7 ways to have fun with Windows 7

I'm a simple man. When I need a break during the workday, I play Hearts on my computer or surf the Internet. After hours, I love watching DVDs on my laptop. With Windows 7, however, I've discovered completely new ways to have fun with my PC. Here are some of my favorites.

What you'll need:

1. Record TV on your PC for free

Recorded TV options in Windows Media Center

I used to record my favorite shows with a DVR connected to my TV. It was convenient, but I had to pay monthly service fees and could only watch the shows I recorded on that one TV. Now, I can watch, pause, rewind, and record TV—even HDTV—for free on my laptop with Windows 7. If you’ve got a cable or broadcast signal and an inexpensive TV tuner, then you can use the DVR in Windows Media Center.

2. Unleash your inner artist

Paint in Windows 7

If you think you know Paint, the classic Windows art software that can turn even a basic scribbler into Picasso, you're missing out. The Windows 7 version has new brush effects, such as watercolor, crayon, and calligraphy. Paint now comes with an easy-to-use ribbon for all the cool features that you use the most. And with a touchscreen you can finger-paint, including using two fingers to create separate brush strokes simultaneously. I could spend hours dreaming up new creations.

3. Share media throughout your home

Setting up media sharing with HomeGroup

Windows 7 makes it much easier to enjoy all our media on all our networked PCs running Windows 7. Before, if I wanted to collect photos from our various PCs, I had to go to each PC and copy photos onto my USB stick. Now, with HomeGroup, we can easily listen to music, look at photos, and even share printers throughout the house.

4. Stream movies to your TV

Streaming media with Play To

HomeGroup makes it easy for us to find all our music, photos, movies, and files in one spot. In addition to sharing media among our PCs, we can use Play To in Windows Media Player to send media from our PC to a compatible device. Why do that? So that when I make a movie on my office PC, I can stream it to the living room TV and watch my creation on the big screen.

5. Remote Media Streaming

Remote Media Streaming in Windows 7

I record many of my favorite shows but don't always have the time to watch them when I'm at home. When I'm out of town on business I often have time to kill—and now, with Remote Media Streaming in Windows 7, I can use that time to catch up on my shows. Remote Media Streaming uses the Internet to stream content from my PC at home to my work laptop wherever I am.

6. Go for the high score

Games Explorer in Windows 7

Whether you're a casual or serious gamer, Windows 7 is the best way to play games. And Games Explorer is the place to do it. Out of the box, you'll find the classic Solitaire along with several free games, including games you can play with an online opponent. Just type Games Explorer in the search box, and you'll see all your games organized in one spot.

Windows 7 isn't just for casual gaming—it's compatible with the vast majority of games on the market today. Now, with new DirectX 11 graphics technology, Windows 7 delivers games with breathtaking graphics. For more games, check out Games Marketplace.

7. Make a movie in minutes

My grandparents keep asking for a keepsake of videos and pictures I've collected of my daughter. I used to find the task too daunting. With Movie Maker, which you can download for free, I've overcome my fears. Not only can I quickly and easily make movies from my videos and photos, but I can also add music, transitions, and effects.

The world of entertainment keeps growing—and Windows 7 helps bring it to your PC in ways that might surprise you. Whether you’re a gamer, a movie enthusiast, or just like to listen to your tunes, Windows 7 offers something to help you enjoy your media in new ways.

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, and spends his time staring out at the rain clouds as he pounds out words on his keyboard.