I can’t tell you how many times in the past months I have heard people say they want a Windows 7 computer rather than Windows 8 because they have ‘heard bad things about Windows 8′. When I ask them what exactly it is that they have heard that turns them off they tell me that Windows 8 is so different from Windows 7 that it is too hard to use. To me, that is utter rubbish, and I feel sorry for those people who have refused to get Windows 8 on their home machines because of things they have ‘heard’. Notice I say home machines, because Windows 8 for business is another matter due to support from third party software manufacturers for business software.
To me, the only big glaring issue for many people is the lack of a start button in Windows 8 desktop mode (and this can be very simply resolved by downloading one of the many mostly free software add-ons, personally I like Classic Shell **Note: I only install the Classic Start Menu and the Classic Shell Update, deselecting the Classic Explorer and Classic IE9 components), other than that, which as I said is a simple fix, using Windows 8 in Desktop mode is really no different than Windows 7, except that it is more secure, has better built in support for things like multiple monitors and iso files, and has some great new and improved features like a revamped and much more user friendly task manager and Windows explorer.
By choosing Windows 8 you can easily mimic the Windows 7 experience (with add-ons like Classic Shell you can even go directly to the Windows desktop and bypass the new start screen). Plus you do get the addition of the new start screen and new full screen apps like Netflix and great new Xbox live based games like Wordament which are available from the Windows App Store (there are thousands of app with many great ones for free, and more every day). Windows 8 also allows you to sign in to the computer using a Windows live id (Hotmail, Live.com, Outlook.com, MSN email), and when doing so, you can choose to carry your settings and things like internet history etc with you to other Windows 8 computers. When signing in with your Hotmail etc email address you also have direct access to your emails, calendar and Sky Drive (which is between 7-20 GB of free online storage for your documents, photos etc). If you don’t already have a Hotmail, Outlook, Live.com email, I highly suggest getting one and using it for your Windows 8 id, if anything just to get the free Skydrive storage and use of the online versions of Word, Excel and Powerpoint.
I can’t see any downside for using Windows 8 on a home computer over Windows 7, and I can see many advantages such as ones I have outlined above.
The other thing about Windows 8 is its much improved touch interface for those computers with touchscreens. The touch on Windows 8 machines is much improved over previous versions of Windows, and using the new start menu and apps on a touch enabled computer brings a whole new experience to Windows. Many people who at first were hesitant about touchscreens on Windows 8 find that after a very short while, they use touch more and more as it is easier to do many things with touch rather than using a mouse or touchpad.
In the end, by spending a couple minutes downloading a free start menu replacement, and taking a few minutes to learn about the enhancements in Windows 8, I think the majority of people will be pleasantly surprised by their Windows 8 experience.
I currently use a Lenovo Yoga 13 convertible ultrabook as my main laptop/tablet and it is a great testament to what Windows 8 can do as it has both a tablet and laptop mode, incredible battery life, and amazingly responsive touchscreen, and can easily run any full Windows program. For home use I have a Lenovo A720 touchscreen all in one which is fantastic (see review here)
For Windows 8 questions and help with migration, upgrades and new computer setup – visit PensacolaComputers.com
The holidays are upon us and once again I am often asked – what do I get when shopping for a new computer. First let me get the whole Apple vs PC issue out of the way – Unless you are an adult who is great with technology or already use a Mac, then stick with PC’s. Mac’s are not for business use (at least not in the corporate world – and many corporations do not allow Macs on their networks), they are NOT good for students (no one in the job market cares if an applicant has Mac skills, they want PC skills), and in terms of security, while it is true you have less of a chance of getting a virus on a Mac, they are NOT more secure (in fact they are often the first to fall to hackers, and some of the viruses that are out there for Macs are very nasty). Not that Macs are not well made machines (although their latest models are next to impossible to service easily or upgrade), but they are overpriced in terms of hardware (exactly the same hardware as you can get in a PC), and unless you already use one, relearning everything can be challenging especially if you use a PC at work and a Mac at home. I am sure there are those who will argue that they just love their Mac, and to each his own, but we do not recommend them for general and current PC users for a number of reasons including the ones outlined above.
With that out of the way – what to shop for when it comes to a computer? With Windows 8 being sold on almost all new retail computers (if you must have it, you can still get Windows 7 machines from big manufacturers like Dell and HP, but more on that later), the question is do I want Windows 8? (Yes) And what kind of hardware do I want? For the first question, there is really no reason to not go to Windows 8. The biggest complaint about Windows 8 that I have heard from some people is the new start screen and the lack of the Start button on the Desktop mode – if you hate the new Start screen and miss the old Start Button you can get a free download of Classic Shell that gives you the start button back as well as gives you the option to go directly to the desktop mode at startup, bypassing the new Start screen (there are also other free and paid for programs that do this as well). The nice thing about Windows 8 is you can use it almost exactly like Windows 7 after a few alterations such as installing Classic Shell, but you also have access to all the new features of Windows 8 including the fantastically quick boot times, the better security, and the better integration of features (such as native .iso image support, VHD support etc).
The new Start Menu has caused some consternation among old time Windows users, but it is actually pretty cool and the number of Apps are growing every day. Windows 8 is designed to be usable on all kinds of devices, but the Touch features have come a long way and now using Windows on a touch screen PC or a tablet PC is a much more satisfying experience (see our preview of the Lenovo A720 Touch Screen all-in-one). We have also been using Windows 8 on a new Lenovo Yoga 13 convertible laptop/tablet and the experience is awesome! There are quite a few great apps, including productivity apps, entertainment apps, and game apps (Wordament is one of our favs). The cool thing is that many of these apps are free and Microsoft has done a good job so far of keeping the garbage adware kind of apps out of the store.
As far as hardware for Windows 8 goes – if your budget is enough to go with a touchscreen (whether an all-in-one or laptop/tablet), I highly recommend it as the touch experience is very good. If not interested in touch, then make sure that you base your decision on a number of factors – what will you use the computer for? (no need to buy a gaming machine if you are going to be just surfing the internet and checking email – conversely, don’t buy a low end machine and expect to play today’s games on it). What is your budget? (remember, you usually get what you pay for, and sometimes paying a bit more can save you a world of disappointment). Do you need a home use machine or a business machine? (most all local retailers only stock home use machines, if you are buying for work or business, you are much better off going through a major manufacturer like Dell, Lenovo, or HP). Do you want a warranty, and what kind/length? (we never recommend getting a warranty from the store itself, most all computer manufacturers allow you to purchase a warranty directly from the manufacturer within a period of time after buying a computer from a store (usually 90 days, check with the manufacturer before you buy). Store warranties are basically useless as they usually require you to bring the computer to them, do not guarantee your data, and you have no idea how long it will be until you get it back – many manufacturers such as Dell, HP, and Lenovo offer in home warranty service. For business users we definitely recommend going directly through the business websites of the big manufactures as you will get better deals, support and warranties.
As for actual hardware recommendations – We personally recommend the intel core i processors (core i3, i5, and i7) as they are some of the best performing and are good with power usage (make sure to get the 3rd generation i series – denoted with 3000 series numbers as they are the newest). The intels core i series have proven themselves, and generally if you get them, the rest of the hardware will be better than some of the mix-and-match used with other processors. While AMD does make some good chips, and they are generally cheaper, the performance of their chips (as well as the lesser intel chips like the Pentiums, Celerons etc ) are all over the place and can be quite disappointing at times. Stick with the i3, i5, or i7 and you should be happy. If buying a laptop, make sure to check the screen resolution to ensure you are getting enough screen real estate – the resolution is just as important as the screen size itself. Also, if purchasing a laptop, if at all possible, try it out to see how you like the keyboard and how it fits your hands (the smaller laptops especially can cause some issue when typing because of the key placement).
If you have a higher budget, definitely check out the Lenovo a720 27″ all-in-one, and the Lenovo Yoga 13 ultrabook – we have really enjoyed ours!
As always Pensacola Computers is available for all of your PC needs including Windows 8 upgrades and new computer setups. Feel free to visit us on the web at http://pensacolacomputers.com and give us a call with any questions you may have – especially Before you buy a new PC – our general advice is always free!
Friday October 26th is a big day for Microsoft with the release of Windows 8. Windows 8 is a big departure for Microsoft and has a lot of big changes in both appearance and in underlying code. We have been working with Windows 8 throughout the development cycle and have been running the final version on a number of systems for the past couple of months ever since its release to manufacturing and partners. The biggest difference off the bat is the new start screen which replaces the start menu – this is going to be one of the hardest things for users to adapt to, but it is a great feature that offers many advantages, especially for touch enabled devices.
On Friday October 26th, most major retailers will begin selling new computers with Windows 8 pre-installed, and you will also be able to upgrade many older machines with a download from Microsoft’s website ($40 until January 31st 2013). If you have or do purchase a Windows 7 machine between June 2, 2012 and January 31, 2013 you can get upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $15 which is an excellent deal (*Note: only Windows 8 Pro with the media pack contains Windows Media Center which included codecs for DVD playing and an interface to watch TV if you have a compatible TV card).
Windows 8 is the first version of Windows that is truly designed for multiple device platforms and has a number of features which make using it on a touch enabled device much easier than on previous versions of Windows. Windows 8 comes in several different versions and it is important to understand the differences – especially between the standard/pro editions and the RT edition.
Windows RT is made especially for ARM based processors (the kind used in many smartphones and tablets), and while it shares some of the code and looks similar to the new start screen on the other versions of Windows 8, it does NOT run software that was designed for x86/x64 PC’s and previous versions of Windows. It does run Windows Apps, and comes with a somewhat stripped down version of Microsoft Office with Apps for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. (In our opinion, it will be better for many people to wait a bit and check out the Windows 8 Pro tablets that are coming out which will offer the full features of Windows and run legacy programs as well as new ones.
For a detailed explanation of the different Windows versions, see this blog post from Microsoft made earlier this year: http://blogs.windows.com/windows/b/bloggingwindows/archive/2012/04/16/announcing-the-windows-8-editions.aspx
Windows 8 is tightly integrated with Windows Live services which allow you to logon to Windows using your Windows Live ID (hotmail, live.com, outlook.com email address), and also gives you direct access to Windows Live services like your Skydrive files. Using a Windows Live account will also allow you to synch your settings between multiple Windows 8 devices which is pretty cool.
THE START BUTTON ON THE DESKTOP IS GONE! This is one of the most apparent and controversial changes in Windows 8 and will probably cause a bit of confusion among new users. Windows 8 offers both the new Start Menu screen as well as the old desktop mode, however the old desktop mode is missing the familiar Start button. (it is easy to jump to the start screen by mousing to screen corners, and there are also several third party vendors which have made start button replacements. Using the new start screen takes a bit of getting used to, but the live tiles are very cool and once you play around with it for a while you will find that it has some really cool features.
Touch Gestures are amazing! Windows 8 is optimized for touch gestures and support 10 touch points (yes you can play a piano app with both hands and use all 10 fingers!). Getting around Windows 8 with a touch enabled screen is a breeze as it uses swipe gestures to do many things like open the start screen and move between apps. (*Note: beware on buying older or clearance touchscreen computers as many of the older ones only come with 2 touch points and you will not be able to take advantage of all of the new touch features!)
We have been using a Lenovo A720 27″ all in one touch screen to test Windows 8 and must say that it is amazing! Swiping through apps and using the touch enabled programs is a breeze and it changes the way you can use your computer. We highly recommend going to a store like BestBuy (don’t listen to the salespeople there though!) and trying out some of the newe touch enabled systems before you buy.
Windows 8 has a number of features which improve both performance and security, and it comes with Internet Explorer 10 (2 versions, one on the start screen for full screen only browsing with limited add-on support and the second full featured version available from the desktop)
For Windows 8 support, and help with upgrades and new Windows 8 installs, visit http://pensacolacomputers.com . We provide computer service and repair in the Pensacola Florida area for small businesses and home users
With access to the final RTM version of Microsoft Windows 8, I just had to get a computer that would handle the wealth of new features. Although Windows 8 will not be available pre-installed on new hardware before October 26th of this year, I did a good bit of searching before I settled on the new A720 27″ IdeaCenter all-in-one computer. The A720 according to Lenovo is built for Windows 8, and includes full 10 point multi-touch (most current touchscreen all-in-ones have 2 point touch) which is amazing to see in action (try the piano app for one!). The A720 I got also has an intel third generation i5 processor, 6 GB of RAM, built in tv-tuner, Blue Ray, Bluetooth and HDMI in and out.
I figured I would try doing an upgrade to the pre-installed Windows 7 so that I would be able to take advantage of some of the pre-installed Lenovo apps as well as perhaps having an easier time with drivers etc. I am still not sure this was the best route to take as I did have to do a bit of tweaking to get everything to work. According to the Lenovo website, they recommend uninstalling most of the pre-installed applications, but I only uninstalled a few that I knew would have issues, such as the basically worthless Mcaffee security software.
The actual installation I will cover in a future post, but for the most part, it was quick and painless, and certainly a much quicker upgrade installation that previous versions of Windows I have done. Once I got the correct drivers updated and installed, I began to play around with the Windows 8 interface using the native touchscreen. While I had previously installed Windows 8 on a few machines, none of them had touch and I hadn’t been able to really see the wonders of a touchscreen with the Windows 8 interface.
Using touch on the Lenovo A720 is fluid and easy, and the Windows 8 charms menu seemed much easier to use with a flick of a finger. Pinching and zooming was also a thrill that most people are used to on their smartphones, but never get to use on their computers. I have found that there are many times that I just don’t want to use a keyboard now, especially when browsing the web. With the use of the touchscreen and the built in speech recognition that has been part of Windows since Vista, there are many things that I can now do without need of the keyboard, and for those times when I do need one, I can always use the on screen keyboard if needed.
This isn’t to say that I want to type a long article or document using the onscreen keyboard, and despite the much improved accuracy of speech recognition, the old school part of me does have the need to keyboard it when writing an article (perhaps it is part of the whole ‘process’ of writing), but the A720 with Windows 8 does have me using a keyboard much less. The new Start page (there is no more start button on the desktop, much to the dismay of many), is actually pretty cool with its live tabs and views that give you a quick insight into things like your email, news, weather, social media etc. I am not sure whether I can use it fully as a replacement of the start button, so I have made my own sort of workaround by writing a small script which copies my start menu items to a folder on the desktop every time I logon, then by adding desktop to the taskbar I have a working kind of start menu that gives me quick access to my programs as well as common folders etc.
Windows 8 is a wonder to behold in many ways, and while I think that most people will not see a huge difference between it and Windows 7 (except for the start menu issue), there are plenty of features that I really like including the new task manager which really has undergone a fantastic evolution, as well as the new and improved Windows Explorer which now features the Microsoft Office type bars instead of the old menu driven system.
Windows 8 is very quick to boot up, and pretty darn responsive in multi-tasking and web browsing, although I do find myself using the desktop browser pretty much exclusively due to the inability of the app browser to use plug-ins (although that feature may certainly save a lot of grief for those who click too much and get viruses malware often).
The Lenovo A720 is definitely a fine choice for the Windows 8 Experience, and I will follow up soon with posts on the installation/upgrade as well as some feature focuses.
Windows 8 comes out to the public on October 28th, but if you have purchased or will purchase a machine with Windows 7 on it between June 2 and January 31st 2013 you can qualify for the Windows 8 upgrade offer with which you can get upgraded to Windows 8 Professional for $14.99 here in the US
For questions about the upcoming Windows 8, or upgrade information for local Pensacola Florida businesses and home users, please visit: http://pensacolacomputers.com for contact information. We have been working with Windows 8 throughout the development cycle and can help you migrate, upgrade or start out fresh with Windows 8.
There is a virus/malware computer scam going around that we have seen already on a number of computers here in Pensacola, FL called the FBI MoneyPak Rasomware aka the Reveton Trojan. This little nasty locks up your computer and programs and tells you that you are guilty of either download illegal copywrited material or porn and that you could be fined and or go to jail. It then tells you that your computer is locked until you follow the instructions and pay $100 or $200 dollars via MoneyPak. The page that is show with the warning may also have the ability to activate your webcam which scares people even more into thinking this is legit – it is NOT legit!!!
The warning also tells you your ISP, which is easy enough to do from any webpage, which is what the warning actually is.
Thankfully, the guys over at bleepingcomputer.com have a guide to help remove this particular nasty – http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/virus-removal/remove-fbi-monkeypak-ransomware - just be careful in doing so as using any of these tools can cause issues if not used properly. If you have any questions, or prefer to have someone else help you remove this, head over to http://pensacolacomputers.com and give us a call.
The Windows 8 Consumer Preview was opened to the public this week, a pre-release version of the full Windows 8 operating system, bringing with it a bounty of new features. The most drastic change, a new user interface designed for ease-of-use on touch-screen systems (especially tablets) is obvious, but that’s been a known factor since the Developer Preview back in September. The new interface is certainly different, though it may be awkward for those who have grown used to the typical taskbar-and-start-menu of previous Windows versions. Tiles take the place of folders and files, making for a sleeker but blockier interface, and customizing the layout of tiles on the screen is possible, though not a focus.
Another new feature is the Windows Store, which (like the Apple Store and Android Market found on modern mobile devices) allows for the distribution of programs in “app” format. Apps take up the entire screen while running, rather than existing in windows like programs in previous versions of Windows, and in many cases integrate gesture-based behaviors for things like scrolling or switching between views. The departure from the traditional interface of buttons is somewhat jarring, but has potential to be used in interesting ways.
Also similar to mobile devices is the new corner functionality, where simply scrolling the cursor over the corners of the screen produces different effects. Clicking in the bottom-left corner switches to the start screen, which allows access to apps much like the old Start Menu allowed access to programs. The upper-left corner allows for quick switching between open apps, while the right edge of the screen is home to the Charms menu, similar in function to the buttons on Android phones. The Charms menu includes the Start screen, the search function, settings for the computer itself and for individual apps, and quick access to content sharing and device management features.
A separate, but equally important component of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview is the latest version of the Internet Explorer browser: Internet Explorer 10. As with the operating system, IE10 has been redesigned with touch-based controls and more space on the screen is devoted to the websites being browsed as opposed to toolbars and menus. Browser speed and security have also been improved since IE9, resulting in an all-around better experience. Also on the internet front, Windows 8 contains integrated cloud networking compatibility for Hotmail and SkyDrive, allowing files and messages to be retrieved from any Windows 8 device.
The Consumer Preview should not be confused as being the “final” version of Windows 8. It is stable, but not nearly finished, and certainly isn’t ready to replace Windows 7 as the primary operating system used by home or business users. All the same, those who don’t mind troubleshooting and updating frequently, and who have an extra system that they don’t mind taking a risk on, should give it a spin.
You can download the Windows 8 Consumer Preview at this link: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/download. Any problems can be brought up on the Microsoft Answers forums at http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_8.
For those who might have waited until the last minute, or forgotten someone on their list, here are a few great last minute tech gift ideas:
Malwarebytes Pro – Malwarebytes is one of the best and finding and killing pesky malware on your computer. The Pro edition also offers a pretty good protection module and best of all it is a lifetime license with free upgrades. Use coupon code Q65-TRJ-G7J for a 15% discount at checkout here: Buy Malwarebytes from Malwarebytes.org
Carbonite online backup – This is one of the best ways to protect your data from hard drive crashes, accidents, data corruption etc. You should Always have backups of the important files and pictures that you can’t replace. Carbonite offers basically unlimited backup for a great price and it is one of the most easy to use, set it and forget it programs out there: Click the following link to get the computer protected now!
ESET NOD32 Antivirus – ESET is hands down one of the best antivirus products out there with consistently excellent detection rates and low demands on your system resources. All computers should have an up-to-date Antivirus software product protecting them – use the following link to save 25% : New – ESET NOD32 Antivirus 5 – Save 25%
Also, if you hurry, BestBuy is currently having a special midnight sale with some great discounts through 7AM Central time on the 23rd: Midnight Sale, Online Only, Starts Thursday (12/22) at Midnight Through Friday (12/23) at 8am EST.
For any computer or technology related questions or needs, contact us at http://pensacolacomputers.com where the advice is always free! Providing the best IT service in Pensacola
The Android tablets are swamping the market and people are loving that they now have choices and alternatives to the Apple iPad. While some people swear by the iPads, in the end the iPad is just a bigger iPod and is hampered by its lack of Flash, it’s inability to easily connect to other devices, it’s lack of external media, and of course its price. While other tablets like the Motorola Xoom are similarly priced, they also have better specs generally than the iPad. Don’t get me wrong, the iPad does have a great looking screen and it is also pretty smooth running – although Steve Jobs trickery does fool people into believing his products run so much better (even notice how Apple apps never crash? well they do, it’s just that unlike Android which tells you when something goes wrong, when most iPad apps crash they just disappear which makes many people believe that they accidentally closed the app).
It has always bothered me that the iPad can’t run flash and doesn’t have USB ports etc (for the fanbois, I bought one of the first iPads in Pensacola and used it heavily for the first few months so I know what its strong and weak points are first hand). Ever since I got my Xoom, my iPad has gone mostly unused. I love that Android offers a choice, and I love that there is such a strong development community behind it. The G-tablet is the perfect example, and with its current price @ $279, it is quite appealing for many as a first tablet. I got my Gtab back around Thanksgiving of last year, and have loved using it and playing around with it. It has many custom ROM’s available (a new one just about every week), and they even have an early port of Android 3 Honeycomb running on it.
Rooting most Android devices, and/or installing a custom ROM is generally as easy as either installing an app, or copying a couple files from your computer to your device then rebooting into its recovery mode. While there is always a ‘small’ amount of danger when messing around with a devices software, devices like the Gtablet are just about unbrickable (you can easily soft-brick it, but after installing literally hundreds of ROM’s on mine, I have always been able to recover from any problems).
If you want to play around with your Android device, it is much like having a ‘work’ in progress automobile – you know the kind that you are always adding something to, improving, changing. The most important thing is to invest a little time and read and watch the tutorials available before jumping in. Rooting and swapping ROMS is actually easier than it may seem. I have taught an 80 year old grandma how to root her Gtablet, and she is now enjoying custom ROMS on it. If you can copy and paste files on your computer, you should be able to swap out a ROM on your Gtablet. With new roms like ‘Century Eyes’, ‘Brilliant Corners’, and ‘Mountain Laurel’, the G-tablet has some great alternatives for software – Android unlike Apple is very much about freedom of choice.
Having Flash on your tablet is a great thing, allowing you to view the full web, not just the iPad web. While there has been a push to move some things to HTML5 in terms of videos etc, Adobe Flash is not going anywhere and is still running on fairly large slice of internet sites.
There is no doubt in my mind that it won’t be long before the iPad is overcome by the wealth of other tablets on the market because in the end, freedom of choice wins out. Apple does make impressive products, but they are limited by both function (what Steve Jobs decides you should have) and by price which is usually much higher than they should be (Apple’s profit margin is HUGE compared to most other companies).
At Pensacola Computers, we offer help with the Gtablet and Xoom and provide services for Rooting and custom ROM installation on the Gtablet. Check out the tutorial videos on the Pensacola Computers Youtube Channel
Pensacola Computers Presents – Windows 7 Quick Tips – part II
Here we show you how to use the new Library Folders in Windows 7. A great way to organize your files and folders to save time and find things easily. This is a new feature that is included in all versions of Windows 7, and a great time saver!
Brought to you in 720P HD – for best results, watch in full screen mode
You can also watch this directly on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kX8QvPIdZfE
Pensacola Computers Presents: Using Windows 7 Search from the Start Menu.
A quick look at how to use the fantastic search feature that is built into the start menu in Windows 7 to quickly and easily find files, programs, emails and the things you need the most.
Presented in 720P HD – for best results, view in full screen mode