How to prepare your PC for Windows 8

Windows 8 is due to be released to consumers on October 26. Priced at just $39.99, the upgrade is surprisingly affordable. If you're thinking about upgrading to Microsoft's latest operating system, now might be a great time to start your preparations. Having an upgrade plan can help mitigate many of the risks involved with a major OS upgrade. Here are some suggestions to help your upgrade go as smoothly as possible:

Check your system for compatibility The first thing you'll want to do is to check your PC to see if it can run Windows 8 … Read more

XP and Vista users, no Office 2013 for you

Still running XP or Vista and eyeing Office 2013? Sorry, you're out of luck.

Unveiled Monday, the upcoming new Office suite won't support Windows XP or Vista, meaning users who need or want Office 2013 will have to upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8.

Microsoft confirmed the tighter requirements on its Office 2013 Preview Technet page. Only Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server 2008 R2, and Windows Server 2012 will be able to run the new suite.

Users will also need a PC with at least a 1GHz processor, 1GB of RAM for the 32-bit version (2GB … Read more

Windows 8 Pro upgrade set for $39.99, Media Center too

Microsoft is trying to make the Windows 8 upgrade more tempting by cutting the upgrade price and throwing in Media Center, too.

Those with Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 will qualify for an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $39.99 in 131 markets, Microsoft said today.

And Media Center can be added "for free" through the "add features" option within Windows 8 Pro after the upgrade, according to Microsoft.

That might not seem like much but Microsoft said previously that Media Center must be "acquired" via "Add Features to Windows 8"Read more

Microsoft opines: Vista was 'cheesy'; drops Aero

Microsoft published a "brief" history of the Windows interface in a blog post today that offered some flashes of candor about Vista and Windows 95 and argued that the tablet as we know it today is one device too many. Redmond also said it was dropping Aero Glass.

First and foremost, Microsoft said it has "moved beyond" Aero Glass on the Windows 8 desktop, in Friday's Building Windows 8 post.

"We spent a lot of energy carefully considering how substantially to update the appearance of the desktop in Windows 8...Our primary goal was … Read more

Get Laplink PCmover Windows 7 Upgrade Assistant for free

Still plugging along with Windows XP or Vista? Dreading the prospect of upgrading to Windows 7 because Microsoft offers no direct upgrade path? (More on that in a bit.)

Help is on the way. Today only, in honor of its 29th birthday, Laplink is offering PCmover Windows 7 Upgrade Assistant absolutely free. It regularly sells for $29.95.

To get the software, click here, then click the little "Add to cart" box in the upper-right corner of the free-PCmover banner. Scroll down and click "Proceed to Cart." Follow the instructions on the following page.

Not interested? … Read more

Vint Cerf: Google may not always be top search dog

Google is seen by many as the de facto standard for Internet search. But the company may not always be king of the castle, says famed Internet pioneer Vint Cerf.

Speaking at the Life Online exhibition at the the National Media Museum in the United Kingdom, Cerf downplayed any potential danger in Google's Web dominance, according to blogging site Pocket-Lint. The father of the Internet, who's also a VP and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, pointed to healthy competition from Bing and other search engines.

But Cerf said that Google's role as top dog in the search … Read more

XP loses ground to Windows 7 but still top OS

Windows XP lost more users to Windows 7 last month, but the decade-old platform continues to hold on as the most popular operating system

Looking at OS stats for February, NetApplications found that XP's share of the market dipped to 45 percent from 47 percent in January. At the same time, Windows 7 grabbed 38 percent of all users, up from 36 percent the prior month.

The latest numbers show a trend in which XP has gradually lost share over time, while Windows 7 has picked up more customers. In February 2011, XP owned more than half of the … Read more

Microsoft may limit the number of Windows 8 editions

Microsoft could be aiming to simplify Windows 8 by trimming the number of editions, or SKUs, sold to the public.

Two files from Hewlett-Packard's Web site uncovered by blogger Stephen Chapman from CNET sister site ZDNet appear to indicate how many Windows 8 editions Microsoft will sell. The files list the specific flavors of Windows supported by drivers for an HP laptop smart card reader. HP has since removed the references to Windows 8 from the files, but images of Google-cached versions saved by Chapman show just the six following SKUs:

Microsoft Windows 8 32 Edition Microsoft Windows 8 … Read more

Microsoft extends consumer support for Windows 7, Vista

Consumers running any edition of Windows 7 or Vista now have a few more years of support to look forward to.

Microsoft recently tacked on five additional years in the form of Extended support for all editions of both operating systems for individual users. Full support for every edition of each OS will now last for approximately 10 years from release date, pointing ahead to January 14, 2020, for Windows 7 and April 11, 2017, for Vista.

Microsoft offers both Mainstream and Extended support for its operating systems and other products. Mainstream support lasts for five years and covers all … Read more

Helix Nebula sparkles in a new light (video)

The Helix Nebula, which lies in the constellation of Aquarius, is one of the closest planetary nebulae to Earth.

Even so, it might take you awhile to travel there for a closer look--it being about 700 light-years away. Luckily, the European Southern Observatory has released a new image that provides a sharper view of the Helix Nebula, as seen in infrared light. Taken by ESO's VISTA telescope, at the Paranal Observatory in Chile, the image shows strands of cold nebular gas emanating from what looks like a giant eye. Thanks to the telescope's special detectors, the picture also … Read more