Windows 7 mixes improvements with headaches

  • Sunday, November 1, 2009 12:01am
  • Business

Just like most new operating systems, there are problems with Windows 7 that need to be addressed. If you are sitting there thinking that, “Hey, I have a Mac so nothing can possibly go wrong phtttppp!!!” then Google “OS X Troubleshooting.”

In our testing, as well as in

many other reports we have researched, there appear to be many little problems that many people are experiencing. Lots of users are complaining their sound isn’t working even with a Windows 7 approved sound card.

After some research, I have found this can be fixed by ignoring the Wind

ows and even the motherboard’s drivers. Just go right to the website of the sound manufacturer and download and install the drivers over the existing ones. This may also work with other peripherals that don’t work properly after installation.

Despite Windows 7 being the same kernel as Vista, you may also need to upgrade your BIOS to a newer version, or you may experience an installation “hang” that never ends, even if the BIOS worked fine with Vista.

And speaking of the BIOS, be sure to change your drives to AHCI mode instead of IDE if you’re using SATA drives. It not only makes the drives work more efficiently by offering native command queuing. Also, in many cases IDE mode with a SATA drive will no longer work.

If you’re purchasing Windows 7 Pro, Ultimate, or Enterprise, you can use the new Virtual XP mode. This includes a free OS version of XP, but you have to turn this feature on in the BIOS, and download and install a several hundred megabyte file from Microsoft.

The catch is that almost no motherboard older than six months will support Windows 7 and almost no processor older than six months will support it, either. Even many of the new processors won’t support it, so you have to look up compatibility on Microsoft and Intel websites.

Both processor and motherboard have to be approved to make it work. And if you’re thinking that’s no problem because you can always just install the Virtual PC you used in Vista, you would be wrong. Those versions don’t work on Pro, Ultimate or Enterprise. We haven’t tested them on the lower versions however, and we have yet to test the desktop version of VMware with Windows 7 as the host. Other testers have said VMware does work, but with some bugs.

Now, on to the really big issue: networking problems when joined to a domain. After joining the computer to a Windows Active Directory domain, something very unusual happens.

With Vista, Microsoft introduced a new classification with your network adapters. It is either classified as a public or private connection. You make this choice every time you create a new connection. If you choose public, then you can only surf the Internet. The firewall and group policy turns all other communication off. If you choose private, then you can also do things like file sharing and network discovery. You can easily switch between these two types of connections as needed.

With Windows 7 the game plan has changed. After joining the domain, your network connection gets automatically classified as “unidentified.” An unidentified network connection allows nothing to work. You can’t even get an IP using DHCP although it worked fine before you joined the domain. Some people are able to make it work by setting the IP statically, but even that isn’t universally true. You can’t even ping by name or IP if you can’t get a static IP to work.

After a lot of troubleshooting we have found the following fixes: First, you need to set a password to the default account you create when you install the operating system. If you leave it blank, a host of issues come up along with the ones just mentioned. Windows 7 does allow you to create the account without a password, but never mentions the problems you could have if you don’t. The second fix is by running secpol.msc and choosing Network List Manager Policies. Go into each category and change the location type to Private. In the user permissions, allow the user to change the location if Private is not what is ultimately desired.

Another issue: running the command prompt as an administrator or pinging will not work, even if you are an administrator of the domain! This can be changed in the UAC (User Account Control), but you will have to be somewhat of an expert to learn all the different ways UAC can cause issues.
I could understand these issues if we were trying to use Novell or Linux for our controlling servers, but it seems almost indescribable to have this happen to a Microsoft domain. All new versions of Windows have issues when they’re released. However, I have never seen the domain computer distrust the domain to which it belongs, until now.

We generally don’t recommend installing any new OS until service pack 1 is released. Microsoft advertises that Windows 7 is ready for business. We suggest waiting a bit longer for deployment.

[In a recent column, I wrote that Paypal was an excellent way to safeguard yourself if you are buying a product online. But that only applies if you are buying from eBay, not if you order from any other site. — Will Rutherford]

Sven Mogelgaard is the owner of Mill Creek-based Byte Slaves Inc. ( and can be reached by calling 425-482-9529. Will Rutherford is the owner of Bothell-based Computer Concepts ( and can be reached by calling 425-481-3666.

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