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Virtual PC 2007: it’s out and it’s free
Microsoft has released the latest incarnation of its VM software for the desktop, Virtual PC 2007. It allows you to run other operating systems in a virtual machine on top of your host OS. So, for example, you could have Vista running in a window on your XP computer. It’s a great way to get acquainted with a new OS without “really” installing it (but be aware that you do need a license for the OS in the VM). The best part about VPC 2007 is that it’s free. You can read more about it and download here.

Looking for the best hi-cap external hard drive?
Hard drive space is one of those things it seems we can never get enough of. I still remember how huge that first 10 MB (yes, that’s right, megabyte) drive seemed back in the ’80s. And when I bought my first 1 GB drive in the ’90s, it seemed enormous. Now my current computer has over 900 GB of storage space, and our main media center PC has even more.

With operating systems and applications requiring more space than ever, and big video files taking up the rest, we often outgrow the hard disk before we outgrow the computer. The least expensive way to add more is to install an internal drive, but if you’d prefer not to open the case, the easiest way is to add an external USB or IEEE 1394 drive. PC Magazine has a roundup of some of the most popular high capacity (up to 500 GB) hard drives. Read it here.

Vista: New Way to Change the Boot Configuration
The boot.ini file has been around since Windows NT. It was a text file residing on the system partition of the hard drive that you can open in Notepad and edit to change the default operating system on a multi-boot machine, the path to each OS, the amount of time the system would wait before automatically booting into the default OS, etc. Although Windows XP provided an easier way to do most of this through the graphical interface, using the msconfig.exe utility, some folks still liked to edit the boot.ini file directly.

Well, you may be surprised to find the file missing in Vista. It’s been replaced by the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) store. To edit it, you can use msconfig.exe (which is still around), or for more advanced editing you can use the bcdedit.exe command line tool. Just type bcdedit at the command prompt.

How to hide your XP computer from Network Neighborhood
If you want to create shared folders on your XP computer so that some folks on the network can access your data, but you don’t want the shares to show up in the Network Neighborhood because there are others on the network you don’t want to see them, it’s easy to accomplish that.

  1. Click Start Run.
  2. In the Run box, type cmd to open a command prompt window.
  3. At the command prompt, type net config server /hidden:yes

Disable display of status messages
If you don’t want your XP computer to display the logon, logoff, startup and shutdown status messages, you can turn them off by editing the registry. First be sure to back it up, then perform these steps:

  1. Open your favorite registry editor.
  2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SOFTWARE Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion policies system
  3. Right click in an empty space in the right pane, select New and select DWORD value.
  4. Name the new value DisableStatusMessages.
  5. Double click the value and give it a value of 1.

Office 2007 Security Vulnerability
The latest version of Office uses a new file format based on XML. Among other advantages, this is supposed to help eliminate some of the security issues inherent in the old Office formats (.doc, .xls, .ppt, etc.). Unfortunately, exploits of Office applications are still possible. Now eEye Digital Security has announced the discovery of the first remote code bug in Office 2007. It’s in Publisher 2007, which is included in some editions of Office 2007. You can read more about it here.

How to make your computer power off when you shut down
To make your computer power off when you select Shutdown, try this:

  1. Open your favorite registry editor.
  2. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USERControl PanelDesktop
  3. In the right pane, double click the item named PowerOffActive.
  4. In the value data box, give it a value of 1.

Note that this should cause the power to go off at shutdown, but it only applies to the user account that’s logged on when you make the change. If you want to make it apply to all users, substitute the following key in step 2: HKEY_USERS.DEFAULTControl PanelDesktop.

Inherited permissions aren’t automatically updated when you move folders
“Child” folders created inside another (“parent”) folder inherit permissions from the parent, if you have inheritance enabled. However, sometimes these inherited permissions don’t get automatically updated as they should if you move a folder within the same volume on a Windows XP computer (the problem has been fixed in Vista). To find out how to resolve the problem, see KB article 320246.

USB devices don’t work after XP computer returns from standby
If you a certain model of Toshiba notebook computer and it runs XP with the USB 1.1 and 2.0 update, you might find that when you install a new USB device, none of your USB devices work after the computer resumes from standby. What’s up with that? There is a workaround to fix the problem. For step-by-step instructions, see KB article 839042.

Hybrid Sleep and Hibernate options are unavailable in Vista after you use the Disk Cleanup Tool
If you find that after using the Disk Cleanup tool in Vista, you can no longer see the Hibernate option in Power Options and the sleep feature doesn’t work properly, it’s because the tool disables the hibernation file. Luckily, there’s an easy fix. To find out how to turn hibernation back on, see KB article 928897.

Deb Shinder, Microsoft MVP