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Windows Updates – The Good and the Bad

Windows is an Operating System, one that most of you are running – well, all of you if you’re running consignment software.  Just like any application software, Windows is updated from time to time.  I’m not talking about going from XP to Vista or 7.  Within each version of Windows, it is constantly updated.  The majority of the time, these are security updates (to help keep your computer protected from vulnerabilities).  This is “The Good” portion of Windows updates.

Some of these updates aren’t specific to Windows though.  Hardware devices (e.g. printers) can receive updates from Microsoft.  This is “The Bad” portion of Windows updates; well, at least it can be.

The reason I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss the good and bad sides of Windows Updates, is because your tag printer can be affected.  You know, the little device that is basically the life blood of your business.  If you can’t tag items, you can’t put inventory out on the floor for sale.

In a recent update, I noticed Microsoft recommended one for my Zebra LP2824 driver…

Zebra + Windows Updates

Now, I’m not saying that installing this update is going to break everyone’s tag printer.  What I am saying is, any change to your printer driver (the software that makes your tag printer function) can lead to undesirable results.  Even the slightest change can cause alignment issues, skipping tags, etc.

So it’s a double-edge sword keeping your system up to date.  You want to make sure Windows is updated and secure.  You don’t want to just let any and all updates come down, not without your knowledge.

Image Resizer

Something not many are aware of are Microsoft PowerToys for Windows.  What are PowerToys?  Basically, they’re little handy tools or add-ons that probably should’ve been in Windows to begin with.

One of the handiest PowerToys is the ImageResizer.  Once installed, it adds a handy Resize Pictures option on your right-click menu …

Image Resizer

Now you can right-click any image and resize it!  You’re provided with a few of the standard image sizes to pick from …

Image Resizer Dialog

If you click Advanced, you can specify the exact-size you need …

Image Resizer Advanced

Once resized, you’ll have a new copy of your image (it even adds Small, Medium or Large to your image name, depending on which size you selected!)…

Resized Pic Thumb

It looks like Microsoft has yet to release this freebee for Windows 7, but a clone of the utility has been made and is available for free download.

Which version of Windows am I running?

If you don’t know which version of Windows you’re running, it’s quite easy to find out.  There are a few ways to find this information and each version of Windows has a slightly different way of getting there.

In most versions of Windows, there is a Start button typically found at the lower, left-hand corner of your screen…

Windows XP Start  button

Just click Start > Run, type winver and click Ok.  You’ll be presented with the version of Windows you’re running…

Windows XP winver

In my example, I’m running Windows XP.  Just below the Windows logo, you can see detailed information about the version of Windows I’m running – e.g. Build 2600, Service Pack 3, etc.

The Start button looks a little different in Windows Vista and Windows 7, mostly because it doesn’t say “Start” on it anymore…

Windows 7 Start button

You can also right-click your My Computer (in Windows Vista and Windows 7, it just says Computer) icon and then choose Properties, to find out even more information.  This is important, especially with Windows Vista and Windows 7 since they frequently come in 64-bit editions (as opposed to 32-bit).  Hardware compatibility (e.g. printers) comes into question when 64-bit is introduced into the equation.  While it’s becoming more and more prevalent, we still live in a largely 32-bit world – especially when it comes to POS hardware.

Windows Vista…why is it “gone”?

Windows Vista was one of the shortest-lived versions of Windows ever.  It was released in mid-2007, only to be replaced by Windows 7 in early-2009.  In short, it was (in my and many peoples’ opinion), the worst version of Windows ever.  Even worse than Windows ME, which died not even a year after it was released.

Windows Vista consumes too much RAM and feels sluggish in general.  It also introduced a very annoying feature – User Account Control or UAC.  UAC generates a nagging prompt each time a user goes to do anything from install a program, to make a change in the Control Panel.

It was so bad, computer manufacturers started offering free Windows XP downgrades on new computer systems.  Windows 7 has turned out to be what Windows Vista should’ve been.  For all intents and purposes, Windows Vista was a ‘beta’ version of Windows 7.

If you have a computer that’s running Windows Vista, you might be able to stomach it for a little while longer.  Consider though the cost of purchasing a new system running XP or 7.  Avoiding the one-time cost of purchasing a system that actually works vs. the cost of the day to day annoyances and issues, just isn’t worth it.

Don’t just run out (or click away) and buy a new PC though.  Consult with a certified, experienced IT professional such as … hey, The Computer Peeps!  =)

We’re not in business to sell you over-priced computers and hardware.  We want to show you how you can save money by purchasing the system yourself.  Why pay nearly $2,000 for a computer when you can get the same system for about $600.  Our consulting fee is less a fee and more a tool you can utilize to save a lot of money…and headaches.  You could purchase two, new computers and pay for 2-hours of consulting and still not spend as much as you would elsewhere.

If you can avoid using Vista, do it.  If you have Vista, consider replacing it.

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