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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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The best of LangaList Plus — 2011

Every issue, the LangaList Plus technical Q&A tackles difficult — and sometimes esoteric — problems sent in by Windows Secrets subscribers.

For this last LangaList Plus of 2011, we’ve assembled some of the most popular Langa stories of this past year; we cover topics ranging from working around a Windows 7 networking bug to 14 free tools for digging out stubborn malware infections.

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Setting up a temporary ‘ad hoc’ network

When you need a quick way to share files between two Windows PCs that aren’t normally connected, an ad hoc wireless network is the way to go.

Everything you need is already built into Windows 7, Vista, and XP. Here’s how to set up an ad hoc network on wireless PCs.

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