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August 18th, 2009

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Windows 7 is looking good, folks, and the public beta will bring Microsoft a boatload of helpful bug reports, suggestions and (as always) some wish lists that will have to wait. Still, it’s an enormous advance already, and many of the new and refined features will directly aid conference planners and presenters.

There are lots of new things, so we will take a look at the Top 10 Display and Presentation Features—and they are all so cool we’ll need two blogs to do it. We will hit five in this one, five in the next, starting with features expressly developed for presentations as well as ones that are particularly supportive of them.

(1) Display projection

Those of you who give lots of presentations will like the new Windows 7 method for displaying your computer’s desktop via a projector such as CRE rents. By pressing the Windows logo key and “P” you will be presented with a pop-up window called the “Display Switch settings box,” which lets you change with one click the way your desktop looks.

The number one option is a default setting that displays on your computer screen only, whether it’s your own desktop or a specially configured “presentation laptop” from CRE. The second choice clones your computer screen display to the projector. A third option will “extend” your desktop across your computer screen and the projector, and the fourth turns off your screen and displays via the projector only.

(2) Windows Mobility Center

Whether you’re making a small office presentation or addressing a general session, you don’t need any embarrassing interruptions. Just set your computer to Presentation Mode by pressing the Windows logo key and “X,” which opens Windows Mobility Center. Through this uncluttered interface you can set display brightness, adjust volume settings, disables screensavers, set wallpaper to neutral tones and hang a virtual “Do Not Disturb” sign on your Instant Messaging (IM) client.

(3) Text tuning, color calibration

If you are displaying your presentation on a plasma screen or an LCD monitor, you have two devices that can affect color and readability. After setting the defaults on the external display, you can use two Windows 7 tools to adjust it to your preferences.

You’ll find the ClearType Text Tuner in the Control Panel or by entering “cttune.exe” as a command line entry. Simply pick the text that looks best from the displayed options. Windows 7 also provides a Color Calibration tool in the Control Panel (or command line entry “dccw.exe”) that leads you through simple adjustments to the gamma, contrast, brightness and color rendition for optimizing the display.

(4) PowerShell v2

More advanced presenters with an extra dose of computer smarts will like the Windows PowerShell. This is a command-line interface and scripting tool for automating tasks with “cmdlets” that perform single tasks, as well as scripts that comprise multiple cmdlets to run multi-step tasks.

In combination with a cordless presenter, automated tasks can simplify functions that used to take multiple actions, saving time and keeping your audience’s attention.

(5) Action Center

Windows 7 has a new, one-stop shop metaphor for centralizing device management, dealing with security issues, troubleshooting and maintenance. It’s all part of a single Control Panel applet, Action Center, which allows you greater flexibility in dealing with not only settings, but the various alert messages that notify you of problems. Windows 7 now gives you the option of turning various notifications on or off, so that you are not constantly closing message boxes urging you to install or update your virus protection. Now you can simply turn virus protection messages, and all other notifications, on or off as you please, and not worry about them being projected on screen in the middle of your presentation.

Next time around it’s Windows 7 Top 10 Display and Presentation Features (Part 2 of 2) with numbers 6 through 10.

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