Setting Up Windows, My Way

This is a companion piece to my Setting Up a New Mac, My Way entry. Thankfully, I haven't had to use Windows much in the past couple of years, but when I do have to set up a Windows machine for some task that requires it, I want to have a list of things to do to minimize the pain.

(This is a work in progress. It will evolve every time I go through the setup process, and every time I have to work around some annoying Windows limitation.)

  1. Install/reinstall Windows. (The remaining steps assume the version is Windows 8.1 Pro x64, and it is running in VMWare on a Mac.)
  2. In the Windows 8 start screen, remove everything except Desktop.
  3. In Desktop, right-click the taskbar, choose Properties, select the Navigation tab, and check the When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start box and the Show the Apps view automatically when I go to Start button.
  4. In Settings (or Control Panel or wherever Microsoft puts these things this year) make these changes:
    • Ensure the Location is United States and English (United States) is the preferred language.
    • Enable automatic Windows updates.
    • Change the desktop background to a solid color.
    • Enable these desktop icons:
      • Computer
      • Network
      • Recycle Bin
    • Disable the screen saver and Turn off the display power option
    • Uncheck Hide extensions for known file types
    • Turn these Windows features on:
      • Internet Information Services (leave IIS 6 Management Compatibility off)
      • Telnet Client
  5. Install these applications:
  6. Start Powershell
    • Pin Powershell to the taskbar
    • Type this command to create the profile directory and file:
      new-item -path $profile -type file -force
    • Type this command to copy my profile to this computer:
      cp ~/Dropbox/windows/powershell_profile.ps1 $profile
    • Run Powershell as Administrator and run this command:
      set-executionpolicy -executionpolicy remotesigned
    • Restart Powershell (with the new profile)
  7. ... (to be continued) ...

PowerShell and Unicode

After being away from the Windows developer world for a few years, I have been pleased to find some of the nice things that Microsoft has given us. Visual Studio has some really nice refactoring capabilities. The Windows 7 user experience rivals OS X. And as an alternative to the venerable cmd.exe, we now have a much better command-line shell: PowerShell.

What I like most about PowerShell is that it feels more like a UNIX shell. It supports a lot of UNIXy commands (ls, echo, cat). It lets you use either forward slashes or backslashes in paths This is good for someone like me who can never remember what OS I'm using when I start typing a command.

But of course, Microsoft can't give us something new without throwing in some surprisingly inappropriate behavior.

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