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Posted on Jan 14, 2014 in Newsletter, Welcome | 0 comments

TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 8 – CES 2014, Windows 9 rumours

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TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 8

Welcome to the January 2014 TWT Newsletter

Happy new year to all our readers! We hope you all had a great festive period and that Santa brought you all the gadgets you wanted this year. Whether there was a new, powerful Windows 8 machine in your stocking or a light-weight tablet or e-book reader, we’ll help you get more from your gadgets by maximising the potential of your Windows 8 PC.

January sees the return of the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas. In recent years, Microsoft have reduced their presence at CES and the show has been more focused on televisions, smartphones and tablets. That doesn’t mean that there’s nothing for PC users however, especially as the market for tablets and laptops is clearly converging. We’ll have our usual round up of the relevant PC and Windows news from the show, as well as our regular features.

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In this months issue:-

What’s new at
CES 2014 – PCs and tablets continue to converge
Tip of the Month – Copy free e-books to your reader
Free Utility of the Month – Gimp
Windows Store app of the Month – Steampin
Could Windows “Threshold” be the final turning point for Windows 8?


What’s new at

It may have been Christmas last month, but we didn’t slack on the new content. It’s always frustrating when you have problems with your PC, but with Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8, Microsoft gave us some great new tools for fixing troublesome systems. We also updated a couple of our web browsing tutorials too.


picture Using the deployment image servicing and management tool (DISM)

If you ran the system file checker (see below) on your PC and the tool was unable to repair corrupt operating system files, you may wish to try DISM. The DISM or Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool can download fresh copies of corrupt Windows system files directly from Microsoft. Find out how to use this tool here.


picture Using the System File Checker (SFC) to fix corrupt Windows files

If you’re having issues with your PC, using the System File Checker (SFC) is one easy way to make sure that none of your core operating system files are corrupt. The tool scans your Windows installation and repairs any files that do not pass an integrity check. The tool can only be used from the command prompt, but don’t worry, it’s really easy. Check out our tutorial on how to use this tool here.


picture Download new files to your computer using Microsoft Internet Explorer 9, 10 or 11

If you want to try out new software and complete several of our tutorials, you will need to know how to download files from the internet. Doing this is really easy, but if you’ve never done so before, check out our tutorial here for Internet Explorer users.


picture Download new files to your computer using Mozilla Firefox

If you’re using Firefox, you can learn how to download files by following this tutorial. We’re hoping to add a Google Chrome tutorial in the near future too.




CES 2014 – PCs and tablets continue to converge

January means that the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) returns once again to Las Vegas. For the last few years, we’ve rounded up the most relevant, PC related news from the show for our readers and of course this year is no different. Over the years, we’ve seen the focus at CES shift away from PCs and Windows (with Microsoft deciding that 2012 was the last year they would give a keynote speech at the show). Nevertheless, PC manufacturers and Microsoft themselves had a strong presence at the show, showing that while the PC market continues to diversify, we’re a long way from living in a post PC age.

As you might have expected, Tablet PCs had a huge presence at the show this year. Intel’s new Bay Trail chipset is powering some fantastic looking mini Windows 8.1 tablets. We looked at a couple of promising tablets last month and there were even more devices at the show. Panasonic unveiled its impressive looking Toughpad FZ-M1 7-inch Windows 8 tablet. While not really aimed at consumers, we’ve always found the Panasonic Toughbook range to be interesting. Built to allow computing in the harshest of environments, this rugged little tablet will survive a drop of up to 5 feet, as well as assault from dust, water and extremes of hot and cold. If you are about to embark on an epic adventure and don’t want to leave your Windows PC behind, check out this impressive little tablet here.

If you’re the indecisive type who can’t choose between tablet and laptop, you might be interested in the Asus Transformer Boot Duet. This hybrid device functions as a laptop, a Windows tablet and, with the push of a button and a waiting time of around 4 seconds, an Android tablet too. We’re not really sure who would need an Android and Windows tablet in the same device, but if you have an Android smartphone, you can share many of your apps with other Android devices too, so that could be useful. You can read more about the device here.

Our favourite Windows 8 tablet shown at CES this year was the Asus Vivotab Note 8. Packing a quad core CPU, 2GB of ram and full support for stylus input with a pressure sensitive display, this machine is ideal for business users, note-taking students and anyone who prefers the accuracy of a stylus and a pressure sensitive screen (most tablets, including iPads do not detect varying levels of pressure at all. it’s still possible to touch the screen directly with your finger too). Find out more about this neat little tablet here.

Fed up of all those tiny tablets and want something really monstrously big? How about Lenovo’s huge 27 inch table top PC, the Horizon 2? Running Windows 8.1, the Horizon 2 features a kickstand to be used as a desktop, or it can lie completely flat. When lying flat, the unit uses a custom interface for manipulating photos and accessing games and other content. Laying a smart phone on the Horizon allows users to move photos and data between the two devices. If your coffee table has been crying out for such a gadget, then you can read more about the Horizon 2 here.

Of course, laptop computers remain extremely popular and several new models were announced at this years show. Toshiba revealed the first 4k (ultra HD) laptops. Running Windows 8.1, these super high resolution devices are designed for mobile professionals working with graphically intensive applications. Pricing was not announced, but don’t expect such features to come cheaply.

Popular PC manufacturer Lenovo also unveiled the Thinkpad X1 Carbon. A no nonsense Windows 8.1 laptop with a semi-rugged chassis, an excellent high resolution touch screen and a long life, quick charge battery. If all the gimmicky machines shown at this years show left you cold, this excellent work-ready machine could be just the ticket for you. Find out more here.

There were some interesting developments in the desktop PC space this year too. While laptop and tablet devices now thoroughly outpace desktop PCs in sales, there is clearly still a market for the traditional desktop PC. As the dominant market leader, Microsoft may have felt the desktop was securely their domain, but two interesting developments at CES this year introduced yet more competition in the traditional PC marketplace.

Both Lenovo and HP showed off low cost desktop PCs at this years show, running not Windows but Android, the operating system more commonly found on smartphones and tablets. While Android has been gaining traction, moving it from a mobile device to a desktop is somewhat puzzling, especially considering the cold reception Windows 8’s new tiles got from the desktop PC audience. Nevertheless, there are an increasing number of users who only access content through smartphones and tablets who will be instantly familiar with an android PC, though one has to wonder why a user like this would want a desktop PC when he/she can access all their content through a mobile device anyway. Like all operating systems, Android continues to evolve and with Windows encroaching on the mobile and tablet space, it was only a matter of time before the more mobile-centric operating systems found their way to the more traditional PCs too.

After much speculation, popular PC game developer and distributor Valve unveiled a range of “Steam Boxes”. Originally the Steam box was tipped to be Valve’s entry into the games console market, but of the machines that were revealed (see here for the complete line up), most just appeared to be expensive, branded PCs. While some of the PCs in this range will ship only with SteamOS, a special, game-centric version of Linux, several of the manufacturers have already announced that their machines will dual-boot with Windows 8.1 too, opening up a much richer library of games and software. Valve’s Steambox vision seems to lack the coherent standardisation that games console users appreciate, while offering little advantage for the PC gamer. Nevertheless, SteamOS is another new competitor for Windows and one that it would be churlish to dismiss at such an early stage.

Elsewhere on the show floor, the usual mix of huge TVs, smartphone controlled helicopters, eclectic gadgets (like bluetooth toothbrushes and devices we’re supposed to willingly purchase that track our every move) were joined by an increased presence from the automotive industry, who were keen to show off the latest in-car technology. Computing chips have, of course, been in consumer electronic devices for decades. As technology gets smaller and faster, those simple logic controllers in electronic devices like TVs are changing into fully blown computers, capable of driving smart TVs and PC like experiences in all kinds of places. Soon we could be heading towards a future where even your toaster can play Angry Birds while you wait for your toast. With so many companies vying for control of every screen and device you use, the future of computing and consumer electronics is likely to hold more than a few surprises and the next version of Windows could be the most critical yet for Microsoft. You can read more about the latest new Windows rumours in our final article this month.


Tip of the Month – Copy free e-books to your reader

Was Santa kind enough to bring you a new e-book reader or tablet this year? If so, there’s lots of free content on the web you can find with your PC and then copy or download on your tablet. Sites like Project Gutenberg host collections of completely free e-books that you can download and use on your e-reader.

Depending on which tablet or reader you have, you may be able to access the web directly from the device. However, you may find it easier to download the book on your PC first. Check out the two tutorials mentioned above for how to download files on your PC. Many of the sites will offer a variety of formats for the book, in which case you should check the documentation that comes with your tablet or e-reader to find out which is the best format.

Once you have your e-book downloaded, you will need to copy it to your device. Doing this is usually really easy. Simply connect your device with a USB cable and it should appear under “This PC” (Windows 8) or Computer (Windows 7 and Windows Vista). If it does not, check the documentation and see if there is a “mass storage” mode you need to activate. Once this is done, you simply need to drag and drop the file from your PC to your e-reader or tablet. If you need help with this, check out Windows 7 Tutorial 5 or Windows 8 Tutorial 15 which demonstrate how to move and copy files.


Free Utility of the Month – GIMP

This months free utility is a little more techie than we usually go, but it’s such a good package that many aspiring artists will want to check out. The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP for short) is a fully featured photoshop-like image editing program used by both amateur and professional graphic artists all around the world. While the package can initially be daunting to use, it goes well beyond the functionality offered in other free graphics packages. If you or a family member is an aspiring artist, check out GIMP here .


Windows Store app of the Month – Pin Steam

In this new section of our newsletter, we will recommend one Windows Store app each month. We’ll focus on the quirky and the less well known as well as the more mainstream apps.

To kick us off, here’s a little app that can bridge the gap between some of the most popular desktop software and the new Windows 8 tile interface. Pin Steam can automatically create beautiful looking tiles for any game or program you purchased using the digital download service Steam. If you prefer the new Windows 8 Start Screen, but hate that only your tile apps get to have big, beautiful tiles for them, then this app might be exactly what you have been waiting for. If you don’t use Steam but want to create a bigger tile for another desktop app, check out OblyTile.


Could Windows “Threshold” be the final turning point for Windows 8?

Few versions of Windows have divided opinions like Windows 8 has. While some users have embraced the new touch optimised tile interface, many users were left frustrated and confused. Now Windows 8.1 has been released, speculation and rumour is already circulating about the next major update to the OS, codenamed “Threshold”.

It’s widely believed Microsoft wants to move to a single version of the “core” of Windows for phone, tablet and traditional PC. While this will make converting or porting apps between different versions of Windows easier, it doesn’t mean that there will be only one version of the operating system available for consumers. Current rumours point to three versions of the next edition of Windows being available. A desktop version for consumers, an enterprise version for business and a version for smartphones and tablets. If current rumours are to be believed, the next desktop version of Windows will fully restore the Start menu, as well as allow tile applications to run in a window. Whether or not the Start screen remains as an option too is unknown, but it seems likely.

While we wouldn’t agree that Windows 8 has been a failure, it didn’t stimulate PC sales as much as many in the industry hoped. Lack of compelling hardware was certainly partially to blame and for millions of users worldwide, Windows 8 just wasn’t a compelling upgrade from Windows 7. Certainly now from this years CES we’ve seen some very exciting looking Windows 8 tablets. Clearly the PC market will continue to diversify, with laptops, desktops, tablets and even smartphones all having overlapping features and uses. Windows needs to stay relevant, but at the same time there are still alternatives in the desktop space too. The next version of Windows can no more afford to stay in the past than it can afford to alienate its core user base. Lets hope we really are on the “threshold” of a great new version of the operating system.

That concludes our newsletter for January. On behalf of the team here at TWT, I’d like to wish you all a prosperous 2014. Thank you to all our readers, new and old for your continued support. The TWT Newsletter will return on the 10th February 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 and enjoy happy, safe and stress-free computing!


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