TWT Newsletter, Issue#061 – Windows 8 release preview lands, E3 disappoints gamers
Welcome to our June 2012 TWT Newsletter. Once again this month Windows 8 continues to make waves in the IT world, with the new Release Preview having just been launched to the public. We’ve taken a look at this latest preview and we’ll let you know what’s changed since the last preview hit.
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In this months issue:-
1) What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
2) Data breach at popular social networking site LinkedIn, change passwords now!
3) Windows 8 Release Preview now launched – Opinions still divided
4) Tip of the Month – Show videos on your Windows 7 Start Menu
5) Free Utility of the Month – Tweetdeck
6) Microsoft at the E3 gaming show
What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
There were several tutorial updates in May on our site. First of all, we overhauled our popular OpenDNS tutorials. If you’re looking for a way to block unsuitable content on your home internet connection, the OpenDNS service can do this. Best of all the service is totally free! Click here to learn more.
Genie9 have recently released an update to their excellent Genie Timeline backup package. We took an in-depth look at this new version over in our Genie Timeline 3 review.
Finally, we also updated our three Genie Timeline Tutorials. If you have purchased Genie Timeline or just want to see what the program looks like in action, have a look at our tutorials here.
Data breach at popular social networking sites LinkedIn and LastFM, change passwords now!
Breaking news just in for any users of the popular professional social network LinkedIn or the music sharing social network LastFM. Two security breaches, each affecting one of the sites means that your account passwords are at risk. If you use these sites, please change your passwords and also, importantly, if you use the same password for another site, change it there too.
This is yet another example of why using a password manager is increasingly important. If you are still not using a password manager, check out our Power Surfing tutorials where you can learn about two popular password managers, Roboform and LastPass.
Windows 8 Release Preview now launched – Opinions still divided
Microsoft reached another significant milestone with it’s latest version of Windows, and the Release Preview is now available for anyone to download and try on their PC’s. If you want to try out the preview for yourself, you can download it here. Remember that you should really use a spare hard drive, or even a spare computer, as the preview version is not really intended for everyday use just yet.
So, what’s new in this version? The controversial and much hated “hot corners” are still present, but Microsoft have made some concessions, making it easier to hit the corner buttons and fixing things to work better with multiple monitors. The Metro interface is now faster and smoother, the applications that come with the preview, as well as the ones in the Windows Store, feel more polished and feature complete. Gestures are now also supported on touch pads (the kind you get on laptops).
In this build we get to see much more of Microsoft’s connected strategy. The Xbox Live app now works, and displays your Xbox avatar and what your friends are playing on either Xbox or Games for Windows Live. The music store is functional and works just like the Zune store. Just like on some smartphones, certain apps, such as music, can now be controlled even when your PC is locked. While the apps have improved significantly, they still feel unfinished and there’s plenty of room for improvement. Microsoft also announced that the final look and feel for the desktop components has not been confirmed either.
If you’re trying out the release preview for yourself, or just want an in-depth look at Windows 8, you should head over to our Windows 8 tutorials page, where we take a look at using and working with Metro apps. Click here to get started.
More than any other version of Windows in recent memory, Windows 8 continues to divide opinions. On one side of the argument, Windows 8 is a bold step towards a more accessible, versatile version of Windows that will cater for both power users and beginners. On the other side of the argument, many users see the new Metro interface as a poor fit for the desktop, and the merging of two styles of operating system like this to be confusing. Let’s have a look at some of the arguments for and against Windows 8 that the IT community has put forward. We’ll look at both sides of the argument so that you can make up your own minds, starting with the arguments against and then the counter argument in support of Windows 8. Please note that these are opinions from around the web, not our own personal evaluation of Windows 8!:-
Tablets and PC’s are used in fundamentally different ways. Tablets are for consuming media and PC’s are for creating and working. Apple knows this, that’s why it has OS X for desktops and laptops and iOS for phones and tablets.
Laptops and ultra portable PC’s are getting smaller and lighter. It’s only a matter of time before they become as small and portable as a tablet PC like the iPad. With Windows 8 you can have the best of both worlds. You can hold your tablet PC like a slate, comfortably reading content, surfing the web or listening to music. Then, if you need to, you can dock your tablet with a keyboard and mouse and have a fully fledged PC with access to a huge software library.
Metro is a backward step for desktop PC’s, and nobody wants a touch screen.
Touch screens are a very natural, easy to use way of interacting with a computer. Although Metro clearly works far better with touch than a keyboard and mouse, it still works acceptably, meaning that if you need to run a Metro application on your desktop, you can. Desktop versions of your favourite programs will still be available.
The Hot Corner system that replaces the Start Menu is unintuitive. Making the Metro interface take up the whole screen and not allowing it to be minimised is a bad choice for a desktop OS.
The Hot Corners and the way Metro works make the operating system more consistent. Changing the way the OS works just for keyboard and mouse would have been confusing.
Existing Windows users will not adapt to these new changes, removing the Start Menu was a mistake.
Windows has changed before and after a few grumbles people soon got used to it.
So where do you stand on the whole Windows 8 debate? Why not come find us in our Site forum and let us know. You can access the forum here. The final version of the OS is expected to hit shelves in October.
Tip of the Month – Show videos on your Windows 7 Start Menu
The Windows 7 Start Menu includes links to your own personal Pictures and Music folders. However, there’s no link to your Videos folder. If you watch a lot of videos and want a link to them on your Start Menu, here’s how:-
Right-click the Start button and select “Properties” from the menu that appears.
On the window that then appears, go to the Start Menu tab and click “Customize”.
The “Customize Start Menu” window will then appear. Scroll to the bottom and locate the “Videos” section, select “Display as a link,” and click “OK” and then “OK” again. The videos section will now appear on your Start Menu. You can also have the Videos display as a menu, with links to files and submenus. To do this choose “Display as a menu.” on the Customize Start Menu window.
Free Utility of the Month – Tweetdeck
Way back in issue 40 of the TWT Newsletter, we recommended a utility called “Seesmic Desktop”. This utility allows you to monitor both Twitter and Facebook from your desktop, eliminating the need to constantly log into Twitter or Facebook on the net. Unfortunately, development on the desktop version of this program has ground to a halt. Luckily however, there’s a very good alternative in the shape of Tweetdeck.
Tweetdeck supports both Facebook and Twitter and allows you to monitor multiple accounts all from the comfort of your own desktop. You can work with Twitter and Facebook much more quickly and efficiently by having this handy program running on your PC while you work or surf the web. If you’re a medium or heavy user of either Facebook, Twitter or both, you should get yourself a copy of this neat little program. Find out more by visiting the Tweetdeck homepage here.
Microsoft (and it’s competitors) at E3 2012
The Electronic Entertainment Expo is the event that video game players look forward to each year. It’s the show where the big players in the videogames industry meet to showcase their latest games, peripherals and innovations. This year, Microsoft focused on their successful Kinect product, a motion control system for both PC and Xbox, as well as revealing a few new game titles. Their conference focused exclusively on Xbox 360 games, leaving Windows users out in the cold. Apart from an announcement regarding a system called SmartGlass, which will allow certain content to be transmitted between PC’s, Xboxes and tablets easily, there were no announcements of new Microsoft hardware and not even a mention of any Kinect for Windows games.
In the console gaming race, Sony is one of Microsoft’s main competitors. Like Microsoft, Sony didn’t announce any new hardware and instead concentrated on a few new games titles for their existing console. There was little talk of their under-performing portable console, the PS Vita, but one or two exciting looking exclusives helped liven up an otherwise uneventful conference.
After the exciting pre-show announcement of their fantastic looking new online service for their upcoming Wii-U console, many gamers expected Nintendo to steal the show at their press conference. Instead, apart from one or two interesting looking titles most came away disappointed. Due later this year, the Wii-U will feature its own dynamic social network, as well as full high definition graphics and a touch screen controller. Many of the announced games for the platform were simply versions of games that are already out on existing machines however.
As with previous years, we’ve picked out a selection of our favourite PC games that were announced at the show. E3 is the kind of event that the more dedicated gaming communities look to, which usually means that the big titles on the show-floor are geared towards the core gamer rather than the casual audience.
Fans of the Dark Knight have been spoiled in the last few years with not one but two fantastic Batman games, now it seems like the web-slinging wonder is about to excite gamers around the world. Just like with the Batman games, PC gamers are due to get the definitive version of this new superhero game. To find out more, check out the IGN article here.
Elder Scrolls Online
Super popular roleplaying franchise “The Elder Scrolls” has always been a single player experience. That’s all set to change when The Elder Scrolls Online launches next year. Competing with popular PC online roleplaying games like World of Warcraft, Elder Scrolls Online has the advantage of a passionate fanbase and well established world, but will it make the transition from single player epic to online game smoothly? Find out more about the game by clicking here.
Xcom – Enemy Unknown
If you prefer your gaming a little more cerebral, but you still appreciate a little action, this game may be exactly what you’re looking for. In this game, aliens have invaded and for some reason the governments of the world have chosen to put you in charge of commanding the elite new X-Com alien hunting squad. The game is a turn based strategy affair where brainpower and careful thought rather than a quick trigger finger will be required. Not only are you in charge of countering the aliens on the ground, but you will need to research their technology and adapt it to help in the fight for humanity. Find out more about this upcoming science fiction thriller by visiting this site.
If you perfer your gaming a little less fighting and shooting and a little more building and creating you may be happy to hear that the popular town planning game SimCity is set to return to PC screens in 2013. Currently a PC exclusive, this urban planning simulator uses the latest PC gaming technology to create the most realistic, exciting virtual cities ever seen. Be careful though, just like real cities, fire, crime and pollution will rear their ugly heads if you don’t plan carefully. Virtual mayors will also have to contend with attacks from rampaging monsters too! What’s more, you’ll be able to connect your city to your friends and see the kinds of creations they’ve made, making this SimCity the most social yet. Find out more about the game by visiting this site.
For many gamers this years E3 was a disappointment, but in retrospect, while the console games steal the limelight, it is obvious that gaming on Windows machines is going from strength to strength. Not only do Windows gamers get the definitive versions of many multi-platform games, there are also lots of fantastic exclusives for the platform too. With gaming support set to get even better in Windows 8, it’s a great time to dip your toes into PC gaming if you haven’t done so already.
That rounds off our newsletter for June. On behalf of everyone here at Top-Windows-Tutorials, I’d like to thank you all for your continuing support. The TWT Newsletter will return on the 10th July 2012 and will 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 (heck, even Windows 8 for the brave)! 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 or by leaving us feedback in our forum. 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!