Straight to the point, Microsoft is bringing back the Start menu to Windows via an upcoming update to Windows 8.1. Along with everything else that will be introduced, we feel like Brennan from Step Brothers after he and Dale received pirate hats, dirty magazines, and crossbows - "You guys finally came to your sense and got us something cool!" And yes, despite all the criticism up to this point, Windows 8.1 finally has a shot at being a cool OS.
With yet another month's worth of data to digest, it's becoming increasingly clear that Windows 8 might never catch up to Windows 7. How you want to view that is up to you -- it could mean that Microsoft hit it out of the park with Windows 7, making it exceedingly difficult on itself to duplicate that kind of success, or that Windows 8 is a foul ball off of a broken bat. Let's look at some numbers.
Don't be surprised if there's a surge in Chromebook sales
Windows XP is a dead OS walking and it's highly unlikely to get a last second reprieve. Instead, Microsoft is anxious to bury the legacy OS in the backyard in hopes that those still clinging to XP will opt for a newer, more secure version of Windows. Some inevitably will, but one thing that will be interesting to keep an eye on is how many users replace their aging XP machines with a Chromebook.
You can test drive Titanfall's latest matchmaking tweaks
Respawn Entertainment says it's been keeping an eye on performance in Titanfall and is well aware of the lack of variety in teams. The development team has vowed to fix that, and if you're eager to try out some of the new changes, you can hop into the "Improved Matchmaking (Beta)" playlist under "Play Classic MP." For now, Respawn wants to watch how things play out in the beta to see what other tweaks are necessary before rolling out the changes to other playlists.
Looking for another reason to go back to school? Think of the discounts! We're seeing a growing trend in special student pricing for a variety of products and services, such as Razer's 20 percent promotion on 2013 model Blade laptops and Amazon's Prime service. Even Spotify is sharing the love with students -- if you're in school, you can subcribe to the company's ad-free premium service for $4.99 per month, which is half off the regular price.
Over the years, the Maxthon browser (formerly known as MyIE2 way back in the day) has spread its reach beyond Windows and into different platforms, including the Mac and three mobile OSes: Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. Wondering where the love for Linux is at? You don't need to wonder anymore, because you can now download 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Maxthon for Linux.
Take your hands off your mouse and keyboard (or tablet and smartphone) and give a hearty golf clap for Respawn Entertainment. Why are we congratulating the development studio behind Titanfall? Respawn deserves kudos for the way it's decided to handle cheaters in the PC version of the popular game -- by banishing them from the rule-abiding public and sticking them in servers with other cheaters.
Security outfit Avast Software has spent the past two years developing GrimeFighter, a deep cleaning utility for PCs that's now available. According to Avast, what sets GrimeFigther apart from other PC cleaning software is that it follows through with its promise to increase PC performance when it's finished scrubbing your system. It's also unique in that it doesn't ask users what components should be analyzed.
Here we are more than a year after the release of Windows 8 and it still remains a hot topic. The points of consternation among its critics are that Microsoft overhauled the user interface with a focus on touch computing, and then added insult to injury by removing the Start button and Start menu (the Start button has since returned, but without the handy menu). Nevertheless, it's a faster and more secure operating system than Windows 7. What's a user to do? Well, if you're buying a rig from boutique builder Puget Systems, you can have the company give Windows 8 a makeover so that it essentially feels like Windows 7.
Support for XP might be ending, but the world is not
Security outfit F-Secure has published its Threat Report for the second half of 2013, which provides a detailed look at the threat landscape as well as trends in malware. It also contains some advice for Windows XP users who aren't planning to upgrade to a newer OS once support ends on April 8, 2014. Whether the decision to stick with XP is based on contractual obligations or other reasons, F-Secure says "all is not lost" for businesses and users who ride it out.