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Posted on Sep 29, 2015 in Newsletter, Welcome | 0 comments

TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 28 – Windows 10 Superguide launches!

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Top Windows TutorialsTWT Newsletter NG – Issue 28

Welcome to the September 2015 TWT Newsletter

It’s still Windows 10 fever as the new operating system continues to roll out to users all over the world. Our Windows 10 Superguide finally launched last month, letting all our readers get the very most out of their new and newly upgraded systems. If you’ve not upgraded to Windows 10 yet, there are a couple of articles in this months newsletter that you might find interesting if you’re still on the fence about your upgrade.

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In this months issue:-

What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
Windows 10 Superguide now available!
Windows 7 Superguide reduced!
Windows 8 Superguide reduced!
Is Windows 10 a disaster for PC gamers?
Tip of the Month – Manage your default programs
Free Utility of the Month – Stream What You Hear
Windows Store App of the Month – WolframAlpha
Windows 10 privacy concerns, legitimate or overblown?

What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?

Just one new tutorial this month as we focused all our energy on finishing our Windows 10 Superguide.

picture Upgrading a Windows 7 or 8 Machine to Windows 10

Are you a Windows 7 or 8 user who has been considering the free upgrade to Windows 10? In this video, we’ll take you through the process of automatically upgrading a machine. If you were worried about the upgrade or concerned you might not know what to do, this tutorial should hopefully put your mind at rest.

Windows 10 Superguide now available!

It’s finally here. Our latest Top-Windows-Tutorials Superguide is now available to purchase on DVD and digital download. Last month was a long month of intense work for us, but we’ve produced what we think is clearly our best Superguide yet.

Thanks to our latest guide, everyone who has purchased a Windows 10 PC or taken advantage of Microsoft’s free upgrade offer can get the most out of their new Windows 10 machine. No matter if you’re running a tiny tablet or a hulking multi-monitor desktop, Windows 10 will make working and playing on your PC faster, easier and more enjoyable than ever before.

In this guide, we look at Windows 10 on both touch enabled devices and traditional, keyboard and mouse equipped PCs. For the Windows 10 Superguide we’ve totally overhauled the design of the guide. No matter what size your monitor or screen is, the guide will automatically size and scale itself to fit perfectly. Our new video player automatically scales each video to best fit your screen and all videos can be played in full-screen mode too.

The Windows 10 Superguide is our biggest and best guide yet, with no less than 69 high definition video tutorials across 70 lessons.That’s not all, each and every lesson comes with full written notes and the guide also includes 46 pages of exercises and self-test lessons. However you want to learn, we’ve got your back!

25% off introductory sale now on – Ends 10th October

To celebrate the launch of our new Superguide, we’re reducing the price to just $15 for the digital download version (additional sales tax may apply in certain countries) and $15 plus shipping and handling for the DVD version. At that price the guide represents tremendous value and we’re confident you won’t find a better guide to Windows 10 anywhere on the internet.

To find out more about the guide or to order your copy, click here.

Windows 7 Superguide reduced!

Are you sticking to Windows 7 or keeping a copy around for older games or programs? If so, there’s never been a better time to grab a copy of our Windows 7 Gigaguide. As of the 7th of September, you can purchase the WIndows 7 Gigaguide (which contains Windows 7 Superguide and Windows 7 Superguide 2) for the bargain price of just $10. That’s a staggering 121 lessons and 111 video tutorials for just 10 dollars.

You can buy the Gigaguide either as a digital download or a DVD-ROM disc. There really is no better guide to learning, maintaining, using and enjoying Windows 7 anywhere else on the net. Click here to find out more or to grab your copy.

Windows 8 Superguide reduced!

Good news for Windows 8 users too. We’ve also reduced the price of the Windows 8 Superguide to just $10. Windows 8 is still great, don’t believe the critics! Microsoft’s controversial OS came in for a lot of flack and honestly almost all of it was really undeserved. On tablet PCs, Windows 8 was (and arguably still is) the most powerful and flexible touch screen OS ever. On desktop all it needed was a couple of tweaks and it became a faster, quicker booting Windows 7.

If you’re keeping Windows 8 around, either for compatibility reasons or because you prefer it to Windows 10, make sure you grab a copy of our Windows 8 Superguide, now permanently reduced to just $10. Click here to grab your copy.

Is Windows 10 a disaster for PC gamers?

Windows 10 promised to be a fantastic upgrade for PC gamers. With DirectX12 bringing a free performance boost to some games and the Windows Store offering a choice of games to suit every kind of machine, the upgrade should be a no-brainer for gamers, unfortunately that might not be the case.

If you’ve amassed a large collection of PC games over the years, you might be shocked to find that Windows 10 struggles to run an alarming number of older games titles. Specifically, a huge number of titles that were released on DVD or CD-ROM have been rendered incompatible, even some games released as recently as 2014 have compatibility issues.

What is the reason for this? Does Windows 10 have some new fancy graphical drivers that break lots of older games? Does it change something in DirectX that causes old games to break? No, in fact the problem is due to the DRM (digital rights management) and copy protection scheme many games use. The SecuROM software that many companies used to copy protect their games was so aggressive (and potentially destructive) that Microsoft said “enough is enough” and prevented it from even being installed on Windows 10. Older games which use the Safedisc copy protection are also not supported in Windows 10. The exact number of titles that are affected by this isn’t known, but it is certainly in the thousands, possibly tens of thousands, potentially quite a disaster for PC gamers everywhere.

While the cynical will probably conclude this is a move by Microsoft to block older games so that we all have to go shop in the app store, it’s the sad truth that Microsoft are actually justified in blocking SecuROM as a security threat. SecuROM has been described in the media as being “anti-copying malware”. It does have a number of virus like characteristics, such as installing itself at a low level and interfering with input/output devices such as DVD-ROM drives. We’ve also seen SecuROM games conflict with other SecuROM games and cause all kinds of problems. While it’s true SecuROM was unfriendly to consumers and punished paying customers (with little proven effect on piracy rates), it wasn’t inherently designed to cause damage to a PC. However, by installing it other potential security vulnerabilities were opened on your PC and so this is the main rationale behind removing compatibility in Windows 10.

So what can you do if you want to go to Windows 10 and you’ve amassed a great collection of PC games over the years, or you love to grab a bargain at a charity shop? Well, there are a number of options.

For many games, you can find a copy that has had the copy protection removed. In some instances the publishers or developers may have removed the protection. Look for the latest patch or update for the game. Google search for your game and see if there are any upgrade offers. Our friends over at GoG.com let customers of certain games download a DRM free versions simply by entering their serial numbers, for instance. Simbin (publishers of GT Legends and GTR) and Warner Brothers Games (Batman Arkham Asylum and Arkham City) allow customers to re-activate their DVD copies of some of their games on the popular Steam gaming network. In other cases you may be forced to purchase your game again.

If the publishers refuse to remove the copy protection, there are often unauthorised downloads that will remove the protection, however this involves an element of risk as these unauthorised programs (known as cracks) may actually be malware. Not to mention that to find them you will need to take a trip to the more shady parts of the internet. Downloading and using cracks may be illegal in many countries, but frankly we can’t imagine many people being prosecuted simply for trying to get a game they legitimately purchased to work on their newer PC.

Failing that, you can keep Windows 7 or 8 around for those older titles. Although this is technically in violation of the license agreement, Microsoft do not appear to be taking action against users who keep their old Windows around after upgrading to Windows 10. If you want to do this, you should take a backup of your existing Windows installation before upgrading. Post upgrade, you can restore this backup to a spare hard drive and then simply boot your computer from this drive. We’ve made it sound very easy here, but creating multi-boot systems can actually be very technical and you may need to consult with an IT professional. Of course, you could simply set aside an older PC and keep it exclusively for Windows 7 or 8.

Tragically, this isn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened. Windows Vista broke compatibility with the much hated Starforce copy protection system, leaving gamers again with a stack of discs that couldn’t be played. Eventually, most titles that used Starforce were patched or re-released without the copy protection, though this sometimes meant that gamers had to re-purchase the titles.

Running older software on newer PCs was always a little bit of a lottery, but we still love bargain hunting in our local charity shop. If you’re partial to a bargain game too, you should certainly check out our sister site, Play-Old-PC-Games.com where we test and document some of our favourite older games, jumping through all the hoops to get them working so you don’t have to. You can also find an extensive list of games and their copy protection schemes here. Any game that is listed as using Safedisc, SecuROM or Starforce protection may have compatibilty problems on Windows 10 machines.

Tip of the Month – Manage your default programs

Another tip mainly for Windows 10 users, but this one also works on Windows 7 and 8 too. During the Windows 10 upgrade you may have noticed that Windows offers to change some default program settings. For example, web pages will default to opening in the new Microsoft Edge browser.

You can manage your default programs in Windows 7, 8 and 10 by using the “Default Programs” desktop app. Simply search for “default programs” on the Start menu, screen or on the search bar and click the icon that appears. A window listing all the programs installed on your PC will then appear. Click on any app and you will see the option to “Set this program as default” or “Choose defaults for this program”. Click on “Choose defaults for this program” to manage exactly which files are opened by default with this program. You could use this to change music files to open with your favourite third party music player, rather than Windows Media Player or Groove Music, for example.

Free Utility of the Month – Stream What You Hear

Got yourself a fancy new internet enabled smart TV, radio or other gadget? Does that gadget support DLNA (you can go away and check the manual or packaging before you answer)? If so, this handy little utility can help you get more from your smart device. Simply install Stream What You Hear on your PC and start the app. Now play audio from any source on your PC. Queue up your tunes in Spotify, your favourite underground artist on Soundcloud, the BBC iPlayer Radio app or your favourite podcast. Stream What You Hear will then stream this audio to your DLNA or UPnP smart device, allowing you to listen in another room. No cables, no fuss! It’s a great way to extend the capability of your network enabled devices.

Grab your copy of Stream What You Hear from this website.

Windows Store App of the Month – WolframAlpha

Know of any students heading back to higher education this September? If so, they might well be interested in this spectacular Windows Store app. Described as the “world’s definitive source for instant expert knowledge and computation”, WolframAlpha can help solve complex problems for mathematicians, physicists and chemists. It contains huge amounts of data and statistics and can instantly produce in-depth reports relevant to biologists, geologists and pretty much any-other-ologist you might care to meet. An invaluable research tool for any student or professional researcher, this app costs just $2.99 in the Windows Store, grab your copy here.

Windows 10 privacy concerns, legitimate or overblown?

Many modern PCs are permanently connected to the internet. For the most part that’s a great thing of course. The World Wide Web is a hugely valuable resource, packed with fantastic websites just like Top-Windows-Tutorials.com! Unfortunately, as we’ve often seen in the media, now that information can fly from one corner of the earth to another in a matter of seconds, it gets harder and more complicated to manage what happens with personal information that you’d rather not share with a third party.

With the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft is integrating the cloud and other online services into the OS on a scale that goes beyond what was seen even in Windows 8. The new digital assistant Cortana, for example, tracks and stores potentially sensitive information, such as your location, on Microsoft servers, so that it can alert you to local activities and locations. In most instances, it’s up to the individual how much privacy they are willing to trade for the convenience of using features like this. Windows 10 has a bewildering amount of privacy settings and tweaks (which we cover extensively in our Windows 10 Superguide) and although most of the settings are opt-out rather than opt-in, the end user does have full control over these options.

However, security and IT researchers have noticed that even with Windows 10 configured with the strongest privacy settings, there still seems to be a lot of data transmitted back from your PC to Microsoft. What exactly is in this data isn’t known, as it’s transmitted over an encrypted connection (nothing particularly sinister about that fact alone, as this is standard industry practise nowadays).

If you’ve heard stories in the media of Windows 10 uploading your hard drive to Microsoft, or Microsoft recording everything your PCs microphone picks up and other such nonsense, we can say without a shadow of a doubt that those rumours are false. Microsoft has nothing to gain from such activities and an awful lot of reputation to lose. Going on the amount of data transmitted alone, there simply isn’t enough transmitted for Microsoft to be collecting a complete picture of every app and file on your computer. Cutting through the tin-foil hat conspiracies and the speculation, here’s what we do know.

Even with the strongest privacy settings enabled, certain data from a Windows 10 PC seems to be sent to Microsoft from most Windows 10 PCs.

This data collection isn’t limited to Windows 10, Windows 7 and 8 also send some data to Microsoft when an internet connection is available, thanks to some recent Windows updates.

In light of the above, Microsoft might be collecting data that you haven’t authorised them to do so. Most likely what is being sent is anonymous telemetry/debugging data that was probably authorised deep in the Windows EULA (that big long legal document that none of us ever read). If you want to disable this data sharing too, take a look at this article on PC World.

It may seem a little devious to sneak in data collection like this and we would honestly have preferred Microsoft to be a little more up-front about it. Having said that, don’t think that Microsoft are an exception in the data collection game. Google and Apple both collect similar data from their operating systems. Even some flavours of Linux (particularly Ubuntu) have been criticised for the amount of data they collect and transmit.

Much of the confusion surrounding Windows 10 comes from the fact that OneDrive is built into the operating system. This means that the OneDrive license agreement is part of the Windows 10 license agreement too. In the Microsoft service agreement it states “We collect content of your files and communications when necessary to provide you with the services you use. This includes: the content of your documents, photos, music or video you upload to a Microsoft service such as OneDrive.”

When you store files in OneDrive, you effectively store them on a Microsoft server up in the cloud (or in other words, someone else’s computer). This only applies to files you place in your OneDrive, not files that are on your computers hard drive in other folders. Microsoft may be compelled by court order to hand the contents of anyone’s OneDrive account over to law enforcement, so might Google or Apple should you use their online services too. Microsoft has no choice in this matter. It’s also highly probable that files in your OneDrive are scanned against a database of known file signatures for child abuse images in particular. This is not done by a human manually going through your photographs but by a machine that computes a mathematical file fingerprint (known as a hash). Again, standard industry practise and nothing sinister.

It pays to stay vigilant and keep an eye on what companies are doing with our personal data. It’s great that security researchers are looking into what information Microsoft is collecting through all versions of Windows, but fears that Windows 10 is some kind of privacy nightmare that hoovers up every last keystroke are just silly. In short, there’s no reason to hold off on upgrading because of privacy concerns.

That concludes our newsletter for September. On behalf of the team here at TWT, I’d like to say thank you to all our readers, new and old for your continued support. The TWT Newsletter will return on the 10th October 2015 and will bring you more tips, tricks and techniques to help you get the best out of your PC, be it Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10. 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!

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