Over the last year, Windows 7 has slowly, but steadily been gaining market share. Now perhaps we can all just get together and call it a huge success. According to some Google analytics data, Windows 7 has blown by Vista, and should surpass Windows XP by year's end. What we're talking about here are usage statistics for various websites, but this is indicative of what regular consumers are running.
In July, Microsoft announced that they had sold 175 million Windows 7 licenses. That amounts to 30 million per month. Still, when Microsoft talks about this, there's no joy, no self-congratulations. It wouldn't be prudent to talk up the platform too much, but consumers seem pleased with Windows 7. Microsoft has avoided reliving the PR nightmare that the Vista launch turned into.
All the data shows that Vista users are upgrading at an astounding rate. This in and of itself is odd. In the past, most users have just waited until they bought a new computer to get the new version of Windows. It could be a symptom of widespread dissatisfaction with Vista, but the quality of Windows 7 is also getting XP users to take the plunge. Did you step up to Windows 7 from XP? Tell us about your experience.
In July’s "Budget Upgrade" issue, we extended an offer to our loyal readers: Tell us about your best/worst PC upgrade story, and earn yourself two of the kick-ass, custom-made Maximum PC coins we featured on the cover of that issue. We had no idea what we were in for.
Hundreds of submissions later, we emerged traumatized. Drained of all emotion. We laughed. We cried. We got angry. We felt your pain. And, in more than one instance, we literally had no idea what the hell you were talking about (but thanks for trying!).
Alas, as you have no doubt guessed, the majority of the submissions weren't aflutter with touching, heartfelt stories about successfully upgrading a GPU or processor. No no. There were a few of these—and we promise to publish them next week—but not many. And you know, to be honest, we prefer it this way. We know the heartache of breaking a PC in the process of attempting to improve it. We also know the grief we give each other when it happens.
Don't get us wrong, a lot of these stories were hilarious-- full of D'oh! moments and stupid mistakes. But some of the winning entries were absolute horror stories; the type that make tech nerds ball up in their seats and bite their lower lip. You know the look a die-hard sports fan gets on their face when their home team loses? That's the look we had while reading through some of these.
That being said, we humbly present the 15 Worst User Upgrades of All Time. We wouldn't be able to do so without all you guys. Thanks for making this happen.
Every once in awhile I head over to Yanko Design, a Web magazine filled with conceptual designs running the gamut from technology to interior design. Most of the concepts will never make it past the rendered image stage, but every so often, I stumble upon a gem that I hope to see become an actual product one day. The "Gravity Series" phone concept is one such design.
The designers -- Lukas Doenz, Joachim Kornauth, Toni Weichselbraun, and Max Salesse -- seem enthralled with the idea of their prototype being able to "offer HD technology within the dimensions of your pocket," but what really got my attention was that their device would "allow for upgradeable components."
Not a whole lot of digital ink was dedicated to this part of the design concept, but it got us thinking nonetheless. Imagine if, like your desktop, you could swap out your mobile phone's processor for a faster chip. Or add more RAM. Or drop in a beefier GPU.
Hit the jump to ready why this might not be as far fetched as it sounds.
The art of the PC upgrade is simultaneously an expression and a test of one’s diagnostic skills, computing savvy, and fiscal sensibilities. Identify the bottleneck. Research the parts that will fix the bottleneck. Remove the bottleneck.
As always, price and performance are the pivot points. After all, you can’t just toss $1,000 at your system to level it up. Well, you can, but in most cases you’d be a fool for doing so.
When the Maximum PC staff convened in conference room Spock to plan this story, we decided to establish some ground rules. First, we challenged ourselves to stick to our theme of a successful budget upgrade. This meant avoiding the tendency to fall back on the most expensive, best-of-breed components in each category.
Instead we forced ourselves to take a more nuanced approach. In each category, we expended considerable energy determining which product(s) owned the sweet spot—top-left on the 2x2 grid if you’re graph-happy—of the price-performance ratio. Staying consistent with our real-world theme, we used real-world pricing from sites like NewEgg and Amazon. Because we’re talking about upgrading an existing machine, you’ll find no case or mobo recommendations here.
Without further adieu, we happily present the results of our research. After the jump you’ll find a bevy of product recommendations that prove you don’t have to break the bank to achieve substantial gains in performance.
There's never been a better time to be an enthusiast. Most hardware is at an all time low, at least in terms of bang for the buck, and it doesn't take a hefty investment to build an all-around workhorse. Where does that leave the ultra-high end segment, particularly gamers?
According to Jon Peddie Research (JPR), some 46 percent of the dollars spent on PC gaming hardware were directed toward what the firm calls the "Enthusiast class." These are the dudes that shop only top-shelf products and don't think twice about spending a grand on a CPU or splurging on a pair of videocards, speedy SSDs, specialized gaming grade mice, and other related components.
By 2013, however, JPR says these folks will lose market share to the "Performance" and "Mainstream" classes from 46 percent to 35 percent of dollars spent. Why so?
"PC hardware has caught up to most of the software and people are able to play computationally intensive games on Performance level systems," explains Ted Pollack, Video Game Industry Analyst for JPR. "Performance systems now even support high resolution for all but the most demanding simulation and FPSs. The frequency of DirectX updates is also driving some people toward mid-range GPUs."
Even so, JPR says the high end will always be a good market, even as it loses ground to more pedestrian parts. According to JPR, despite the expected loss in market share, the Enthusiast class will still grow overall, from $9.5 billion to almost $12.5 billion in 2013.
What class do you fall into? Hit the jump and tell us the kind of hardware you're most likely to buy.
A survey by Softchoice has found that nearly nine in ten corporate PCs are capable of running Windows 7. This is in stark contrast to just a few years ago when, at the launch of Windows Vista, only 50% of existing corporate PCs were powerful enough for the upgrade. While it may be tempting to just install Window 7 on the existing hardware, many of these PCs are aging quickly.
According to Dean Williams, Services Development Manager for Softchoice, “Around the 42-month mark of a computer's life cycle the support costs shoot up substantially." By that point, any gains from not upgrading are countered by the increased cost of support.
Many machines in the survey were closing in on this 42-month mark. IT departments will have some tough choices to make as far as upgrading goes. While many of these PCs can run Windows 7, it may not be worth the hardware headaches. Softchoice strongly recommends considering replacements for PCs of this age. So in IT, 42 really is the answer to everything.
In what some might see as an irrelevant move in the search genre, Yahoo upgraded its search capabilities and deployed them to most of the world. They announced today on the Yahoo Search blog a slew of new features and a slick new layout for their search engine.
One key feature of the upgrade lives in the additional left column where “intelligent search results” help you to explore other relevant sites and drill-down your result set based on popular keywords. Yahoo implemented “SearchScan,” which helps protect from viruses, malware and spam. They also boasted that they have increased response and search times all over the site. You can find a full listing in detail of the upgrade deployment on the Yahoo search blog.
This might be too little too late as the justice department is inspecting an agreement to shift most Yahoo search efforts over to Microsoft. The upgrades bear striking resemblance to Bing’s results pages, perhaps this is a transitional effort.
How relevant do you think Yahoo is in the internet search industry? What do you think of Yahoo’s improvements?
There’s no denying that netbooks possess many positive attributes, as evidenced by their meteoric rise in popularity. But all the attention garnered by their portability and low cost can’t mask the deep and troubling performance that netbooks suffer.
The fact is, there are undeniable trade-offs inherent to a sub-$400 computer. You’re just not going to get the same performance from a netbook as from something that costs three times as much. Slow single-core Atom processors; middling hard drives; pokey, undersized SSDs; and only 1GB of RAM rob the netbook of its potential.
But there is hope. Whether you have an old Eee PC with a 12GB SSD or a new netbook with an Atom N280 chip and a 160GB hard drive, you can make substantial improvements without forking over too much dough. We’ll show you first-hand how netbooks can overcome their humble beginnings. We’ll upgrade a typical older netbook—an Eee PC 901 with a 4GB SSD soldered on the mobo and an 8GB PCI-E SSD—as well as a brand-new Toshiba NB205, to show how every netbook, from bottom-of-the-barrel to top-of-the-line, can benefit from upgrades.
Begin your journey to netbook empowerment after the jump.
A sucker buys a new PC at the first signs of a slowdown. A savvy power user gives his aged PC a fighting chance for redemption. From tweaking your OS to compressing files to overclocking your videocard or CPU, there are plenty of ways to tune up a computer, and none require a trip to Bob’s House of New PCs. Follow along this step-by-step as we show you 21 of our favorite techniques for making a PC better, stronger, and faster — for free. These essential tweaks and tune-ups range from common-sense caretaking measures to practical adjustments that you'd be foolish to ignore. Combined, they release your PC's untapped potential and breathe new life into your system.
Upgrading is an obligation of any self-respecting PC geek. It’s an affirmation of your thirst for power, a healthy rejection of the status quo. Upgrading is an acknowledgement of the fact that there’s always a way to improve your rig. You may have the funds for premium parts—lucky you. We’ll tell you exactly what those parts are. But even if your means are more modest, there are affordable parts in every major component category that can breathe new life into an aged PC.
Regardless of your financial situation, you must address some important questions before embarking on an upgrade. First, you need to honestly assess your rig’s merits. You shouldn’t waste money upgrading your PC if it still sports an AGP slot or a pre-AM2 Athlon 64 motherboard. The question you should ask yourself is whether it’s more cost effective to gut the machine and replace its primary components—motherboard, CPU, memory, and videocard—than it is to do a piecemeal retrofit. If you look at your rig and decide to build new, check out our full build-a-pc guide, but if you’re ready to proceed with an upgrade, click to find out how!