Windows 8 Upgrades Will Be Online

Posted by admin on Feb 28, 2012

Taken from PCWorld Magazine, February 2012 Edition

Microsoft wants to make upgrading to Windows 8 from older Windows versions easier and faster via online delivery, with no product key entry for at least one installation method, and a process that involves 82% fewer screen clicks.

Installing a new version of Windows has already been a pain; and even when the steps involved are easy to perform, the process can still take as long as 4 hours. Microsoft hopes to improve its upgrade process so as to persuade the more than 450 million users of Windows 7 with PCs capable of running Windows 7 to upgrade – not to mention the many users with modern computers running Vista or XP who may finally be willing to try and new Microsoft operating system.

To make it easier for upgraders to get started, Microsoft will favour selling downloads of Windows 8 instead of having users buy a physical disc at a local retailer. This is similar to the way Apple handled the release of it OS X Lion. If you prefer, you can still purchase a Windows 8 DVD.  They have not revealed if there will be a price difference. Microsoft claims to have reduced the total number of screen clicks required for a Windows 8 updgrade to 11… but whether this will actually result in a faster upgrade process remains to be seen.

Add Tabs to Your Office Applications

Posted by admin on Feb 24, 2012

Taken from PCWorld Magazine, February 2012 Edition

If you’ve lamented the lack of tabs in Microsoft Office, lament no more.  Now you can enjoy the one feature Microsoft seems determined to keep out. Tabs let you keep multiple documents, pages, or the like readily accessible within the same window. But Microsoft hasn’t done much with tabs.  Sure, Internet Explorer got the feature in version 7, by what about Word or Excel?

The smart and effective OutlookTabs ( plug-in lets you open Outlook folders in tabs – and not just email folders, but also calendars.  Once installed, it adds a New Tab option below the Ribbon, as well as to context menus. You can reorder tabs by dragging and dropping them, and use keyboard shortcuts to cycle through them. It requires Windows XP or later, and supports Outlook 2007 and 2010.  It costs $25 for one license, but a free trial is available.

Want some tab love for Word, Excel and PowerPoint too? Office Tabs ( is free, and it’s awesome. With Office Tabs you can manage multiple documents in the same window, just as nature intended. In fact, this surprisingly versatile add-on gives you plenty of control over managing tabs, determining their colour and font style, and so on. You can apply different settings across the three programs, and even disable Office Tabs for one or two of them. Other than that, your newly “tabbed” Office works just as the Office you know and love.  It works with Office 2003, 2007 and 2010, and supports the 32- and 64-bit versions of each. If you’re an Office user, I can’t recommend it highly enough. (Are you listening Microsoft?)

What Makes an Ultrabook Different from other Ultraportables?

Posted by admin on Feb 21, 2012

Taken from PCWorld Magazine, February 2012 Edition

Since Intel has trademarked the Ultrabook name, the company isn’t going to let PC makers slap the lable on just any skinny laptop.  A few requirements are involved. According to Intel, a laptop has to meet these five characteristics to qualify for the Ultrabook label.

Quick Startup – Going from hibernate to keyboard interaction must take 7 seconds or less. Resume from sleep should be even faster than that.

Long Battery Life – The minimum for a single charge of the battery is 5 hours, and some models promise up to 8 hours.

Thinness – Ultrabooks need to be less than 21mm (0.82 inch) thick. Most models that have come out so far are much thinner.

Enhanced Security – The laptop firmware has to support Intel’s Anti-Theft and Identity Protection Technology.

Powered by Intel – You didn’t expect Intel to allow AMD CPU’s did you?

Laptops of 2012: What to Expect

Posted by admin on Feb 19, 2012

Taken from PCWorld Magazine, February 2012 Edition

Tablets and smartphones are in, but don’t count laptops out. Impressive models planned for 2012 promise to the thinner, lighter, and faster, with longer-lasting batteries.

Ubiquitous Ultrabooks – Thin, and lightweight are the watchword, thanks to Intel, which has trademarked the name for a new category of ultraportable laptops. The category will kick into high gear when Intel’s next-gen CPUs, code-named Ivy Bridge, hit the market. Their power use and performance, and steadily falling prices on solid-state drives, should make these laptops more affordable and appealing. Ivy Bridge CPUS – which may debut this spring – will have a new graphics architecture that runs faster, provides better video acceleration, and supports Microsoft’s DirectX 11. They will use much less power for longer battery life. The integrated graphics could mean 50 percent better performance in 3D games.

Windows 8: A Big OS – Windows 8 changes Windows more profoundly than any release since Windows 95. The new Start screen and Metro-style interface will put off some longtime Windows users. Other users will love the new look and feel. Most important, Windows 8 will undoubtedly inspire a major surge in PC purchases, and an enormous marketing push.  Windows 8 will provide a first-class touch interface without sacrificing good old-fashioned keyboard and mouse use. That means a better user experience on thouchscreen-equipped notebooks, so expect to see more of those machines. It will also support ARM-based processors for the first time, so we may see hybrid laptops with a detachable tabletlike display – or convertible Ultrabooks.

Three Surprising Things About Defragging

Posted by admin on Feb 17, 2012

Taken from PCWorld Magazine, February 2012 Edition

Back in the bad old days, hard-drive defragmentation was a big deal.  You needed to run a good-quality “defragger” at least once a month to ensure optimal system performance. But times have changed: These days, PCs and drives are so much faster that fragmentation isn’t the problem it once was. What’s more, if you’re a Windows 7 user, you shouldn’t have to worry about fragmentation at all.  Check out these three important facts about hard-drive defragging.

1) Windows 7’s Disk Defragmenter utility runs automatically at scheduled times, usually once per week. This happens by default, so your hard drive is likely already defragged. And by most accounts, the utility’s performance compares favourably with that of third-party alternatives, so don’t buy another defragging tool unless you have specific reasons for doing so.

2) You don’t have to leave your PC on overnight. If Disk Defragmenter isn’t able to run at night, it will kick in the next time your computer is idle.

3) Never defragment a solid-state drive. Doing so can shorten its life span. If your drive is an SSD, be sure to disable scheduled defragmentation in Windows 7.

By the way, if you have an external hard drive that you don’t always keep connected to your PC, it may not get the chance to benefit from Windows’ scheduled defragging.  Run it manually on that drive every month or so.