Thursday, March 12, 2009

Downgrade Vista to XP in seven easy steps [Newsletter Comp Version]

If your software garbles this newsletter, read this issue at WindowsSecrets.com.

    Windows Secrets logo

 
YOUR NEWSLETTER PREFERENCES Change
Delivery address: sekhargreen@gmail.com
Alternate address:
Locale: India 713215
Reader number: 41838-13269


   
       
   
Windows Secrets Newsletter • Issue 188 • 2009-03-12 • Circulation: over 400,000

   
   
AD

ParetoLogic Privacy Controls

   Free download — erase your Internet tracks
Privacy Controls will automatically and instantly clean your PC, keeping your Internet activity private. Your computer contains a lot of personal information, such as browser, e-mail, and messaging history; pictures, logs, etc. Privacy Controls was developed by a talented team of over 100 professionals with an end goal of creating an application that is user-friendly but still accomplishes the crucial task of protecting your sensitive information. Download Privacy Controls to see what items on your computer are being exposed!
ParetoLogic


   
    You're receiving only our free content. Use the following link to upgrade and get our paid content immediately:

More info on how to upgrade


   
   
ADS

Before you buy a new PC ...   Before you buy a new PC ...
Take a few minutes to find out why your PC is so slow. Run the free PC Pitstop Optimize 2.0 scan and receive a free custom report detailing common issues that might be keeping your PC from running at full speed. Over 100 million scans run. Scan now!
PC Pitstop

Are your computer's drivers up-to-date?   Are your computer's drivers up-to-date?
Driver Detective provides the most up-to-date drivers specific to your computer! With more than 1 million drivers, Driver Detective saves you endless hours of work and aggravation normally associated with updating drivers.
Drivers HeadQuarters

See your ad here

   
   
TOP STORY

Downgrade Vista to XP in seven easy steps

Scott Dunn By Scott Dunn

Windows 7's arrival is just a few months away, but many people aren't waiting and just want to replace Vista's newness — some say weirdness — with the familiarity of XP.

If you long for the good old days of XP and still have your install CD, this step-by-step guide will help you revert to Vista's predecessor.

These days, you have to work to find a new computer that comes with XP installed. Many PC users who upgraded their XP systems to Vista are disappointed with the newer OS's performance and other problems. In either case, as long as you have an XP installation CD, you can kiss Vista good-bye.

"Downgrading" from Vista to XP is not as difficult as you may think, but it does entail some time-consuming operations. Many online sources claim to offer techniques for reinstalling XP without having to reformat your hard disk. Based on my research, however, deleting the Vista partition and installing XP in its place is arguably the easiest approach. Moreover, this method ensures a clean install that is uncontaminated by Vista leftovers.

(Note: In certain cases, you may be able to undo an XP-to-Vista upgrade, even without an XP installation CD, by following the instructions in Microsoft article 933168. The article takes a command-line approach to the XP restoration, and also requires that you have a windows.old folder on your root drive.)

Make a pot of coffee and a new, clean XP machine

With your XP installation CD and your application discs in hand (and maybe a cup o' Joe), you're ready to begin:

Step 1. Back up your data. Unfortunately, you can't restore in XP a backup that you created using Vista's Backup and Restore Center. That means you have to either back up your data files manually or use a third-party backup tool that works in both XP and Vista. One such program is 2BrightSparks' SyncBack (more info), which is available in free and paid versions.

Don't bother backing up your applications; you'll need to reinstall them from their installation CDs after XP is back in place.

Do back up the folders that your portable apps use to store their data. The portable apps themselves won't need to be reinstalled, but you'll have to restore their data files from the backup. Managing portable apps is discussed in the Oct. 18, 2007, Top Story, "Free software on USB enables portable computing."

Step 2. If necessary, configure your BIOS to boot your computer from a CD, if one is present. Insert your XP installation disk and reboot.

Step 3. When XP setup loads, follow the on-screen prompts to accept the license agreement and continue installing XP. When you get to the screen prompting you for the partition on which to install XP, select the one containing Vista and press D to delete the partition. You'll need to press Enter and then L to confirm that you want to delete all data and software on the partition.

Step 4. Once you've returned to the partitioning screen, select the unpartitioned space that used to be Vista. You may see that this space has been selected for you automatically. Next, press C to create a partition. Specify the desired partition size, or press Enter to accept the default allotment, which is the maximum possible partition. (Simply pressing Enter instead of C also creates a new partition of the default size.)

Step 5. If you're still seeing the partition screen, make sure the desired partition is selected and press Enter. Choose the option that formats the disk as NTFS and press Enter again.

Step 6. Follow the prompts on-screen to continue the XP installation.

Step 7. Reinstall your applications and restore your data from your backup.

That's all there is to it. If you ever change your mind, you can always insert your Vista DVD and upgrade from XP to Vista all over again.

Help people find this article on the Web (explain):

Digg
Digg
Delicious
Delicious
Reddit
Reddit
StumbleUpon
StumbleUpon
Other
Other
Permalink
Permalink

Please tell us how useful this article was to you:

1: Poor
Poor
2: Fair
Fair
3: Good
Good
4: Great
Great
5: Superb
Superb
 
Scott Dunn is associate editor of the Windows Secrets Newsletter. He has been a contributing editor of PC World since 1992 and currently writes for the Here's How section of that magazine.

Table of contents

   
   
INSIDER TRICKS

Microsoft flubs a way to disable AutoRun in XP

Susan Bradley By Susan Bradley

Microsoft's instructions for disabling AutoRun in Windows XP, which I referred to last week, pointed to an incorrect Registry key.

It's easy to find the correct key, however, and understanding this Registry tweak can give you fine-grained control over the kinds of external media that AutoRun is allowed to work on.

Last week's Top Story covered Microsoft's delay in releasing an AutoRun patch for Windows XP and Server 2003. Many people want to disable AutoRun entirely, because when it runs the autorun.inf file that's often found on CDs, USB drives, and other removable media, your machine can silently become infected. Prior to the patch, Microsoft's official method for disabling AutoRun could be circumvented by hackers.

Unfortunately, Microsoft's Knowledge Base article about disabling AutoRun included some misinformation. The document specified a location in the Registry that can be used to disable AutoRun, but the location exists only in Vista. The key is in a different branch of the Registry in XP.

To clarify the process of configuring XP's AutoRun settings, I've created a Web page with screenshots to help explain the steps once and for all.

Most security patches take effect as soon as you install them. The patches for AutoRun, by contrast, merely enable you to disable AutoRun in a way that hackers can't get around. After installing the AutoRun update, you need to reset a Registry key to actually disable AutoRun. The setting you choose will be based on how much you trust the USB flash drives and other removable media you might use.

First off, unless you use Microsoft's free TweakUI or a similar third-party utility, the Registry key that controls AutoRun in Vista is under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE; in XP it's under HKEY_CURRENT_USER. In other words, the key in XP that you need to navigate to in the Registry Editor is as follows:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Policies \ Explorer

The instructions to disable AutoRun in last week's article worked fine in Vista Home and Vista Business, where the Registry key is where Microsoft said. The instructions also worked in XP Professional, which includes the Group Policy Editor and automatically operates on the correct branch of the Registry.

The errant key location in the steps affected only users of XP Home, which doesn't come with the Group Policy Editor. XP Home requires manual editing of the Registry key via the Regedit utility.

Disabling AutoRun, of course, means you won't get automatic loading of content, such as camera-conversion software. You'll need to remember (and teach others who use your PC) to use Windows Explorer or your favorite file manager to start any software that may exist on removable media. If every USB flash drives you touch is guaranteed to be free from viruses, you may decide not to disable AutoRun. But you probably can't guarantee such a thing.

It's likely that you'll want to change this setting on the computers of friends and relatives. On these systems, the preferred AutoRun setting depends on which types of external media you want to block. You can block or allow some or all types of AutoRun functions. Instructions for doing so at the Annoyances.org site describe (in technical language) how you can configure AutoRun by adding up decimal values.

For example, let's say you want to disable AutoRun for everything but CD-ROMs. To block the other media types, according to Microsoft's cryptic documentation, you'd add 1 for unknown media, 4 for removable drives (such as USB drives), 8 for fixed drives, 16 for network drives, 64 for RAM drives, and 128 for other drives of unknown types. Add all of those decimal values together and enter the result — 221 — in the Decimal box of the NoDriveTypeAutorun Registry key.

To install the AutoRun patch, which is described in Microsoft Knowledge Base article 967715, without having to validate your computer via Windows Genuine Advantage, you can use the update described in KB article 953252 instead. This patch is exactly the same, except that you can install it without the WGA checkup.

Windows 7 won't let you postpone updates

In a column on Feb. 5, WS contributing editor Woody Leonhard explained a crucial flaw in the forthcoming Windows 7's User Account Control (UAC) function. Hacker code could defeat UAC in the beta of Win7, a fact amply demonstrated by blogger Long Zheng and many others besides Woody.

Microsoft initially refused to change the settings, forcing Long to make his concerns public. A few days later, Redmond changed course, announcing it would fix the problem, as Woody reported in a special news update on Feb. 11.

The situation with the weird shutdown logic of Windows 7 isn't security-related, but is just an important to many of us. When an issue like this comes up, I wish every bug tester had the ability to muster public support the way Long did. I recall many times when Microsoft has shut down any discussion of bugs by simply labeling them "by design."

Microsoft has already closed at least one bug ticket on the shutdown behavior in exactly this way: calling it "by design." I disagree with Microsoft's decision, and I think you will, too.

Here's the problem: when you set Windows 7's update settings to Download but do not install, the new OS behaves much differently than the same settings in XP and Vista. If I happen to be in a situation where I don't have time to install patches, the shutdown buttons in XP and Vista currently let me turn the machine off without installing patches. (See Figure 1.)

Windows XP shutdown options
Figure 1. Windows XP lets you shut down without installing updates.

Even Windows Server 2008 allows you to shut down the computer and choose to patch at a later time. (See Figure 2.)

Windows Server 2008 shutdown options
Figure 2. Windows Server 2008 gives you the same selective shutdown.

In build 7000 of the Windows 7 beta, however, there's no option on the shutdown button to quit without installing the updates. You see only a button for the normal shutdown process, which applies the patches before the machine powers off. (See Figure 3.)

Windows 7 shutdown options
Figure 3. Windows 7's shutdown options don't include the no-update alternative.

I was caught off guard and found that patches were being installed as the system shut down. I had to turn the system back on to confirm that this is what had happened; it was caused by the lack of an "install patches later" choice.

Workaround for a no-update Windows 7 shutdown

Here's the secret: the only way to shut down Win7 without installing patches is to press Ctrl+Alt+Del and then click the up-arrow by the red shutdown button. This allows the system to shut down without installing patches. (See Figure 4.)

Windows 7 Ctrl-Alt-Delete shutdown options
Figure 4. The only way to shut down Windows 7 without applying patches is via Ctrl+Alt+Delete.

I'm aware that build 7000 is only a beta of Win7 and not a release candidate. I honestly don't know whether this behavior will be included in the final version. If it is, though, I consider it to be a bad design decision that will give many Windows 7 users an unsatisfactory patching experience.

I'm not the only Win7 beta tester with concerns about the way Microsoft is passing over bugs in its zeal to get the product out the door. Don't get me wrong: I like Windows 7 and think you'll like it as well, once you see it in action. However, I'm concerned that a squeaky wheel is what it takes these days to goad Microsoft into making some required alterations. I hope I'm wrong and that Win7's lack of this important shutdown option will get fixed.

Help people find this article on the Web (explain):

Digg
Digg
Delicious
Delicious
Reddit
Reddit
StumbleUpon
StumbleUpon
Other
Other
Permalink
Permalink

Please tell us how useful this article was to you:

1: Poor
Poor
2: Fair
Fair
3: Good
Good
4: Great
Great
5: Superb
Superb
 
Susan Bradley recently received an MVP (Most Valuable Professional) award from Microsoft for her knowledge in the areas of Small Business Server and network security. She's also a partner in a California CPA firm.

Table of contents

   
   
KNOWN ISSUES

Readers dubious of suites, want to mix and match

Dennis O'Reilly By Dennis O'Reilly

The tremendous response to our request for your opinion on the best approach to securing your PC gives us much to ponder as we prepare the next Security Baseline update.

Many readers feel that security suites stink, and best-of-breed is the only way to go — but, unfortunately, what's "best" for one PC can be disastrous for another.

Last week's Known Issues column presented responses to Ryan Russell's Feb. 26 Top Story on the WS Security Baseline. We asked you to chime in on your security-software preferences. Your opinions on the subject could easily fill an entire newsletter — in fact, multiple newsletters.

The responses were many and varied, but most people agreed on two points:

The first is that individual antivirus, anti-spyware, firewall, and other specialty apps are preferable to such all-in-one security suites as Symantec's Norton Internet Security 2009. (Ryan's article had pointed out that NIS 2009 is the top choice of PC World, PCMag.com, Maximum Software, and other reviewers. But not everyone concurs.)

The second is that a security solution that works great on one PC or network may flop miserably on another.

Reader Mary Smith-Markell puts it this way:
  • "OK, I'm going to take you up on your offer to share my thoughts. I'm tired of people giving their opinions about which security product, operating system, word processing software, hamburger, pizza, automobile, etc., is 'the best.' Opinions are like assholes ... we all have one.

    "NIS 2009 might work just great on my computer because of the way my machine is configured and the specific software I have installed. NIS 2009 might totally suck on my neighbor's machine because it's not set up the same as mine. Does that mean NIS 2009 is a defective product, or is it an unreasonable expectation that Norton (or McAfee, AVG, Avast, Trend Micro, et al.) be all things to all people? With so many user variables — not to mention machine variables — it's a wonder that most software actually works most of the time.

    "A few months ago, a friend bought a 2009 Cadillac Escalade — a fairly pricey and supposedly well-built vehicle. It's been in the shop more than it's been on the road, and the dealership is taking action under the Lemon Law to replace it. Stuff happens.

    "To all the readers who have a favorite security product they swear by, I'm happy for you. Really, I am. But to those who tried a product and found it didn't work, quitcherbitchin' and use a different product. Having some kind of security product is better than no security product at all."

If experience counts for anything, you'd be nuts to buy any security suite, regardless of how highly the professional software reviewers rate it. Tim Marsh echoes Dennis Edelbrock's sentiments regarding best-of-breed vs. all-in-one security programs:
  • "Like Dennis Edelbrock, I too have been building/repairing computers for 20 years. I must agree that Peter Norton was a genius and had the best products, bar none. It's not surprising that his products were wanted by a larger company. Unfortunately, it didn't take long before Symantec completely ruined Peter's great name. It's a shame, really.

    "If you ask any repair technician who's been doing this for years, they'll all tell you that standalone products far outperform their suite counterparts. There is simply no debate on this matter. I agree that for a large number of people, suites are easier to install/maintain and are therefore a good choice, as compared to not running anything or not enough.

    "You must also realize that magazines/Web sites are in business to make money. It makes me wonder how any reputable company could ever say that the Symantec suite is best of class. I guess if by 'class' you mean 'suites,' then it's possible to make this claim. However, if the intent is to configure one's computers to ensure maximum protection, then standalone products simply can't be beat. And the funny thing is, in my opinion, many free products outperform most commercial products.

    "I urge your readers to keep reading this newsletter, as it always shows both sides to every story. Also, keep in mind that any commercial-based company may not have the end user's best interest in mind when they're advertising-based. I would rather take the advice of someone like Dennis Edelbrock any day before a magazine or commercial Web site."
In defense of computer magazines, I know that the one I worked for until late 2007, PC World, went to great lengths to ensure the impartiality of its hardware and software reviews. I truly believe that most professional tech journalists are not influenced by the vendors. Their bosses, on the other hand, may be a different matter.

Readers Mary and Tim will each receive a gift certificate for a book, CD, or DVD of their choice for sending tips we printed. Send us your tips via the Windows Secrets contact page.

Help people find this article on the Web (explain):

Digg
Digg
Delicious
Delicious
Reddit
Reddit
StumbleUpon
StumbleUpon
Other
Other
Permalink
Permalink

The Known Issues column brings you readers' comments on our recent articles. Dennis O'Reilly is technical editor of WindowsSecrets.com.

Table of contents

   
   
WACKY WEB WEEK

Hell hath no fury like a lunchbox scorned

Mom By Katy Abby

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay (of the popular televised competition "Hell's Kitchen") is notorious for his foul mouth and short fuse. Few and far between are the episodes that don't culminate in crying contestants, as Gordon summarily rips apart their culinary slogs with a fiery enthusiasm. But where did he acquire such a dramatic and pigheaded disposition?

Take a gander at this hilarious supposition about where the devilish cook got his start, and maybe things will make a little more sense. I pity the next person who serves the tiny tyrant overcooked chicken fingers or generic mac 'n' cheese! Play the video

Help people find this article on the Web (explain):

Digg
Digg
Delicious
Delicious
Reddit
Reddit
StumbleUpon
StumbleUpon
Other
Other
Permalink
Permalink

Table of contents

   
   
ADS

Recover passwords and data from any PC   Recover passwords and data from any PC
Recover administrator passwords. Find the BIOS/CMOS password for any PC. Expose e-mail, browser, and IM passwords with ease. Boot any PC, even if the hard disk is damaged. Clone entire Windows installs. Get the ultimate data-recovery utility now!
Spotmau PowerSuite Professional

Get your message seen by 400,000 readers   Get your message seen by 400,000 readers
Does your company offer a product or service? Now you can place an ad in the Windows Secrets Newsletter and be seen by more than 400,000 active buyers of PC hardware and software. Bid as much or as little as you like to get the ideal ad placement.
Windows Secrets Newsletter

See your ad here

   
   
PERMALINKS

Use these permalinks to share info with friends

We love it when you include the links shown below in e-mails to your friends. This is better than forwarding your copy of our e-mail newsletter. (When our newsletter is forwarded, some recipients click "report as spam," and corporate filters start blocking our e-mails.)

The following link includes all articles this week: http://WindowsSecrets.com/comp/090312

Free content posted on Mar. 12, 2009:

 
You get all of the following in our paid content:

Get our paid content by making any contribution

12 months of paid content

There's no fixed fee! Contribute whatever it's worth to you
Readers who make a financial contribution of any amount by Mar. 18, 2009, will immediately receive the latest issue of our full, paid newsletter and 12 months of new paid content. Pay as much or as little as you like — we want as many people as possible to have this information.
 
Joan in the Dominican Republic

A portion of your support helps children in developing countries
Each month, we send a full year of sponsorship to a different child. Your contributions in March are helping us to sponsor Joan Emanuel, a 9-year-old boy from the Dominican Republic. Joan is a talented singer who also likes to play baseball. He lives in a village with his parents and one sibling. Children International channels development aid from donors to Joan and his community. We also sponsor kids through Plan USA, Save the Children, and other respected agencies. More info

Use the link below to learn more about the benefits of becoming a paid subscriber!

More info on how to upgrade

Thanks in advance for your support!

   
   

Table of contents

   
   
YOUR SUBSCRIPTION

The Windows Secrets Newsletter is published weekly on the 1st through 4th Thursdays of each month, plus occasional news updates. We skip an issue on the 5th Thursday of any month, the week of Thanksgiving, and the last two weeks of August and December. Windows Secrets resulted from the merger of several publications: Brian's Buzz on Windows and Woody's Windows Watch in 2004, the LangaList in 2006, and the Support Alert Newsletter in 2008.

Publisher: WindowsSecrets.com LLC, Attn: #120 Editor, 1700 7th Ave., Suite 116, Seattle, WA 98101-1323 USA. Vendors, please send no unsolicited packages to this address (readers' letters are fine).

Editorial Director: Brian Livingston. Senior Editor: Ian Richards. Editor-at-Large: Fred Langa. Technical Editor: Dennis O'Reilly. Program Director: Tony Johnston. Program Manager: Ryan Biesemeyer. Web Developer: Damian Wadley. Editorial Assistant: Katy Abby. Copyeditor: Roberta Scholz. Contributing Editors: Susan Bradley, Scott Dunn, Mark Joseph Edwards, Stuart J. Johnston, Woody Leonhard, Ryan Russell, Becky Waring.

Trademarks: Microsoft and Windows are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. The Windows Secrets series of books is published by Wiley Publishing Inc. The Windows Secrets Newsletter, WindowsSecrets.com, Support Alert, LangaList, LangaList Plus, WinFind, Security Baseline, Patch Watch, Perimeter Scan, Wacky Web Week, the Logo Design (W, S or road, and Star), and the slogan Everything Microsoft Forgot to Mention all are trademarks and service marks of WindowsSecrets.com LLC. All other marks are the trademarks or service marks of their respective owners.

YOUR SUBSCRIPTION PREFERENCES (change your preferences):

Delivery address: sekhargreen@gmail.com
Alternate address:
Country: India
ZIP or postal code: 713215
Reader number: 41838-13269
Bounce count: 0
Your bounce count is the number of times your server has bounced a newsletter back to us since the last time you visited your preferences page. We cannot send newsletters to you after your bounce count reaches 3, due to ISP policies. If your bounce count is higher than 0 or blank, please visit your preferences page. This automatically resets your bounce count to 0.

To change your preferences: Please visit your preferences page.

To access all past issues: Please visit our past issues page.

To upgrade your free subscription to paid: Please visit our upgrade page.

To resend a missed newsletter to yourself: If your mail server filtered out a newsletter, you can resend the current week's issue to yourself. To do so, visit your preferences page and use the Resend link.

To get subscription help by e-mail (fastest method): Visit our contact page. Subscription help by facsimile: 206-282-6312 (fax). Emergency subscription help by phone: 206-282-2536 (24 hours).

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE: Anyone may subscribe to this newsletter by visiting our free signup page.

WE GUARANTEE YOUR PRIVACY:

1. We will never sell, rent, or give away your address to any outside party, ever.
2. We will never send you any unrequested e-mail, besides newsletter updates.
3. All unsubscribe requests are honored immediately, period.  Privacy policy

HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE: To unsubscribe sekhargreen@gmail.com from the Windows Secrets Newsletter,
  • Use this 2-click Unsubscribe link; or
  • Send a blank e-mail to unsub@WindowsSecrets.net with leave sekhargreen@gmail.com as the Subject line; or
  • Visit our Unsubscribe page.
Copyright © 2009 by WindowsSecrets.com LLC. All rights reserved.

Table of contents




   

1 comment: