Sometimes it’s the little things…

I’m holding off on a downbeat post that I’ve been thinking about for a week or more, because, you know, I’m really an upbeat kind of guy, and…well, anyway. Instead, here are three reasons, all of them small in some ways, why I’m pretty happy with Windows7 and Office2010:

  1. I have Windows AutoUpdate on–I can’t imagine not having it on, frankly. In Vista and, I believe, XP, that meant that, once an update had hit my machine, any attempt to do a temporary partial shutdown (sleep or hibernate) would turn into a forced shutdown to allow the updates to be installed. You got the exclamation-point warning, but still… In Windows7, you still get the exclamation-point warning, but you can still go to Sleep or Hibernate without the update-and-shutdown taking precedence. There are times when I really want to leave some applications in “loaded” state while the machine’s on standby or powered down; this is a really nice, perhaps small, change.
  2. This becomes much more relevant if my proposed project on (mostly public) libraries as publishers/facilitators of low-cost, short-run publishing becomes a reality: Office2010 includes direct PDF support on Windows7 (that is, you don’t need to buy Acrobat or a competitor), but my sense was that it wouldn’t produce Lulu-compatible output because Arial wouldn’t get embedded (and some document templates will still have apparent Arial text even if there’s none that you can find–as a footnote separator, for example). BUT: I’ve just noticed that the PDF options include an ISO 9005-1-compliant option, that is, PDF/A (the standard, archival, PDF option. PDF/A embeds all typefaces in a document. It should be Lulu-compatible, albeit slightly larger. So, unless you need special capabilities (combining multiple PDFs, restricting accessibility, etc.), this should mean that Office2010 by itself is all you need.
  3. Windows7 made a generally-sensible change to the taskbar, combining multiple instances and windows of a given program into a single button that yields multiple views when you mouseover–good for many people in that it cleans up the taskbar. But for some people, including my wife (who, for certain projects, will have two or three Notepad windows and an IE window or two open) and, actually, me (frequently two Word windows), it’s a damn nuisance. And, as it turns out, an entirely optional one: Right-click on the taskbar, choose Properties, and on the Taskbar tab there’s “Toolbar buttons:” and a pull-down that defaults to the snazzy, clean & lean “Always combine, hide labels” option. Change that to “Never combine” and you’re back to multiple Word or Notepad or whatever elements that self-identify.

So there’s my upbeat Friday post.

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