Restore Sanity In Windows 7

by Jon Davis 8. March 2010 01:45

I really love Windows 7, but there are a few “features” that really annoy the living crap out of me.

1. Get your shared files back!

Microsoft apparently thought they were doing us a favor with “HomeGroups”, but for those of us who are able to comprehend the concepts of “yew-en-see file paths” and “aDvANcEd Sharing” (really just sharing), HomeGroups proved to be a genuine nuisance. First, HomeGroups flat disables traditional Windows sharing so that you can’t even access one home computer from another home computer using admin-rights-exposed UNC \\COMPUTERNAME\C$. It just doesn’t connect at all.

To bring back traditional file sharing, open up Network and Sharing Center, open up the HomeGroup section, and kill it. I also found in “Change advanced sharing settings…”

HomeGroup connections

Typically, Windows manages the connections to other homegroup computers. But if you have the same user accounts and passwords on all of your computers, you can have HomeGroup use your account instead.

[ ] Allow Windows to manage homegroup connections (recommended)
[X] Use user accounts and passwords to connect to other computers

Generally, both here and in Windows Explorer View Settings, if you are a Windows veteran, you can pretty much always avoid the “recommended” option. Thanks Microsoft. *sigh*

UPDATE: Not sure why I thought this would fix it. I recall that you also have to go into Explorer –> Tools –> Folder Options –> View –> (Uncheck) [ ] Use Sharing Wizard.(Some sites say that you’re supposed to check it. Unchecking it restores the classic Windows NT behavior.) But even after a reboot, I still get “Access Denied”.

Turns out you have to hack the registry to get C$ back.

To disable UAC remote restrictions, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, click Run, type regedit, and then press ENTER.
  2. Locate and then click the following registry subkey: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System
  3. If the LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy registry entry does not exist, follow these steps:
    1. On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click DWORD Value.
    2. Type LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy, and then press ENTER.
  4. Right-click LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy, and then click Modify.
  5. In the Value data box, type 1, and then click OK.
  6. Exit Registry Editor.

2. Get rid of pesky background apps that want to stay in the taskbar.

The new Windows 7 taskbar is nice, but it should not take the place of the Quick Launch nor does it do away with the value of the system notification area (“sys tray”). Instant messaging apps whose windows have been closed but are still running in the background have no business filling up the task bar. They belong in the system tray, with icons no bigger than 16x16 so that they are not filling up the screen.

So, for both Live Messenger and for Skype, the simple solution to get around this ridiculously stupid new feature and bring back the old behavior of these IM clients running in the system notification area instead of filling up the taskbar is to navigate to the EXE file (in the program files directory), right-click on it, choose Properties, then click on the Compatibility tab, and select the option to run the program as if running on Windows Vista Service Pack 2.

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About the author

Jon Davis (aka "stimpy77") has been a programmer, developer, and consultant for web and Windows software solutions professionally since 1997, with experience ranging from OS and hardware support to DHTML programming to IIS/ASP web apps to Java network programming to Visual Basic applications to C# desktop apps.
Software in all forms is also his sole hobby, whether playing PC games or tinkering with programming them. "I was playing Defender on the Commodore 64," he reminisces, "when I decided at the age of 12 or so that I want to be a computer programmer when I grow up."

Jon was previously employed as a senior .NET developer at a very well-known Internet services company whom you're more likely than not to have directly done business with. However, this blog and all of have no affiliation with, and are not representative of, his former employer in any way.

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