Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Windows 7 Laptop – Ideal Install For the Non-Geek

This past week I purchased two new laptops for the extended family.  They didn’t want to pay the extra price for the Apple thing so I encouraged them to wait for Windows 7 to arrive.  Thus far that decision was a good one.  Windows 7 was easy to configure and gave me zero problems even with some older hardware and software they wanted.  Here’s what I did to get their Windows 7 laptop ready for the non-techie to use and enjoy:


  1. Uninstall All Useless Programs (crapware as we call it).  Not as much crapware installed on the laptops I picked up which was a nice surprise but I still had  a few programs to uninstall.  Alternatively you could just reinstall Windows 7 to ensure it is a completely fresh install but I didn’t want to take the time in this case.
  2. Configure users and passwords.
  3. Uninstall the “trial” virus scanner program that was already installed and instead download and install Windows Security Essentials which is a very lightweight virus scanner.  If you feel like you need more you might want to install  AVG Free Anti-Virus which is a capable, but lightweight program I’ve used on other installs.
  4. Install Spybot Search And Destroy.  Yes my family (especially the extended family) will need this eventually
  5. Install VLC Media Player – no more “why won’t this file play on my PC?” comments
  6. Install CCleaner.  Best way to keep that PC clean for free
  7. Install 7Zip.  Best unzipping program available and it’s free
  8. Install Google Talk Chat so they can use that newfangled video camera built into their laptop.  Set them up with a google account if they don’t yet have one.
  9. Install DOPDF for free printing to PDF capability
  10. Pick a nice theme and/or background for them.  Add a few simple, but useful gadgets like weather, time and a photo slideshow.
  11. Set up Remote Desktop or in my case I installed the free version of LogMeIn which I use to remote into my relatives PCs when they need assistance (yes I seem to be the free helpdesk guy for the family…)
  12. Do a complete backup with windows restore and save those DVDs somewhere safe.  Set up a regular backup plan.

Keep in mind these are laptops for family members that live a ways away from me and will be used for those with lower-than-average technical skills.  For instance my mom asked “what is this Media Center thing?”  I let her play around in it and she asked “can I record TV on here?”  I quickly said “no mom” and let it be.  It’s just not worth it in this case ;)


What about you?  Do you have a different method?  Anything in particular you do with a new laptop – particularly Windows 7?