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Configuring the Windows 7 Operating System (part 2) - Configuring Windows Aero & Using Control Panel

7/9/2011 11:49:59 AM

2. Configuring Windows Aero

Windows Aero is the user interface component of Windows 7. When the Windows Aero theme is configured, open windows are displayed with a transparent glass effect and subtle animations.

Windows Aero Minimum Requirements

Enabling Windows Aero on a computer that has less than 1 GB of random access memory (RAM) and less than 128 MB of video RAM could adversely affect the performance of the computer. Ensure that your computer meets the minimum requirements before enabling Windows Aero.

To enable Windows Aero, you must first ensure that the Windows 7 theme is selected. This can be accomplished through the Personalization Control Panel option. You can open this Control Panel option by right-clicking the Desktop and selecting Personalize. Then choose the Windows 7 theme by clicking the theme you want in the Aero Theme (7) section.

After the Windows 7 theme is chosen, you can configure the theme's background picture, color, sounds, and screen savers. To configure the theme's background picture, click the Background link on the bottom and then choose the picture you like. To configure the Windows Aero color scheme, just click on the Color link below and select the color you want from the Color Scheme list.

You would do the same for the sounds and screen savers. Just click the link below the themes box and select the sounds and screen saver you want to use with your theme.

The Personalization dialog box also includes several configurable options that control various aspects of your theme:

Desktop Background This lets you pick your Desktop background, which uses a picture or an HTML document as wallpaper.

Windows Color and Appearance This allows you to fine-tune the color and style of your windows.

Sounds This lets you choose the sounds that will be played based on the action taken. Each action can have its own sound.

Screen Saver This lets you select a screen saver that will start after the system has been idle for a specified amount of time. You can also specify a password that must be used to reaccess the system after it has been idle. When the idle time has been reached, the computer will be locked and the password of the user who is currently logged on must be entered to access the computer again. You can also adjust monitor power settings.

Windows 7 includes many different screen saver options that can be used and configured:

  • None

  • 3D Text

  • Blank

  • Bubbles

  • Mystify

  • Photos

  • Ribbons

Change Desktop Icons This allows you to customize the desktop icons. You also have the ability to change shortcut icons.

Change Mouse Pointers This allows you to customize the appearance of the mouse pointers.

Change Your Account Picture This lets you change your account picture. Your account picture is the picture next to your account name when you log on.

Complete Exercise 1 to configure your theme and choose your additional options.

Exercise 1: Configuring Windows 7 Theme Options

  1. Right-click on an open area of the Desktop and choose Personalize.

  2. Scroll down to the Aero Themes (7) section and choose a theme.

  3. Select Desktop Background, and then select the Picture Library option from the dropdown menu. Click the Clear All box. Then put a check mark in the picture that you want to use for your Desktop background. In the Picture Position box, choose Fill, Click Save Changes.

  4. Click Screen Saver, select the 3D Text, and specify a wait of five minutes. Click OK.

In Exercise 2, you will complete the steps needed to change your account picture.

Exercise 2: Changing the Account Picture

  1. Right-click on your Desktop and choose Personalize.

  2. Click the Change Your Account Picture link in the upper-left corner.

  3. Choose a new picture for your account.

  4. Click the Change Picture button.


You also have the ability to add more pictures to your choices by browsing the pictures on your computer system. Users can also download pictures that can be used for the account picture.

Windows 7 includes several utilities for managing various aspects of the operating system configuration. In the following sections, you will learn how to configure your operating system using Control Panel and the Registry Editor.

We will start with Control Panel and the different utilities included within the Control Panel.

3. Using Control Panel

Control Panel is a set of GUI utilities that allow you to configure Registry settings without the need to use a Registry editor. The Registry is a database used by the operating system to store configuration information.

Let's take a closer look at the utilities that are available through Control Panel. I have set Control Panel to Large Icons view but you can also set it to Small Icons view.

Action Center The Action Center has two configurable sections: Security and Maintenance. The Security section allows you to configure three different options:

  • Spyware and unwanted software protection allows you to update Windows Defender.

  • Virus protection allows you to install and configure virus protection.

  • Windows Update allows you to update Windows 7.

You can use the Maintenance section to set up a backup. Backup and Windows Update will be explained later in this section.

Administrative Tools This icon has multiple administrative tools that can help you configure and monitor the Windows 7 operating system. These tools include:

  • Computer Services

  • Computer Management

  • Data Sources (ODBC)

  • Event Viewer

  • iSCSI Initiator

  • Local Security Policy

  • Performance Monitor

  • Print Management

  • Services

  • System Configuration

  • Task Scheduler

  • Windows Firewall with Advanced Security

  • Windows Memory Diagnostics

  • Windows PowerShell Modules

AutoPlay This icon lets you configure media disks and will autostart when inserted into the media player (see Figure 7). Each media type has different configuration settings, but the basic choices are as follows:

  • Play Media Using The Windows Media Player

  • Open The Folder To View Files Using Windows Explorer

  • Take No Action

  • Ask Me Every Time

Figure 7. AutoPlay options

Backup and Restore The Backup And Restore icon allows you to install and configure your backup media. Users can make copies of all important data on their machine to avoid losing it in the event of a hardware failure or disaster.

BitLocker Drive Encryption BitLocker Drive Encryption helps prevent unauthorized users from accessing files stored on the hard drives. The user is able to use the computer as they normally would, but unauthorized users cannot read or use any of their files.

Color Management The Color Management icon allows you to configure some of the video adapters settings, as shown in Figure 8. You can configure the Windows color system defaults, the ICC Rendering Intent to WCS Gamut Mapping settings, and display calibration, and you can change the system defaults.

Figure 8. Color Management

Credential Manager You use the Credential Manager to store credentials such as usernames and passwords. These usernames and passwords get stored in vaults so that you can easily log onto computers or websites.

There are three sections in the Credential Manager: Windows Credentials, Certificate-Based Credentials, and Generic Credentials. You can add credentials by clicking the link next to each of the three credential sections, shown in Figure 9.

Figure 9. Credentials Manager

Date and Time The Date and Time icon allows you to configure your local date and time for the Windows 7 machine. You also have the ability to synchronize your clock with the Internet, as shown in Figure 10.

Figure 10. Time synchronization

Default Programs The Default Programs icon allows you to choose the programs that Windows will use by default. For example, you can set Internet Explorer 8 to be the default web browser (see Figure 11).

Figure 11. Default Programs

Desktop Gadgets With Desktop Gadgets icon, you can set up the different gadgets for your Windows 7 Desktop. Windows gadgets are programs that provide quick, visual representations of information, such as the weather, RSS feeds, your calendar, and the current time.

Windows gadgets are installed by default on Windows 7, but they have to be added to the Windows 7 Desktop.

Device Manager The Device Manager icon allows you to configure the different devices on your Windows 7 machine. You can configure such devices as disk drives, display adapters, DVD/CD-ROM drives, monitors, and network adapters.

Devices and Printers You can use the Devices and Printers icon so you can add or configure the devices on your machine and your printers.

Display The Display icon allows you to configure your display. You can change the size of the text and other items on your screen. You also have the ability to change the resolution, calibrate colors, change display settings, adjust ClearType text, and change custom text size.

Ease of Access Center The Ease of Access Center allows you to set up your accessibility options.

Folder Options The Folder Options icon allows you to configure how you view folders on the Windows 7 machine by default. You have the ability to set up how you browse and navigate folders, which files and folders you can view (see Figure 12), and how folders are searched.

Figure 12. Folder Options

Fonts The Fonts icon is where you can install, preview, delete, show, hide, and configure the fonts that the applications on your Windows 7 operating system can use. The Fonts icon allows you to get fonts online, adjust ClearType text, find a character, and change font size.

Getting Started The Getting Started icon allows you to learn about and configure your Windows 7 operating system. In the Getting Started icon you can do the following:

  • Go online to find out what's new in Windows 7

  • Personalize Windows

  • Transfer files and settings from another computer

  • Use a HomeGroup to share with other computers in your home

  • Choose when to be notified about changes to your computer

  • Go online to get Windows Live Essentials

  • Back up your files

  • Add new users to your computer

  • Change the size of the text on your screen

HomeGroup HomeGroups are small local networks that you can easily configure at home and work.

When you install HomeGroups on your first computer, a password is assigned so that you can connect other computers to this HomeGroup.

Indexing Options Windows uses indexing to perform very fast searches of common files on your computer. The Indexing Option feature gives you the ability to configure which files and applications get indexed (see Figure 13).

Figure 13. Indexing advanced options

Internet Properties The Internet Properties icon allows you to configure how the Internet will operate (see Figure 14). From this icon you can configure your home page, browsing history, tabs, security, privacy, content, connections, and programs.

Figure 14. Internet Properties

Keyboard Keyboard Properties allows you to configure how the keyboard will react when used. You can set the Character repeat speed (how fast the keyboard will repeat what you are typing) and the cursor speed. You can also configure the keyboard drivers from these properties.

Location and Other Sensors Sensors are either software or hardware devices that pick up information from the surrounding area for your computer. Windows 7 supports both hardware and software sensors.

Examples of hardware sensors are motion detectors and an example of a software sensor is your computer reacting to a network packet. The following is a list of the sensors that are supported in Windows 7:

  • GPS

  • Accelerometer

  • Proximity

  • Light

  • RFID

  • Compass

  • Camera

  • Microphone

  • Temperature

  • Moisture

  • Motion detector

  • Traffic

  • Weather station

Mail When you set the Mail properties, you set up your client-side mail settings. In the Mail properties, you can set up different user profiles (mailboxes) and the local mail servers or Internet mail servers to which they connect.

Mouse Mouse Properties gives you the ability to configure how the mouse will operate (see Figure 15). You can configure the buttons, click speed, clicklock, pointer type, pointer options, center wheel, and hardware properties.

Figure 15. Mouse Properties

Network and Sharing Center The Network and Sharing properties configure your Windows 7 machine to connect to a local network or the Internet. You can configure TCP/IP, set up a new network, connect to a network, choose a HomeGroup, and configure the network adapter.

Notification Area Icon The Notification Area is the icon in the lower right-hand window of Windows 7 [next to the time) taskbar. The Notification Area icon in Control Panel allows you to configure which icons will appear on the Taskbar and which notifications will be shown.

Parental Controls Parental Controls lets you manage how children can use the Windows 7 computer. With Parental Controls, you can set the hours that they can use the computer, the programs that they can access, and the type of games they can play.

When children try to access applications or games that they are not allowed to use, a notification will let them know that these are restricted. The restricted child can click a link that will then ask for access to the application or game and then the parent can accept or decline the request.

Performance Information and Tools The Performance Information and Tools icon gives you the ability to run a Windows Experience Index measurement (see Figure 16). The Windows Experience Index measures the performance of the computer system.

Figure 16. Performance Information and Tools

The results will be issued as a base score. The higher the base score, the better your machine is performing. Performance Information and Tools will also show you how you can improve the performance of the machine.

Personalization. Personalization allows you to set up your Desktop environment.

Phone and Modem The Phone and Modem properties are used to set up your local dialing properties and modem options. You can set up your dialing location, modem properties, and telephony providers.

Power Options Power plans allow a user to maximize their Windows 7 machine's performance and/or conserve energy. You have the ability to enter your own power restrictions to customize your machine. Power options are important settings when you are dealing with laptops. Since many laptops use batteries, power options allow you to get the most time from their batteries.

Programs and Features The Programs and Features icon was the Add/Remove Programs icon in Windows XP. Programs and Features allows you to uninstall, change, or repair programs and features, as shown in Figure 17.

Figure 17. Programs and Features

The Programs and Features icon also allows you to choose which Windows 7 features you want installed on the machine (see Figure 18). Some of the features that you can enable are Games, Indexing Services, Telnet client, Telnet server, etc.

Figure 18. Windows Features

Recovery The Recovery icon allows a user or administrator to recover the Windows 7 system to a previously captured restore point. System Restore is one of the first recovery options that appear when your Windows 7 system is experiencing problems.

Region and Language The Region and Language tool allows you to configure your local regional settings.

RemoteApp and Desktop Connections RemoteApp and Desktop Connections allows you to access programs and Desktops on your network. To connect to these resources (Remote Applications and Desktops), you must have the proper permission to access these resources.

With the RemoteApp and Desktop Connections, you can connect to either a remote computer or a virtual computer. To create a new connection, use the Set Up A New Connection Wizard included with the RemoteApp and Desktop Connections icon.

Sound The Sound tool allows you to configure your machine's audio. You can configure output (speakers and audio drivers) and your input devices (microphones).

Speech Recognition The Speech Recognition icon allows you to configure your speech properties. Speech Recognition allows you to speak into the computer and that speech will be displayed on the system. Many programs like Microsoft Office can type in the words as you speak them into the system. In the Speech Recognition icon, you can complete the following items:

  • Start Speech Recognition

  • Set up a microphone

  • Take speech tutorials

  • Train your computer to better understand you

  • Open the Speech Reference Card

Sync Center The Sync Center allows you to configure synchronization between the Windows 7 machine and a network server. The Sync Center also allows you to see when synchronization had occurred, if the synchronization was successful, and if there were any errors.

System The System icon is one of the most important icons in Control Panel. The System icon allows you to view which operating system your machine is using, check system resources (processor, RAM), change the computer name/domain/workgroup, and activate Windows 7. From the System icon you can also configure the following settings:

  • Device Manager

  • Remote Settings

  • System Protection

  • Advanced Settings

Taskbar and Start Menu The Taskbar and Start Menu icon allows you to configure how the Taskbar, Start menu, and toolbars will operate.

Troubleshooting The Troubleshooting icon in Control Panel allows you to troubleshoot common Windows 7 problems (see Figure 19). You can troubleshoot:

  • Program issues

  • Hardware and Sound

  • Network and Internet

  • Appearance and Personalization

  • System and Security issues

Figure 19. Troubleshooting options

User Accounts The User Accounts icon allows you to create and modify user accounts. In the User Account icon, you can perform the following tasks:

  • Change user passwords

  • Remove passwords

  • Change the account picture

  • Change the account name

  • Change the account type

  • Manage Accounts

  • Change User Account Control settings

Windows CardSpace Windows CardSpace is a new way for you to interact with websites and online services. Windows CardSpace allows you to replace the username and passwords that you currently use with online services. Here are some of the things you can do with Windows CardSpace:

  • Review the identity of the site

  • Manage your information by using Information Cards

  • Review card information before you send it to a site

  • Receive requests for information from websites

Windows Defender Windows Defender is a built-in Windows 7 application that protects your system from spyware. It is included free with the operating system, and once you turn it on, it starts automatically protecting your system. Windows Defender can operate in two modes:

Real-time Protection In Real-time Protection mode, Windows Defender runs in the background and protects your system as you are working live on the Internet or a network.

Scanning Options When it's in Scanning Option mode, you can run a system scan at any time to check for spyware. This option does not require Windows Defender to always be running.

Windows Firewall Windows Firewall, shown in Figure 20, helps prevent unauthorized users or hackers from accessing your Windows 7 machine from the Internet or the local network.

Figure 20. Windows Firewall

Windows Update The Windows Update icon allows you to configure the way the Windows 7 operating system will receive updates from Microsoft's website.

Exercise 3: Installing Features

  1. Open the Programs And Features tool by clicking Start => Control Panel => Programs And Features.

  2. Click the Turn Windows Features On Or Off link in the upper-left corner.

  3. Scroll down the features list and check the Telnet client check box.

  4. Click OK.

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