Download and Test Windows7

As anticipated, Microsoft used CES to launch the beta of Windows 7, posting the preview of the company’s next operating system to its developer download services.

Microsoft made it clear that the beta will be available for a “limited time,” and said it will cap the beta after the first 2.5 million downloads.

IT professionals and developers who subscribe to the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) or TechNet services, however, get a jump on the public at large; they can grab the beta right away.

The beta, which Microsoft called “feature complete,” requires a PC with a 1GHz processor, 1GB of memory, 16GB of available hard disk space and support for DX9 graphics with 128MB of memory, according to Microsoft, which also warned that the recommendations could change for the final version. The beta only supports an upgrade from Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1).

Microsoft declined to get specific about upgrade paths for the final version of Windows 7, or to spell out how many editions it would produce and what it would charge for each. The beta is “roughly equivalent” to the Ultimate version of Vista , it added.

Both 32- and 64-bit versions of the beta will be available for downloading, but only English, German, Japanese, Arabic and Hindi editions will be posted Friday. Other language versions are expected at the product’s launch.

To install the beta, users must have a DVD drive able to burn disk images to a blank disc. The beta, said Microsoft in a follow-up blog it published Wednesday, will be available as an .iso file. It did not spell out the size of the download.

The beta expires on Aug. 1, 2009.

The Windows 7 download will be posted to Microsoft’s site on Friday, Jan. 9.

Add drop down list to Excel

In Access, you can limit user entries by forcing users to choose a value from a list control. Office applications use the same functionality in built-in drop-down lists. For instance, the Highlight and Font Color controls on most Formatting toolbars use this flexible tool. Simply click the small triangle to the right of the icon to display a list of choices.

You can create the same type of control for your users in an Excel sheet, but the process isn’t intuitive. The option is in the Data Validation feature. Fortunately, once you know the feature exists, it’s easy to implement. You need only two things: a list and a data entry cell. The following sheet shows a simple drop-down list in an Excel sheet.


Users click the drop-down arrow to display a list of items from A1:A4. If a user tries to enter something that isn’t in the list, Excel rejects the entry. To add this drop-down list to a sheet, do the following:

  1. Create the list in cells A1:A4. Similarly, you can enter the items in a single row, such as A1:D4.
  2. Select cell E3. (You can position the drop-down list in most any cell or even multiple cells.)
  3. Choose Validation from the Data menu.
  4. Choose List from the Allow option’s drop-down list. (See, they’re everywhere.)
  5. Click the Source control and drag to highlight the cells A1:A4. Alternately, simply enter the reference (=$A$1:$A$4).
  6. Make sure the In-Cell Dropdown option is checked. If you uncheck this option, Excel still forces users to enter only list values (A1:A4), but it won’t present a drop-down list.
  7. Click OK.

You can add the drop-down list to multiple cells. Select the range of data input cells (step 2) instead of a single cell. It even works for noncontiguous cells. Hold down the Shift key while you click the appropriate cells.

It’s worth noting that the drop-down arrow is visible only when the cell is active.