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A Windows veteran looks at Win8 Consumer Preview

If you download and install Windows 8 Consumer Preview, released late last week, I can almost guarantee that you won’t like it. I know only a handful of experienced Windows users (who don’t work for or with Microsoft) who say they like Windows 8. But it’s the future, eh?

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Office 365: Office in the Cloud still promising?

In a hardworking, digitized world, it’s hard to imagine tools more sought after than those that show up reliably on any portable device and work well — or at least as well as advertised. Whether Microsoft’s Cloud-based Office 365 is that tool — in fact or even in potential — is still an open question.

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The Windows Start menu super guide — Part I

Since the debut of Windows 95, the Start menu has offered an easily navigated and extensible haven for all the programs we don’t use every day. In Part 1 of a series of stories on getting the most out of Windows’ Start menu, we start with the basics: pinning applications, folders, and files.

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Is your free AV tool a ‘resource pig?’

A reader’s complaint about Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) spurred head-to-head comparison tests of AV-software resource usage. I put six popular, free antivirus tools through their paces and measured their impact on startup and shutdown times, disk space, and RAM use.

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Windows 8 — streamlining the update process

It appears that Microsoft has heard our complaints about a tedious part of the Windows updating process. Changes in Windows 8 should make the never-ending task of installing patches a bit easier, by reducing mandatory system restarts.

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Your next computer could well be a tablet

Like it or not — and I know that some of you don’t — tablets are changing the way the world works and plays. Whether it’s an iPad, Kindle, Nook, or a tablet based on Google’s Android OS, mobile devices are swirling across the computing landscape. Here’s how to pick the right one.

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Ready or not, you’re getting IE 8 or 9

Microsoft wants to strong-arm us into abandoning IE 6 and embracing its latest browsers. Starting Jan. 17, Microsoft began pushing out IE 8 and IE 9 to all customers through Windows Update.

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Say goodbye to BIOS — and hello to UEFI!

If you’ve ever struggled with your PC’s BIOS — or been knee-capped by a rootkit that assailed the BIOS — you undoubtedly wondered why this archaic part of every PC wasn’t scrapped long ago. Well, be of good cheer: Windows 8 will finally pull the PC industry out of the BIOS generation and into a far more capable — and controversial — alternative, the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface.

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Great Android helper apps for Windows

Some free and low-cost apps make your Android phone and your Windows PC work together as a team.

Use these tools to optimize your home or office Wi-Fi setup, remotely control your PC from your phone (or your phone from your PC), share and transfer files in either direction, create and edit full-blown Microsoft Office documents on your phone, and much more!

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Windows Defender Offline — old name, new use

Microsoft’s newly released beta version of Windows Defender Offline, a rootkit-sniffing and Windows-rehabilitation tool, should be the latest addition to your bag of Windows-repair tricks. WDO should be able to catch a wide variety of nasties that evade detection by more traditional antivirus methods.

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