A friend recently asked me how I use Windows 7 for work. That's too long a conversation for one lunch. So I decided to hit the highlights, focusing on what I think helps me finish my work more quickly.
1. Windows XP Mode
If you've ever been afraid of losing all that is good about Windows XP, you're not alone. That's why with Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate, you can download Windows XP Mode. With Windows XP Mode, you can run many Windows XP productivity applications on your PC running Windows 7. It's a great way of making old new.
A program in Windows XP Mode
2. Device compatibility
I don't have the time to tinker around figuring out how to make my devices talk to each other. Fortunately, with Windows 7, my devices work together without a lot of fuss. My phone, printer, and other PCs on my network connect and sync easily so I don't get stuck spending a lot of time adjusting settings and troubleshooting connections.
If you're not sure about compatibility, you can visit the Windows Compatibility Center to learn if your devices meet the criteria.
3. Location-aware printing
My laptop makes me king of the road, until I want to print something: then I feel like a pawn on the highway. I think that's why they designed Windows 7 with simplified printer settings. My laptop with Windows 7 offers the ability to automatically switch the default printer when I move from one network to another—so my computer automatically prints to my home printer when I'm at home, and my work printer when I'm at work. This feature, called location-aware printing, is only available in Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate.
Default printing made simple
4. Desktop enhancements
I hate closing all my windows to get back to a file that's on my desktop. With Windows 7, I don't have to anymore. The Peek feature is kind of like Superman x-ray vision. I can use it to peer through all my windows to my desktop without closing or minimizing them. Point to the Show desktop button at the end of the taskbar; the open windows fade from view, revealing the desktop. The windows reappear when I move the pointer away from the Show desktop button.
Take a Peek
5. Improved power management
If you asked me what the Achilles' heel is for laptops, I'd probably say it's how the power seems to drain out at inopportune moments. To help me work longer on my laptop, Windows 7 runs with fewer background activities that use less power. Windows 7 also offers default power-plan settings that control how your laptop manages power. To access power management options, all you need to do is click the battery icon that appears at the far right of the taskbar and choose the option you want.
Balanced. Offers full performance and display brightness when you need it, but conserves power when the computer is idle.
Power saver. The best choice for extending battery life. On the downside, you get slower performance and lower display brightness.
How much power do you need?
You can also click More power options to open Power Options. From there, you can click the High performance power plan, which keeps the brightness, sleeps less frequently, and keeps the display on longer. This setting uses more energy than the others.
6. Sleep and resume
Windows developers understand that you want what you want, when you want it. When work is calling, you don't want to spend time waiting for your computer to wake up. To this end, improvements in Windows 7 are designed to help your PC go to sleep and resume more quickly.
Waking up from sleep is easier
7. BitLocker Drive Encryption
Although I've never been the victim of computer theft (knock on wood), I often worry that my time will come. That's why I'm glad that Windows 7 can help protect my information against hackers and the like. BitLocker Drive Encryption keeps everything from documents to passwords safer by scrambling the contents of the entire drive that Windows and your data reside on. In addition, the BitLocker To Go feature gives the lockdown treatment to portable storage devices like USB flash drives and external hard drives. BitLocker is available only in Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise.
BitLocker makes it safer
About the author
Marc Freeman has been a freelance writer and copywriter for the past fifteen years. He has also worked in television and film as a teacher, screenwriter, and copywriter. He currently resides in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and daughter, staring out at the rain clouds as he pounds out letters on his keyboard.