Windows 7: Networking and Security

Publish Date: Oct 06, 2009 | 9 Ratings | 4.44 out of 5 |  PDF

Overview

Microsoft Windows 7, the next Microsoft Windows OS, is scheduled for release in 2009 or early 2010.

This article is Part 3 of a four-part series on Windows 7 that explores some of the most notable new features and improvements of the OS with a focus on the needs of engineers and scientists. Read this article for more information on the new networking and file sharing features as well as the improved security features in Windows 7.

  

Table of Contents

  1. Networking and File Sharing 
  2. Security

1. Networking and File Sharing 

Engineering applications are using increasingly large datasets and sharing test results and reports, which benefit from having simple and easy ways to set up and share files across a network.

Windows 7 makes it easy to connect to a network, create home networks, and share files between your computers.

Connecting to a Network

Microsoft has streamlined the process of connecting to your wireless network, which requires far fewer clicks in Windows 7. Instead of having to go through multiple dialogs, you can connect to a network directly from the taskbar in just a few clicks.

Demonstration 1. Connecting to a Network

HomeGroups

In Windows 7, you can designate a network as your HomeGroup, which allows you to easily and securely share files between computers on this particular network. HomeGroup also allows you to share USB connected printers with other Windows 7 PCs.

Demonstration 2. Creating a HomeGroup

Libraries

To better understand the concept of libraries in Windows 7, we need to look back to Windows XP and Vista. These earlier versions of Windows included a set of special folders called “My Documents” for storing user content. In Windows Vista, these special folders were automatically indexed, allowing the user to perform faster searches. Many Windows users, however, were storing their data in other folders such as c:\temp, these folders were not automatically indexed, resulting in lower search performance. In Windows 7, libraries address the problem by allowing the user to add any file or folder to the library regardless of its actual location in the file system.

This feature is very well integrated into Windows Explorer. In fact, you can add files and folders to your library with the click of a button. Once you have added them, you can easily search these files and folders and make them accessible to other computers in your Home Group.

Demonstration 3. Adding Folders to Your Library

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2. Security

Security is always a priority. There's not much worse than losing months of development time because of a malware attack. Especially in a corporate or research environment, you want to prevent your sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands.

User Account Control

As part of the new security features, Microsoft has improved the User Account Control (UAC) in Windows 7. Introduced in Windows Vista, UAC was designed to make sure no system changes occurred without the user’s knowledge and an administrator’s permission. However, it alerted users to almost any change that was made.

The new UAC in Windows 7 is smarter and has several levels of security that you can set. By default, it now warns you only when a program tries to make a system change, not when a user makes a change.

Figure 1. User Account Control Settings

The four levels of security are:

  • Level 4. Prompts user for permission when programs install software, make changes, or change Windows settings.
  • Level 3. Prompt user for permission when programs install software, make changes, or change Windows settings. This setting does not prompt when the user changes Windows settings.
  • Level 2. This is the same as level 3, but instead the UAC prompt appears on the normal desktop instead of the Secure Desktop. Note that the Secure Desktop is a barrier to software that might try to spoof your response.
  • Level 1. Does not prompt user for permission. This level essentially turns off UAC.

BitLocker Drive Encryption

Microsoft introduced BitLocker Drive Encryption in Windows Vista to help protect sensitive data from being accessed by unauthorized users. Windows 7 extends BitLocker protection to USB storage devices and makes it even easier to use. You can access it directly from the right-click context menu on most drives.

Figure 2. BitLocker Drive Encryption

 

Windows 7 Community

Share your ideas and keep up to date with the latest Windows 7 news in the Windows 7 Community Group.

Here you can find blogs, wikis, and discussion forums about Windows 7 that written specifically for Engineers and Scientists.  

Related Material

Increase your productivity by learning about the usability changes in Windows 7
Windows 7: Usability & Applications

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