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A basic guide for using Windows 7 at the University of Essex.

Introduction | Your computing service registration card |Starting a Windows 7 session
Important information about passwords | Changing your password | Ending a Windows 7 session


Windows 7 is an incarnation of the popular Windows operating system from Microsoft. All of the ISS computers running Windows 7 at Essex are installed with sophisticated packages for word processing, data analysis and presentation. Additionally, all of the computers have access to the Internet, enabling users to make full use of the World Wide Web and electronic mail (email). The computers also provide access to high quality laser printing facilities.

Your Computing Service registration card

When you register as a new student at Essex, you will be given a registration card. This will look similar to the sample card shown below.

The card contains two important pieces of information: your username (for this example user it is bbunte) and your initial password (here it is YMmvqn8c). You will need both your username and your password to enable you to use the computing facilities around the campus. Your username is also your email address, so user bbunte has an email address of You should keep this card with you at all times as you may be requested to produce it by Security or other staff if you are using the labs during open access times.

Starting a Windows 7 session

When you first sit down in front of a computer running Windows 7, you will see a small window in the middle of the screen with the title Welcome to Windows. The window will also have the text Press Ctrl + Alt + Del to log on. To log on, you need to press the <Ctrl>, <Alt> and <Del> keys on the keyboard simultaneously as shown below:

Logging into NT - what keys to use

After pressing these keys, a warning about conforming with the regulations governing all University computing facilities will appear. Click on the OK button with the left mouse button. [By clicking on this button you are agreeing to obey the terms and conditions, for using the University of Essex computing facilities, and not having read them will not be taken as an excuse for breaching the regulations.] After you have clicked on OK, a window will then appear, this time asking for your username and password. Type your username into the first field, then press the <Tab> key on the keyboard (tab key) to move the cursor into the password field. Type your password into this field, to ensure security it will appear as asterisks, then click on the OK button to continue, or press <Enter> on the keyboard. You should be aware that passwords are case sensitive, so some characters of the password may need to be typed in upper case. As you login your password is matched with an encrypted list kept on a remote server. If it matches, then you are allowed access to the machine.

After successfully entering your details, the computer will start loading files, and after between 30 and 75 seconds, the Windows XP desktop will appear. This desktop occupies all of the screen display. The top (and largest) part of the desktop is where programs you have started will run. At the bottom is the Taskbar and Start button (start icon), from where you can control computer programs. To run programs on the computer, click on the button labelled Start with the left mouse button. Then move the mouse up until the mouse pointer on the screen is over the Programs part of the Start Menu. The Programs part of the menu contains sub-menus, which will open when the mouse pointer is over them. There are also sub-menus within sub-menus, these are accessed in the same way. To start a program, click on your choice with the left mouse button.

Important information about passwords

For security reasons you must:

Your initial password must be changed within one month. If you fail to change your password in that time it will be taken as an indication that your account is not being used, and it will be suspended. After this your password is automatically set to expire every 4 months so you will need to change it again regularly. However before your password expires you will be warned that it needs changing by email, 4 times at weekly intervals.

To have a suspended account restored you must visit the Help Desk and ask the staff to reactivate your account. Please remember to bring your registration card with you. Note that the password server is only updated three times daily, so you may not be able to use your new password immediately.

Changing your password

Passwords are changed using the online password change form.  You can find this form on any lab machine by Clicking Start\Programs\Accessories and then clicking on "Essex Password changing". 

Note that after changing your password it might take up to 30 minutes for the new password to be synchronised across all machines on campus. After changing your password, don’t forget what you changed it to!

Passwords should be between 6 and 8 characters long and should comprise only of alphanumeric (letters or digits) and/or a few other printable characters, spaces will not be accepted. It may take you a few attempts to choose an acceptable password, because your choice is tested by a password cracking program and will not be accepted if it is one that could be easily guessed. You should avoid passwords that are likely to occur in a dictionary or that match personal information (e.g. your real name, username, car registration number etc.) Various other insecure categories of password may also be rejected. One possible method of selecting a password is to choose the initial letters of a phrase that is meaningful to you, and then to transform this in some way, perhaps by capitalising some of the letters or inserting a numeric character. For example, "I want to go home for tea" could give Iw2gh4t as a password. (Note: Don’t use this example!)

Ending a Windows 7 session

When you have finished using a computer it is very important to log off, otherwise other people will be able to look at, alter or even delete your files. Logging off also prepares the computer for the next user.

To log off the computer:


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