Tools built into every version of Windows let you create customized shutdown shortcuts.
It’s easy to add shutdown, reboot, suspend, hibernate, or other options to your desktop — if that’s what you want or need.
A little Registry maintenance and tweaking can make your system boot faster.
In fact, free Registry tools can improve all your system’s phases: startup, shutdown, and everything in between.
Are you tired of bloated, multi-megabyte security suites that slow your system down and are packed with features you don’t use or require?
Maybe Microsoft’s small, sharply focused security tool is all you really need — and you can get it without having to spend a nickel.
There are a surprising number of excellent office software suites available, and some of the best don’t cost a dime.
MS Office remains the king of office suites, but if you can’t or don’t want to use it, numerous free and commercial substitutes stand ready to serve.
With proper care and feeding, the expensive lithium-ion batteries in your notebook PCs and other portable gear can run well for many, many years.
On the other hand, common battery-care mistakes will reduce your batteries’ run times and lead to needless and costly early replacement.
Microsoft’s Engineering Windows 7 blog documents a little-known Win7 upgrade path from the Release Candidate.
If you’re using the Windows 7 RC, you can upgrade directly to the final, retail release of Win7 Ultimate, though following this unsupported upgrade path isn’t for everyone.
It’s a little-known fact that all solid-state disks — all of them — suffer inevitable performance declines over time.
It’s also little known that Windows 7 and Server 2008 are currently the world’s only operating systems to fully implement the new trim command that helps forestall this speed decline.
Version 7 of Microsoft’s Virtual PC virtualization software is OK, but the program is much-more limited than competing third-party apps are.
Alternative virtualization programs offer more power and flexibility than Microsoft’s — and they’re just as free as Virtual PC!
Windows’ System Configuration Utility startup-management tool — AKA Msconfig — depends on Registry data that may be wrong.
One way to clear the clutter from Msconfig is by running a Registry cleaner.
When the bits hit the fan, nothing gets your PC back in shape like having a complete known-good image of your hard drive to use for recovery.
Disk imaging — the gold standard of backups — is built into all versions of Windows 7 and some versions of Vista, but it’s also available for XP.