Got Vista or Windows 7?
Vista / Windows 7 Talk
Some of you have either upgraded to Vista or Win 7 or bought a new PC with Vista or Windows 7 installed.

This page is intended to familiarize you with useful Vista features that have been integrated into Win 7. In
addition, it will acquaint you with locating the equivalent XP features that seem to be absent in Vista and
Win 7.  A little digging and tweaking will restore those old XP features you have become so accustomed
to, to their rightful place.  In no time at all, you will begin to appreciate these new and enhanced  features.

Speaking of enhanced, you can bring up Task Manager by hitting (Ctl+Shift+Esc)  simultaneously on your
keyboard.  Take time to view the "new" Task Manager: It sports an added Services tab (no more elusive
svchost's are displayed). There is a  description of each task listed,  numerical Process identifiers (PIDS)
are now included, plus assorted other improvements have been made. Take time to throughly check it out
- you won't be disappointed.
A new Bonus Section called Vista /Windows 7 Freeware has been added.

The Run line - The run line allows you  to launch applications more quickly in XP by choosing Start => Run and
then typing the program's main executable file into the open box.  At first glance this feature seems to be absent
from Vista and Windows 7, but it's not. With a minor tweak you can restore the run line to its rightful position on
the Vista or Windows 7 Start menu, which in my humble opinion, is where it belongs.

To pin the run line to the Vista or Windows 7 Start Menu:- do the following:

  1. Right-click the Start Menu Orb  (same as Start in XP)
  2. In the context menu that opens, choose Properties
  3. Click the Start Menu tab
  4. Make sure Start Menu is checked, and then select the Customize button that is next to it
  5. You will be presented with a list of configuration options
  6. Check the "Run command" box near the bottom of the list
  7. Click OK, Click Apply, and then click OK again to retain the settings and close the Properties Window

You will now find your old pal  - "Run..." is back.  You can also access the run line by choosing the Start Orb,   
then clicking
All Programs => Accessories  => Run. The Command Prompt is also accessible this way, and
can be pinned to the start Menu by right-clicking
Command Prompt and choosing the Pin to Start Menu option.

    Running a program as Administrator

    In Vista and Windows 7, the built-in administrator account, named Administrator, is disabled (though it can be enabled). The
    Windows user profile default configuration is to run as a Standard User.  This configuration helps protect you from some very
    malicious threats that need full Admin rights to run.  While it takes some time to get used to this setup, it is the safest and preferred
    way to take advantage of  Windows Vista and Windows 7 built-in security features.  Besides, most programs are written so they run
    properly using Vista's and Windows 7's default security settings. That means if your running Vista, they expect User Account Control
    (UAC) to be on!  Therefore, switching UAC OFF will not only diminish your security posture, but it may even cause your applications
    to malfunction. In Windows 7, the intrusiveness of UAC has not only been toned down significantly (in response to user feedback)
    but Windows 7 also allows you to selectively control your level of UAC experience, with no loss in third party program functionality.

    If UAC is fully enabled,  then some programs, mainly security programs or system tools that require Admin rights to launch
    successfully, may not be able to effectively do so.  This can be fairly easily overcome by just right-clicking the program's short cut or
    executable file and choosing "Run as Administrator" from the context menu.  However, what if the program is a utility for which no
    shortcut exists and you don't know how to access the program's main executable?  That too, is easily overcome without disabling
    UAC or logging on as an Administrative User.

    Open an Elevated Command Prompt

    An example of a program that you will need to use this workaround for is Netstat the Windows command line port viewing utility.

    Click the Start Orb, type cmd in the Start Search box.  Among the returned results will be cmd.exe listed under the Programs
    heading.  Right-click cmd.exe, select  "Run as Administrator"  from the context menu and a command prompt with Administrative
    privileges opens. Any programs launched from this 'elevated' command prompt will be run with Admin privileges. For example if
    wanted to see all open ports and the processes that own them, I'd issue the following command from an elevated command
    prompt - and it will work!

    Netstat -a -b

    If the output runs off the page, just modify the command like this and it will pause after each page full of data:

    Netstat -a -b | more

    An alternate way to launch a program with elevated privileges is to:

    Create an Elevated Command Prompt desktop shortcut

  1. Click the Start Orb and type cmd in the Start  Search box
  2. In the upper pane, under Programs, right-click the cmd.exe option
  3. Select Send To | Desktop (create shortcut)  to create a cmd.exe shortcut on your desktop
  4. Right-click the cmd.exe shortcut
  5. Select  Properties from the context menu that opens to open a Properties dialog
  6. Select  the Shortcut tab and then select the Advanced button at the bottom of the Properties dialog
  7. Check the "Run as administrator" option
  8. Click  OK
  9. Close the Properties dialog and you will now have an elevated command prompt shortcut on your desktop


    Open an Elevated Task Manager to launch programs with Admin rights:

  1. Type Taskmgr in the Start Search box (unlike XP - there is no need to click OK - the results just appear instantaneously
    (also unlike XP's very slow search companion)
  2. Right-Click taskmgr.exe from the displayed result and click Run as Administrator.
  3. When Task Manager opens, click File => New Task (Run...)
  4. Now, type in the name of the program executable you'd like to run with elevated privileges, such as cmd
  5. From the elevated command prompt, you can launch any program executable with elevated privileges.  You may have to type
    the path of the program and if there are spaces in the path, you must enclose the entire command with quotation marks or
    you will get an error.
  6. Alternatively, you may use Task Manager's File => New Task (Run...) function described in Step 3, to launch a program with
    Admin rights. As long as Task Manager is launched with elevated privileges, any program launched by Task Manager, will
    also have elevated privileges.

    Vista / Windows 7 Security Features

    Enhancing your Security by turning on Secure Login

    Now, that  you how to obtain Admin privileges for running specific tasks  in Windows, let's see how you can take advantages
    of Vista and Window's 7 built-in security features.

    By default Secure Login is turned off in Vista and Windows 7.  You may wonder what Secure Login is.  It is a way to prevent malware
    from intercepting and stealing your password information by requiring you to use a command sequence that only Windows can
    understand.  That sequence is Ctrl+Alt+Delete or  C-A-D for short , the same key combination that opens Task Manager in XP .  
    After your enter  C-A-D, the Secure Login screen appears and you can then enter your private details knowing that no Keylogger or
    other malicious program is able to access your personal information.  Why was the decision made to leave Secure Login off by
    default in Vista and Windows 7?  Secure Login was newly introduced in Vista.  In Vista, it was turned off so Vista users could
    immerse themselves in Vista security features slowly without OD'ing and possibly turning off  UAC.  It represents a compromise
    between security and convenience and convenience won out.  However, because this feature can prevent malware from spoofing
    (faking) a bogus Vista or Windows 7 logon screen, UAC screen  with an elevation prompt request, or a phony cursor, it is an
    important security safeguard to enable.

    How to Turn on Secure Login in Vista or Windows 7  (it is OFF by default)

  1. Click the Start Orb and type netplwiz
  2. In the upper pane select netplwiz and a User Accounts window opens (Hint: If you have pinned the Run command to the
    Start Menu, just click the Start Orb, select  Run, type netplwiz and Click OK, instead of completing Steps 1 & 2)
  3. Select the Advanced tab and then check the box that says "Require users to press Ctrl+Alt+Delete"
  4. Click OK
  5. Reboot
  6. Once Vista / Windows 7 starts, you will be greeted with a screen that requests you to:
  7. Press CTRL +  ALT  +  DELETE to log on
  8. Do as instructed in Step 7 and then enter you user name and password as you normally do.

    How Vista has been made more resistant to buffer overflow attacks than previous versions of Windows

    Two important security safeguards called ASLR and DEP  greatly reduce the possibility of buffer overflow attacks on Vista.

    ASLR or Address Space Layout Randomization was a new security feature introduced in Vista and carried into Windows 7.  In XP,  
    executable files are loaded at the  same address each time Windows launches (so they can be easily and quickly located). But
    what's good for Windows, is bad from an exploit perspective.  So in an effort to thwart the bad guys, Vista and Windows 7 utilize
    ASLR to randomly store important system components at one of 256 memory locations each time the computer is restarted.  Why
    was this done? -  if key system components are always  located at the same address, not only can Windows locate them more
    easily, but so can malware writers intent upon exploiting the operating system code.   ASLR makes it so attackers have to guess the
    address of the item (stack, heap, library, PE) they are targeting,  and if they guess incorrectly - the system may crash.  Not only will
    this impede their intention to compromise your computer but it will alert you to the aborted attack (albeit not exactly in a nice way).

    DEP (Data Execution Prevention) prevents code from being executed in areas of memory that are reserved for data.  Buffer overflow
    attacks exploit data overrun vulnerabilities in order to execute malicious code. DEP makes it so when data exceeds the boundary of
    the buffer meant to hold it,   that overflow condition cannot be exploited to execute malicious code that has been strategically
    injected into that data area.

    A powerful duo -  DEP in combination with ASLR makes buffer overflow attacks much less likely -  because hackers will not know
    where to locate the code they targeting (ASLR). Even if they are successful at injecting their malicious code into their target process
    of choice, DEP will prevent it from being executed.

    Accessing DEP Controls in Vista and Windows 7

    Click the Vista Orb -> Control Panel -> System -> Advanced System Settings -> Advanced Performance Settings
    In the Performance Options Dialog, select the Data Execution Prevention Tab.

    You can turn DEP on for only essential Windows programs and services (the Vista / Windows 7default) or you can turn DEP on
    system-wide - for all programs and services.  If you opt for the latter (system-wide DEP),  then you can use the Add/Remove buttons
    to indicate program exceptions for which you want DEP turned off.   DEP should be turned OFF for any  programs that prove to be
    problematic when DEP is enabled.  MSI Installers that are packaged  with the Windows installer program often fail to install a
    program when DEP is enabled.  If DEP interferes with  the proper functioning of a program or program installation, Vista  normally
    informs you  that DEP is the cause, by throwing up an alert in the system tray. You must reboot for any changes made to take effect.

    Please note that DEP cannot be turned off completely for all programs and services using this method of control - one of the two
    options presented must always be selected.

    Remember - by default DEP is turned on only for essential Windows programs and services. Should you elect to turn it on for all
    programs, be mindful that you may have to add program exceptions to the DEP exclusion list.

    Selectively turning  DEP ON and OFF from the command line

    There is alternative, faster method that you can use to  turn DEP OFF and ON  when you have a program that doesn't execute
    properly with DEP enabled.  This method of control is executed from an elevated command prompt.

    1.  Create an Elevated Command Prompt desktop shortcut using the directions above (if you have not already done so).

    2.  Open an Elevated Command Prompt by double-clicking the desktop shortcut.

    3   Copy or paste the following line at the command prompt and then hit  Enter:

    bcdedit.exe /set {current} nx AlwaysOff

    4.   Reboot.

    5.  Run the program that was interfered with by DEP.

    6. After the previously non-working program has successfully executed,  turn DEP  back ON again, by copying and pasting the
    following line at an elevated command prompt - then hit Enter:

                bcdedit.exe /set {current} nx AlwaysOn

    7.  Reboot

    8.  Close the command prompt window.

    Note:  Vista's winning "start search" feature is a MAJOR improvement over XP's Search function.  It yields results immediately
    and brings up not just files, but anything related to the search term you type in, even locating text embedded within files..


    VISTA / WINDOWS 7 FREEWARE

    I have been assembling this list of free Vista/Windows 7 programs for a long time.  The programs that appear on this list are all
    highly regarded and I  have used the majority of them with excellent results.   Please check the tech specs of the vendors to to
    verify whether any specific program listed offers Windows 7 support.  In general, only antirootkit programs do NOT!

    Caveats:

  • Many of the programs listed are free to home users only  (there are some exceptions such as Virtual PC).
  • Please abide by the vendor specifications before downloading.
  • Many of the vendors provide upgraded or Pro versions for a reasonable fee - I urge you to consider those versions or donate.

    Web of Trust (WOT) - a browser Add-on that functions with both Internet Explorer and Firefox
    http://www.mywot.com/

    AntiSpyware/Antimalware Programs