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Posted on Oct 31, 2015 in Newsletter, Welcome | 0 comments

TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 29 – Halloween fun, the future of Windows 10 and more

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Welcome to the October 2015 TWT Newsletter

October already and for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere that means that days are getting shorter and the weather is getting colder. What better time to learn more about your PC than when the weather outside is frightful? Of course, we’ve got everything you need to make using your PC more fun and more productive.

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In this months issue:-

What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
Follow up – Is Windows 10 a disaster for PC gamers?
Halloween fun with your Windows PC
Tip of the Month – Left handed? Change your mouse to suit!
Free Utility of the Month – LibreOffice 5
Windows Store App of the Month – Wikipedia
Windows 10 – 100 Million Installs, two new Surfaces and HoloLens!

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

Just one new feature to report on this month. We’ve upgraded the site to the latest version of WordPress, which brings some important security improvements. Now when users sign up for our forum, they will not be e-mailed passwords (very bad practise since e-mail has no privacy safeguards by default) but assigned a temporary log-on where they can create a new password instead.

Although this is a big improvement, we won’t be officially re-launching the forums until we can implement SSL security for our logins too. SSL is used by websites all over the world to ensure that communications between visitors and the site are encrypted, so your password cannot be stolen while being transmitted to us. We anticipate being able to have this in place by the end of 2015 or early 2016.

Follow up – Is Windows 10 a disaster for PC gamers?

Last month we ran an article explaining how new security features in Windows 10 have affected thousands of older CD and DVD based games and rendered them unplayable. Since then we’ve been able to do some research of our own into the issue by testing a good number of our older games. We can report that, although there definitely are problems, they aren’t as bad as certain other websites have been making out.

First of all, games protected with the Safedisc protection system will definitely not work in Windows 10, at least not without some kind of workaround. These games were common around 2003 to 2006. They include such classic titles as Prince of Persia – Sands of Time. As we stated last month, the only way to play these games now is to either buy them again as a digital download or find a cracked or de-protected version of the game from the shadier parts of the internet.

Our article last month also stated that games that use the SecuROM copy protection (still widely in use until very recently) may also be incompatible with Windows 10. To put this to the test, we tried several games that were protected with the SecuROM copy protection, including two popular (and often reported incompatible) titles Bioshock and Mass Effect. To our surprise these games worked perfectly, with no crack or hack files required. In truth, not a single SecuROM protected game that we tried failed to run on our Windows 10 PC. SecuROM has been through many different revisions and there could indeed be versions of the copy protection scheme that aren’t compatible with Windows 10, but the statement that no SecuROM games are compatible with the new OS is just outright false. Another case of a rumour being presented as concrete fact by the over-zealous gaming/technology press we’re afraid, and yes we apologise for our part in spreading it. To be fair, as one of our Twitter followers pointed out, this particular rumour does seem to have originated from Microsoft themselves, so it did at least stem from what should have been a reputable source.

So in conclusion then, while there are a good number of games that are now incompatible with Windows 10, it does seem that more recent titles are not amongst them. Remember we’re always checking compatibility with old games over on Play-Old-PC-Games.com, so stop by there for your PC retro-gaming fix.

Halloween fun with your Windows PC

Here at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com we love to tell you about how versatile your PC is. As the nights get longer and colder this time of year, now is the perfect time to make the most of the versatility of your computer. Your PCs great for helping Halloween go with a bang, here are just some ways you and your family can have a more spooky holiday this year.

Paint, colour and create with Tuxpaint – Kids love to colour pictures, but rather than just printing them and wasting paper, why not let them colour them in on your PC? If you have a touch screen PC this can be even more fun, but it’s still pretty fun with a mouse too. Using the child-friendly paint program Tux Paint, kids can get super creative. Try this site for some Halloween themed colouring pages. If you want to add those to Tuxpaint, we made this quick tutorial to show you how.

Can’t decide on a costume? – If your kids are struggling to decide what they want to dress as this year, how about some dressing up games to inspire them? There are a whole heap of free to play Halloween themed dress-up games available on this web page.

Spooky games – PCs have the best games and there’s no shortage of spooky thrills to be had. Of course, not every spooky game is going to be appropriate for younger children, so here are three games we’ve picked out that should suit most ages.

Freddi Fish 2 – The Case of the Haunted Schoolhouse – Help Freddi solve the mystery of the haunted schoolhouse in this fun adventure game with bright and colourful graphics, suitable for all children aged 3 and up.

Haunt the House – Terrortown – A fun, child friendly little game where you play the part of a ghost who must go to various locations around the town and spook the people who are there. Moving the ghost with your mouse or your finger on a touch screen, you can possess different objects and frighten the poor townsfolk who happen to wander by. A charming little game ideal for Halloween play!

Slender – The Eight Pages – Dare you enter the forest and search for the eight pages? This chilling free adventure game tasks players with finding eight pieces of a notebook about the mythical Slenderman. As the brave player walks around the dark forest, he/she will be stalked relentlessly by the Slenderman, who will become more desperate to stop them the more pieces they find. While this game features no adult content or language, it can be quite unsettling and spooky and parental advisory is strongly recommended. One for older children and teenagers!

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs – A first person horror game that will drag you to the depths of greed, power and madness. Claiming to be the “Darkest, most horrific tale ever told in a videogame”, this is one game strictly for adults. Play it now, if you dare!

Overdone the Halloween candy? – If you are worried your children ate too many sweets and chocolates this year, how about a PC game that encourages them to get more active? Stepmania is the PCs best dancing and exercise game. Playable on virtually any PC, all you need is a dance controller (typically those designed for PlayStation 2 consoles work well) and an adapter (such as this one for PlayStation 2 dance controllers). Download the game for free along with several free song packs and get your kids moving again. Really creative kids can even compose their own dance routines!

Whatever you get up to this year, we hope you have a fantastic time. Stay safe and don’t have nightmares!

Tip of the Month – Left handed? Change your mouse to suit!

Are you left handed? Did you realise that you can reverse the mouse buttons in Windows to make use of the mouse more comfortable? Rather than struggling with a right handed mouse (or touchpad), move the mouse over to the left and reconfigure the buttons, you’ll soon be zipping around your computer much more quickly.

To see how to reconfigure your mouse, check out our recently updated PC basics tutorial 5 by following this link. You can also change the double click speed and other mouse options by following this tutorial.

Free Utility of the Month – LibreOffice 5

Now on its fifth release, this excellent free office suite continues to go from strength to strength, outperforming it’s rival OpenOffice.org. If you need an office suite with a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation program and you’re on a strict budget, then LibreOffice comes highly recommended. While it may not replace Microsoft Office for everyone (particularly those of you who are highly proficient with Microsoft Excel), it is certainly powerful enough for many day to day tasks. We should know, we use it all the time, including for the writing of our own Windows 10 Superguide books!

Check out LibreOffice yourself and download a free copy here

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Windows Store App of the Month – Wikipedia

Wikipedia may have its inaccuracies and inconsistencies, but it’s still a great resource for finding out those obscure facts and snippets. Used as a starting point for further research, it’s also great for students too, as long as facts are cross-checked with another source of course. Whether you want to find out about Suillus Brevipes fungus or George Formby Senior, Wikipedia has a page for you.

While you can just visit the Wikipedia website on your Windows 10 device, you can also download a convenient Wikipedia app for your PC or tablet. Using the app is usually quicker than using the website (although the app is missing some of the websites advanced features, such as editing) and the app is optimised for Windows 10 touch devices in particular.

You can grab the Windows Wikipedia app from the Windows store here.

Windows 10 – 100 Million Installs, two new Surfaces and HoloLens!

Windows 10 seems to be going from strength to strength following its launch on the 29th July. Reaching a whopping 100 million installs across all devices, the OS looks set to repeat the success of Windows 7 as more users download and upgrade. Despite a few rough starts on a number of our machines, our Windows 10 experience thus far has been very positive, with only a small number of apps and games rendered incompatible by the upgrade. We still have our reservations about the OS on a purely touch machine (such as a tablet), where honestly we still prefer Windows 8.1 and particularly prefer Internet Explorer Touch over Microsoft Edge, but for the majority of machines the OS is a welcome upgrade.

Windows 10 is set to get some exciting new hardware to run on too. At an event held early this month, Microsoft gave us a glimpse of some new hardware and new features for Windows 10. Most excitingly, they revealed a new version of Microsoft’s king of tablets, the Surface Pro. The new Surface Pro 4 is not only more powerful, but thinner, lighter, brighter and with a bigger screen than any other Surface before. 50% faster than a Mac Book pro and light-years ahead of any Android or iOS tablet, this hugely desirable bit of tech will set you back a cool $899 when it launches later this month. Apart from giving us all something to drool over, the release of new high-end hardware like the new Surface also drives down the cost of more affordable hardware. The cheapest Windows tablets can now be bought for under £100/$150 and are surprisingly capable, making for a great, more versatile alternative to an android tablet.

The other big news is that the Windows 10 powered HoloLens system is set to launch next year. For those that don’t know, HoloLens is an augmented reality system. Put on the HoloLens headset and the system will project holographic images into your vision. There are lots of potential applications for this, from gaming (how about playing Minecraft on your kitchen table) to industry (need to help an engineer at a remote site? Send him instructions in real time, directly into his view, for the project he’s working on).

If you were hoping to get your hands on a HoloLens any time soon you may be disappointed. The first version of the hardware is priced at an eye watering $3000. Aimed exclusively at developers rather than the public, the headsets each contain a full miniaturised Windows 10 PC, so it may take a while before there’s the technology small enough and powerful enough to drive them at an affordable price. Nevertheless we expect to hear much more about this exciting new concept once interested developers get their kits and start building applications, Although it’s a shame that the price tag puts the device out of the reach of most hobbyist developers. Microsoft is making the hardware available to students too, five lucky teams from academia are set to receive $100,000 in funding and two HoloLens Development Edition units. The teams that receive this generous funding will be decided by Microsoft, based on who they judge has the best concept for a potential HoloLens app.

The Surface Pro 4 wasn’t the only new tablet Microsoft revealed either. The new Surface Book, billed primarily as a laptop, features some really impressive specs. When used in laptop mode, Microsoft claims the device is twice as powerful as a Macbook Pro, despite being lighter and smaller. Amazingly, the Surface Book is also a convertible. The top part can detach from the keyboard and work as a fully functional Surface tablet. The only downside is that in doing this, you lose some additional graphics processing power (since the graphics processing unit resides in the units base with the keyboard). Again, expect prices for this premium product to be high, the entry level machine with 128GB storage and 8GB of RAM is expected to start at $1500 when the machine launches later this month.

Microsoft also unveiled two new Windows phones, putting to rest any rumours about them giving up or scaling back on mobile phone development. Hoping that the popularity of Windows 10 and the ease of converting apps between Windows 10 PCs and phones will help the market, Microsoft still has a long way to go to catch up to Apple or Google/Android in this sector. Nevertheless, the strategy seems to be slowly working, with Facebook signing up to produce an app for Facebook Messenger and Instagram that will run across all Windows 10 devices.

One really neat feature of new Windows 10 phones that Microsoft recently demonstrated is Continuum. As computing devices get more powerful, it is inevitable that devices and form factors will converge. As we’ve seen with the Surface and other tablets, the laptop and the tablet are converging in many cases. Soon, your mobile phone could replace a low-end laptop or netbook too, thanks to Windows 10’s Continuum feature. With this clever technology, you only need a special HDMI cable for your phone (and possibly just a wireless receiver in future) and a suitable monitor or TV. Now, simply attach your phone to your monitor with the Continuum cable, hook up a Bluetooth keyboard and suddenly you have a full PC, with a desktop. Great for working away from home, or for getting your homework done while the family PC or laptop is in use. While Continuum compatible phones can’t run desktop apps (and may never do) they can run Trusted Windows Store apps, which can be designed for screens of all sizes.

It certainly seems like the future is bright for Windows 10, no matter which way the market evolves. Seeing a full blown Windows desktop running from a tiny smartphone is certainly a sign of the times. While this isn’t going to replace powerful gaming/productivity desktops or laptops, it certainly makes those devices more flexible. By all accounts It’s an exciting time to be a Windows user!

That concludes our newsletter for October. 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. If we survive all the spookiness, the TWT Newsletter will return on the 10th November 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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