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Windows 7: Applications to Enhance Your OS
By: Gabor Bernat
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    Table of Contents:
  • Windows 7: Applications to Enhance Your OS
  • Video playing
  • Calendar and Device Images
  • For advanced users

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    Windows 7: Applications to Enhance Your OS

    (Page 1 of 4 )

    With all the controversy about the security of the Windows operating system, at the end of the day it is one of the best and most stable OSes. Yes it is not perfect, however none of its competitors can't quite catch it. Nevertheless, using the same OS for a long time will lead to its becoming filled with bloatware (installed by you); in this case, the only option is to install a clean, new OS. Once you have that clean OS, what applications might you want to install? That is the subject of this article.

    I should start by pointing out that this is the second part of my two-part series about this issue. The title of the first is "Windows 7: Great Additions" so make sure to read it. Second, I want to make clear again that this article relies solely on my own experiences, and you may have other opinions. If you do, you can express them in a friendly manner on the blog following this article.

    To make this a little more browsable I have split my article up into subject areas. In the first article you could learn about document handling, image manipulation and file sharing applications. Now I will go over the music, video and some other useful applications to have installed on a fresh operating system. Let us jump in it!

    Okay, I confess: I am dependent on music.  It has become a big part of my life. As soon as I start up my computer, most of the time the first application I start is the music player. In this area, I recognize that Microsoft managed to significantly improve its media player with Windows 7. Nevertheless, the enhancements are not enough to make me switch to it from Winamp.

    Winamp pretty much grabbed its customers side by side with the spread of the MP3 file format as the standard for music files. I loved the old format with the classic view, as it was relatively simple and focused on your playlist. Then again, I also like the new Bento skin, as it has some good ideas and looks good with Windows 7. Luckily, I found a couple of additions that allow users to have both under the same system.

    After you install Winamp, we need the cPro package. This Winamp plugin will let you use a cPro skin that extends many of the functions of the media player. I for one like the Braun atelier skin as bringing back something from the Winamp classic skin.

    Now start up Winamp and hide the playlist, as we can have this in the tab too:

    By right clicking on the tabs, you may set the application to auto-hide the ones you do not want to see. Do this with the ones you do not use. The BrowserPro tab hides multiple functions; however, I end up using the one for lyrics:

    Besides this, you will need two more plugins. The first is Enhancer for a better quality sound output, and the second is the Winamp Essentials Pack for a general improvement in functionality. Once you have this up and running, you can instantly locate the currently-playing file (Ctrl+F), get many decoders to play all the music files (not just the MP3), auto play using the resume feature and more. Remember to set the enhancer as your output in the settings:

    Another great addition is the winamp shell integration tool. The Win7shell will allow you to use the preview functionality of Windows 7 as a controller/quick access:

    You can customize what it should show for a better user experience. Additional options here are foobar2000, MediaMonkey or AIMP.  In the end I usually end up with something like this:

    If you want to keep an online library of what your are listening to and benefit from a free online database and charts for this, make sure to download the Last.FM scrobbler.

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