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Posted on Jun 24, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 1 – We’re back!

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Top Windows Tutorials
TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 1

We’re back!

Welcome to our June 2013 TWT Newsletter. It’s been a stressful few months but we’ve finally been able to launch the new site and the new newsletter. Due to unforeseen circumstances we had to delay sending the newsletter, so we apologise for that, but we’re confident that the gremlins are all out of the system now. By the time you read this, we will be up and running with the fantastic new 3rd generation Top-Windows-Tutorials. It’s been an exciting ride so far, and our new, more modern look and feel is just the beginning.

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

In this months issue:-

  1. New website, enhancements, new features and more
  2. Windows 8.1 news and updates
  3. Tip of the Month – Got an old monitor? Put it to use!
  4. Free Utility of the Month – FreeOCR
  5. XP Users – You have less than one year of support left
  6. Microsoft U-turns on new Xbox console policies

 

picture New website, enhancements, new features and more

It’s been a long time coming but we were finally able to launch our new look site. If you’ve not given us a visit since you last received your newsletter, you should do so now, you will be in for quite a surprise! There’s more to the site than just a new coat of paint though, for instance check out these new features:-

  • Comments are back! You can now comment on all the tutorials directly. Ask us a question, leave feedback or reply to another user. We’ve dropped the confusing system of only allowing comments on certain pages too, you can now leave your comment exactly where it belongs. Our new comment engine is built into our new content management system and is here to stay, so comment away.
  • Mobile enhancements – Our new site layout is fluid and will automatically resize to fit big screen PC’s and tiny mobile phones. We firmly believe the future of computing will be multiple devices all with different screen sizes and capabilities. We will aim to give the best experience possible on both mobile and PC screens. We still have some work to do until all our video content is mobile friendly, but we’re making progress in this area and hope to have all videos converted before the end of the year.
  • Browse by category – This is the first of our new enhancements to make navigating the site easier. To browse the Windows 7 category, for instance, try this link. This is a work in progress and we’ll be adding more enhancements to site navigation as time goes on. You can also search the site using the page here or use the built-in search box at the top of any page.

We’re planning lots more improvements and enhancements too and we’ll announce them first in the newsletter.

 

picture Windows 8.1 news and updates

Windows 8 has never been a stranger to controversy. Dramatically dividing opinion when launched, the operating system has nevertheless seen a steady update. While Windows 8 may have failed to reignite the PC market like Microsoft hoped, it’s hardly been a total flop either.

One of the most controversial decisions was the removal of the Start button. A familiar fixture since Windows 95, its absence had new Windows 8 users frustrated and confused. We can confirm that the Start button will be returning to Windows 8 when Windows 8.1 is released later this year. The new Start button will not open the old, traditional Start menu however, it will simply take you to the new Windows 8 Start screen.

Although not officially confirmed, it seems like an option to boot directly to the desktop will also be included. There will also be the ability to boot to ‘alternate screens’, though we’re not entirely sure what this means exactly (probably different groups of tiles).

There’s some fun new features too. Being able to personalise the lock screen without needing a third party utility was one of our favourite new features in Windows 8. Windows 8.1 will take this a step further and allow you to show a picture slideshow while your PC is locked. While Stardock Software already gave us the ability to customise our Start screen backgrounds with the excellent Decor8 utility, Microsoft look set to build this functionality in as standard with Windows 8.1.

There are improvements to the tiles too. When Windows 8 was released, the options for multitasking with the new tile applications were limited at best. Windows 8.1 looks to fix much of that by allowing two tile programs to run side by side with equal amounts of screen space, rather than restricting one to a tiny strip of the screen.

In the never ending web browser arms race, Microsoft is set to fire its latest salvo by launching Internet Explorer 11 with Windows 8.1. The big new feature in IE11 is said to be support for WebGL, a 3D graphics standard for the internet.

Finally, despite some initial fears that Microsoft may have been switching to a model similar to Apple, where incremental updates to the OS were not free, it seems that Windows 8.1 will be a free update. A public preview will be released at the end of the month, so expect some screenshots and maybe even a video tour in next months newsletter.

 

picture Tip of the Month – Got an old monitor? Put it to use!

This has to be one of my favourite Windows productivity tips. While many of us these days are glued to the screens of our Smartphones, it’s refreshing to come back to a big-screen PC and all the workspace it offers. Did you know that most modern desktop PC’s and many laptops too can use at least two monitors at once? If you check the connections at the back or on the sides of your PC, you might well see two monitor connectors. Usually this means that your PC can use two monitors at once.

How can this be useful? Using two monitors can give you much more desktop space. You can have your e-mails or instant messaging open on one monitor while you browse or work on another. Running multiple monitors can help you become much more productive, most users who try it never go back to a single monitor setup again! See what Microsoft themselves have to say about running two monitors by visiting this link.

 

pictureFree utility of the Month – FreeOCR

If you own a scanner for your PC, you’ve probably had fun scanning in old family photos and sending them to friends and family around the world. That’s not all that scanners are useful for however. Have you ever wished you could convert a paper document and save it to your PC, tablet or smartphone? If you have, then this software could be just what you need. the OCR in FreeOCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. That means, printed words are converted to text, for archiving on your PC, editing, searching or sharing. Remember that OCR software works with printed papers but is unlikely to work with handwritten documents. You can download FreeOCR here.

 

picture XP Users – You have less than one year of support left

Despite being over 12 years old (an absolute dinosaur in computing years) Windows XP is still used by up to 40% of computers on the internet. For Those of you still clinging to your faithful old XP boxes, Microsoft has issued an ultimatum, upgrade your system before April 8 2014 or you will no longer receive any security updates.

Of course, just because your XP machine is no longer supported, doesn’t mean that it will suddenly stop working, but we’re all used to the constant patching and updating that all versions of Windows (and other operating systems too, like Linux) have to go through. An operating system is an incredibly complex piece of software engineering, and with anything of this complexity there are always undiscovered bugs or exploits. Some of our readers suggested that after 12 years, maybe Microsoft had found all of the security bugs in XP, however this seems extremely unlikely. Users continuing to run XP risk being the victims of specifically targeted hacking attacks using attack vectors that will continue to be open until a newer, more secure operating system is installed.

We know that many of you are happy with your XP machines, they do everything you need and more importantly, they are familiar to you. However, like it or not technology marches on. Windows 7 and Windows 8 are much more secure than Windows XP (even before the XP security patches are halted) and support many more modern features. Remember that newer hardware will stop supporting XP soon too. Need a new printer, scanner or sound card? Chances are they will only support Windows Vista, 7 and 8 in future. If you do plan to keep your XP box, you could consider simply disconnecting it from the internet. Kept in isolation an old XP PC will work great for playing those old single player games, typing up a quick letter or listening to some music. For the really adventurous, there are versions of Linux that don’t have the higher system requirements of Windows 8 but are still fully supported with security updates.

After the cut-off date for Windows XP support, we will begin removing XP content from our site too. XP has been a fantastic operating system, but its retirement is long overdue now. XP we salute you and bid you a happy retirement!

 

pictureMicrosoft U-turns on Xbox console policies

You may have noticed a Facebook or Twitter message from us earlier in the month about the new Xbox One games console. Microsoft’s successor to their immensely popular Xbox 360 gaming machine, the new console met with disdain from gamers before it even hit the shelves, due to it’s extremely restrictive new policies. These policies were set to bar the resale of second hand games except at specialist retailers, prevent games from being given away or loaned (except under strict scrutiny and control) and even prevent the console from being played at all unless an internet connection to Microsoft’s servers was established! Needless to say these policies didn’t go down well with the gaming audience, and early adopters placed their pre-orders for Sony’s competing Playstation 4 product instead.

Despite claims to the contrary, Microsoft made a sudden U-turn on these policies last night (19th June). We can now report that games on the new Microsoft console will work just like they do on the existing machine, with no on-line check-ins and no restrictions on trading, lending or resale. If you’re a gamer or a parent considering buying one of the new games consoles this Christmas, you can now decide between Microsoft’s all round media box the Xbox One, Sony’s super-powerful PS4 and Nintendo’s fun-focused Wii successor, the Wii-U. Each machine has it’s strengths and weaknesses, but none of the machines now block second hand game sales or trades.

 

That concludes our first new look newsletter! On behalf of the team here at TWT, I’d like to thank you for reading and for your continued support. The TWT Newsletter will return on the 10th July 2013 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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