Heading Towards Windows 7

| Posted in , , , | Posted on Sunday, November 08, 2009

I've been ready to ditch vista since I first booted up my aleinware to find 33% of my ram used by a clean and fresh OS. Since that horrifying reality check, Vista has proven itself bloated and buggy at every turn. Its unresponsive when few tasks are running. Tweaking with msconfig and the running services hasn't alleviated the issue. Even reformatting hasn't helped.

Since Windows 7 was announced I've had a chance to try the beta and I was very impressed with the level of detail that had gone into it. Now that Win 7 has been officially released its been enforced by many end users - from common users to techno geeks - and its quickly becoming the de facto operating system for PC's (41% of lifehacker readers report Win 7 is their primary operating system).

Thankfully I have been able to download a full (and legal) version of Windows 7 via Microsoft's MSDN Academic Alliance; which allows participating schools (and their students) to download free Microsoft software. I have to give kudos to Microsoft not only for MSDN, but also for offering copies of Win 7 to students for $30. If I didn't have MSDN I would have jumped on that deal - but being a college student free is better than $30, sorry Microsoft.

At any rate, I'm starting to get all my data backed up in anticipation of the reformat (I plan to format the HD while installing Win 7 so as to get a fresh start on everything).

Just like previous posts, I'll be using this blog as a 'note to self' so I'll be able to quickly get to links for all the programs I'll be installing on the new OS. I'll outline them below so anyone reading can understand what each program does.


Many of these programs can be found on CNETs Windows Starter Kit

Some can also be found on Lifehackers Essential Free Windows Downloads

Most can also be bulk installed via Ninite Bulk Installer

Actually, I'm not sure if I need to say much about this. If your not using firefox go get it. Now. There is no choice involved.
Add ons for firefox: Download Status bar; xMarks; WOT; Tab Mix Plus; Colorful Tabs; 1-Click Youtube Downloader; Flashblock; Stumble Upon and Brief.
Firefox Maybes: FoxyMeter; OPML Support; Site Launcher; Splash; Tweak Network; Fasterfox and Universal Print.

Though I love firefox dearly, Opera also has a place on my computer. Its a browser just like firefox, but its a very stripped down no hassel browser. That isn't to say you couldnt use it as your primary browser - alot of people do - but it isnt feature packed enough to keep my interest day to day. Its a useful tool to have though.

VLC Player
Its like windows media player - okay its nothing like windows media player. It plays ANY video format (I am yet to find one it wont open) it has all the basic features you'd expect from a video player and it doesn't get in your way.

Open Office
Microsoft really skewed up with the latest version of office. Alot of people have gotten used to it and truth be told I have found it usable after I tweak some of the menus and where this and that is. My biggest issue is: I can get open office, which runs and works perfectly out of the box or I can pay an arm and a leg for office - which works after I fight with it for half a day.

This nifty little app is something I've been using only recently. It has all the functionality you'd find in Vista Gadgets, Yahoo Widgets and Google Gadgets...and I can get it all running one single program. Rainmeters been around for awhile but it wasn't under active development until recently. In many ways its not a program for the weak hearted, since setting up exactly what you want still requires messing with config files and other such things. Its well on its way to becoming as user friendly as it needs to be (the lastest 1.1 release sports a host of useful features) but its quickly becoming as useful to me as object dock is.

I've reviewed this stardock application before and I cant imagine using a computer without it. It creates an OS X like dock for windows - and after setting it up with my most used shortcuts there's little use for the start menu.

I've been a digsby fan for awhile now. I prefer it over pidgen, adium and trillian because Digsby allows me to sign onto my IM accounts, email accounts and social networks all in one application. I'm yet to see this amount of functionality in ANY app. Its a really practical and productive 'hub' for quick access to all my online social accounts.

Myspace im
Sadly, the only thing Digsby does not do that I desperately wish it would is myspace im. I still need to run a separate app to login to the myspace im network.

Play On
This program creates a media server on my computer which lets me stream Hulu, youtube, CBS and other sites to my xbox. This way I can catch TV episodes off Hulu on my TV. This is one of the few paid programs I'll have on my computer - but its been a real joy to have at my disposal.

JCreator LE
A program that makes programming in java easy since it helps color coat the code your typing. You can also have it check your code for errors and you can run your program via JC.

Music music MUSIC!
My largest concern with iTunes is moving my library (ratings ,play count and playlists) from one OS to the next.

An im Program specifically for gamers.

The big brother of computer games. It has alot of uses and advantages - but it tends to become obtrusive. I'll be transferring the game data on a hard drive so I don't re-download the large files. My current game list is: Counter Strike Source; Day of Defeat Source; EVE Online Demo; Half Life 2: Death Match; Trackmania Nations Forever and Left 4 Dead.

Stardocks version of Steam for stardock apps. Fences, Objectdock, Logon Studio

Google Chrome
Another browser. I'm not a big fan, but its nice to have around.

From the same people who create firefox, its an email program (much like outlook). I have it sync with my gMail. Since the email files get stored locally I can search my emails via google desktop easily.

Basically, its a digital version of sticky notes. I can text notes to myself and they go straight to this program.

Google Desktop
This will index ALL the files on my computer (text, .doc, PDF, music...ETC) so I can quickly search everything on my computer. The same functionality can be found in the windows search built into the start menu, but I prefer to keep start focused on the programs themselves and use Google desktop for my actual data.

Simplify Media
Lets me stream music to my friends who have simplify media running. All of those who are 'friends' can have access to all my music and visa versa. It doesn't let us transfer files, just listen. Using the iPhone app I can also have access to my entire music library via my iPod (or android phone if they have an app).

Awesome photo utility. Its really become useful now that the latest version has facial recognition so I can search my photo library by someones name and get all the pictures of them.

DVD Flick
Useful for burning video on my computer onto a playable DVD.

media Monkey
I find the interface cluttered, so I cant use this media jukebox all the time. Its auto tag feature lets me import metadata from the internet directly into the ID3 tags of my music - which is something iTunes doesn't do.

AVG Free Antivirus
In the past I've had issues with AVG being hoggy, but recent releases have worked really well for me. I use it as my primary antivirus program and ave it running in the background.

Smart Defrag

Vistas defrag was a mess. Smart defrag is a good replacement for windows built in defrag program and it also offers some extra features. Also might try Bootspeed which has the defrag and other stuff from the same company.


Clears your browsing history, cookies and much more. It pretty much wipes all the data regarding your internet surfing (except bookmarks and such).

EVGA Precision
A utility for my video card, lets me pump up the fan speed so it doesn't overheat.

A utility that lets me monitor the temperature of various parts of my computer.

Spybot S&D
An anti-spyware program. The scan always turns up a tracking cookie or two so its useful to have around.

Though this isnt a HUGE name in the antivirus industry, I once had a sticky virus on a friends computer and this program killed it off quick.

A simple, no hassle torrent program. I use it to download linux distributions since I can turn a torrent on and off whereas direct download eats up my bandwidth until it finishes.

CD Art Display
Displays track into (song name, artist, album artwork) on my desktop. Also allows me to control iTunes via keyboard shortcuts.

Gadwin Print Screen
This app starts with my computer and most of the time I never notice its existence even though I use it all the time. It take s a full resolution screen shot of whatever on my screen, auto names it and stores it whenever I hit the 'prt scrn' botton on my keyboard. Its really a useful app to have around. The only features its lacking it automatically tagging photos wit metadata (like the program open, or simply with my name). Even so, its an awesome app.

Encrypts what I type into my web browser so any nasty keyloggers get gibberish rather than my credit card number.

Program lets me open all sorts of archive formats (.zip, .rar, ETC)

Active ISO Burner
The only windows ISO burning program I trust.

Easy BCD
Allows me to easily edit the boot menu from within windows. Very handy for dual (or....quad) booting.

Comments (1)

Wow, thats alot of programs