With all the mirth of the Christmas period it would be easy to forget that Windows XP is retiring next year. We aren’t going to cover the ins and outs of Windows XPs departure, to find out how this will affect you, and when it’s happening have a read of this article. Over the next few articles we are going to take a closer look at Windows 7 and Windows 8 which are the two main alternatives you have. Of course you do have other options, you could for example plumb for Linux (not something we’d recommend unless you a feeling reasonably geeky), or even go Mac (though that is a dirty word in our shop!). I’ll also take this opportunity to tell you about our fantastic XP trade in offer; Throughout December we are going to be offering 4 XP trade in schemes. No matter how battered, abused, and disabused your XP machine is come trade it in for one of our fantastic custom built computers. There are two tiered offers, depending upon which machine you opt for.
1. Up to £100 off!
2. A free 1 or 2TB external hard drive (because we know how much you all love to backup)
3. A free 19.5” or 21.5” monitor
4. 1 year free (yes an entire year!) of ByteSafe Home monitoring
Now on to business: Windows 7. For most, if not all, we recon Windows 7 will provide you with all the features you could want from an operating system. The general functionality (e.g. a Start button to access your programmes and computer) is the same as Windows XP, of course with the obligatory rearrangement of menus, just to keep you on your toes! The features of Windows 7 we think you’ll love (we certainly did anyway!) are:
1. Windows Backup & Restore. We know how much you all love to backup your computer, well Windows Backup & Restore has made it so easy that there really is no excuse not to. All that need be done is set up a schedule (e.g. every Sunday at 7 PM), plug in an external hard drive and off it goes. If you’re using a desktop you can just leave it connected. Obviously if you using a laptop (and moving about with it) you’ll just need to remember to plug it in. It really is a beautiful solution to a something that has long been a problem for home users. The true beauty of Windows Backup & Restore is that an image of your hard drive is created, meaning that Windows, programmes, and data are all backed up. Should the worse happen and your hard drive dies this image can be plonked (technical word) back on to a new hard drive and you are exactly where you left off from the last backup
2. The Taskbar. Situated just to the right hand side of the Start button (assuming normal Start button orientation) the Taskbar can house all of your frequently used programmes. These icons work in a similar fashion to shortcuts on the desktop, allowing you to launch programmes without having to open the Start button and searching through the list. They have some added functionally though; they won’t be obscured by any open programmes (as happens with desktop icons) meaning easy access without having to minimise open windows. That coupled with additional right click features (e.g. with Outlook open I can right click on the icon and send a new e-mail, create an appointment etc.)
3. Aerosnap. Have you ever found yourself wanting to make a comparison between two documents, spreadsheets, or websites? Well now you can, and in two simple motions! All you do is drag one window to one side of the screen, the other window to the other side of the screen and voilà there you have it both windows side by side taking up exactly half the screen. The simplicity of it is genius.
4. The Action Centre. Now I have to admit, there are times where I have found the Action Centre to be a pain in the backside. However… it will advise you of some very useful points. It will tell you if your anti-virus is turned off, it will tell you if your firewall is turned off, and it will tell you if your backup has failed. Pretty useful info, all displayed in one place.
5. Windows Search. Have you ever lost a programme, a document, or a photo amongst the garbage (if your computer is anything like mine!) you have strewn across your computer? Well no longer will that item go unfound! Simply fire up the Start button, and type away in the search box. Not only is the search feature quicker than it has been in previous incarnations (and by quicker I mean much quicker!), it also groups your results into categories (e.g. documents, programmes, folders etc.)
Keep your eyes peeled as in fortnight’s time I’ll attempt to find 5 redeeming qualities of Windows 8 and why you might consider it an option.