Posts Tagged: windows 8

0codecsComplete codec setup guide for Windows 7/8

Windows 8 is finished and will soon be available for retail sale. With that in mind it seemed a good time to write an updated guide to getting codecs set up for a fully operational HTPC for both Windows 7 and 8. For this guide I’m using a new feature of HTML5 which creates expandable instructions. At the time of writing this is only supported by chrome and safari 6 but hopefully other browsers will add support in the near future.

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3windows 8 logoHow to restore a proper UI to Windows 8 & Server 2012

Windows 8 and Server 2012 have now RTMed and as expected the good old UI of desktop and startmenu has been replaced with a horrible new UI (previously called Metro).  In their ultimate wisdom Microsoft have left no way to switch back to the old desktop/start menu system, but thanks to various tweaks and tools it is possible to get 90% of the interface restored – good enough to be fully usable.  Below I document the various steps and tweaks required.

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0windows 8 logoWindows 8: Fix the start menu

So, Windows 8 is coming in late July (October for retail customers).  There are no signs that Microsoft will relent provide an option to switch back to the Windows 7 start menu, and instead will force the horrible metro interface upon everyone.  As a result many of us will undoubtedly stick quite happily with Windows 7, however there are 2 reasons to use Windows 8: being forced to as it will come on all new PCs soon and for improvements including a performance increase and the new storage spaces feature amongst others.  If you fall into either of these camps but, like me, can’t stand metro, there are now more options available than when I last wrote about this issue.

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0windows 8 logoWindows 8250 consumer preview: Traditional start menu

Windows 8 looks to have many nice new features, but unfortunately, as I mentioned in a previous post, Microsoft has decided to create a phone/tablet user interface and foist it upon desktop users as well.  This wouldn’t be such a problem if Microsoft had left an option to turn the excellent and well established traditional interface back on, but in their infinite wisdom Microsoft hasn’t provided any such option.  Fortunately there are 2 options for getting the traditional start button and menu back.

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19windows 8 logoWindows 8: Horrible Horrible Horrible Metro UI

OK, I suspect the title is going to give it away.  I downloaded Windows 8 8250 consumer preview today, and almost immediately realised that as it stands I am going to avoid Windows 8 like the plague.  As far as I’m concerned the UI changes currently make Windows 8 the worst release of Windows ever (even worse than Windows ME!)

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0Storage SpacesMicrosoft Storage Spaces: Virtual RAID for Windows 8?

Microsoft’s Steve Sinofsky has written a detailed article about a genuinely exciting new feature of Windows 8 – Storage Spaces.  I won’t repeat the details here, for those you can go straight to the horses mouth.  However I will point out a key line from a home media server point of view: “There’s another resiliency attribute, called parity, which directs Storage Spaces to store some redundancy information alongside user data contained within the space, thereby enabling automatic data reconstruction in the event of physical disk failure.”  To me, this sounds a LOT like a software RAID5 similar to that provided by UnRAID.  Until Windows 8 is released and the technology is fully reviewed the details are of course somewhat speculative, but my reading of the article leads me to believe that Storage Spaces will enable the striping of disks, with a parity in the event of single disk failure.  Further, it is reasonable to assume that this system will work with standard non-enterprise drives without suffering any compatibility issues.  Finally, it is reasonable to assume that Storage Spaces will offer some of the performance benefits of hardware raid-5 too.  If you have a home server with a lot of media and you want some redundancy, without huge cost, then this technology sounds like it might be the perfect solution.  Thanks Microsoft!