have a read about the eBay book: Click here to read about the ebay book


Tim Wakeling

All the above © Tim Wakeling 2009

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