Windows 7 Ultimate in Europe: if you do, buy it in the UK

I just came across Windows 7 Professional at £149.98 on Amazon whereas across the channel in France Windows 7 Professionnel E costs € 284,90

According to xe.com today this gives you:
149.98 GBP = 172.710 EUR

So currently on Amazon France and Amazon UK the difference between the same flavour of Windows 7 is €284,9 – €172.710 = €112.19 (over £97 difference)

win7_ultimate

What is interesting is that the Windows 7 Ultimate version is also available on Amazon.com at £159.85, so for 10 pounds more you get the Ultimate version! The Ultimate version doesn’t appear in many other places at the moment and not on the French Amazon site either but having a Vista Ultimate version on my Dell I was wondering why Ultimate had been left out of the previous offers. In France there was a 49.9 Euros offer between July 15th and August 15th on the Home version. I guess this is also a time specific offer but I must admit I still find it is a very hefty price after having paid so much for the really dissapointing Windows Vista Ultimate and actually having re-installed Windows XP because Vista was so bad.
I then installed the RC of Windows 7 on my Dell XPS as you can read. Windows 7 is great so far but I’m concerned at the moment that Windows seems to be selling the full product as an alternative to the upgrade because they haven’t been able to come up with an appropriate solution for upgrading from Vista Ultimate to the European version of the Windows 7 Ultimate. This may explain the difference in pricing at the moment between the US and the UK. A kind of “sorry you are going to have to do a clean install which will waste a lot of your time, instead of an upgrade like in the US”…

My question is why should I pay pretty much the same price as I paid for Vista for a new version when the previous one was so bad I didn’t even use it!

Note: When you check the Microsoft stores these differences are also visible:
In the US, Windows 7 Ultimate is available for $319.99
In France, Windows 7 Ultimate is available for €299.99 (eq. $430 xe.com on 23/08/09)
In the UK, Windows 7 Ultimate is available for £199.99 (eq. $330 xe.com on 23/08/09)
So much for the talk about the US prices being higher than in Europe for once! They are as usual higher in Europe than in the US, even though there won’t even be a simple upgrade option and you have to backup then do a clean install then transfer data over. Granted this is the best solution in the long term but not having the upgrade option is a pain…

Change Keyboard from English to French at Login screen on Windows 7

I had a problem the other day trying to get a Windows 7 operating system, that is in English to work with a French keyboard. Of course, I hadn’t set it up myself, but was asked to change the system after the fact. It initially had an English QWERTY keyboard and then my friend started to use a French AZERTY keyboard.

So first, check the list of values below, and then choose the one you want to change to. The English code which could be for the UK, 00000809 or for the US it would be 00000809, and say would befor example changed to a French standard keyboard, the value of which would be 0000040c as you can see in the list below.

Click in the far bottom left hand corner on the blue ‘Start’ circle and in the Search for Programs and Files area type “regedit”. Regedit is a powerful tool and could severely damage your computer if you mess about with it so make sure you are careful and know what you are doing…

Once regedit is launched you need to click in the left hand column on “HKEY_USERS”, then “.DEFAULT” etc. as the path below:
HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Keyboard Layout\Preload

Once you click on “Preload” you will see values appear in the right hand preview pane. Below (Default) you should see an item called “1” when you select and right click on this you should see the option “Modify…”.
By clicking on this you can change the value to the one you need. Just to check you should see that the current keyboard value is in the list below and corresponds to the one you want to change from. Then, leaving the “value name” as it is, update the “value data” accordingly with the new value selected from the table below and that fits the type of keyboard you are using.

00000402 Bulgarian
0000041a Croatian
00000405 Czech
00000406 Danish
00000413 Dutch (Standard)
00000813 Dutch (Belgian)
00000409 English (United States)
00000809 English (United Kingdom)
00001009 English (Canadian)
00001409 English (New Zealand)
00000c09 English (Australian)
0000040b Finnish
0000040c French (Standard)
0000080c French (Belgian)
0000100c French (Swiss)
00000c0c French (Canadian)
00000407 German (Standard)
00000807 German (Swiss)
00000c07 German (Austrian)
00000408 Greek
0000040e Hungarian
0000040f Icelandic
00001809 English (Irish)
00000410 Italian (Standard)
00000810 Italian (Swiss)
00000414 Norwegian (Bokmal)
00000814 Norwegian (Nynorsk)
00000415 Polish
00000816 Portuguese (Standard)
00000416 Portuguese (Brazilian)
00000418 Romanian
00000419 Russian
0000041b Slovak
00000424 Slovenian
0000080a Spanish (Mexican)
0000040a Spanish (Traditional Sort)
00000c0a Spanish (Modern Sort)
0000041d Swedish
0000041f Turkish

Please make sure that you know what you are doing before using this method as getting it wrong with regedit could have really bad side effects… There are no value checks that the normal Windows interface uses to check you have entered data that will work.

In order for this to take effect you will need to restart your computer or you can simply log-off and log-on again.

From what I have understood the values in HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Keyboard Layout\Substitutes are to provide a user with the ability to switch between 2 languages at login as opposed to a screen that does not display any other options at login. So if you have an external keyboard that is different to say the keyboard on your laptop this would be were you could enter in order of priority the 2 language values. This should then provide you with a option in the top left hand corner of your Windows 7 login screen with the option to switch between langauges/keyboards.

Windows 7 64 bit on Dell XPS M1210

Well here I am, writing about how great the Windows 7 RC1 operating system is, directly from my Dell XPS M1210 64 bit version. Although I went through a fair amount of trial and error and one complete re-install I’m happy to say nearly all the core elements are recognised and no more yellow triangles with exclamation marks in the device manager.

The 2 most difficult where the Ricoh car reader and the Logitech QuickCam / webcam drivers.
The Ricoh card reader came up as a “base system device” issue. I solved this by downloading the driver from this site then installing the application that installs the x64 drivers.
The Logitech came up as an unrecognised USB device driver issue and Windows 7 OS itself allowed me to download the solution R151795 from the Dell site. When you try to install it this fails, you then just need to point the device manager system to the folder where this solution/drivers were extracted, so that it can install the drivers. This does not however install the software that you usually get from Logitech since it only picks up the drivers, which means other software can use it, but you won’t have the Logitech suite you usually get (personally doesn’t bother me but may be a problem for others)!

For an antivirus/firewall solution the latest ESET Smart security 4 works just fine on the 64 bit Windows 7 operating system.

For codecs I highly recommend either switching to VideoLan (but this is not yet available in a 64 bit version) or/and as I did, install the great Windows 7 codec package from Shark that can be downloaded here and 64 bit components to take advantage of your 64 bit Windows Media player for example here.

I’m also running the Office 2007 suite and even though it’s a pity that Windows itself hasn’t got at least a beta version in 64 bit out yet, it works fine and just installed the SP2 for Office 2007.

At the moment it seems easiest to use Internet Explorer 8 (not the 64 bit version) or another 32 bit browser like Chrome, to be able to view Flash content as there is still no 64 bit version of Flash player. For example the release candidate of Minefield, Firefox’s codename for the 64 bit version of their browser doesn’t have a Flash plug-in.

The main idea is that you can try drivers that are indicated as being for the specific hardware you have if they are supposed to work on Vista 64 bit, or wait untill another user explains that they have found what you need, if you don’t want to risk having to reinstall Windows 7 again…

Hope this helps other XPS M1210 owners out ;)

Update: Windows Update just informed of 3 downloads for the Ricoh Host Contoller (Memory stick, SD/MMC and xD Picture card) released in July, October and November 2008 along with the opportunity to download Silverlight!

Update 2: ‘Stir’ kindly provided the link for the Synaptic x64 driver here:
http://forums.laptopvideo2go.com/topic/15103-synaptics-driverver-v13-2-6-1/

Links
Download Windows 7 Release Candidate (both 32 bit and 64 bit versions available). Note: make sure you read the “Read this first” section.
The Windows 7 upgrade advisor

You should also know:
– When the final version of Windows 7 comes out you will not be able to upgrade to it so you will have to do a clean installation
– You can upgrade from Vista 32 bit to Windows 7 32 bit but you cannot upgrade from Vista 32 bit to Windows 64 bit. You cannot upgrade from any version of Windows XP to Windows 7 you’ll need to do a clean install. I would recommend a clean installation though ONLY after having backed up all your data as you will erase everything on your hard disk and I would recommend backing up your data even if you upgrade as you never know what can happen.
– The Windows 7 RC will stop working on June 1, 2010