TWT Newsletter, Issue #034 – Windows phones and the Windows 7 memory fiasco
Hello once again from Top Windows Tutorials HQ. It’s the 10th of the month and so time for your new TWT Newsletter to drop into your inbox. This month we’ve got some exciting information about the new Windows 7 phone operating system as well as taking a look at one of the more bizarre IT stories this month.
Important! A number of our subscribers have had difficulty receiving our newsletter. At Top-Windows-Tutorials.com we never send out unsolicited e-mails. To make sure your TWT newsletter reaches your inbox, please add TWT_Newsletter@top-windows-tutorials.com to your contacts, buddy list or white list.
In this months issue:-
1) What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
2) Windows Phone 7 Series – What it means for you
3) Tip of the Month – Check your Firefox plugins!
4) Free Utility of the Month – Chromium Browser VM
5) The Windows 7 memory use fiasco
What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
Plenty of new content for our lovely readers/viewers in February. We kicked off by updating several of our existing tutorials. AVG Antivirus was recently updated and we updated our tutorials accordingly, you can view the new tutorials here.
While the ever popular Spybot anti-spyware package has not received a major update in several years, it still gets minor updates quite frequently. Because of this we updated our Spybot tutorials to reflect the incremental changes that have occurred since we first recorded the tutorials. You can view the updated tutorials by visiting this link.
One of our most popular and frequently asked about articles was in our October 2008 newsletter. In this issue we tested full disk backup and “bare metal” recovery software. What is “bare metal” recovery? Basically this means restoring a computer from scratch, with a completely blank hard drive. One of the most common ways home users can do this, is by creating a bootable ‘rescue CD’ that can access a backup image of their old hard drive and restore it to the new one. In February we tested another five full disk backup packages and the results were surprising, visit this link to read more and find out which package was the best.
If you are still a little puzzled with all the technical jargon surrounding backup and bare metal recovery, our new article “Understanding backup and computer storage” should help you.
Finally for February we brought you a tutorial on Microsoft Chkdsk. This simple utility can find and fix disk errors, visit this page to find out more.
We will be marching forward with plenty of fresh new content this month too, so don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS feed.
Windows Phone 7 Series – What it means for you
At Top-Windows-Tutorials.com we focus on the versions of Windows you run on your desktop rather than Windows Mobile, the mini version of Windows that runs on phones and PDA’s. However when something exciting happens in the Windows Mobile world, we like to keep you up-to-date. Until recently however, nothing really exciting did happen in the world of Windows Mobile. Apple and the iPhone burst into the limelight and snatched market share from everyone, not least of all Microsoft and Windows Mobile. While Windows Mobile remains capable, its user interface is a far cry from the sleek and sexy iPhone. With perseverance and a little third party software, Windows Mobile is capable of being a reasonable mobile operating system, but it’s still a long way from the ease of use of the iPhone or even phones running Android, Googles operating system.
All that looks set to change around December time this year however, as Microsoft gear up to launch Windows Phone 7 Series (yes, that is the official title). A huge re-vamp of the user interface is just the start of the changes Microsoft are planning to implement with the new operating system. Whereas previous versions of Windows Mobile ran on a huge variety of handsets, the new Phone 7 series has a strict set of requirements that handset manufacturers must adhere to. These requirements set out not just minimum performance but other criteria such as screen size and number of buttons on the device. Other highlights include integrated Facebook and Windows Live support (what, no Twitter?!) and an Xbox Live/Games for Windows Live linked gaming service. Although the phones are not available until the Christmas shopping season, you can get a sneak peek at the operating system by visiting this page.
There is still currently plenty we don’t know about the new phone however. For example, will it fully support multi-tasking (running several applications at once)? How will new programs and games be loaded onto the device? Current versions of Windows Mobile allow anyone to develop applications, unlike the iPhone where everything must be vetted by Apple. It would be welcome if Microsoft continued with this philosophy for Phone 7, though it does seem rather unlikely.
What does this all mean for you, dear reader? If you are an iPhone/Android or other non-Windows Mobile phone user you can probably ignore this news for now. Microsoft will not be removing iPhone compatibility or compatibility with any other type of handset just because of the new Windows Phone 7 series. If you currently use a Windows Mobile phone, things are not so clear cut. Even for new models of Windows Mobile phone, an upgrade to the new operating system is unlikely, due to the stringent requirements Microsoft has placed on the new operating system. It also seems unlikely that your existing applications will run on the new phone, though an official announcement on that is due to follow later in the year.
We’ll keep you up-to-date with any more developments regarding Windows Phone 7 in future newsletters. If you have any comments or questions about the new operating system, contact us and we’ll do our best to answer them for you.
Tip of the Month – Check your Firefox plugins!
We all know the importance of keeping Windows up-to-date, but many of us neglect other important software such as our web browsers. Even if you are running the latest version of Firefox, are you running the latest versions of all your plugins? The Flash plugin in particular, which delivers video content across the web, has some particularly nasty security problems in older versions.
Making sure your Firefox plugins are up-to-date is easy, simply open Firefox and visit this link. The page will then check all your plugins and advise on any that need to be updated, simple!
To make sure you’re browsing experience is fully up-to-date, you might want to check that you are running the latest version of Java too. You can also do that by visiting this page.
Free Utility of the Month – Chromium Browser VM
For this months free utility, we decided to bring you something a little different and hopefully something most of you would never have heard of before. Many of our readers will be familiar with Google Chrome, an alternative web browser from Google. The Chromium Browser VM project takes Google Chrome and wraps it in its own virtual machine. What this means is that the entire web browser is completely fenced off from the rest of your computer, making it extremely difficult for malware or viruses to covertly install themselves.
The project is still in an experimental stage but it ran rather well on the machines we tested it on, even better with some expert configuration. If you want to take a look yourselves, head on over to this page. The quickest way to get started is to download the ChromiumVM.zip package, then copy all the files from inside the zip file to a directory on your computer. Now, first run “Start X for Windows” and then run “Start Chromium Browser VM in QEMU” and you are away. We will keep you informed about this interesting new super secure browser in the future, you can also contact us with any questions you have about it.
The Windows 7 memory use fiasco
On the internet, information moves fast. The big players in IT news love to pounce on a story as quickly as possible, you snooze you lose seems to be the accepted mantra in this information rich age.
Of course, taking a deep breath and cautiously examining your sources sometimes has its benefits too. This month technology related websites were buzzing with news that Windows 7 machines were running drastically short on memory. The Exo Performance network (run by Devil Mountain Software), which claims to monitor performance on a huge network of PC’s, including those used by banks and other financial institutions, published the shocking statistic that 85% of Windows 7 PC’s were “under-performing” by running “alarmingly low” on physical memory. This somewhat shocking claim certainly got people talking. Before long most of the technology news websites were reporting on the story, it got page views and exposure for the Exo Performance Network and sent many IT reporters scurrying to their desktops to try and confirm or deny the reports.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, experts from around the world were quick to point out the flaws in this data. It turned out that the way the tool was measuring available computer memory was completely wrong. Even when presented with evidence that their data was flawed, the Exo Performance network stubbornly stuck to their claim.
Over the next few days, the story took on several new and bizarre twists. It transpired that the Devil Mountain CTO Craig Barth didn’t even exist. In actual fact Craig Barth was one Randall C. Kennedy, a columnist for IT news website Infoworld. Larry Dignan, a blogger over at popular technology website Zdnet then exposed a whole intricate web of dubious activities by Randall C. Kennedy, which lead to Infoworld eventually dismissing him. On his Exo Performance blog, Mr Kennedy tried to make out that the whole thing was a Microsoft funded conspiracy against him and insisted he had been correct all along, but few people were prepared to believe him.
In light of this whole fiasco, we’d strongly advise our readers not to install any tools provided by the Exo performance network (xpnet.com). Windows 7 users can also rest assured that their operating system is not under-performing by consuming too much memory, though as with all versions of Windows adding more memory will often improve performance.
That’s all for our March newsletter. Once again, thank you to all our readers for your support. The TWT Newsletter will return on the 10th April 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!.