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Windows 10

Windows 10 has some major bug fixes in networking and file access over LAN. These bugs have been in Windows since at least Vista and have caused significant hangups, slowdowns, and freezes when accessing files over LAN or even from one drive to another on the same computer. Windows 10 initially fixed many of these bugs and Internet and network file access was much faster and smoother. However, after the anniversay update in November, 2015 many of the same (or similar) networking bugs popped up again and Windows 10 is now slow and buggy as before. It may have some network bug fixed but many problems still exist. If you know enough tricks to block Windows 10 updates (or revert to pre-anniversary update) I would do it. These days Microsoft over-rides most attempts to block updates and just installs them anyway. It takes hard core measures to stop this.

Now that Windows is essentially free, Microsoft is making customers pay by collecting all sorts of tracking information about where you go on the internet. You can prevent this by installing Spybot Anti-beacon or similar product. Simply opting out of Microsofts non-tracking during Windows setup will not have much effect.

I still recommend using Classic Shell to get a better look (more like Windows 7) for Windows 10.


Windows 8

Windows 8 is the least popular version of Windows in it's entire history according to some tech sites and the first year of declining sales. This is of course due to the widely unpopular change in the user interface. Windows 8 also has more reported program incompatibilities than Windows 7, so make sure the programs you want to run will actually work on Windows 8 before you install it. Microsoft is reportedly offering to bring the start menu back to Windows 8 in the next update, but you don't have to wait. You can make it look like Windows 7 (and customize it more) with a free an easy solution: How to Bring Back the Start Menu to Windows 8 -- Download Classic Shell. Windows 8 does make some progress in other areas, such as more efficient use of memory (runs faster on less memory), better Bluetooth support (although still buggy when trying to re-connect after dis-connecting), and much better window and font scaling. If you like to increase your font sizes to see them without eye strain, Windows 7 tried to increase the font size INSIDE the window, which frequentl resulted in fots displaying incorrectly, Windows 8 now just resized the entire window so fonts scale evenly along with the rest of the window. The result is the window displays as it should even when scaled to an arbitrary size.

I'm still hoping more native applications will show up for Linux. Open Office has already replaced the need for Microsoft Office for home users. It would be nice to have a choice in operating systems too. If Adobe would make a native version of Photoshop for Linux, it might be the catalyst to really open up the Linux world.

Windows 7

Windows 7 is a big improvement over Windows Vista. The user interface has been cleaned-up and is more logical and easier to use. The are additional enhancements to Windows Explorer for file viewing. It also boots and runs faster. The the Color Management Tool is still very awkward and confusing, so it helps to have a third-party tool for applying color profiles. Applying profiles to multiple monitors is not much harder than for a single monitor though.

Unfortunately, Windows 7 didn't go far enough on some of it's user interface enhancements. The wallpaper utility, for example, isn't smart enough to automatically rotate portrait orientation photos, so they will all appear sideways when they appear on the wallpaper. A third party application will be needed yet once again. Microsoft never seems to finish anything they start. You can't have separate wallpaper on each of dual monitors either, something more and more people are using these days (dual monitors is great, even a must, if you computers a lot). Windows Explorer still doesn't have enough power or flexibility, so I may still end up using the third party application "Total Commander". Windows Explorer is the heart of the user interface so Microsoft should really have put more development time into this. How many versions of Windows did it take them to finally add the option "Copy/Replace, Don't Copy, Copy/Replace All, Keep Both Copies, etc." when copying files? Many rookie computer users get stuck and never really learn how to use a computer primarily because they never get past learning how to user Windows Explorer (Where are my files? How do I move them? etc.). There should be detailed, built-in tutorials on how to use Windows Explorer in every Windows version. Even the Windows Explorer tutorials that are on Microsoft's website are poorly written and actually dangerous for a beginner. Dangerous because it tells you to drag a listing of files to be moved or copied instead of using the much safer right-click menu. Files that are dragged can be moved or lost to who-knows-where if the user accidentally lets go of the mouse button too soon. Try dragging a list of files to a folder buried 5 subfolders deep on a different hard drive, and you'll see how much easier and safer it is to use the right-click menu.

Ubuntu Linux

For computer power users who haven't yet tried Linux, Ubuntu is an easy way to test out a Linux distribution. It installs easily and quickly, and it can even be run directly from the CD without even installing it, if you want to just see what it looks like. Current version are on par with Windows in terms of funtionality, so don't think of it as primitive. Once you install the operating system, adding new (free) software is very easy -- just use the Add New Software feature and thousands of free software applications will be open to you. Examples are:
1) Open Office, the free alternative to Microsoft's Office suite. Open Office is fully featured and satisfies the needs of over 90% of office suite users. It is also available for Windows users.
2) Firefox -- much more expandable and safer than Internet Explorer
3) Audacity -- free sound file editor and creator
4) Music players
5) and lots more

Installing third party applications is still harder than it should be, but the development team is working on that. Ubuntu Linux is also more immune to viruses than any version of Windows because the operating system files are kept completely separate from the user files and installed applications. Ubuntu information and installation software can be found at: Ubuntu site

Before you start installing Ubuntu, you will need some help in setting up the hard drive partitions. One web site that gives instructions on this is at: http://www.pcmech.com/article/installing-ubuntu-linux/


Vulkan

Vulkan is not and operating system but a graphics API system like Direct X or OpenGL. I mention it here because it has the potential of reshaping computer gaming, and by extension, shifting the OS balance. If Vulkan really takes off it could throw much more interest behind Linux as a main stream OS and inspire more native Linux software development. Gaming platforms often lead the way in computing hardware and software. That is why Microsoft always spent a lot of effort in keeping DirectX development strong.


Open Source Software -- wow, you mean this is all free?

There is a ton of free software out there that is very good. You can save a lot of money by using Open Office instead of Microsoft Office, or Audacity instead of Sonic or other audio products. Many of these programs are very good. Some of them are listed at places like: http://www.freeware-guide.com/ and PC Magazine best software guide for 2015



Computer Help Links

cool www.computerhope.com -- This website offers free computer help for anyone in need. You can ask questions about computer repair, how to perform a task, where to find software, or whatever. Very helpful.

cool www.techguy.org -- Another good site that offers free computer tech support.

cool www.askdavetaylor.com -- Another good, free tech support site.

 

Favorite Computer Links

Speedtest.net - Want to know how fast your internet connection really is? Just go here and find out real time.

Shields Up! - Test your computer and firewall (internet security software and hardware) and see if it is safe from hackers.

File Hippo - Free software download site. File Hippo has only the most popular and most useful software.

Softpedia - Another software download site with a huge database of files.

Major Geeks - Major Geeks has so much software for download that it's hard to know which is the good stuff and which isn't. If you can't find it at File Hippo or Softpedia, look here.

Tom's Hardware - Computer hardware reviews for people who like to build, upgrade or repair their own computers.

AnandTech.com - Another helpful computer hardware site.

CNET.com - Computer and peripheral reviews and news (computers, printers, scanners, camers, etc.)

PC Mechanic - Computer "how-to" site.

About.com - About ... everything. This site has a wealth of information on everything from computers, to photography and art, to hobbies and crafts, science and religion, music, ... you name.

Sysinternals Freeware - Microsoft has acquired SysInternals, a company that makes lots of very useful Windows utilities for power users.

Task List Program check - If your computer is running slowly, it may not be a virus but an program that is not behaving well. Use this list to see if you have programs running that shouldn't be.

Network Magic - Software to help you set up and manage your home network.

Top Ten Reviews - Reviews of all types of software and hardware. Better than consumer reports and much more up-to-date. It's also free.

Driver Guide - Free drivers and codecs for your computer.