TWT Newsletter, Issue #032 – Blasting into 2010
Happy New Year readers! The 10th of January is upon us and Christmas is becoming a distant memory. We hope you all had a fantastic time over the holidays and that you’re ready for another year of great content from Top-Windows-Tutorials.com
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In this months issue:-
1) What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
2) January sale now on!
3) 2010 a look ahead
4) Tip of the Month – Choosing the right Taskbar for you
5) Free Utility of the Month – Input Director
6) Is this the end for Microsoft Word?
What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
December was an exciting month for us, as we finally released the Windows 7 Superguide DVD ROM. Sales of the disc have been strong, quickly becoming our fastest selling disc ever! Get your copy of this fantastic Windows 7 guide today, visit this page to find out more.
We also added new content to the Desktop Enhancement tutorials. Firstly, we showed you how to de-clutter your desktop using the excellent Stardock Fences and Stardock Fences Pro. Stardock Fences is the best utility for tidying up your messy desktop. If you haven’t used this excellent desktop enhancement yet then you should certainly check it out, you can view our Stardock Fences tutorials here.
Once you’ve organised your desktop, why not add some useful widgets to it? Probably the most popular Widget program is Yahoo Widgets. These neat little desktop enhancements can bring all kinds of useful information directly to your Windows desktop. You can view our Yahoo widgets tutorials by clicking this link.
Of course, you can expect plenty of exciting new content in January too. keep checking our website or better still, subscribe to our RSS feed.
January sale now on!
Until February 10th, the OpenOffice.org Writer Superguide and the Top-Windows-Tutorials.com Offline Archive are half price! That means only $10 plus shipping for the OpenOffice.org Writer Superguide and an amazing $5 plus shipping for the Top-Windows-Tutorials.com Offline Archive!
The OpenOffice.org Writer Superguide is the ideal way to learn this powerful and free Microsoft Word compatible word processor. Even if you have never used a word processor before, this guide will make becoming fully proficient with Writer quick and easy. To learn more, click here.
The Top-Windows-Tutorials.com Offline Archive contains a copy of our entire website as of October 2009. With over 350 pages and 250 video tutorials, this disc is a gold mine of tricks, tips, techniques and information for Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 users. Perfect for users on slower internet connections or for use where an internet connection is not available. To learn more, click here.
2010 a look ahead
A whole new year is upon us again, 2009 was a pretty exciting year for Windows users. Windows 7 finally arrived to almost universal praise. A whole new Windows operating system is huge news for the IT industry and of course, huge for us. Luckily our Windows 7 tutorials and our Windows 7 Superguide went down well. In 2010 we can expect Windows 7 to go from strength to strength. As the operating system continues to gain market share, we can expect to see more software taking advantage of Windows 7’s features. During 2010, we expect to see the top end gaming PC’s shifting away from Windows XP and onto Windows 7. We also expect to see more games supporting Microsoft’s cutting edge DirectX 11 technology (currently, there are only three!).
Microsoft will also release the latest version of their hugely popular Office suite. Microsoft Office 2010 is already available to beta testers and is likely to be released in the first half of 2010. The new version of office promises a vastly improved version of Outlook and better performance and stability across the whole suite of Office applications. If you are feeling brave, try the beta (test version) now for free, by clicking this link.
Several internet rumours suggest that Windows 7 Service Pack 1 may arrive in 2010. If this does happen, expect to see it at the very end of the year. While many businesses and individuals hold off on a new Microsoft operating system until service pack 1 is released, in our experience of Windows 7 this simply isn’t necessary.
In the world of gaming, Microsoft is expected to release Project Natal, an innovative new gesture control system that allows gamers to control their games through body motions alone. Natal will be released for the Microsoft Xbox 360 console initially, but Microsoft have strongly suggested that a version will be available for Windows PC’s if the 360 version is a success.
Along with Natal and DirectX 11 games, 2010 promises to have other surprises as far as games and entertainment go. New 3D televisions and monitors are set to be released, though early adopters are likely to need deep pockets. The new 3D technology requires dedicated monitors and special glasses. Nvidia’s glasses cost $150 per pair!
Long time readers will remember our mini-review of the Ambx system way back in issue 5. Ambx is set to make a comeback this year, with new, better PC hardware and support for PS3 and Xbox 360 games consoles. Ambx (which used to be owned by Philips, but is now an independent company) has signed deals with Mad Catz to produce new peripherals for the PC and for games consoles.
Expect Microsoft’s competitors to be busy in 2010 too. The rumours that Apple are set to launch a tablet PC simply wont go away. Meanwhile, Google is set to release Chrome OS, though from the preview versions that have been released, it seems less like a direct competitor to Microsoft Windows and more like a specialised, light weight operating system for netbooks and low end portable computers. On the game console front, an updated, high definition Wii console is also a possibility.
Don’t forget that the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) took place in Las Vegas this month (from the 7th to the 10th of January). There are sure to be some exciting announcements made there from all the big players in the gadgets and electronics fields.
Of course, we will be here throughout 2010 to bring you some fantastic new tutorials and tips for getting the most out of Windows, be it XP, Vista or Windows 7. For newest Windows tips and tricks, make sure you’re subscribed to our RSS feed!
Tip of the Month – Choosing the right Windows 7 Taskbar for you
The new Windows 7 Taskbar is optimised to make the most of Aero Peek and only shows an icon representing a window rather than the title of the window. This is great on modern PC’s, but if you are running Windows 7 on an older machine then Windows Aero may not be available to you. In this case, you may want to change the Taskbar to behave more like the Taskbar in previous versions of Windows.
Changing Taskbar settings is easy, we cover this subject in full in Windows 7 Tutorial 13.
Free Utility of the Month – Input Director
Here’s something a little different from our usual free utilities and something that may only be of interest to a minority of our readers. Input Director is a fantastic tool that can help you recycle an old PC, help a family member or child play a game or even to give your laptop a new lease of life. What exactly does this program do? With two PC’s and two monitors, Input Director allows you to control both PC’s with one keyboard and mouse as long as the PC’s are on a network together (either wired or wireless).
Why would you want to do this? There are several possible reasons. Perhaps you are running memory or processor intensive applications on one PC, and want to use the other PC to run e-mail or instant messaging. You could configure a dual monitor set up and run the programs on the same PC, but if one PC is running out of resources, why not make use of the second, older PC for running your less CPU intensive software?
Another common use of this software is helping children play online games. Many parents prefer to supervise their children while they play online games, often this means playing the game at the same time as their children and with Input Director this is easy. Simply set up the adults PC next to the child’s and should the younger player need help with his or her game, all the parent needs to do is drag their mouse pointer across onto the child’s PC to temporarily take control of it.
If you have both a laptop and a desktop PC you can use Input Director to take advantage of the processing power of both machines at once. Perhaps you want to watch a tutorial on your Desktop PC’s monitor while you follow along on your laptop. With Input Director, you can easily drag your mouse over to your Desktop PC’s web browser and pause the video.
There are lots of ways that software like this can be useful, hopefully Input Director will keep some older PC’s away from the scrap heap a little longer! You can find out more about Input Director by visiting the InputDirector home page
Is this the end for Microsoft Word?
At Top-Windows-Tutorials.com, we are not fans of software patents. While companies should have every right to protect their innovations, software patents typically cover ideas and methods that often seem completely obvious. Many software patents are filed simply as an abuse of the patent system, several holding companies that have registered patents simply exist to collect the royalties or legal fees associated with them should another company have the same idea! For more information on software patents and why they are bad for you and computing in general, visit this link.
Microsoft certainly aren’t innocent of using software patents to their advantage, having only recently rattled several cages by suggesting that some versions of Linux were infringing software patents belonging to Microsoft. Now however, it seems that Microsoft themselves are in the software patent firing line. Toronto-based i4i Ltd successfully sued Microsoft over its use of certain XML features in Microsoft Word. XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a set of rules for encoding documents electronically, it is not related to the standard word document format, but it can affect documents stored in the new .docx format.
Despite Microsoft’s considerable legal clout, i4i successfully won the case against Microsoft and is now seeking damages. Microsoft is now forbidden from selling any versions of Word in the United States that “have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML”. (see this link).
Does this mean the end of Word, at least in the United States? It seems unlikely. Microsoft must act quickly, but we can expect to see either a new version of Word that omits these features or a very large settlement cheque from Microsoft to i4i Ltd. In a statement, i4i insisted that they were not trying to ruin either Microsoft or Word, but simply wanted their patent to be recognised (and the fees they won in damages aren’t exactly unpleasant either).
Huge corporations like Microsoft have the legal and financial power to withstand lawsuits, even ones which don’t go their way. More worrying however, is the possibility that the company could bring a similar lawsuit against the popular free Word alternative, OpenOffice.org Writer. The threat of software patents against free software or smaller companies should not be underestimated, not everyone has pockets as deep as Microsoft’s!
That is all for the first Newsletter of 2010! Once again, thank you to all our readers for your support. We hope you all have a prosperous 2010. The TWT Newsletter will return on the 10th February 2010 to bring you more tips, tricks and techniques to help you get the best out of your PC, be it Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7! We hope that you found this newsletter informative and useful. If you did not then please let us know why, you can contact us by visiting this page. If you have enjoyed this newsletter, feel free to pass it on to all your friends and family, or better still encourage them to sign up for their own copy! Until next month, keep checking Top-Windows-Tutorials.com and enjoy happy, safe and stress-free computing!.