Ask an MVP about: Windows 7

Richard Hay is a Microsoft Windows Expert (Consumer)  MVP and now that Windows 7 has been out for about 18 months now (it was released in late October 2009), I sent him some questions to get his take on Windows 7 in the community and the challenges of running a Windows website.

Q: Richard, I find that many people that use Windows 7 are not familiar with some of its great features. What are some of Windows 7’s features that you like, but might remain ‘undiscovered’ by many a home PC user?

A: Speaking about Windows 7 specific features I think Microsoft did a great job of exposing all of the things you can control and personalize on your system via the Control Panel Appearance and Personalization panel.  I think one of the most underutilized features in Windows 7 is Libraries.  In previous version of Windows you could map directories by assigning it a drive letter and it would appear in your My Computer windows but it was always separate from your files such as Pictures, Videos, Documents, etc.  With the library feature you can incorporate those files directly into your own  file folders as a part of the collection.  I do this for several different directories of files I work with regularly such as screenshots and music.  With the library feature I do not need as many clicks of the mouse to find my specialized info. (You can find out more about Windows 7’s Libraries feature here: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/features/libraries.aspx)

Q: For those of us still using Windows XP, should they upgrade to Windows 7 and why?

A: Windows XP will be 10 years old in December of this year.   People update their cars and televisions more often than some have updated their operating system when it comes to Windows XP!  Support is still happening for Windows XP as long as you have Service Pack 3 installed on the system but that will be disappearing in April 2014.  Another reason to upgrade to Windows 7 is support for more modern software such as web browsers.  The reason you want the modern web browsers on your system is because they keep up with not only technology to display web pages but to also protect your system from online threats.  For instance, the latest release of Internet Explorer, IE9, is not supported on Windows XP.  Part of the reason so many users still use IE6 is because it was the default browser in Windows XP.  There is another good reason to upgrade! Also, to Microsoft’s credit their Microsoft Security Essentials software for anti-malware and anti-virus protection is Windows XP compatible which provides very good security protection on an older system.  Bottom line is an upgrade to Windows 7 would be a great opportunity to become more modern across the board and more secure with your operating system to protect your files and data.  Plus Windows 7 is Windows done right.

Q: As someone that participates in online support forums, what are the issues/questions that you are seeing these days?

A: I think the majority of questions from users are related to device compatibility.  Some companies have not come out with Windows 7 drivers for their hardware but Windows 7 shares a common driver model with Windows Vista.  I have successfully used Windows Vista drivers in several situations on Windows 7 for older hardware so I recommend trying the latest Windows Vista drivers to see if they work.

Q:  Since WindowsTalk.org is a Windows-centric website, I am curious as to how you will answer this: What is the most difficult aspect of running a Windows website?

A: James, I think the challenging aspect of running any tech website these days is originality.  Everyone reports the same basic news stories and for me it seemed as if I was just parroting the day’s news which everyone else had already reported.  Adding a unique perspective to the news is one way to do things as that is personal and many will come to respect your own perspective on things.  Part of the reason we visit certain websites is because we enjoy the angle and personality of the reporting/writing. This is why I have made a shift on my website to not just post for posting sake.  I want to create unique content and personal opinion on tech news instead of just pointing to other websites and saying look what happened.  Of course, fewer posts mean less traffic but I think once the original content builds up it will create a regular flow of visitors.

Q: Finally, tell us a little about yourself.

A: I have been a computer guy all the way back to when I started computing on the Commodore 64 back in the 90’s.  I then built my first IBM compatible PC that had 4 MB of RAM, a 200MB hard drive and a 386 processor with a clock speed of about 16MHZ or something like that.  It was in 1995 that I got online for the first time and started a website I called Another Windows 95 Links and Resources Page which was hosted on GeoCities.com.  I still remember that web address too: www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Heights/1094.  Today that site is what is now known as WindowsObserver.com which I enjoy editing and running.  This is my second year as a Microsoft MVP in the Windows Expert-Consumer area and I enjoy helping others out on both the software and hardware side of things.
I will retire from the United States Navy this fall after 29 plus years of active duty service and am looking forward to furthering my education and experience in the tech industry.

This article is one of many in the “Ask an MVP about” series.

Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals, or MVPs are exceptional community leaders who actively share their high-quality, real-world deep technical expertise with the community and with Microsoft. They are committed to helping others get the most out of their experience with Microsoft products and technologies.