The computer helper: Windows 7 annoyances

Packages of Microsoft Windows 7 inside a company retain store

Sure, Windows 7 has garnered plenty of accolades since its release. But that doesn’t mean that people haven’t been annoyed at some of its new or unexpected behaviour. The good news is that most of what ails Windows 7 can be remedied with a little know-how or an add-on program here or there. Read on to find out more.

Where is Windows Movie Maker in Windows 7? I relied on this program in Windows Vista.

Movie Maker, Mail, and other applications that were easy to find in previous versions of Windows must now be downloaded and installed as part of Windows Live Essentials ( ). Live Essentials also includes Writer, Photo Gallery, Family Safety, and a Toolbar.

Be careful: if you don’t want to install all of those applications, uncheck the ones you’re not interested in when you run the Windows Live Setup application.

Also, once you do install the Movie Maker application for Windows 7, you’ll note that the interface is significantly different from the older version of Movie Maker. If you prefer the older version (2.6), you can download it from Microsoft ( ).

I moved to Windows 7 from Windows XP, and I miss XP’s Start menu. Can I get back the classic look and feel of the XP Start menu?

While many come to appreciate the changes in the Windows Vista/7 Start menu — including instant search — it’s true that the new Start menu does away entirely with some of the capabilities of the old XP Start menu, such as the ability to nest folders.

There’s no way within Windows 7 itself to reconfigure the Start menu to look and act exactly like XP’s Start menu. But you can download the freeware application CSMenu ( ), which transforms your Start menu into almost exactly what you’re used to seeing from the Start menu in XP.

Or you could try the open source Classic Shell ( ), which gives you both the classic Start menu and classic Explorer toolbar buttons (such as cut, copy, and paste) that Microsoft did away with in the Windows 7 Explorer.

Of course, with either of these options, gone will be the instant search feature in Windows 7’s Start menu. But you’ll have back the slimmer, folder-based functionality of the XP Start menu. It’s worth looking at if you have lots of time invested in productivity-enhancing habits with the old style Start menu.

The Windows Experience Index cannot be updated on my computer. Why is this? I’m running Windows 7 N.

Windows 7 N is the version of the operating system that has been stripped of Windows Media Centre. It is sold in Europe to comply with the European Commission’s 2004 requirement that Microsoft offer a version of Windows without Media Centre. Because the Windows Experience Index — which measures the performance of your computer, relies upon certain components of Windows Media Centre, the rating cannot be generated or updated without it.

The solution is to download and install the Media Feature Pack for Windows 7 from Microsoft ( ). This Feature Pack essentially gives the N version of Windows 7 the components that the non-N version has. You’ll need to validate your copy of Windows 7 before downloading.

I like Windows 7 but do not need or want most of the enhancements in the new Windows Explorer. Can I get the old Explorer back?

Not really. As with a move back to the classic Start menu in Windows 7, you’ll also have to turn to third party tools to get the look and feel of the old Windows Explorer as well. There are, as you might imagine, both freeware and commercial alternatives.

Among the most popular commercial Explorer replacements is Directory Opus ( ), a tab-enabled, highly configurable file manager that can be configured to look and act just about any way you wish. Keep in mind that with almost unlimited configuration options comes complexity of initial setup. But once you have it set up the way you like it, you should be happy.

A less complicated alternative is xplorer2 ( ), which is free for private or academic use. This tool actually has more features than the classic Windows Explorer — including tabs and the ability to view multiple folder listings side by side.

It’s not clear to me how I’m supposed to create a restore point in Windows 7.

As you know, restore points are essential if you install some software that causes your system to become unstable. Restore points are created automatically — if Windows 7 is set up to create them.

Unlike in previous versions, it’s not easy to figure out how to create a restore point manually, however.

To do so, first ensure that System Restore is turned on. Open the Start menu, and type “system.” Click the System entry under Control Panel. From within the System dialog box, click the System Protection link in the left-hand panel. Make sure that System Restore is turned on for your C drive. Highlight the C drive, and click the Configure button to turn it on.

While there, you can also determine how much of your disk space is devoted to storing System Restore data.

Once System Restore is turned on, you can create a manual restore point from within the System Properties dialog box. Simply click the Create button to do so.


5 thoughts on “The computer helper: Windows 7 annoyances

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