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Posted on Dec 11, 2013 in Newsletter | 0 comments

TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 7 – Windows 8 Superguide – Second Edition is here!

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Top Windows Tutorials
TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 7

Welcome to the December 2013 TWT Newsletter

Merry Christmas readers! It still seems a little early to be writing that, but Christmas is definitely on the way. With Windows 8.1 in full swing now, we have some exciting news about our best-selling training course, the Windows 8 Superguide. We also take a look at Microsoft’s latest claims for their Outlook E-mail service.

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 8.1 Superguide now available – Give the gift of learning this year!
November internet traffic figures show slow growth for Windows 8, Windows XP still worryingly popular
Tip of the Month – Managing default programs
Free Utility of the Month – Foobar 2000
Is Outlook e-mail really more private than G-mail?

 

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

The big news this month is, of course, our launch of the fully updated Windows 8 Superguide. However, we also had time to bring you an in-depth review and bench-test of two of our favourite backup packages, Genie Timeline and Oops!Backup.

 

picture Doing the Time Warp again – Oops!Backup Vs. Genie Timeline

We put Genie Timeline and Oops!Backup against each other in a gruelling set of tests, including a real-world test for both packages. The test are spread over this three part article. Click here to read more.

 

 

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Windows 8 Superguide – Second Edition now launched

We’re delighted to announce that the second edition of our best-selling Windows 8 Superguide is now available. Fully updated for Windows 8.1, we have revised every single video in the guide and checked and amended every page of the e-book. The guide also features our highest quality video and audio yet.

We’re offering some very generous upgrade incentives for those of you who purchased the first edition of the guide.  Anyone who purchased the Windows 8 Superguide on or after the 18th July 2013 will qualify for a free upgrade (for the download version) or an upgrade for the cost of shipping, handling and media (for the DVD version). Purchases made before this date qualify for a 75% discount until 10th January 2014.

To claim your free copy or discount, please contact us here using the same e-mail address you used to place your original order. Please state if you purchased a DVD or a download copy. After confirming your details you will be sent a link to obtain your discounted or free copy of the second edition.

The Kindle version of the guide is available on Amazon now. The physical book version has just been released too and is available directly from Createspace here, or from Amazon.

Remember that although Top-Windows-Tutorials is based in the UK, our DVD’s and physical books ship from the USA, so don’t leave it too late to order for Christmas. If you have missed the last shipping date, remember our downloads are DRM free. You can download any of our Superguides, then copy them to a USB stick for instance. We will look at this and a few more ideas for last minute gifts in the next article.

 

Last minute gift ideas for the tech-savvy family

Christmas is just around the corner once again. Last year we ran an article on last minute gift ideas and since we have had many new newsletter subscribers since then, now seems like a good time to re-run the article. If you’ve left your Christmas gift shopping literally until the last minute, here are a few ideas for saving the big day from big disappointments.

Now that many of us have internet connections, lots of software is sold online rather than in stores. Buy a new program and you could have it in minutes or even seconds via digital download. Several of these services have become very popular and for the computer user in your life a gift card or a download can be a great gift idea.

One of the most popular download services for the PC is Steam. This online store specialises in games, but it also has some productivity software too. There are two ways you can treat a Steam using friend this festive season. Firstly, you can buy Steam top-up cards from stores such as Game (UK) or GameStop (US). Typically these cards are simply printed on a till receipt, so you might want to put them inside a Christmas card or consider some other means of presenting them more personally.

Secondly, if you have a Steam account yourself and you know your friends Steam account, you can gift them any game or program available to buy on Steam. Simply start Steam, then choose the program you want to buy and then click on “Purchase as a Gift”.

Steam is not the only way to buy new software for your PC. Windows 8 users should now be familiar with the Windows 8 store. Unfortunately there’s currently no way to gift a purchase made on the Windows 8 store. You can, however, buy pre-paid credit in the form of top-up cards for your Microsoft account and use them on Xbox and Windows 8 PCs.

Perhaps you’d like to give a PC enthusiast in your life a little something to spruce his or her PC up. Stardock’s excellent Object Desktop suite is now just $34.99 and includes 15 different programs to brighten up your Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 desktop. You can buy this suite of programs as a digital download gift here.

Of course, there are lots of other places you can buy download content from. For anyone lucky enough to be getting a new PC this Christmas, our Windows 8 Superguide is an excellent gift to get them. Our downloads are all free of DRM (copy protection), meaning you can easily download our products then save them to another computer for use. Spare a friend or family member the frustration of learning Windows 8′s new interface and grab a copy of our latest Superguide here. Our Windows 7 Superguide is still available, of course. For those users who have mastered the basics, there’s also the Windows 7 Superguide 2, which takes your Windows 7 knowledge to the next level.

Once you’ve chosen your download, in many cases you will want to come up with a way to present it. For download codes, you could copy and paste the receipt e-mail into a package like Word or Open Office. From here, you can add pictures and decorations before printing out. If you buy one of our Superguides, for instance, why not use a USB stick in order to deliver it. These are so common that most supermarkets now carry them. You could even decorate the USB stick in a festive style if you were feeling particularly adventurous. Even if you haven’t been so last minute with your gift gathering, a digital download can be a great way to add that extra personal touch to a USB flash drive, external hard drive or even a PC that was purchased for a friend or family member.

So as you can see, digital downloads can make for great stocking fillers for your computer loving friends and relatives. However you’re spending Christmas this year, we hope that your stocking has some exciting presents waiting inside!

 

November internet traffic figures show slow growth for Windows 8, Windows XP still worryingly popular

Despite strong competition from Apple and Linux, Microsoft Windows still accounts for more than 90% of the market share of all desktop operating systems. What may surprise you is how that percentage is divided between the different versions of the OS.

Out in the lead is Windows 7, with around 46% of the market share. Worryingly however, In second place is the venerable Windows XP, with around 31% of the share. As we’ve reminded our readers in previous newsletters, Windows XP security updates end on the 8th April 2014. After this date, there will be no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates.

It’s worth stating now where we got these figures from. Popular tech news site Ars Technica first published these figures based on data that was collected from peoples web surfing habits. That means that 31% of the people using Windows to access the internet are still on Windows XP.

As we’ve stated in previous newsletters, continuing to use Windows XP after the April 2014 cut-off date is not advisable, especially if you plan to use the internet. With no security updates, your PC will be vulnerable to hackers and malware, even if you have a third-party firewall and antivirus solution installed. With so many people clinging to Windows XP, many security experts believe that hackers and criminals are rubbing their hands in anticipation of so many easy to exploit victims next year.

If you have held off upgrading your Windows XP box because you dislike Windows 8, remember that it only takes a few simple tweaks to make Windows 8 behave almost exactly like Windows 7. We show you how in this video.

Speaking of Windows 8, the operating system saw only a tiny bit of growth thanks to Windows 8.1. Now accounting for 9.3% of the market share. It looks like Windows 7 may be the new Windows XP and it will be interesting to see what Microsoft does next.

Finally, in last place is Windows Vista, with just 2.64%. Despite introducing some very important security improvements to Windows, Windows Vista is still often regarded as a failure and disliked by the Windows communities in general. Nevertheless it remains a much more secure alternative to XP, although we would always recommend Windows 7 or Windows 8 these days.

Obviously, statistics like these need to be taken with a pinch of salt. The figures are based on web usage, so say nothing of any PCs that aren’t regularly used for web surfing. Machines like home theatre PCs, file servers or other old, re-purposed computers will not show up in these statistics. Of course, many old PCs aren’t connected to the internet at all. Machines such as those in children’s bedrooms that are used for homework, perhaps. Any XP machines that aren’t connected to the internet at all are not at risk of infection and can safely be used after the April 2014 deadline (theoretically these machines could get virus infections from removable media, but virtually all modern malware targets internet connected PCs). For the rest of you still on XP, it’s time to upgrade! Windows 7 and Windows 8 are superior to Windows XP in so many ways, you won’t regret it. Plus with all our free tutorials, settling into your new OS is easy.

For a more detailed look at these figures, check out the article on Ars Technica here.

 

Tip of the Month – Managing default programs

In Windows, when you double click on a file in Windows Explorer or File Explorer, it opens up in a specific program. If no program is available, Windows will ask you to choose one instead. We’ve talked extensively about changing default programs in Windows 8, as this is something most new users will want to do as soon as they start using the new OS. However, what we didn’t cover was the Default Programs manager. This can be found on the Control Panel or by searching on the Start screen or Start menu for “default programs”. The Control Panel will then open and the top option will read “Set your default programs”.

Windows will then show you a list of programs installed on your PC. If you click on a program in the list and then choose the “Set this program as default” option, that program will then open all compatible file types. Say for instance if you had installed the Foobar2000 media player (this month’s free utility of the month) and wanted to make it the default player for all kinds of music file. Simply select it in the list of programs then click the “Set this program as default” option. Foobar2000 will then play any and all music files you double click on.

 

Free Utility of the Month – Foobar2000

Last month, AOL announced that it was shutting down one of the longest running media player programs. Winamp. For those who have never heard of it, Winamp was once one of the biggest and most popular media playing programs on the PC. While rumours persist about what will happen to the player, which still has millions of users worldwide, now seems like a good time to look at an alternative.

Foobar 2000 is a music player sporting a simple, uncluttered interface and very low memory usage. The program supports all popular formats of music (including mp3 and flac) and has a number of visualisations. If you are looking for a Winamp alternative or are simply frustrated with more bloated media players like iTunes, give Foobar2000 a try. You can find out more about the software here.

 

Is Outlook e-mail really more private than G-mail?

Have you noticed on television or in the media lately, that Microsoft is running an advertising campaign trying to convince users to switch from Google Mail to Outlook.com? Microsoft has gone as far as to sell various merchandise, such as coffee cups and t-shirts emblazoned with Google logos and phrases such as “Keep calm while we steal your data”.

Of course this is all a little ironic, considering both Microsoft and Google were named by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden as willing participants in NSA’s PRISM program, a program that allowed intelligence operatives to gather data straight from a users inbox on a whim. Furthermore, even before the Snowden revelations, the Microsoft owned and operated Skype service was accused of giving their parent company the ability to “silently copy communication transmitted via the communication session”.

Regardless of who you trust with your data, is Outlook e-mail more secure than G-mail, considering  Microsoft don’t have the same targeted adverts as Google do? Perhaps, but many people have unrealistic expectations of e-mail privacy to begin with. E-mail is one of the oldest services still used on the internet today. Its protocols actually pre-date the modern internet itself. It was never designed to be a secure means of communication.

When you transmit an e-mail through the internet, it is first sent to a server, that then forwards it on to any number of intermediate servers (Mail Exchange servers) before finally it arrives at another server that files it neatly into the recipients inbox. At no point in this transfer is the e-mail ever encrypted or protected from eavesdropping. It would only take one of those servers along the way to be compromised and your e-mail could be read by anyone.

Of course, Microsoft neglect to mention these facts when trying to convince us all that Outlook.com e-mail is super secure. Really, it is better to think of e-mail as being like a postcard and don’t send any information that you would be uncomfortable with a third party reading. Keep this all in mind before you start the task of trying to migrate all your e-mail accounts from Google mail.

So, if you do need to communicate securely, what is the answer? Unfortunately there is no simple answer to that question. Encrypted e-mail (known as PGP mail) has existed for over a decade, but has never seen widespread adoption. On the web, we have SSL, which is used when logging into sensitive websites like online banking. While SSL has its faults, it does provide a good level of security. There are services like Cryptocat and OTR that bring encryption to instant messaging, but they require both parties to install and use them in order to work. If you have some private information to send and the postal service is reliable in your country, you might want to consider simply sending a good old fashioned letter instead!

That concludes our newsletter for December. On behalf of the team here at TWT, I’d like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a prosperous 2014. Thank you to all our readers, new and old for your continued support. The TWT Newsletter will return on the 10th January 2014 and will bring you more tips, tricks and techniques to help you get the best out of your PC, be it Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8. 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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