Windows 10, due out in July, has at least two things we like, besides an improved start button. It’s going to take up 6.6 gigabytes less space. That doesn’t sound like a lot, and isn’t, if you buy a computer with a typical hard drive today; they often have close to a thousand gigabytes. But the new faster computers have solid state drives, also called flash drives. The response is almost instantaneous. It’s a trend that will take over the market and the prices are reasonable. We found a refurbished Dell Latitude E6410, for $500 on Amazon, and if you go to Dell’s own web site, Dell.com/outlet, you’ll find lots of deals.
If you feel competent technically, you can try Windows 10 before it’s in stores. But we found a safe and easy way, using a Mac and the new “Parallels” software. “Parallels Windows Desktop 10 for Mac” creates a virtual Windows environment on your Mac but doesn’t affect anything else on the computer.
In March, Intel is coming out with “Compute Stick,” a plastic thingie that plugs into any late model TV and – Poof, turns it into a Windows 8.1 computer. This is way beyond the Roku, Chrome Cast and the Amazon Fire Sticks we wrote about recently. You just have to ask yourself if you want a whole computer on your TV. It’s $149 for the Windows version, and for the real techie types, there’s a Linux version for $89. A keyboard would be extra – but they’re cheap. Our take on this? It would be good for people who find themselves squinting when they look at computer monitors. Get the BIG picture.
In a recent column, we suggested using “msconfig” or Windows 8’s task manager to prevent too many programs from loading at start-up, slowing down your computer. A reader pointed out that a free program called “WinPatrol” from WinPatrol.com does the same job and provides more information.
Windows 10 will bring back some of the familiar features of Windows 7, but that’s next year. But here’s what bothers some people: They won’t be able to buy a Windows 7 machine after October 31 unless they buy a more expensive computer with Windows 7 Professional on it. They call that “gotchya.”
A preview of the new Windows 9 operating system will be shown all over the known universe this Fall. The scuttlebutt is it will correct the mess known as Windows 8; computer users will no longer be forced to look at a screen meant for tablet users. (Yep, that’s what it was designed for.)
We’re still getting letters from readers about Microsoft dropping support for Windows XP. As we’ve said, Bob’s computer is Win XP and he isn’t worried. With a good anti-virus and anti-spyware program, you’re fine. Around 95% of all automatic teller machines and 25 percent of all computers still use Windows XP, so this operating system is not going away for a long time.