A reader asked us whether it’s true that the new Windows 10 collects information on your computer usage. Yes it does, but no, we’re not worried about it (anyone watching us needs serious help). If you’re concerned, there’s a free program to shield you.
We love Google’s calendar app for Android and iPhone, which keeps us up to date on our phone when we’re away from our computer. Windows 8 and the new Windows 10 also have calendar apps. Set up the calendar app in these systems by clicking the start button, “all apps,” and then “calendar.” When we did this we immediately saw all the dates we’d entered into our Google calendar, so we didn’t have to re-enter anything. Unlike the Google calendar, the Windows calendar puts all your Facebook friends’ birthdays right on the calendar. This can be amusing, if like us, you have Facebook “friends” you hardly know. We even saw birthdays for friends who aren’t on Facebook, whose birthdays were […]
Readers wrote immediately to tell us we’d missed something in our Windows 10 announcement. We said it’s free but after a year you have to pay for it. Turns out it’s free, period. But if you wait longer than a year to download and install it, it will cost you $120.
By the way, Microsoft has said you will no longer need any anti-virus software because Windows will be fully protected against all viruses, and presumably any other hack attacks. If you believe that, Bob wants you to know that he has a large bridge in New York that he’d like to sell you. (No new operating system ever produced has been invulnerable to virus attacks.)
Nevertheless, Joy, our master tester, likes Windows 10, saying it has the best of Windows 7 and avoids the worst of Windows 8. (Bob is sticking with Windows 7. He grudgingly went on from XP after his old computer got balky.)
If you want Windows 10, beware of scams. There are sites that lure visitors with the promise of a free copy. It’s already free, but be sure you get it from Microsoft.com. The exact address is Microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10. Click on “download tool now.” If you aren’t sure whether you have a 32-bit system or 64-bit, you can find that by searching on “system info” from the help area of your computer. Just hit the “F1″ key to bring up a help menu. If you still can’t decide, it’s almost certain that you have a 64-bit system; we haven’t seen 32-bit systems in many years.
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.