Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Windows 8 and Free Tools Review-4

Multiple Monitor Taskbar

Windows 8 makes good use of multiple-monitor set-ups. When you hit the Start button, or press the Windows key, the Metro interface will turn the feature on in Chrome, click the spanner icon, go to Options, click Personal Stuff and then click Set Up Sync. Enter your Google Account name and password and choose what you would like to synchronize. To do this in Firefox, go to Tools, then Set Up Sync. Enter your Google Account name and password and choose what you would like to synchronize. To do this in Firefox, go to Tools, then Set Up Sync.

Refresh and Reset

If you spend a lot of time trying out new software, installing and uninstalling programs, and experimenting with toolbars and add-ons, the Refresh and Reset options in Windows 8 can help you recover from problems if something goes seriously wrong. The Refresh tool keeps all your user profiles, data and Metro apps, but installs a clean version of the operating system. Reset is more extreme and clears out everything, leaving just a virgin copy of Windows 8. This could prove useful if you plan to sell or recycle your PC.

Obviously, you can already format your computer and install a fresh copy of Windows at any time, although the process will take much longer to complete than using the new Refresh or Reset functions. Windows 7 lets you create back-up image (an exact copy of everything on your drive) that you can revert to at any point. Go to Start, Getting Started, select ‘Back up your files’ and click ‘Create a system image’. You could also try a tool such as EaseUS Todo Backup Free, which lets you back up your hard disk and restore your system in the event of a crash.
windows 8 developer preview
USB 3.0 Support

USB 2.0 is certainly no slouch, but the newest version of the universal serial bus (USB) interface delivers speeds up to 10 times faster with improved power management, including faster charging for your gadgets. Devices with the new interface are already available to buy and it’s expected that all new PCs will come with USB 3.0 ports as standard by 2015. Unsurprisingly, Windows 8 will offer robust, fully native support for the interface, so when you connect a USB 3.0 device it should work straight away.

Windows 7 offers support for USB 3.0, so if your PC has those ports, as many newer systems do, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits when connecting a compatible device, through you may need to first install the supplied drivers.  To find out if your PC has USB 3.0 ports, go into Control Panel, ‘Device Manager and look under ‘Universal Serial Bus controllers’.

Windows 8 and Free Tools Review-3

Improved Task Manager

The Task Manager gets a major revamp in Windows 8, and now has tabs running along the top of the screen that let you view Processes, Performance, App History, Startup, Users, Details and Service. The Processes tab breaks up everything into useful categories, including Applications Background Processes and Windows Processes, and lets you see at a glance their processor, memory, disk and network consumption. The Performance tab provides graphs that show the overall usage history for the four areas.

Our favorite Task Manager replacement is Sysinternal’s Process Explorer.  This provides detailed information about what’s running on your system, including graphs for processor, memory and graphics usage. It lets you view and close any programs a processes that are hogging resources.
Instant Search

Windows 8 makes it faster to search for files and programs on our PCs. Instead of hitting Start and typing your request into the search box, you simply begin typing the name of the item you’re looking for on the Start Screen. This will open the Apps screen where you can continue typing into the search box; browse the matching apps, settings and files found so search inside apps; and launch programs. It’s incredibly easy to use and a huge improvement over the current way of searching in Windows.
windows 8 preview

There are several program launchers available that work in a similar way. Launchy is a fast and friendly alternative to Start menu. To use this free tool, just hit Alt+Space to call up the search window and type the first few letters of a program or web address. The software indexes the contents of your Start menu, as well as bookmarks in your browser, music files, documents and pictures. Alternatively, there’s Executor which is a very good multi-purpose launcher for finding and opening programs and files.

Windows to Go

Windows to Go lets you stick a copy of your Desktop on a USB fish drive, so you can take it everywhere with you, in your pocket. Plug the memory stick into any Windows 8 or 7 devices, and you’ll be able to carry on working where you left off.  Handily, the feature keeps the portable Desktop and the actual Desktop entirely separate, although the fact it’s primarily a business tool means it might not appear in Home editions of Windows 8.

While you can’t really get the exact same feature using Windows 7, you can create a portable version of the operation system on a USB flash drive. The process is very straight forward: just put a copy of Portable-VirtualBox on your memory stick, run the program and create a virtual drive using your Windows installation disc. This method will also work with Windows XP and Vista.
windows 8 release
Windows APP Store

Similar to Apple’s Mac App Store in OS X the new Windows Store is integrated into the Windows 8 operating system. It lets you buy apps designed for the Metro interface and provides direct links to traditional (and trusted) Desktop applications. The store isn’t yet available to explore or play around with, so exact details, such as how it will look, are sketchy. But the obvious benefit to this new feature is that it will give you easy access to Microsoft-approved apps that are guaranteed to be safe and malware-free.

Although the official app store isn’t active yet (there’s a button to it in the developer preview, but this does nothing when clicked), there are other app stores for Windows. Gaming apps can be bought from Steam, but if you’re looking for general applications, try Ninite or FreeNew. Also, Microsoft recently launched the Windows Phone Marketplace, which may have similarities with the Windows Store.

Windows 8 and Free Tools Review-2

Internet Explorer 10

As you’d expect, the next version of Windows will come with an updated Internet Explorer. IE10 will be available as both a Metro-style app and a Desktop program. To app will provide you with basic browsing features, such as the ability to navigate to a website, open a new tab and start and InPrivate browsing session, but it won’t support add-ons, relying instead on HTML5 as much as possible. If you need to use plug-ins, you can switch to the Desktop version.

IE10 will be more standards complaint, which means more websites, will be displayed exactly as intended. It will also offer hardware acceleration, which uses your PC’s graphics card t speed up browsing, and improved security.

Currently, the only way to try IE10 is to download the Windows Developer Preview, which includes the latest version of the browser.However, you could also try Zuro, a free ‘immersive web browser’ that attempts to recreate the Metro version of IE10. Otherwise, you’re probably best off sticking with Internet Explorer 9 for now, for the sake of security and stability, or sing an alternative browser such as Firefox or Chrome.
Windows 8 Review

Enhanced Taskbar

The Windows 8 Taskbar has a couple of interesting new additions, including an Aero auto colorization feature that changes the color of the bar so it complements your Desktop wallpaper. Early versions of the operating system also featured a UserTile tool on the right hand side of the bar that showed who was logged in and let you quickly switch users, log off and lock your PC. This has been removed from the developer preview of Windows 8, and it’s not known whether it will be reinstated in the finished version.
Aura brings the Taskbar auto colorization feature to Windows 7, Install it and you can change the window borders, Start menu and Taskbar so they match the dominant color of your Taskbar, run Taskbar UserTile Alpha.

Picture Passwords

Instead of locking your system by entering a password, Windows 8 lets you use picture. Choose an image make on of three gestures-circles, straight lines or taps. For example, if the picture is of a person’s face, you might choose to tap or click on their left eye, their nose and then the right eye. This clever security feature is designed for use with touchscreens, but it works just as well with a mouse.

Microsoft’s Origami Experience 2.0 add-on comes with a Picture Password option. It’s designed for the ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) platform, but it will work on any computer running Vista (although your cursor’s location vanishes when you move it over the picture, which makes precise clicks awkward.)
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with Windows 7 and, because Microsoft has patented the idea, it’s unlikely we’ll see any alternatives from anyone else.
Windows 8 free tools

Windows Explorer Ribbon

Microsoft first introduced the ribbon interface to Office some years ago, and it’s since become standard in most of the company’s other applications. Windows Explorer is the latest tool to get a ribbon makeover, with Home, Share, View and Manager / Drive tabs now running along the top of the window to give you easy access to commonly used functions. The ribbon interface is, however, controversial and has its fair share of critics who say it makes some tools harder to find. But it actually works reasonably well in Windows 8.

B-Explorer (Better Explorer)is a ribbon-based replacement for the standard Windows Explorer.The program isn’t an exact clone, but it does offer a similar look and lots of smart features, including a double panel Explorer window. Note that BExplorer only works with Windows 7. If you use Windows XP, the free tool 8 Skin Pack lets you apply a ribbon to Explorer, among other Windows 8-type changes.

Windows 8 and Free Tools Review-1

Windows 8, which is expected to launch next autumn, if not earlier, has already attracted favorable comments. Our sister title PC Pro described it as having “plenty of excellent new features” , while Expert Review said the operating system (OS) was “ a pleasure to use”.

Windows 8 has a whole new look and a design that’s clearly been developed with touchscreen devices in mind, letting you control programs with your fingers rather than a keyboard and mouse. You can try out an early version of the OS for free, or if you just want to try some of its new features, you can customize your existing edition of Windows with some impressive add-ons. T here are even special ‘skin packs’ available that will totally transform your current OS to look like the feature one. The best of these include the Windows 8 Transformation and the Windows 7 only UX Pack.

Here we reveal how you can try Window 8’s most innovative tools for free, without messing up your current set-up.

Windows 8 Tools

Metro Interface

Windows 8 introduces the Metro user interface (UI), which replaces the traditional Start menu with Start screen. This contains customizable titles with which you can launch your favorite programs; access specific areas of your system, such as the Desktop and Control Panel; and get useful, at-a-glance information, including news headlines, weather forecasts and calendar appointments.
You can rearrange the tiles by clicking and dragging them into place, and add new ones from the yet to be launched Windows App Store. The Metro UI has really been designed to work with touchscreen tablets, so it’s not quite as efficient when controlled with a keyboard and mouse, although you quickly get used to it.
There are several programs that faithfully recreate the Metro UI. Pulmon takes seconds to set up and doesn’t require installation. Just run the program then select some tiles to add to your Desktop. Available options include a clock, a shutdown manager and a web search box. Newgen is also very good and provides an almost exact clone of Metro.
Windows 8 Tools
On Screen Keyboard

Because Windows 8 has been designed with tablets in mind, it comes with an on screen keyboard. This offers a useful auto complete function that will attempt to guess what you’re typing. When you see the word you want to use, simply tap the Spacebar to add it to your sentence. This means you can type at full speed without talking your fingers of the keys. You can change the position of the keyboard on screen, make it transparent and turn the numeric keypad on or off.

Windows has always offered a virtual keyboard, but it’s tucked out o f sight. To access the feature in Windows XP, go to Start, Accessories, Accessibility, on screen Keyboard.The keyboard works in the same way as in Windows 8, but doesn’t offer the auto complete feature.