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Sunday, June 23, 2013

7:23 PM

The Black Company: Soldiers Live

The Black Company: Soldiers Live




Croaker, no longer dictator of Taglios or Captain of the Company, resumes his old role as Annalist. Sleepy is now Captain, and no Black Company member has died in battle for four years. But when the Company's old adversaries try to bring about the apocalyptic Year of the Skulls, the Company is brought to the edge of destruction.
7:16 PM

The Black Company: Water Sleeps

The Black Company: Water Sleeps

File:Water Sleeps.jpg

Cook brings the latest cycle of the Black Company saga to a major climax, as disaster survivors regroup in Taglios and set out to free their fellow warriors held in stasis beneath the glittering plain. They arrive just in time for a magical conflagration that will reveal the bones of the world and the history of the Company.
6:50 PM

The Black Company: She Is the Darkness

The Black Company: She Is the Darkness


She Is The Darkness is the seventh novel in Glen Cook's ongoing series, The Black Company. The series combines elements of epic fantasy anddark fantasy as it follows an elite mercenary unit, The Black Company, through roughly forty years of its approximately four hundred year history.
6:35 PM

The Black Company: Bleak Seasons

The Black Company: Bleak Seasons

Taking place in part during the events of Dreams of Steel, which was told from the point of view of Lady, this story examines the events surrounding Murgen, who is trapped within the siege of Dejagore where atrocities are being committed by both sides. Also examines events later in Taglios under rule of the Liberator and the increasing tensions between the Black Company and the Radisha, as well as the ever-present threats from the Stranglers
6:32 PM

The Black Company: Dreams of Steel

The Black Company: Dreams of Steel

The book follows the story line of both Lady and Croaker, who have been separated from the Black Company after the company's defeat at the end of Shadows Game. Lady was separated as she was overwhelmed by dying soldiers and her story begins with her digging herself out of the pile. She quickly hooks up with two strange men, Narayan Singh and his partner Ram. Lady, with those two, begins to re-assemble the army of Taglios. Lady is much different from Croaker's style of managing the people of Taglios, eliminating those that try to stand against her.
6:29 PM

The Black Company: Shadow Games

The Black Company: Shadow Games
Marching back after the defeat of the Dominator, the Black Company is down to just seven men. They go south, where the now powerless Lady briefly takes control of her Empire and where Croaker, the Annalist and Captain of the Company, is reunited with the Annals which hold the Company's history. Continuing their travels south in search of Khatovar, where Croaker is oathbound to return the annals, they are conscripted into service yet again by the crown prince of Taglios. Their commission is to defeat the advance of the conquering Shadowmasters from the south.
6:25 PM

The Black Company: The Silver Spike

The Black Company: The Silver Spike


The Dominator was a wizard of immense power who could not be killed by his enemies. He was, however, defeated and his evil essence imprisoned in a silver spike. The power inherent in the spike is so greatly feared and desired that some try to steal it, while others try to keep it from falling into anyone's hands.
6:22 PM

The Black Company: Shadows Linger

The Black Company: Shadows Linger


In the earlier book the setting begins with the company employed by a Syndic, but the Captain slays him because he is promised a higher pay in service of the Lady. Soulcatcher, the Taken that recruited them becomes their mentor. They do many missions for the Lady. They end up being pushed, along with the rest of the Lady's forces, back to her HQ, the tower at Charm. They have an immense battle where many of the Company are lost. The Taken backstab each other during the battle except for Soulcatcher, who flees only to be hunted down and destroyed by Croaker and the Lady who use a set of magical arrows to kill her. The old legend, that tells the tale of The Lady and The Dominator, her worse than evil husband, and The White Rose who imprisons them is centuries in the past. The Dominator and his wife, the Lady, (both supremely skilled in the art of magic), had founded an empire legendary for evil. They were overthrown by a rebellion led by the White Rose, but even in defeat, they remained too powerful to be killed; the best the rebels could do was to imprison them in the Barrowland. The Lady escaped to rebuild the empire, but betrayed her husband, leaving him there. The Black Company recounted how she crushed several deadly challenges to her power. But those were not the only threats to her reign..
5:53 PM

The Black Company: The White Rose

The Black Company: The White Rose


Centuries in the past, the Dominator and his wife, the Lady, (both supremely skilled in the art of magic), had founded an empire legendary for evil. They were overthrown by a rebellion led by the White Rose, but even in defeat, they remained too powerful to be killed; the best the rebels could do was to imprison them and their most powerful minions in the Barrowland. A wizard named Bomanz awakened the Lady in an attempt to learn from her, but she used him to gain her freedom and rebuilt the empire. However, she betrayed her husband by leaving him where he was.
5:48 PM

The Black Company

The Black Company


The Dominator is an extremely powerful wizard who has the ability to turn his bitterest enemies into his loyal servants, even those nearly his equal in magic (hence the name). The most potent of his victims are called the Ten Who Were Taken, or just Taken for short. With his wife, the Lady (whose magical skill is second only to his), he founded an empire unrivaled for evil. It was overthrown by a rebellion led by the White Rose, but neither she nor the rebel wizards were strong enough to kill the Dominator, the Lady or the Taken. The best they could do was to render them unconscious and imprison them. Their prison was a place called The Barrowland. They were imprisoned in Barrows. (Hence the Name Barrowland)
5:35 PM

Runelords 08 - Chaosbound

Runelords 08 - Chaosbound


In a time of myth and legend, among the Runelords it is told that there was once One True World, whole and perfect. But an ancient enemy sought to wrest control of it, and the world shattered into countless "shadow worlds," each a dim reflection of that bright, perfect world. Armed with his sorcerous powers, Fallion Orden has sought to bind two worlds, but it is an experiment that goes terrbily awry, for now Fallion discovers that he has unleashed his ancient enemies upon his own world. . . .
5:32 PM

Runelords 07 - The Wyrmling Horde

Runelords 07 - The Wyrmling Horde


Now the epic story continues: at the end of Worldbinder, Fallion Orden, son of Gaborn, was imprisoned on a strange and fantastic world that he created by combining two alternate realities. It's a world brimming with dark magic, ruled by a creature of unrelenting evil who is gathering monstrous armies from a dozen planets in a bid to conquer the universe. Only Fallion has the power to mend the worlds, but at the heart of a city that is a vast prison, he lies in shackles. The forces of evil are growing and will soon rage across the heavens. Now, Fallion's allies must risk everything in an attempt to free him from the wyrmling horde.


5:30 PM

Runelords 06 - Worldbinder

Runelords 06 - Worldbinder


After the events of Sons of the Oak, Fallion and Jaz, the sons of the great Earth King Gaborn, are now living as fugitives in their own kingdom. Their former home has been invaded and secretly controlled by supernatural being of ultimate evil. The sons are biding their time until they can regain their rightful places in the land.
5:26 PM

Runelords 05 - Sons of the Oak

Runelords 05 - Sons of the Oak


The story picks up eight years after the events of Lair of Bones and begins a new chapter in the Runelords saga focusing on Gaborn's son, Fallion. Gaborn, the Earth King, has been traveling far from his home, to strange and unknown places. While beyond the edge of the earth, he finally succumbs to the accelerated aging that comes from all of the endowments he has taken. His death is the signal for a revolution, an attack from the supernatural realms by immensely powerful immortal beings.
5:22 PM

Runelords 04 - The Lair of Bones

Runelords 04 - The Lair of Bones




Prince Gaborn, the Earth King, has defeated the forces arrayed against him each time before: the magical and human forces marshaled by Raj Ahten, who seeks immortality at any cost and has given up his humanity in trade; and the inhuman, innumerable, insectile hordes of the giant Reavers from under the Earth, whose motives are unknowable, but inimical to human life. Now there must be final confrontations, both on the field of battle, with the supernatural creature that Raj Ahten has become, and underground, in the cavernous homeland of the Reavers, where the sorcerous One True Master who rules them all lies in wait--in the Lair of Bones. The survival of the human race on Earth is at stake.
5:19 PM

Runelords 03 - Wizardborn

Runelords 03 - Wizardborn



Wizardborn continues the story of the struggle of Gaborn, now the Earth King, who has lost his powers but continues to lead his people. He must contend with the threat of the huge, inhuman Reavers, whose myriads Gaborn and his forces must now pursue across the nation. It has become Gaborn's fate to follow, even into the depths.
5:17 PM

Runelords 02 - Brotherhood of the Wolf

Runelords 02 - Brotherhood of the Wolf


The struggle continues in Brotherhood of the Wolf. Gaborn has managed to drive off Raj Ahtan, but Ahtan is far from defeated. Striking at far-flung cities and fortresses and killing dedicates, Ahtan seeks to draw out the Earth King from his seat of power, in order to crush him. But as they weaken each other's forces in battle, the armies of an ancient and implacable enemy issue forth from the very bowels of the earth.
5:15 PM

The Runelords: Runelords 01

Runelords 01 - The Runelords 




Young Prince Gabon Val Orden of Mystarria is traveling in disguise on a journey to ask for the hand of the lovely Princess Iome of Sylvarresta when he and his warrior bodyguard spot a pair of assassins who have set their sights on the princess's father. The pair races to warn the king of the impending danger and realizes that more than the royal family is at risk--the very fate of the Earth is in jeopardy. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

12:09 AM

Win+X Menu Editor Customizes One of The Most Important Features of Windows 8

Win+X Menu Editor Customizes One of The Most Important Features of Windows 8


The new Win+X menu in Windows 8 is a shortcut to terrifically handy power user settings and tools, including the command prompt, device manager, and so on. There's no built-in way to customize this menu at all, but the freeware Win+X Menu Editor gives you that control over the menu.
The small utility lets you add and remove programs or shortcuts from the Win+X menu, as well as change their names. You can group several items together and easily reorder them.
12:04 AM

Why Does Everyone Hate Windows 8? Should I Upgrade?

Why Does Everyone Hate Windows 8? Should I Upgrade?



Windows 8 is getting a bad rap from a lot of people, but it really does have a lot of good stuff going for it. After all, people hated XP when it came out, too. Here are some of the things people are complaining about, and why they probably don't matter.

Complaint #1: "The Tiled Interface Sucks (and My Start Menu Is Gone!)"
12:02 AM

Top 10 Secret Features in Windows 8

Top 10 Secret Features in Windows 8



10. Run Automatic Maintenance on a Schedule

Windows 8 has a new feature that runs automatic maintenance tasks like software updates, security scanning, and other diagnostic tests daily. By default, it runs them at 3AM, of if you're using your computer, the next time your computer becomes idle. You can change this time in the Action Center, as well as tell Windows whether you want to wake your computer up to perform these tasks. You can also perform the maintenance manually from the Action Center, if you desire.



9. Customize the Apps in the Search Bar

When you start searching from the Start screen, you'll see a list of apps under the search bar. Click on one of them, and you'll search those same terms in that specific app. What you may not know is that you can tweak this list, removing and adding apps through Windows 8's settings. Bring up the Charms bar (with Win+C), click Settings, and go down to "Change PC Settings." From there, choose Search from the left sidebar, and turn off the apps you don't want taking up space in this menu.

8. Enable the Hidden "Aero Lite" Theme

When Windows 8 was in the testing phases, it had an additional "Aero Lite" theme that took away some of the transparent glass features of Windows Aero. However, the final version of Windows 8 opted for a much more basic theme than the testing builds, so Aero Lite no longer shows up—however, you can still find it in the Themes folder on your computer. With a few small tweaks, you can re-enable it in your Personalization preferences. It isn't too different from the default themes, but it does give a slightly different look to the title button bars and some other small parts of the OS.

7. Enable the Secret Start Screen Animation

When you first sign onto Windows 8, you get a very cool flow-y animation of all your tiles filling up the screen. After that, though, the Start screen has a much more toned-down animation. If you want to enable the cooler animation for every launch of the Start screen, you can do so with a simple Registry tweak. You can also customize certain settings for the animation too, which is pretty cool.

6. Customize More Icons in Windows Explorer

Remember in Windows 7, when you created a library, it had that ugly, nondescript icon? And you had to go through some complicated process to change it? Well, Windows 8 now lets you customize your Library icons right from its settings. Just right-click on the Library, go to Properties, and you should see the option to change the library's icon right at the bottom. Bonus tip: If Windows Explorer's Favorites icon is getting in your way in the sidebar, you can right-click on the sidebar to hide it (sadly, you can't do the same for Libraries, Homegroup, or other annoying icons).

5. Create and Name App Groups on the Start Screen

When you first open up the Start screen, you'll notice that some of your apps are in their own "groups." You can create your own groups just by dragging an app's tile to an empty space on the Start screen—it'll create its own group. If you want to name your groups—say, for "Work," "Games," and so on—you can do so by clicking the small button in the bottom-right corner of the screen and right-clicking on the groups.

4. Take Faster Screenshots

For a long time, Windows had an absurd screenshot shortcut in which you had to press Print Screen, then open up an app like Paint or the GIMP and paste in your screenshot from the clipboard. Well, no more! Now, if you press Win+Print Screen (or Win+Volume Down on a tablet), Windows will take a screenshot of your screen and automatically save it in your Pictures folder as a PNG file. It still isn't as powerful as something like Skitch, but if you only need the occasional screenshot, it's nice to see a simpler shortcut built in to the OS.

3. Tweak the Number of Rows on the Start Screen

By default, the Start screen fills your monitor up with as many rows of tiles as it can fit, up to 6 rows. If you'd like to lower that number—maybe you have a particularly cool background, or your groups just aren't that big—you can tweak this number by editing the Registry. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to let you pack more tiles onto smaller monitors, but it's a cool little tweak if you want to give your Start screen a more minimal look.

2. Hide Recent Files from Your Jump Lists

Jump Lists were a great addition in Windows 7 that helped boost your productivity, but their "Recent Items" feature were a possible privacy concern—say, if there were documents or files you didn't want others to know you had viewed. Windows 8 lets you customize Jump Lists more than Windows 7, giving you the option to hide recently opened items and recently opened programs. To access the preferences, just right-click on the Taskbar, go to Properties, and click the Jump Lists tab.

1. Get More Out of Your Multiple Monitors

If you have multiple monitors, you've probably noticed that Windows extends your taskbar across both screens. It does more than just that, though: you can press Win+PgUp to move your current app to your left monitor, and Win+PgDn to move it to the right monitor. In addition, if you go to the Desktop Background section of your Personalization settings, you can right-click on any individual wallpapers and choose which monitor you'd like it to show up on. Of course, if you like things the old way, you can also turn off the dual taskbar in Taskbar Properties.
12:00 AM

The Best New Features in Windows 8

The Best New Features in Windows 8



Windows 8 is available for download today, complete with a new tiled, touch-friendly interface as well as some enhancements to the traditional mouse-and-keyboard desktop. Here's everything you'll find in the newest version of Windows.
Microsoft's "re-imagining" of Windows is focused very heavily on a new, tiled, touch-centric interface for tablets. However, it's still somewhat usable with a mouse and keyboard-and no matter what device you're on, you can switch between the simple Metro interface and the traditional Windows desktop to fit whatever your needs are at that given moment.

Performance Increases



One of the issues that's been on our minds since they first previewed this new interface was whether this will keep bogging Windows down with more running processes, and whether running a full Windows desktop on a low-powered tablet was really a good idea (after all, we've seen Windows run on netbooks).

Microsoft knows your fears, and has addressed them: Windows 8 is slated to have better performance than Windows 7, even with this metro interface running on top of a desktop. We ran a few tests back when the the Developer Preview came out and found that to be the case, especially when it comes to boot times. Tablet users and netbook users especially should notice a fairly significant performance increase with Windows 8. Especially considering that any of your tablet-based apps will suspend themselves when you jump into the traditional desktop, so all they take up is a little of that extra RAM.

The Lock Screen



Windows 8's lock screen is pretty much what you'd expect: it's got a beautiful picture along with a few little widgets full of information, like the time, how many emails you have, and so on. You can swipe up to unlock, or press the spacebar if you're on a desktop keyboard. You can then proceed to type your normal password, or use one of Windows 8's "picture passwords," which let you swipe or draw an invisible gesture that only you know, using your lock screen photo as reference, to let yourself in (though this is really better on tablets than it is on a PC). For example, in Microsoft's original demo, they used a photo of a person, and the password was to tap on their nose and swipe left across their arm).


The Start Screen



Once you log in, you're taken to Windows 8's new Start screen, which replaces the old Start menu. The screen should be familiar to Windows Phone users: You've got a set of tiles, each of which represents an application, and many of which show information and notifications that correspond to the app. For example, your email tile will tell you how many unread emails you have (and who they're from), your calendar tile will show upcoming events, your music tile will show you what's playing, and so on. You can also create tiles for games, contacts, and even traditional Windows apps that will pull you into the Windows desktop. The tablet-optimized apps are all full screen and "immersive", though, and you can rearrange their icons on the home screen easily (just as you would on any other tablet platform). At any time, you can press Win+D or click on the Desktop tile to go to the familiar Windows desktop instead.

The Desktop



Once you get to the desktop, you'll be in much more familiar territory. You've got your taskbar, your desktop icons, and your normal windowed applications as you're used to (though they have a new, flatter, Aero-less theme). The Start menu, however, is gone—instead, you can move your mouse to the bottom left hot corner and click to return to the Start screen, or press the Windows key as normal. Like the old Start menu, you can start typing any time you're on the Start screen to start searching for an app or setting, giving you quick access to everything on your computer.

It isn't nearly as convenient as the old Start menu was, but you can get used to most stuff pretty quickly. Pressing the Windows button and typing in an app or setting is faster than browsing the Start menu anyway, so it's a good habit to get into, and you can always access a more traditional menu by pressing Win+X—this will bring up a small menu in the corner that has shortcuts to the Control Panel, Run, the Command Prompt, and other stuff advanced users may want to access.

Full Screen Apps



While you can pin your favorite apps to the taskbar, as usual, most of your apps will reside on the Start screen, just like they used to reside in the Start menu. Just fire up the Start screen and tap or click on the tile for the app you want to launch (or, as we mentioned above, type it in the search box). Tablet-optimized apps will go full screen, while others will shoot you back to the desktop.

The full-screen apps that come with Windows 8 are really nice: most have touch-based controls, like pinch to zoom and copy and paste, but you can also use them with a mouse and keyboard if you so desire. Each has options like search, share, and settings through the Charms bar, which you can get by swiping from the right edge of the screen or pressing Win+C. Apps can share information one another easily, such as selected text or photos. After picking your media from one app, you'll then be able to choose which app you want to share with, and work with it from there. For example, you can share photos to Facebook, send text from a web page in an email, and so on.

None of this is brand new to touch-based platforms, but what is new is the ability to not only multitask, but run these apps side by side. Say you want to watch a video and keep an eye on your news feed at the same time. Just like in Windows 7 for the desktop, you can dock an app to one side of the screen while docking another app at the opposite side, which is a seriously cool feature. Imagine being able to IM and play a game at the same time, or browse the web while writing an email. It's a fantastic way to fix one of the big shortcomings of mobile OSes, thus allowing you to ignore the full desktop interface more often and stay in the touch-friendly, tablet view.

The Windows Store



The Windows Store looks much like the home screen, with tiles that correspond to different categories and featured apps. From there, you can look at a more detailed list of the available apps in a given section. And, the store contains not only touch-based apps for the tablet interface, but some of the more traditional desktop Windows apps you're used to, so you have one portal to discover all your Windows apps no matter what interface you're using. The Store has free and paid apps, and you can try paid apps before you commit to buying, which is really, really nice.

Sync All Your Data to the Cloud



The cloud is taking center stage in Windows 8, with your Microsoft account driving all the syncing. Your address book, photos, SkyDrive data, and even data within third-party apps can sync up to the cloud, and you can access them on any Windows 8 device—even a brand new one. Just sign in, and you'll have access to everything (not unlike Chrome OS, which immediately loaded your themes and extensions when you logged in). The address book also syncs with other services like Facebook and Twitter as well. You can even sync all of your settings from one Windows 8 PC to another. Just sign onto your Windows 8 with a Microsoft account and you'll get all your themes, languages, app settings, taskbar, and other preferences will show right up. It's a pretty neat feature if you have multiple Windows 8 PCs and don't want to set them all up separately—just a few taps and you've got all your preferences ready to go (you will have to re-download your apps, though).

Windows Explorer



Windows Explorer has gone through a few changes this time around, most notably the "Ribbon" interface we've come to know from Microsoft Office. Instead of traditional menus like View, you now have three Ribbon panes: Home, Share, and View, that give you access to the features that used to be in the menus. If you're in a folder designed for certain file types—like the "Pictures" library—you'll get a few extra Ribbon panes centered around photos, which is pretty cool. Windows Explorer also has native mounting of ISO files, a one folder up button like the old days of XP (thank God), and a really cool "quick access" toolbar in the left-hand corner that lets you add your favorite shortcuts to the title bar. It also has a new file copy dialog that makes it easier to manage move-and-replace actions with lots of files.

A New Task Manager



Microsoft's finally redesigned the task manager, and it looks pretty great. You have a very simple task manager for basic task killing, but if you're a more advanced user, you can bring up the detailed task manager filled with information on CPU and RAM usage, Metro app history, and even startup tweaking—so you can get rid of apps that launch on startup without going all the way into msconfig.

Built-In Antivirus with Windows Defender



Remember Microsoft Security Essentials, our favorite antivirus app for Windows? Well, now it's built in to Windows 8 as Windows Defender. It has nearly the exact same interface and feature set; the main difference is that you no longer have to install it.

Other Features



Along with these cool features, Windows 8 also comes with other features we've come to know and love to see in desktop and mobile OSes alike. It's got system-wide spellchecking, so you don't have to rely on a specific app to keep your writing top-notch, as well as a system-wide search feature, that lets you search anything from your music library to your contacts to the web itself. It also has a really cool feature for desktop users that lets your run the Metro UI on one monitor while running the traditional desktop on the other (not to mention better support for multiple monitors in general—like having the taskbar on both screens).

It also has a really cool feature called "refresh your PC", where you can do a clean install with the tap of a button. Whether you're selling your machine or just want a cleaner, faster installation of Windows, you can do it all in one click. You can even set refresh points, similar to restore points, so you can refresh your PC to the way it was at a certain point in time.

Friday, June 21, 2013

11:57 PM

How to Not Get Lost in Windows 8: The Best Shortcuts and Tricks


Windows 8 sports a bold new interface designed for both touch-enabled devices and keyboards/mice. But for the uninitiated, it can be extremely confusing and frustrating to use, with many controls now hidden behind new ways to interact with your computer. Want to know how to actually use Windows 8 without going crazy? Here are the most important Windows 8 shortcuts and tips for getting around.
First of all, if you've just started using Windows 8 and wondering where everything went, don't worry, it's not just you. All of the controls and features of Windows 7 are still there (plus a few new ones). They may have just been moved or redesigned. Here's a map, if you will, to this brave new world. (Check out this chart of the best shortcuts and gestures—click to expand and right-click to save—and read on for more tricks and details.)



Logging in
11:56 PM

The Best New Apps In the Windows 8 Store

The Best New Apps In the Windows 8 Store



Once you have Windows 8 up and running, the first thing you'll want to do is start installing the apps you need to get things done. Thankfully, Microsoft's new Windows 8 store offers quick access to a number of the applications you'd normally have to go hunt down anyway, but it also has some real treasures worth downloading. Here are some of the best.
11:45 PM

How to Prepare Your Computer for Windows 8

How to Prepare Your Computer for Windows 8



Windows 8 will be here in just one day. If you're thinking of getting in on all the new features of the new "re-imagined," touch-friendly operating system, here's what you should do now to get ready.
You'll be able to download and install Windows 8 directly from Microsoft (when it's available) for $39.99 if you're running Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7. Boxed versions with discs will cost an extra $30 at retail stores. While the installation process is straightforward, you'll make the move to Windows 8 a lot smoother and as painless as possible if you follow a few steps.


Step One: Find Out If Your Computer and Programs Are Actually Compatible with Windows 8



Can your computer run Windows 8? The minimum system requirements for Windows 8 are pretty accommodating. Microsoft says that if your computer can run Windows 7, it'll be able to run Windows 8.

Even if you're running an older system, chances are it'll meet these basic system requirements :
  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster
  • Memory: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit) RAM
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver
Look up your system specs by right-clicking on My Computer in the Start Menu and going to Properties (or go to Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Information).

Special requirements/possible issues: Some reports say that a few more recently released Windows 7 PCs (mostly tablets and netbooks) won't be able to run Windows 8, because they use Intel's Atom Cedar Trail processor, which has problems with the new OS. So if you use one of these devices, you should probably hold off on upgrading or at least confirm it'll work for you.

For certain features, Windows 8 has a few other requirements. To use touch, obviously you'll need a tablet or monitor that supports multitouch, but some laptops will get extra trackpad gestures. Windows Store apps require a screen resolution of at least 1024x768 and apps snapping requires at least 1366x768. This can be a problem for netbooks, which typically have a resolution of 1024x600 pixels, although there's a registry hack to fix that (it's a bit clunky, though).

Check if your programs and devices are Windows 8-compatible
While most apps and devices that work on Windows 7 should be fine on Windows 8, to find out for sure, visit Microsoft's Compatibility Center or run the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant, which scans your computer and checks for software and hardware compatibility.

Decide which version of Windows 8 you want
Windows 8, thankfully, doesn't have as many "editions" as previous versions of Windows did. You essentially have two choices: Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro. The Enterprise edition is available for businesses, and you'll find RT on tablets, but for home computers you only need to decide whether you want the Pro version or not. Check out Microsoft's comparison chart to see the difference, or the Windows Super Site's more detailed chart. If you want Windows Media Center, you can now buy that as an add-on to Windows (though it's currently free for a limited time).

Step Two: Clean Up and Optimize Your Hard Drive
If you're doing a clean install (i.e., letting Windows wipe everything off your drive before upgrading) or installing Windows 8 onto a new partition or in a virtual machine, you can skip this step. But if you're planning to do an in-place upgrade to keep your documents, programs, and settings intact, now's the time for a little housekeeping, so you don't have junk carried over to the new OS.

(By the way, what gets migrated or carried over during an in-place upgrade depends on the version of Windows you're running.)



Our guide to speeding up, cleaning up, and reviving your PC walks you through spring cleaning your Windows computer, including uninstalling apps you don't use and freeing up disk space, but, in short, here are the tools recommended for the task:
  • Remove apps you no longer need: Revo Uninstaller (free), our favorite app uninstaller for Windows, completely deletes every trace of a program with just a few clicks.
  • Clean out the junk files: The speedy Ccleaner will banish temporary files, log files, and other space-hogging stuff you don't want on your new Windows 8 system.
  • Defrag your drive: Even though we don't generally recommend defragging Windows Vista or Windows 7 PCs because they are already configured to defragment your drives, it's a good idea to check if your drive actually has been defragmented. By default, the defrag runs at 1 am every Wednesday, so if your computer isn't on at that time, it might not actually be defragged. While the built-in defragmenter is fine, a third-party tool like Piriform's Defraggler offers more features. Also note that if you have a SSD, you do not want to defragment.

Step Three: Run System and Third-Party Software Updates

Windows might balk if you try to upgrade but are missing important patches. Save yourself some time tomorrow and get the latest updates (especially service packs) now. Also, if your programs are updated, you have a better chance of them running correctly on Windows 8.

Run the system updates by going to the Windows > Software Update. To check which programs need updating, you can use a utility dedicated to that purpose, such as Update Notifier or a tool like Soluto, which also speeds up your system boot time and fixes slowdowns.

Step Four: Back Up Your Computer
Whether you're doing a clean install or an in-place upgrade, there's absolutely no doubt about it: you need to back up your computer and make sure the backup actually works. Backing up your PC with Windows' built-in utility is really easy: plug in an external drive and just say yes to using it as a backup drive. Test the backups by doing a few restores of older and newer files to make sure you can recover your files if needed. And now's a good time to make sure your online backup tool has recently backed up 100%.

Offline backup tools offer more options, including automatically verifying backups and creating a complete image of your PC, so you might want to use one of those for this special task, just to be sure you can completely backtrack if the upgrade goes awry (or you absolutely hate Windows 8).

Step Five: Save Your System Drivers and Locate Your Program Keys



Last but not least, make sure you have the media and product keys for all of your programs. Just take a stroll through your programs folder or export a list of installed programs from CCleaner.

For good measure, also make sure you have the drivers for at least your network card(s).
11:14 PM

How to Bring the Start Menu Back in Windows 8

How to Bring the Start Menu Back in Windows 8



Windows 8 has some pretty cool things going for it, but it's become incredibly controversial because of one major change: the Start menu is completely gone. Luckily, there are a ton of programs out there that bring it back. Here are three of our favorites.

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