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Posted on Feb 1, 2016 in Newsletter, Welcome | 0 comments

TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 32 – Windows 10 6 months on, CES 2016 and more

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Top Windows Tutorials
TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 32

Welcome to the January 2016 TWT Newsletter

Happy New Year to all our readers! This month we take a look back over the first few months of Windows 10. Can Microsoft make 2016 the year of Windows 10 on all devices, or will Windows remain relevant only on desktop or laptop computers? January also means it’s time once again for CES and we’ll have our regular run-down of the PC and Windows related news from the show floor.

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 topwindo@top-windows-tutorials.com to your contacts, buddy list or white list.

In this months issue:-

What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
Windows 10 – Six months on, are we still enthusiastic about the new OS?
Tip of the Month – Creating Desktop Shortcuts
Free Utility of the Month – Andy
Windows Store App of the Month – Wunderlist
CES 2016 – PCs of all shapes and sizes out in force

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

Reinstalling Windows isn’t something you should need to do very often, nevertheless the time will usually come when it is necessary. In December we added and updated several tutorials all to do with reinstalling Windows.

picture Reinstall Windows 8 or 10 with the Media Creation tool

If you need to reinstall Windows 8 or 10 you can use the Media Creation tool. This tool will download Windows for you and copy it to either a DVD recordable disc or a USB stick. You can then take this media to your faulty PC and completely reinstall Windows. To learn more, click here.

 

picture Reinstall Windows 10 using the Reset feature

In Windows 8, Microsoft introduced a new feature called Refresh. This feature is also present in Windows 10, but has inexplicably been renamed to “Reset”. Reset can reinstall Windows 10 with just a few clicks, as long as your PC can still start! To find out more, click here.

 

picture Reinstall Windows 8 using the Refresh feature

In Windows 8, Microsoft introduced a new feature called Refresh. Refresh can reinstall Windows 8 with just a few clicks, as long as your PC can still start! To find out more, click here.

 

 

Windows 10 – Six months on, are we still enthusiastic about the new OS?

The end of January will mark six months on the market for Microsoft’s latest operating system. While many sites have reviewed the OS since it came out, a few weeks with an OS isn’t really long enough to gauge how good it is. With this in mind, we thought now might be a good time to review the first six months of living with Windows 10. Rather than review the OS on one machine, we’ll be looking at a handful of PCs of all different types and briefly reviewing how each machine got on. As you will see, our positive initial first impressions have, in some cases at least, been soured by unexpected bugs, poor technical support from Microsoft and, in the case of our tablet PC, some generally poor design decisions. Read on to find out how several PCs we were responsible for maintaining have faired since upgrading to Windows 10.

Asus Zenbook U500V Laptop – The first machine in the round up is a powerful laptop purchased around three years ago. The machine is used for productivity, gaming and general computing tasks. It has a Core I7 processor and Nvidia graphics. Prior to the upgrade it was running Windows 8.1.

In order to install Windows 10, it was necessary to decrypt the computers hard drive (the computer was secured with the popular encryption tool Truecrypt). Windows 8 was then smoothly upgraded to Windows 10 with no issues.

Since upgrading the machine has performed well, with no noticeable performance difference between Windows 10 and Windows 8. Software and hardware compatibility has been excellent, It was even possible to re-encrypt the hard drive with Truecrypt once Windows 10 was installed. Just one program turned out to be incompatible, the popular “Where’s my Water?” computer game from the Windows store. Overall, the Windows 10 experience on this machine has been very positive. Windows store apps now work in a much more desktop friendly fashion and the improved search features are a boon.

Acer VA70 laptop – This laptop is around four years old and equipped with a solid state drive, and an Intel i5 processor. Prior to the upgrade the machine was running Windows 8.1. The machine is used for office and productivity tasks, research and casual gaming.

Installing the Windows 10 upgrade did not go smoothly on this machine. It was necessary to reinstall the existing OS (Windows 8) from scratch and then perform the Windows 10 upgrade before the process could be successfully completed. This of course meant that all programs and data had to be reinstalled or restored from backup.

After the upgrade was finally installed, the machine performed well. The owner of this particular machine typically uses about a dozen apps, all of which he has created desktop shortcuts for. After restoring these shortcuts (a process that Windows 10 makes slightly more complicated, it must be noted), the machine behaved and ran smoothly. The user was quite happy with performance, but noted he didn’t really see any difference between Windows 10 and Windows 8 for day to day computing tasks. The only complaint was when a recent update removed some bundled software (A Dolby home theatre control panel) without asking. Overall though, a positive experience and thumbs up for Windows 10.

Asus Z97-A desktop – This is a modern, power users PC that is used for work, gaming, emulation, video editing and other demanding tasks. The system has a 4Ghz Intel I7 processor, solid state hard drive, 16GB of RAM, Nvidia graphics and an Auzentech sound card.

Installing Windows 10 went smoothly on this machine, though it was done as a clean installation rather than an upgrade.

After the upgrade, there were issues finding drivers for the machines sound card and the document scanner (a Kodak i40). We were able to obtain updated sound card drivers from Creative (who now offer limited support for sound cards from the defunct Auzentech), but there were no updated drivers for the scanner rendering it unusable on the new machine.

Windows 10 performance has been great on this machine, the OS runs smoothly with no unexpected glitches. The improved search facilities have proven very useful for this machine, particularly as it has a large collection of media files. One annoying bug that made it difficult to enable or disable multiple monitors was fixed in a recent update. The only minor complaint is that applying the recent November update proved difficult, again due to the sound card drivers, but was resolved thanks to another driver update.

Gigabyte GA-Z77-D3H desktop – This is another power-house desktop PC used for graphics editing, gaming and office and productivity tasks. It has a Core i5 processor and 8GB RAM, as well as a Nvidia graphics card. Prior to upgrading it was running Windows 7.

Installing Windows 10 did not go smoothly on this PC at all, with all attempts to upgrade the existing OS resulting in failure. Eventually, after reinstalling Windows 7 from scratch, the upgrade process finally completed successfully. This of course meant that all programs and data had to be reinstalled or restored from backup.

After installation, the machine suffered from frequent ‘blue screen of death’ crashes, which cause the PC to stop working completely and reboot. After performing some troubleshooting we tracked the problem down to the systems network adapter. Unfortunately, no updated drivers were available for this adapter, meaning the only solution was to buy and install another one.

After installing the new network adapter, more problems were just around the corner. Due to the change in hardware, Windows 10 decided that its license was no longer valid. The tale of woe that then unfolded was told in last months newsletter, when we asked “Is Windows 10 Activation – A ticking time bomb?”

After resolving that problem, a few weeks later we found that the systems Start menu would no longer open, the Windows store would crash and the notification area was inaccessible. The cause of this problem was never determined but was eventually solved by creating a whole new user account and migrating the users documents and settings over.

It’s fair to say Windows 10 has been a bit of a disaster on this hardware and the owner of this particular PC wishes she’d stayed on Windows 7.

Asus P5K-R Desktop – This is a much older desktop PC, originally built around 2008, that’s now used for casual gaming and light computing tasks. It has a solid state hard drive and an old but still capable Core 2 Quad processor running at 2.33Ghz, along with a old Nvidia graphics card. Prior to upgrading, the machine was running Windows 7.

The Windows 10 upgrade installed smoothly on this machine with no particular issues. After installation the system performed perfectly. Startup times were improved over Windows 7, though for general use it was not noticeably faster (though it was certainly no slower either). There were no software or hardware incompatibilities and the owner of this particular PC was also happy to find a couple of new games she enjoyed in the Windows 10 store.

Overall, a positive Windows 10 experience and a worthwhile upgrade on this older machine.

Dell Venue 11 Pro 7140 Tablet PC – This is a high end tablet PC device that originally shipped with Windows 8. Sporting a 1080p screen and a modern Intel processor, the tablet provided a great Windows 8 experience, its a shame more hardware like this wasn’t around to really make Windows 8 shine.

The Windows 10 upgrade installed smoothly on this machine with no issues. After the upgrade, all programs and data were in-tact, allowing us to get started with Windows 10 right away.

Sadly, the experience with Windows 10 on this hardware has not been terribly positive. While using the machine there have been a number of glitches, such as Windows occasionally failing to log on/sign in correctly, necessitating a hard reset of the device. Windows Store apps also occasionally crash directly back to the start screen. Again, at least one Windows 8 game (Where’s My Water?) proved completely incompatible.

The worst problem however has been the introduction of the taskbar in tablet PC mode. For some reason, Microsoft now display the PCs taskbar even when a machine is in touch screen mode. Apart from wasting valuable screen space on tablet devices (where space is often at a premium), this causes significant issues with software designed for Windows 8. Since Windows 8 has no taskbar at the bottom of the screen, apps often put buttons or other elements near the bottom of the screen. When you try to tap these elements in Windows 10, you often end up tapping the Taskbar instead, making using certain apps and games an exercise in frustration. To help with this problem, you can try the “hide the taskbar” option, but pop your finger near the bottom of the screen and Windows will reveal it again, usually when you don’t want it. Moving the taskbar to the sides of the screen can help, but even then, Windows will often decide that you need to see the taskbar and leave it on your screen for no apparent reason.

In spite of this, Windows 10 on touch isn’t completely awful and does have some advantages over Windows 8. Many desktop apps now work perfectly well on touch devices thanks to a few clever tweaks and desktop and Windows store apps work much better together than they ever did in Windows 8. Overall though the experience on touch is a significant step-back from Windows 8 and we have to wonder if Microsoft will ever be able to find a way to make Windows work just as well on a tablet as it does on a traditional PC.

Out of our six machines then, we’ve had a generally positive Windows 10 experience on four of them, a relatively disappointing experience on our tablet PC and one absolutely torrid time on one desktop. That’s a little disappointing considering all of our machines worked well with either Windows 7 or Windows 8. Perhaps Windows 10 should have stayed in development a little longer? Growing dissatisfaction with glitches and bugs in Windows 10 comes after Microsoft decided to lay off a huge number of testers and QA staff, in a move that was described as streamlining their software development process. Our upgrade advice for Windows 10 remains roughly the same; be sure to upgrade before the end of the free offer, but make sure you take a backup before you take the plunge. If Microsoft want to convince more of us to upgrade, they should certainly make ironing out the bugs and kinks in the new OS a high priority.

Tip of the Month – Creating Desktop Shortcuts

Have you noticed how the new Windows 10 Start menu and the Windows 8 Start screen both don’t have the “Send to -> Desktop (create shortcut) option any more? Desktop shortcuts might be out of fashion with Microsoft, but lots of users still like to have them, particularly if you only typically use a handful of apps on your PC.

You can still create desktop shortcuts in Windows 8 and 10. The easiest way in Windows 10 is to simply drag and drop a shortcut from your Start menu onto your desktop. In Windows 8 it’s a little more tricky. Creating desktop shortcuts to modern or trusted apps is quite complex and not something we can cover in a quick tip, but for desktop apps, all you need to do is right click on the app and choose “Open file location”. This will open the shortcut in Windows Explorer. You can then right click on it and choose “Send to -> Desktop (Create Shortcut)”.

Free Utility of the Month – Andy

When it comes to computer software, Windows is second to none, but when it comes to software optimised for touch devices, Windows is still lagging behind both iOS and Android. If there’s a particular app or game you miss from your Android phone, you may be able to run it using this amazing little utility called Andy. Andy is an Android emulator that runs on any modern PC (a faster PC may be required for some games), and gives you access to most of the Android software catalogue.

Apart from using the emulator to access apps that aren’t normally available on Windows tablets, you can use it to play your favourite mobile games on a bigger screen. This can be a fun way to play games like Clash of Clans, for instance.

While Andy isn’t compatible with every Android app, a large number do work very well, so if Android is your thing, check it out here.

Windows Store App of the Month – Wunderlist

Still using sticky notes for reminders, either physical ones stuck to your monitor or the sticky notes app in Windows 7/8 and 10? If so, you might want to consider switching to a dedicated app for keeping track of your to-do lists. Wunderlist is one such app that manages to-do tasks with great efficiency. You can add to-do tasks and lists, create reminders and much more. Your tasks are also synced to your phone (Windows, iOS or Android), tablet or other PCs, basically anywhere you have an internet connection.

Never forget to buy milk again! Get Wunderlist in the Windows store here. Windows 7 users can also download a desktop version here.

CES 2016 – PCs of all shapes and sizes out in force

Every January, Las Vegas USA celebrates everything wild and wonderful in the world of consumer electronics at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). While the show used to be a lot more significant for Windows users, Microsoft themselves have had a much reduced presence for the last few years. Nevertheless, CES2016 had one of the best showings for PCs for quite some time. With Windows 10 finally gaining momentum (in spite of our reservations!), manufacturers are using the new OS on all kinds of different machines. No matter what you need a PC for, seems there’s a device to suit you.

2016 could finally be the year when the convertible tablet/laptop really starts to take off. In the past, convertible devices have often been a compromise between a dedicated tablet and a laptop, but as technology improves they are becoming a more suitable replacement for both devices. Dells gorgeous looking Latitude 7275 weighs in at just 1.6 pounds (0.73kg) and has a powerful next generation Core M7 Skylake processor. While this can’t quite match the Core i7 in the top of the line Microsoft tablets, it’s more than enough for most users and comes in significantly cheaper too. Check out Techradar’s impressions of this promising looking convertible here.

Dell weren’t the only company with convertibles of course. Samsung showed off their new Galaxy TabPro S and Toshiba had the lower spec but more affordable Dynapad. Lenovo also had the ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

If laptops are more your thing, but you don’t want backache carrying yours around, HP had the super thin HP EliteBook Folio G1 laptop. This impressive machine has a 4k screen (and can power dual external 4k displays). The device is just 12.4mm thick and has a powerful Core M processor. See the machine in action in this video.

Laptops and portable PCs make up the bulk of PC sales these days, but there was still a great line up of desktop PCs too. Like laptops, desktop PCs now come in all kinds of different form-factors, shapes and sizes. One machine that caught our eye was the VivoMini PC from Asus. Similar to the popular Intel NUC, this tiny PC manages to cram an Intel Skylake Core processor, optical drive and other storage devices in a tiny box that’s small enough to mount on the back of most monitors. If that’s not small enough for you, Asus also had their VivoStick PC on show, which is basically a complete computer on a device just a tiny bit bigger than a regular USB stick (no optical drive this time though!).

If performance PCs are your thing, then the Origin Omni would surely catch your eye. An all in one PC with a 3k monitor, an Intel Core i7 5960X processor and a colossally powerful Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan X graphics card. Impressively, all this power is somehow contained at the back of the machines monitor, making the unit very tidy (at least until you peek around the back!).

While it wasn’t the smallest or most powerful machine at the show, Lenovo’s cute little Ideacentre 610S PC was a favourite amongst tech journalists. With its distinctive handbag like design and its cute little detachable projector, this nimble little machine could find a place in any modern home.

Elsewhere on the show floor, the usual mix of bigger, better TVs, blu-ray players, smartphones, wearable tech and eclectic gadgets were all present. Vehicle automation played a big role too, with self-driving cars now no longer a thing from science fiction, Microsoft seem determined that Windows, or at least Office, will feature in vehicles in the future. The company has signed deals with Volvo, Nissan, Harman, and IAV that could see apps like Skype and Office come to your self-driving car in the near future. Just when you thought your commute was safe, now your boss will be able to call you and pull up your latest spreadsheet right on your dashboard.

Virtual Reality headsets and related gear also had a big presence at this years show. VR, which completely submerges the player in the game world, requires a very powerful computer and an additional headset, putting it out of the reach of many games players. Nevertheless, in time the barriers to entry will likely come down. Oculus Rift announced their long awaited headset would go on sale for $599/£410. HTC also showed off their Vive headset (though it wasn’t a big hit with everyone!). Sony also announced 100 games in development for their Playstation VR headset, which may be the most affordable way into virtual reality, though pricing is yet to be confirmed on the device. Given that the headset will almost certainly need additional processing power above and beyond what the base PS4 hardware can offer, some websites speculate the price could be as high as $600. Better get saving up if VR is your thing.

It also wouldn’t be CES without some quirky products. This year our favourite has to be the Digitsole smart shoes. Featuring the obligatory smartphone apps to track your activity, this futuristic footwear can also automatically tighten around your feet, almost (but not quite) like Marty Mcfly’s self-tying trainers from the Back to the Future movies. That’s not all, you can even regulate the temperature of your feet, because sweaty smelly feet were so last decade. Just make sure to remember to charge your sneakers overnight, of course. Your boss isn’t going to be happy if you’re late because your shoes battery was flat and they wouldn’t tighten.

Overall, CES2016 saw the PC and Windows in fine shape for the future, with no evidence of the so called “post PC” world. Just as we predicted in the past, the world now is not so much “post PC” as it is “everything is a PC”, with traditional PCs, laptops and Windows devices just one of many different kinds of smart device that consumers and businesses use to complete their day to day computing tasks.

That concludes our newsletter for January. 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. Let me take this opportunity to wish a Happy New Year and a prosperous 2016 to all our readers. We’ll see you again on the 10th February 2016 for 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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