Saturday, January 24, 2009

Windows 7 Hidden Features

Starting a small series of posts about new features in Windows 7 that don't have a lot of flash, hence are unlikely to be covered in the mainstream, but are still neat and interesting.

Finally, Windows can burn ISO images directly from its shell. It's about time Microsoft did this considering the APIs have been there since Windows XP. I'm excited about this since most vendors usually bundle some crapware in order to provide this feature to their customers. Hopefully, this will mean a cleaner hard drive on purchase.

Now, if Microsoft would just get around to finally supporting virtual desktops. The APIs have been in there since at least Windows NT 4.

Windows 7 has the ability to mount Virtual PC VDC disk images. You can see the mounted disks like any other drive in the "Computer" view. This would have come very handy a while ago, I have a collection of virtual machines from Windows 95 up to Vista. With Windows NT 4 and earlier, it was really hard to download updates and/or service packs since:

a) Out of the box, they either don't come with any browser or come with Internet Explorer version 1. If you try to use Internet Explorer version 1 on mainly any site, including Mozilla, it doesn't work, the browser errors out.
b) You can't use a shared folder because you can't install the guest additions until you've updated to the latest service packs/updates but you have no means to get them on there.

This feature would have made it easier to just put the latest updates on these deprecated operating systems and get to the point where I could just install the guest additions. Ultimately, I had to put all the updates on an FTP site and use the text based ftp command that comes with NT versions 4 and earlier. I was still looking for a solution for Windows 95 and this is what finally made it possible to update. My 95 disks are original Windows 95 floppy disks, so I didn't have the FTP command on this install either.

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