Visually, Windows 7 was a huge step up in comparison to the cartoonish blues and greens of Windows XP. Transparency and high-resolution icon support has allowed developers to create gorgeous custom themes (more commonly known as visual styles) for Windows 7. Premiere for Windows 7 is a modern, sharp, and minimalist visual style for Windows 7 that gives the OS a complete makeover: not only have the window borders and taskbar been remade, there is also a new Start button, a fitting wallpaper and login background, and even a new sound effects pack. Couple it with the Token icon pack and you’ve got yourself a complete, beautiful makeover of Windows 7.
As a visual indicator for accessing the most commonly used menu in Windows, the Start orb stands proudly always before any pinned applications on the Windows 7 taskbar. Anyone who’s used Windows before is well aware that opening the Start menu is a simple matter of clicking in the lower left corner (or a different corner, depending on the taskbar configuration), and can do it without even a glance. Windows 8 gets rid of the Start button for this reason: it takes up precious room on the taskbar, and no one these days needs to be reminded that the Start menu is there. Here’s how to hide the Start button in Windows 7 – and if you wish, make it perform just like the one in Windows 8.
On-screen keyboards will never reach the fidelity and speed of hardware keyboards, and predictive text remains limited in its ability produce only the most common words and phrases. A swipe-to-type style keyboard, popularized by Swype for Android, dramatically increases on-screen typing speed by no longer requiring you to lift your fingers to press other keys. TouchPal brings the experience to Windows 8 devices, merging the blocky keys of Windows 8′s default keyboard with one of the fastest ways to type on-screen. While the effect may not be as substantial when compared to the effect on a much smaller phone screen, Windows 8 tablet users might still see an improvement.
Windows 8′s new Start menu is the biggest change to the Windows interface to date, and it’s not going away anytime soon even given the wide backlash regarding the blocky, colorful menu. Windows Blue, the next big update to Windows 8, is slowly being unveiled by hackers as leaked copies of early test builds float around the web. A new registry string found in Blue called “twinui-CanSuppressStartScreen” is, according to multiple media sources, a new key that could allow users of Windows Blue to skip the nearly universally disliked Start menu all together. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case: after further study, the key appears to be part of a new ‘kiosk mode’ that still hides the Start screen, but doesn’t actually boot Windows Blue to the desktop.
When was the last time you used your computer’s DVD drive to install software or play back media? These days we use ours exclusively as a LightScribe writer, CD burner, and not much else. Nearly all netbooks, and a growing number of laptops, have abandoned the DVD drive for other, more useful hardware. The ISO format is most commonly found for direct rips of data discs, maintaining the integrity of the file and folder structure. Windows 8 now supports ISO mounting to a virtual disc drive right from Explorer, so you won’t need a third party utility like WinCDEmu to use ISO files.
When manufacturers play hardware-tetris when designing laptops, netbooks, or tablets, heat dissipation is usually one of the last things on their list of priorities. Tiny, loud fans and thin ventilation ports restrict air flow, making devices uncomfortable to touch when warmed up. The NotePal X-Lite is Cooler Master’s take on notebook cooling accessories, sporting a large central fan coupled with a metal surface in a unique X-shaped design. Does Cooler Master’s reliability in the desktop computer case and accessory market reflect well in the effectiveness of the NotePal X-Lite? Check out our review to see what we have to say.
Imgur is one of our favorite image hosting sites for having a clean design, non-intrusive advertising, and high quality image hosting without bandwith limitations. Uploading an image to a service like Imgur is the quickest way to share a picture from your computer to the internet, and is much more convenient than having to login to a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter first. Imgur Uploader, a plugin for Windows, puts Imgur in the “Send to” menu found in the Explorer context menu. This free utility lets you upload an image to the service in just two clicks, and you don’t even have to open up Imgur in your browser.