Monday, January 31, 2011

Get Windows 7 Ultimate features on your Home Basic

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Windows 7 Ultimate retails at $220 according to Microsoft’s website and not everyone will be able to afford it. In this article, we’ll take a look at getting some of those features on your Windows 7 Starter/Home Basic or Premium.

Firstly, here’s a list of features that are not available on Windows 7 Home Premium:

Getting these features on your version of Windows 7 is pretty easy. But, do remember the fact that we will be using FREE alternatives in order to get some of these features.

Windows XP Mode:

Windows XP Mode

Windows XP Mode works using a PC Virtualization software called Microsoft Virtual PC and using Windows 7 Ultimate eliminates the need to separately acquire a Windows XP License. To use this feature on your Windows 7 Home Premium (or lower), all you need is:

  • Windows XP Installation DVD and a legal License Key: Grab the one from your Old PC or borrow one from your friend who isn’t using it anymore. The Installation files can be found in a recovery partition of the PC where you found the License Key. If not, just borrow one from your Tech Guy.
  • Microsoft Virtual PC 2007: Microsoft Virtual PC can be downloaded for FREE from Microsoft’s Download Center.[link]. Although the software is old, it works just fine on Windows 7 and has separate 32 and 64-bit versions.

Now, you are all set. Read up our article on Installing Windows XP on a Microsoft Virtual PC for more details.

If you’d like even more integration between Windows XP and Windows 7 in your PC, I recommend you try VMWare Player. The How To Geek has a great article about this.

Domain Join:

Unfortunately, there is NO way to join a domain using Windows 7 Home Premium or lower. So, if you need access to domains and the like, I recommend you either purchase Windows 7 Professional ($200) or have a dual boot in your PC with both Windows XP and Windows 7 (this will be a bit uncomfortable, though).

But, do you really see the need to join a domain using your Home PC?

Backup and Restore:

This is another overrated feature from Microsoft. If you are a home user, you probably don’t need legacy systems/formats to take regular backups. Let’s keep things SIMPLE. Get an external HDD to backup your media and use Dropbox for backing up files for which you need regular access. If you can afford to shell out $100-$200 dollars every year, you can make Dropbox your primary backup service. Before you invest in Dropbox make sure that you have a stable and a reasonably fast Internet connection.

Bitlocker Drive Encryption:

Bitlocker is a Drive Encryption software provided by Microsoft. It’s just like Internet Explorer and we’ve got a slew of free alternatives like TrueCrypt. Remember, we’re talking about encryption for your Home computers, NOT your workplace.

Multiple Language Support:

Language Pack Support

Language Packs were embedded into the Operating System back in the days of Windows XP. But, they are not a part of the OS anymore and will be available only if you have an appropriate version of Windows (i.e. Professional/Ultimate).

However, There’s a software called Vistalizator that lets you install language packs for any version of Windows 7. Read up the Vistalizator guide by Into Windows for more details.

Change the Wallpaper in Windows 7 Starter:

You can use a software like Oceanis to change the Wallpaper on your Windows 7 Starter Netbook. Read up this Download Squad article for another possible (and very effective) workaround.


Get AERO on Windows 7 Home Basic/Starter:

We’ve already dealt with this in an article titled Get AERO on Windows 7 Home Basic’.

Now that we’ve seen some of the methods to make your Windows 7 Home PC work like Ultimate/Professional, you can implement those to save money rather than upgrading to Windows 7 Professional. However, these fixes are for home use only. If you need more features and run a business, I strongly recommend that you upgrade to a higher version of Windows 7.