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Windows 8

Windows 10: a step back to go forward

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Windows 10

Windows 10 has been announced, and Microsoft has given us a few details about how the new OS will work to hold us over until next year. Understandably, after the mess that was Windows 8, people had their knives ready, and criticism has already started. But really there’s only one thing Microsoft did wrong with Windows 8: it stopped listening to users and started acting like Apple.

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Windows Easy Transfer – not so “easy” in Windows 8.1

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Windows 8.1 Start

I’ve just had a run-in with the Windows Easy Transfer wizard, following which I’m tempted to fly to Redmond and run a seminar on the definition of the words “easy”, “transfer” and “wizard”.

It appears the tool that I’ve used to shunt files and settings from one PC to the next for God Knows How Long has been utterly emasculated in Windows 8.1, without any explanation from Microsoft whatsoever. So, let me attempt to shed some daylight on the situation.

We bought the father-in-law a new Windows 8.1 laptop for his 70th, and thus not wanting to spend the next six weeks in family tech-support purgatory, I told him to bring both old and new laptop round and let me transfer the files, settings and everything else.

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Windows 8.1 Update: an abject surrender

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Windows 8.1 Update

Microsoft has become the Manchester United of the technology industry. After dominating for much of the 1990s and 2000s, it’s now suffering a crisis of confidence, crippled with uncertainty when it steps out on to the pitch. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the Windows 8.1 Update, or Windows Compromise Edition – Wince for short.

In an effort to appease the Windows 8 haters, Microsoft is backpedalling furiously. You don’t like the Start screen? We’ll just hide that out of the way and pretend it never existed (on laptops and desktops, at least). You want the Start button back? You can have that next time. At this rate, we’re going to have rolling hills in the desktop background, IE6 set as the default browser, and a free trial of AOL waiting on the desktop of Windows 8.2.

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Windows XP end of life: key information

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Windows Updates will be ending soon

Windows XP support will end on 8 April. After that date, Microsoft won’t provide any more updates. Yet many millions of people are still using the veteran OS: recent figures suggest that it’s still running on around 30% of PCs worldwide, many of them in businesses.

Understandably, there’s a lot of doubt and concern over what’s going to happen next. If you’re still running XP, here are the straightforward answers to the key questions.

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Apple’s OSes set to surpass Windows

Friday, February 14th, 2014

If anyone doubts how substantially Apple and the mobile revolution (or whatever you want to call it) have changed technology, here’s a chart for you, nicked from analyst Benedict Evans:

BenedictChart

This shows sales of all Apple iOS and OS X devices — iPads, iPods, iPhones and Macs — versus sales of PCs running Windows (the orange line), and versus Windows PCs and Windows Phone handsets combined (the blue line).

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Windows 8.1 Update 1: hands-on preview

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

W81

A pre-release build of the latest update to Windows 8 has leaked online, giving us the opportunity to try it out ahead of its anticipated release in March or April.

This isn’t the “Threshold” update that’s been in the news lately: that’s not expected to arrive until next year. Threshold will reportedly bring major changes to the OS, including the return of the Start menu; it will probably be dubbed Windows 9, and could well be a paid-for upgrade.

Windows 8.1 Update 1 is expected to be a free download for all users, but it still represents a significant step forward for Windows. The leaked code is dated 14 January 2014, so there’s still time for a few more changes to be made before release, but what’s here is enough to give us a good idea of what the update will bring.

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Windows 9: what changes would you make to Windows 8?

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Windows81

Windows 8 has been much criticised — with a lot of the complaining coming from our podcast. While some of the grievances levelled at the OS, such as the focus on Metro at the expense of desktop users, are fair, suggestions that Windows 8 is the new Vista may be taking it a bit too far.

Microsoft has made a few improvements in Windows 8.1, with more planned for its next update, and Windows 9 is widely expected to be discussed at Build in April — and to arrive as early as next year, as Microsoft hopes to ditch the 8 brand and get a fresh start. (So maybe it is the new Vista, then?)

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Stupid Windows 8.1 tricks (or how not to upgrade your PC’s hard disk)

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Business laptops 428There has been a bit of a burst of action lately with engineer’s utility updates. No, come back! This is important.

You may think that “engineers” are a vanishing species and it’s all about just unwrapping the latest Chromebook, which will immediately solve every computing problem you ever had, but it’s not: despite the dire forecasts of the death of the PC, other forces are at work, including both the growing demand for data storage and the relentless pace of hardware improvements.

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How to remove SkyDrive from the Windows 8.1 Explorer

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

When it comes to lightweight laptops and compact tablets, space is often at a premium. For this reason, Microsoft has chosen to downplay local storage in favour of SkyDrive, and your libraries are no longer shown by default in the navigation pane in Explorer windows.

However, the libraries are still there, and can be easily restored to their former place: all you need to do is right-click in the pane and tick Show Libraries to restore the familiar dropdowns.
If you want to get rid of the SkyDrive dropdown, things are trickier. One way is to turn off the feature entirely by going to the PC Settings app, selecting the SkyDrive pane and disabling the “Save documents to SkyDrive by default” setting.
Annoyingly, there’s no officially supported way of hiding the dropdown from Explorer while keeping the service working, but it’s possible via a Registry hack. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t try this unless you’re comfortable making technical tweaks, and you should back up your Registry first, in case you make any mistakes.
If you’re willing to take the plunge, open regedit.exe (from the search interface or a command window) and navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{8E74D236-7F35-4720-B138-1FED0B85EA75}\ShellFolder. In order to edit the contents of this Registry location, you’ll need to take ownership of it – right-click on the ShellFolder icon, then select Permissions | Advanced | Change, enter your own username and click OK three times to close all the open requesters. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to edit a DWORD value called Attributes. By default, its value should be set to f08004d; to hide SkyDrive, simply modify this to f09004d and restart your PC. The dropdown will no longer show up from your Explorer windows, but you still will be able to access SkyDrive via your user profile folder in C:\Users.SkyDrive1

SkyDrive1

On lightweight laptops and compact tablets, space is often at a premium. For this reason, Microsoft has chosen to downplay local storage in Windows 8.1, in favour of SkyDrive. Your libraries are no longer shown by default in the navigation pane in Explorer windows.

The libraries are still there, however, and can be easily restored to their former place: all you need to do is right-click in the pane and tick Show Libraries to restore the familiar dropdowns.

If you want to get rid of the SkyDrive dropdown, things are trickier. One approach is to go to the PC Settings app, select the SkyDrive pane and disable the “Save documents to SkyDrive by default” setting. This turns the feature off entirely, however, which may not be what you want to do.

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How to (unofficially) upgrade in place from Windows 8.1 Preview to final code

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Win8.1

Windows 8.1 is here at last, and all Windows 8 users can upgrade for free by visiting the Windows Store. Even users who are currently running the Preview code that was released in June can get the official update – something we’re very pleased to see, as it had been expected that they’d have to wipe their systems and perform a clean installation of the final code.

However, things aren’t quite as peachy as they may seem for Preview users. According to Microsoft’s own advice, if you installed the preview from the Windows Store, you’ll lose your applications when you move to the final code, and will have to reinstall them all. That’s a pain, and staying on the preview code isn’t a long-term option as it expires in January.

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