Software en Restore Your Computer to its Glory Days <!--paging_filter--><h3>Give your PC a clean start</h3> <p>If you’re reading this, it’s highly likely that your PC is a fine-tuned piece of 64-bit technology, customized to the hilt and purring like a kitten with a belly full of formula. Yup, she’s a beaut, and attacks your daily tasks like a Belgian Police Dog going after a fleeing perp. All is well in the world, until one day when you sit down, fire it up, and realize something is different. That extra bit of snap when programs open is missing, and encoding video seems to take longer than it used to. Even downloading files seems to require more patience than you’re accustomed to exhibiting. It’s at this very moment that you silently say to yourself, “What the FRACK???”</p> <p>First things first—calm down, power user. Before you smash your rig with a hammer, pound on the keyboard, and decide to just nuke it from orbit, realize it’s just a temporary slowdown and it happens to everyone, even Maximum PC editors. Over time, PCs get slower; it’s just the nature of the beast. Don’t fret, we’re here to help by showing you how to give your PC a clean start. We'll show you how to restore you computer to its glory days, if you will. We’ll walk you step-by-step through the cleaning process, showing you what you need to get ’er done, and if you find you can’t resolve the problem, how to properly nuke it from orbit. We’ll also detail—pun intended—physically cleaning your rig. Once you’re finished, your PC will be noticeably perkier and everything will be right as rain. Now, drop the hammer, and let’s get started.</p> <h3>Back it up and kick the tires</h3> <p><strong>The only person to blame for not having a backup is you</strong></p> <p>There’s only two kinds of storage devices in this world: those that have already died and those that are going to die. If you’ve already identified that your PC is acting wonky, it’s time to back that mother up. It may seem counterintuitive that you would run a backup before you do a PC cleanup, but we highly recommend it: If you break something or something finally gives up the ghost, you’ll kiss your USB ports that you made a backup before it all went sideways. There are numerous aftermarket tools, but Microsoft has been kind enough to give you a fairly powerful backup and imaging tool in the OS itself. If you’re using Windows 7, just search for Backup, or dig into the Control Panel and look under System and Security. If you’re using Windows 8.x, the backup system is the same, although it’s hidden. To find it, go to the Control Panel and search for Windows 7 File Recovery.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/gordon_backup_small_1.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/gordon_backup_small_0.jpg" alt="The Windows backup and restore program works well enough, and should be run regularly." width="620" height="547" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Windows backup and restore program works well enough, and should be run regularly.</strong></p> <p>If you have multiple drives, you can choose how you want the backup to run, and manually select the other drives in the system for the backup set. You should set an automatic backup as well, and create a system restore disc. Ensure that you created a system image, also, should you need to restore the backup to a completely new hard drive.</p> <p>With your backup complete, it’s time to do a basic visual inspection of the internals of the PC for obvious problems, such as fans clogged with so much cat hair and dust that they’re causing the CPU or GPU to overheat and throttle, or data or power cables that have wiggled loose. Typically, loose or unplugged cables result in immediate show-stopping errors and crashes rather than a system slowdown. You’re more likely to find your fans clogged with dust running at low RPMs or fans that have died.</p> <h3>Mash Malware</h3> <p><strong>Don’t always blame malware, except when it’s to blame</strong></p> <p>If there’s a bogeyman of mysterious system slowdowns, it’s malware. In fact, if we had a nickel for every time a relative told us a “virus” was the cause of their slowdown, we’d have 0.08-34 of a Bitcoin. With that said, before you get too hip-deep in trying to speedupify a PC, a sweep for malware should be run. We’d also do a cursory examination of the OS for extraneous toolbars or tray items that have been installed. These aren’t truly malware, but still worthy of eradication.</p> <p>We’d also recommend a full system scan by the system’s real-time AV software (after updating the virus definitions). A secondary sweep using various on-demand tools is also on the to-do list. This would include browser-based file scanners available from all of the popular AV vendors, as well local tools such as Malwarebytes ( or SuperAntiSpyware (<a href=""></a>). Running specific rootkit removal tools available from companies such as Malwarebytes and Sophos, among others, can’t hurt. Rootkits are a class of malware designed to thwart normal detection means. Before you get crazy about removing any detections, you should research it to make sure it isn’t just a false positive. And be advised that many types of malware can’t be removed with a single-click tool. You’ll typically have to dig deep in a multi-page guide to remove many of today’s specialty infections. Obviously, Binging will lead you to most guides, but a great place to start is The site has loads of removal guides and links to useful tools. But again, a word of warning: don’t just start ripping things out of the OS without knowing what you’re removing.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/gordon_rootkit_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/gordon_rootkit_small.jpg" alt="A thorough check for malware is recommended before any serious system cleanup." title="Mash Malware" width="620" height="516" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>A thorough check for malware is recommended before any serious system cleanup.</strong></p> <h3> <hr />Cruft clearing</h3> <p><strong>Declutter the system files</strong></p> <p>Any PC that you use daily will build up hundreds of gigabytes of file clutter over the months and years that you use it. As most people are rolling large mechanical drives, the clutter has an impact on performance and your ability to pack away even more cute kitten videos downloaded from the Internet.</p> <p>For this step, we’ll start with the low-hanging fruit. Simply open My Computer, right-click your primary drive, and select properties. Click Disk Cleanup and check off the things that are clutter (just about everything is in this panel) and click OK. We did this on a work box and shaved off 5GB in Windows Update files that had been sitting around. While 5GB isn’t much in the day of 4TB drives, many people still run 1TB and smaller drives with every nook, cranny, and sector filled (you know who you are.)</p> <p>The next easy cruft targets are the system restore points automatically created by Windows. Windows typically creates these snapshots of the OS when you install a new driver, OS update, or application. Windows sets a default for these based on the size of the drive it’s installed on, but they typically occupy gigabytes on the drive. To free up space, you can delete all but the latest restore points by clicking the More Options panel from Disk Cleanup, and selecting Clean Up under System Restore and Shadow Copies.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/cruft1_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/cruft1_small.jpg" alt="The built-in disk cleanup does a decent first pass at dumping unneeded system clutter." title="Cruft clearing" width="500" height="612" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The built-in disk cleanup does a decent first pass at dumping unneeded system clutter.</strong></p> <p>Before you do this, though, think about how the recent stability&nbsp; of your system. If it’s been reliable but slow for the last few months, wiping the previous restore points should be fine. But if the system is being wonky, you may just need to rely on those restore points to get the box back to a point where it’s stable, so we’d recommend keeping the old restore points until you’re sure the box is working. You should also be aware that Windows 7 and Windows Vista used System Protection and Restore Points to occasionally make backup copies of your personal data files through the Volume Shadow Copies service. These older versions may be purged when you do this, but it won’t touch your most recent versions.</p> <p>Yeah, we know, many power users will thumb their nose at System Restore and some will outright switch it off because malware can use it as a place to hide, but the feature can truly be a bacon-saver sometimes.</p> <p>Another easy target to clean out is the default downloads folder. Other than documents, the vast majority of downloaded files can usually be dumped overboard.</p> <h3>Clean the Crap</h3> <p><strong>CCleaner is an easy-to-use, one-stop declogger</strong></p> <p>Originally named Crap Cleaner, this handy application has since been renamed to the more palatable CCleaner, but it still works amazingly well at clearing out the junk from the corners of your OS. Available for free from, it’s an easy one-stop shop for freeing up space that you might normally miss with the built-in cleaner. As much as we like CCleaner, you shouldn’t expect miracles. We ran it on a three-year-old scungy build of Windows 7 after running the Window’s cleaning routine and CCleaner came up with 18.3GB to clean out—16GB had accumulated in the trash bin. One word of warning: By default, CCleaner will wipe out your browser cookies, which might throw you for a loop when you’re forced to sign into web sites that you may have forgotten the passwords for. It’s probably best to exclude browser history and also Windows Explorer Recent Documents from the CCleaner clean-out, too, because they don’t net you much space but make your system more livable.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/ccleaner_small_2.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/ccleaner_small_1.jpg" alt="CCleaner still does an admirable job of emptying out unneeded files." width="620" height="546" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>CCleaner still does an admirable job of emptying out unneeded files.</strong></p> <h3>Stop Startups</h3> <p><strong>Giddyap quicker</strong></p> <p>Oddly, many people still define their computing experience by how long it takes to cold-boot their PC. First, we just have to ask, have you tried standby or even hibernate? You know, those handy modes that can have you at the desktop five or 10 seconds after touching the mouse button or keyboard? No? You still prefer to boot from cold, anyway?</p> <p>If your OS install is a year or two old, you will have accumulated enough startup programs to significantly impact hard-drive boot times. The easiest way to remove these programs is click on the Start button, and type msconfig. Click on the Startup tab and scroll through the list, looking for things that don’t need to be started at launch. Uncheck them, click apply, then OK, and reboot.</p> <p>One thing to remember, Windows 7 will optimize the boot times automatically. If you reboot, and wait five minutes and reboot four or five times, the boot times should actually get better automatically as Windows 7 decides what it can prioritize.</p> <p>Windows 8.x (yes, haters, step back) actually improves upon boot times, as well. Anyone who has used the new OS can attest to its fast boot times. Win8 moves startup optimization to the Task Manager (ctrl-shift-esc). Click on the Startup tab, and Windows 8 will even tell you what’s slowing things down, and give you an estimate of how long it took to boot after the process was handed over to the OS.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/msconfig_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/msconfig_small.jpg" alt="You can manually deselect programs that start up from msconfig to speedify your boots." width="620" height="414" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>You can manually deselect programs that start up from msconfig to speedify your boots.</strong></p> <p>Those of us who have moved on to the SSD-based western shores of Valinor live lives fairly well untroubled by slow startups. But those poor souls of middle earth still using mechanical-based drives are the ones who need to concern themselves with startup optimization.&nbsp;</p> <h3> <hr />Consider an upgrade</h3> <p><strong>Hardware isn’t always the answer, but it usually is</strong></p> <p>The vast majority of our tips to clean up a slow-running PC can be solved in software, but sometimes software isn’t the answer. How will you know the difference? One of the clearest indicators is age. Old PC components do not age like wine. If you’re at your buddy’s house to “take a look at his computer” and that computer is a Pentium 4 or Athlon XP, it’s a lost cause.</p> <p>So, while most newbs you’re trying to help can still benefit from the cleaning tips in this story, the P4/Athlon XP machines aren’t going to sing no matter how much you tune them. Putting money into a hardware upgrade for these old dogs should be carefully weighed: new parts can be difficult to locate and everything in the box is suspect.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/p4.northwood_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/p4.northwood_small.jpg" alt="Unless you’re in the retro computing club, we’d recommend dumping that Pentium 4 box." title="P4" width="620" height="496" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Unless you’re in the retro computing club, we’d recommend dumping that Pentium 4 box.</strong></p> <p>It’s not so bad for a Phenom II or Core 2 box. In fact, these machines can be quite workable if the user has realistic expectations. Dropping an SSD into a Phenom II or Core 2 rig would be a game-changer for these old platforms, even if the motherboard doesn’t support the full SATA 6Gb/s speeds. Sometimes, a little RAM will even help, if the box was already memory-starved to begin with. With a 64-bit OS, 8GB is standard and 4GB is borderline.</p> <p>If gaming needs a boost, dropping in a newer GPU can certainly help. Even those rigs that are constrained by low-wattage PSUs now have a modern option with Nvidia’s new Maxwell series, which can run on even 300W PSUs.</p> <p>If the machine is also running that now-abandoned OS, Windows XP, an OS upgrade to Windows 7 or even Windows 8 is advised.</p> <p>Obviously, we don’t recommend $400 in upgrades on a $200 PC, but a $100 upgrade on a box that buys the person another 24 months of use can be a godsend for those on tight budgets. As we said, though, everything at or below the P4/Athlon XP line should be abandoned.</p> <h3>Visualize your drive</h3> <p><strong>Think of WinDirStat as Google Maps for your HDDs</strong></p> <p>You’ve cleaned up the extraneous system files on your machine, but the real junk is the gigabytes of nothingness you’ve collected from repeatedly dumping that 32GB memory card onto the hard drive because you were afraid to delete something you might need later. Six months later, those same unkempt files are bogging down your system and freeloading on your dime. When space gets tight, we turn to WinDirStat (<a href=""></a>).</p> <p>In the past, when drives were smaller and your file-hoarding was limited to a mere 500GB or so, you could rely on the good old-fashioned search-and-destroy technique: browsing through Windows Explorer for old photos, games, and files that you simply don’t use anymore. With 3TB and even 4TB drives packed with god knows what, that technique isn’t effective anymore. Instead, use Windows Directory Statistics, or WinDirStat, to help visualize and locate files on our drives that can be slated for termination. WinDirStat is an extremely lightweight (less than a megabyte) open-source program that scans your hard drive to provide you with three sets of information: directory list, tree map, and file extensions list. The tree map—easily the most attractive feature in the program—represents every file on your hard drive as a colored rectangle. Also handy is the extension list, which gives you total percentages calculated by file extensions.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/windirstat_small_2.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/windirstat_small_1.jpg" alt="We dig the simple and effective representation of our hard drives from WinDirStat." width="620" height="349" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>We dig the simple and effective representation of our hard drives from WinDirStat.</strong></p> <p>The tree map is the handiest and helps you easily see where you have bloat on your drives—the bigger the file, the bigger the rectangle. Scrolling over files displays the file name and its location, and you can delete files from within the program by selecting a file and pressing the delete key.</p> <h3>Dedupe it</h3> <p><strong>Duplicate often </strong></p> <p>Most people treat hard drives like the attic or garage. Rather than immediately culling extra files, you simply put it in storage to deal with at a later date (the road to hell, good intentions, etc). No matter that you already put those files in storage just last week—you’ll get around to dumping the duplicate files eventually. While there are many, many deduplication tools available, one good starting place is Auslogic’s free Duplicate File Finder app (<a href=""></a>) It doesn’t have the bells or whistles of apps that analyze audio, photo, and video for duplicates, but it works fairly fast and is a good way to eliminate the obvious duplicate files. On one old Windows 7 box, Duplicate File Finder turned up a good 39GB of dupes that could be tossed. Simply fire up Duplicate File Finder, have it search your drive, and it will give you a list of duplicate files. Under Action, select All Duplicates In Each Group, and it will mark the duplicate files for dumping into a trash can, or moving into the Rescue Center, where you can recover the file if you realize later on you made a mistake.</p> <p>The program works well enough, but we wouldn’t wipe out files willy-nilly without first making a separate backup and making sure that the irreplaceable files going away are actually duplicates. DFF will show you the file name, file size, and creation date, which gives most people enough confidence to delete, but the paranoia in us would want to visually confirm it, too. This same philosophy is probably what brought us to this space issue in the first place. After all, am I sure I really did copy all of the images from the memory card to the computer? Even the ones I took last weekend? I’ll just make another copy... I have plenty of space.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/duplicatefilefinder_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/duplicatefilefinder_small.jpg" alt="Duplicate File Finder can quickly, er, find your duplicate files." title="Duplicate File Finder " width="620" height="484" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Duplicate File Finder can quickly, er, find your duplicate files.</strong></p> <h3>Optimize your storage</h3> <p><strong>Storage is usually the prime suspect in system slowdowns</strong></p> <p>Before we get started discussing problems with your storage system and how to optimize it, make sure you have done two things: First, that you’ve connected your SSD to a SATA 6Gb/s port on your motherboard (consult your manual), and second, that you’ve enabled AHCI on your SATA controller via the motherboard BIOS. If you’ve already installed Windows and your SATA controller is set to IDE instead of AHCI, hit Google to find the registry hack to fix it. And yes, running in IDE mode rather than AHCI on a modern SSD can indeed rob you of performance.</p> <p>With that out of the way, the first thing to do when you sense your system is slowing down and you see your hard-drive activity LED churning constantly, is enlist the trusty three-finger salute. For the uninitiated, that means pressing ctrl-alt-delete to bring up the Task Manager in Windows. Select the Performance tab to see if anything is spiking or is nearing 100 percent utilization. From there, you can go to the Processes tab to see which process is taking up all those resources. In the screenshot below, we see a staff member’s work PC that suffered daily paralyzation at the hands of a virus scan and several associated processes. The resolution was to kill the processes, then make sure to schedule the virus scans during non-work hours.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/ssd_optimize_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/ssd_optimize_small.jpg" alt="Both Samsung and Intel offer free “tuning” software that helps keep your SSD running in tip-top shape. " width="620" height="467" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Both Samsung and Intel offer free “tuning” software that helps keep your SSD running in tip-top shape. </strong></p> <p>If everything looks fine in the Task Manager but the system still feels slow, run a few benchmarks to see if the numbers are up to spec. For sequential read and write tests, we recommend Crystal-DiskMark for SSDs and HDTune for Hard drives. Admittedly, none of us use HDDs for our OS anymore—there’s no reason to with SSD prices falling faster than the value of Bitcoin.</p> <p>If you run the benchmarks and find the performance is lacking on your SSD, you have a few options. Your first is to optimize the drive via the Trim command. What this does is send a command to the drive that tells it to run its garbage-collection routine, which means it will erase all the blocks that have been deleted, clearing the way for them to receive fresh writes. If the drive has not been trimmed in a while, data can become fragmented all over the drive, and since blocks of an SSD have to be erased before they are written to (as opposed to a hard drive, where they can just be overwritten at any time), a simple write command can require the controller to delete blocks, move data around, and then perform the write, which can seriously degrade performance.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/wtf_-_copy_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/wtf_-_copy_small.jpg" alt="If your system feels like it’s stuck in the mud, the Task Manager will reveal what’s causing the problem. " width="620" height="564" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>If your system feels like it’s stuck in the mud, the Task Manager will reveal what’s causing the problem. </strong></p> <p>In general, if you’re running Windows 7 or newer, you should be fine. However, you can Trim a drive manually on Windows 8: right-click the drive in My Computer, and click Properties, Tools, and then Optimize. If you own a Samsung or Intel SSD, you can download the free Samsung Magician or SSD Toolbox software, respectively, which also let you Trim your drive.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>HDD “Optimization”</h3> <p><strong>Fast hard drives aren’t</strong></p> <p>If you are running a hard drive and want to optimize it, there’s not a whole lot you can do beyond keeping it defragmented. To make sure it’s “defragged,” right-click the drive, select Properties, Tools, and then Defragmentation. Ideally, you should do this after you’ve done your cleaning of unused junk from the machine. If it’s your boot device, some people like to disable hibernation before a defrag to get a little extra “boost” out of the defrag by eliminating the multi-gigabyte hiberfil.sys file. Frankly, we don’t think it matters much anymore. In our opinion, the concept of a “fast hard drive” is antiquated now, due to SSDs, as is the concept of “optimizing” them. Any gains you make toward keeping a hard drive optimized will be largely unnoticeable in the real world, beyond dumping the useless cruft and running a basic defrag, which the OS will do on its own.</p> <h3>Let’s Get Physical</h3> <p><strong>Knock, knock, house cleaning</strong></p> <p>Unless you live in a HEPA-filtered cleanroom, a desktop PC will eventually need a physical cleanup as well as a digital one. That means opening up the case, which means turning off your rig and unplugging it from the wall. Don’t want to lose a finger in those fan blades. Most case panels are secured with six-sided Phillips screws, sometimes call a “hex” screw. Or they have thumbscrews, which can usually be removed by hand. Once taken out, keep these together in a small container. An empty coffee mug will do in a pinch.</p> <p>If you’ve had this PC for several months, you should see a coating of dust inside. That has to be removed, because it insulates surfaces and clogs up fans, which can lead to overheating. With a can of compressed air, spray short bursts at the dust. Long sprays can freeze the inner workings of the can. And tilting the can may also cause its liquid to spray, which contains a solvent that can damage the contact surface. Ideally, do this dusting outside, because you don’t want all that dust floating around indoors.</p> <p>Case fan filters can also get gnarly. These days, most of them slide out. Spray them with air, or remove them, run them under the tap, and air dry. Fans themselves also get grody. You may need to temporarily remove the CPU fan from the heatsink to clean both items sufficiently. When spraying fans, hold their blades down to prevent them from spinning, otherwise you may damage the motor.</p> <p>A periodic disinfecting wipe or baby wipe can take care of your mouse, but keyboards usually need you to pull their keycaps to really get at the crustiness underneath. A puller tool is best for this. You can order one online from Newegg or Amazon, and regional computer stores like Fry’s and Microcenter usually sell them. Some people run their boards through the dishwasher. Don’t use detergent or hot water for that, and give them at least a day to fully dry out.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/babywipes_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/babywipes_small.jpg" alt="Gordon agrees, baby wipes work amazingly well for cleaning the surfaces of a dirty desktop or laptop." width="620" height="381" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Gordon agrees, baby wipes work amazingly well for cleaning the surfaces of a dirty desktop or laptop.</strong></p> <p>Last but not least, don’t forget to wipe the dust off your monitor’s screen. But don’t use conventional glass cleaner, because it can permanently damage the panel. You can buy screen-cleaning kits from most office supply stores, or you can use a spare microfiber cloth, like the kind made for camera lenses. Pharmacies also stock these. Just gently wipe the screen with it. If you need some liquid to clean the screen, spray your cloth with plain water from a mister. Never spray the screen itself, because the liquid can drip into the panel housing and corrode the components within.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/kitten_p34_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/kitten_p34_small.jpg" alt="Tuxie the cat, pointing out a spot Josh missed while cleaning." width="620" height="521" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Tuxie the cat, pointing out a spot we missed while cleaning.</strong></p> <h4>An Ounce of Prevention</h4> <p>If you’ve just cleaned out a rig that’s never seen a proper cleaning, you’re probably wondering what you can do to avoid such horrors in the future. Fan filters are obviously one option. If they’re not built into your case, you can get them from sites like Newegg, Amazon, and Frozen CPU. Some have magnets, and you just slap them on; others need to be screwed in. To get the correct sizing, measure your fan diagonally with a ruler. The most common size is 120mm. A filter’s dense mesh will reduce airflow and increase temps in the case, so there’s a trade-off. Even the best filter will not completely eliminate dust, it will only reduce the number of times per year that you need to clean the insides. Smokers and owners of furry pets will also need to clean more often than usual. Periodically brushing those critters will help reduce buildup.</p> <p>And we don’t know if we have to mention this, but washing your hands a few times over the course of the day will also help prevent unsightly crud from building up on your input devices. This is especially important after a meal or after spending time outdoors. And speaking of food, try to keep it away from your keyboard, which is a crumb magnet and said to be dirtier than a toilet. If your mouse pad has an old-style fabric surface, you may want to consider eliminating it altogether (unless your desk is made of glass), or switching to one made of plastic or metal—materials that can be cleaned quickly and easily.</p> <h3>Nuke it from orbit</h3> <p><strong>Nothing can save LV426, so when it’s too mangled or infested, just nuke it</strong></p> <p>We won’t bother telling you to back up your data before you send your OS to meet its maker, because that is too obvious. But before you nuke the OS, make sure you have everything you need.</p> <p>What might not be obvious is that because of piracy, a lot of the more expensive software packages require activation, which also requires you to deactivate any serial numbers before you begin your bombing run. Most professional Adobe packages work this way, so if you’re running Photoshop, Illustrator, or any locally stored creative suite, be sure to open the app, click Help, and then Deactivate. Make sure you’ve done it correctly by firing up the program again to see if it asks you to activate. If it does, you’re good to go; keep in mind you’ll need Internet access to successfully do this. Also keep in mind that if you deactivate a piece of software, then upgrade your system, the software might think it’s a different computer, which can complicate re-activation.</p> <p>The activation process varies on a program-to-program basis, so use Google if you run into any issues. Microsoft’s Office suites react the same as the operating system, and any significant change in hardware will trigger a reactivation. The bottom line: If you have a mission critical application that you absolutely have to have up and running as soon as possible, be sure to know what the re-activation process is before you pull the trigger so there are no surprises. Some apps require you to contact the vendor for a new code before they will run, which is a wonderful thing to learn at midnight Friday before a three-day weekend when you need the app that night.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/adobe_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/adobe_small.jpg" alt="In order to reinstall certain software, such as Adobe products, you must first deactivate the serial key." width="620" height="444" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>In order to reinstall certain software, such as Adobe products, you must first deactivate the serial key.</strong></p> <p>There are other apps you should also pay attention to. First up, browser bookmarks. Chrome will let you sync your bookmarks on other machines, but you need to set it up to do so. If you’re into the old-school method, you can also export your bookmarks file as HTML and then re-import it. You’ll want to make sure you have a copy of your iTunes library handy, too, which is located in C:\Users\Username\My Music. Be sure to deauthorize iTunes while you’re at it. You’ll also want to back up your Steam library so that you don’t have to re-download all your games. To do this in Steam, click Steam in the upper left-hand corner, select Backup and Restore Games, then follow the prompts. Alternatively, you can do it manually by copying the entire Steam directory over. You no longer have to worry about save-game files, since they are now all automatically saved to the “Steam Cloud.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/steam_backup_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/steam_backup_small.jpg" alt="Steam includes a built-in Backup and Restore tool, and we recommend using it." width="620" height="362" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Steam includes a built-in Backup and Restore tool, and we recommend using it.</strong></p> <p>Your final stop on this trail of tears is to make sure you have all the drivers you need for anything connected to your PC. At the very minimum, be sure to have your chipset and LAN drivers, as those always go first, and with an Internet connection you can always download anything else you need care of the helpful SlimDrivers utility. Don’t forget your printer drivers, though, and it doesn’t hurt to download Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 either, though Windows Update could also do it for you.</p> <p>Once you’ve deactivated your software, collected all the serial keys you need, made sure your Steam and iTunes libraries are backed up, saved your browser bookmarks, and have all your drivers, you are ready to proceed. Before you reboot your PC to reinstall, be sure to take a moment to consider all the amazing times it’s given you. Once that’s complete, shut her down, and we’ll see you on the other side.</p> Adobe application malware May issues 2014 restore computer Software Office Applications Software Features Mon, 15 Sep 2014 22:49:00 +0000 Maximum PC staff 28340 at Maxthon Nitro Browser (Beta) Now Available to Download <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/nitro.jpg" alt="Maxthon Nitro" title="Maxthon Nitro" width="228" height="209" style="float: right;" />Maxthon developers claim Nitro is the fastest PC browser in the world</h3> <p>Growing tired of the same collection of browsers? If you're looking to try something new and aren't already familiar with Maxthon's offerings, <strong>you can download the beta of Maxthon Nitro (MxNitro)</strong>, supposedly the fastest browser available for the PC, according to the developers. Compared to the previous version, it loads three times faster, and compared to whichever browser you're using now, the developers say it fetches and loads webpages "considerably quicker."</p> <p>Maxthon is targeting users who want a no-fuss, stripped down browser that's fast, minimalistic in design, and has a low memory and CPU footprint.</p> <p>"Our focus groups and longitudinal surveys detail a growing segment of users who want speed above all else. 80 percent of users say that speed is their number one decision-making criteria and that they are willing to forego extensive features and add-ons to get more of it," <a href="" target="_blank">said Jeff Chen</a>, CEO of Maxthon. "This product is dedicated solely to that important and growing consumer niche."</p> <p>MxNitro gets it speed in part by reducing its UI load, and also by adding new patent-pending pre-connection and pre-fetching technology. Sounds all well and dandy, but is it truly faster than other browsers? Subjectively speaking, in our limited hands-on testing, it certainly feels faster -- webpages appear to render quicker than on Chrome, Firefox, or IE.</p> <p>What about objectively? Stay tuned -- we plan to run Nitro through a few browser benchmarks to see how it compares to the competition. In the meantime, you can check it out for yourself <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> browser maxthon nitro Software News Mon, 15 Sep 2014 18:56:34 +0000 Paul Lilly 28540 at Leaked Videos Show Key Windows 9 Features <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="" alt="Windows 9" title="Windows 9" width="228" height="171" style="float: right;" /></h3> <h3>See Windows 9’s Notification Center, Start Menu and multiple desktops in action</h3> <p>Microsoft may not have officially lifted the curtain on <a href="" target="_blank">Windows 9 (a.k.a “Threshold”)</a> but if sites like <a href="" target="_blank">WinFuture</a> continue to have their way, the Redmond-based company will have very little new to show us when it finally does get down to unveiling its next desktop operating system. (We don’t have an issue with these leaks, though.) The German site, which recently posted a bunch of allegedly <a href="" target="_blank">leaked screenshots of the rumored-to-be-upcoming Windows 9 Technical Preview</a>, has now taken to posting <strong>videos that showcase some of the upcoming OS’s features.</strong></p> <p>Four such videos have been released thus far by the German outfit. It is clear from the two videos dedicated to the returning Start Menu that in its latest avatar this iconic UI element will give the user a lot of say over its overall look and feel. You can not only pick and choose which Live Tiles you want your Start Menu to have, but it is also possible to have no Live Tiles at all and have a Smart Menu that is not too different from the one found in Windows 7.</p> <p><iframe src="//" width="620" height="250" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p><iframe src="//" width="620" height="250" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>As for the remaining videos, one shows the all-new <a href="">Notification Center</a> in action while the other sheds light on the upcoming operating system’s multiple desktop functionality. </p> <p><iframe src="//" width="620" height="250" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p><iframe src="//" width="620" height="250" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> leak multiple desktops notification center OS rumor Software Start Menu virtual desktops windows 9 technical preview News Sun, 14 Sep 2014 23:56:20 +0000 Pulkit Chandna 28531 at Grand Theft Auto V Headed to PC January 27, 2015 with Prettier Graphics and New Weapons <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/gta_v_pc.jpg" alt="Grand Theft Auto V" title="Grand Theft Auto V" width="228" height="128" style="float: right;" />Yes, this release date is real</h3> <p>With all due respect to the PC gamers who, after waiting so long for Grand Theft Auto V to be ported to Windows with nary a peep from Rockstar Games, have understandably lost interest, this is a big day. At long last, <strong>Rockstar has finally picked a release date for GTA V on PC -- January 27, 2015</strong> -- and I couldn't be more excited. Why? Partially because I've played the game with delight on the Xbox 360 and was totally drawn in, and also because I'm anxious to see the improved graphics and new features.</p> <p>What about the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One? Rockstar's obvious preference for consoles has GTA V arriving on the PS4 and Xbox One on November 18, 2014, more than two months ahead of the PC launch. Whatever, let's not act surprised that the PC is last line -- a familiar place with Rockstar.</p> <p>As to the game, all three platforms will see a "range of major visual and technical upgrades" that will make Los Santos and Blaine County prettier and more immersive than they've ever been. You can expect increased draw distances, a higher resolution, and a handful of new additions such as new weapons, vehicles, and activities, more wildlife, denser traffic, a new foliage system, enhanced damage and weather effects, and more.</p> <p>Those who <a href="" target="_blank">pre-order</a> will receive $1,000,000 of in-game currency, half of which you can spend in GTA V and the other half allocated to GTA Online. If you've already been playing GTA Online, you'll be able to transfer your character and progression to PC (or PS4 or Xbox One).</p> <p>There's no arguing it's been a long wait, and with still four months to go, Rockstar is undoubtedly alienating some PC gamers. To tide you over -- assuming you're still interested -- check out the new trailer below (taken from a PS4) and a bunch of <a href="" target="_blank">new screenshots</a> on Rockstar's website.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="620" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> games Grand Theft Auto V gta v rockstar games Software News Fri, 12 Sep 2014 15:54:19 +0000 Paul Lilly 28526 at Screenshots of Windows 9 Technical Preview Leak Online <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/windows_9_start_menu.jpg" alt="Windows 9 Start Menu" title="Windows 9 Start Menu" width="228" height="171" style="float: right;" />These are the screenshots we've been waiting to see</h3> <p>Yes folks, it looks like the Start Menu is indeed making a long overdue comeback in Windows 9 (codenamed Threshold). <strong>A German-language website posted a bunch of screenshots of the Windows 9 Technical Preview</strong> that's due out either later this month or in early October, according to <a href="" target="_blank">previous rumors</a>. One of those screenshots shows the Start Menu as it will appear on the Desktop.</p> <p>The Start Menu looks similar to the one in Windows 7, but updated with Tiles on the right-hand side. It gives access to all your apps and settings, along with a search field at the bottom and a power button at the top.</p> <p>According to <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Verge</em></a>, the screenies posted by <a href=",83577.html" target="_blank"><em>WinFuture</em></a> are genuine and reflective of a "very early" build that was sent to close Microsoft partners. With that in mind, the final product is likely to look a little bit different, though you do get a pretty good idea of what to expect from Windows 9.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/windows_9_screenie.jpg" alt="Windows 9 Screenshot" title="Windows 9 Screenshot" width="620" height="465" /></p> <p>Other tidbits shown off in the screenshots include a new search icon next to the Start button, a button that appears to be for the virtual desktops feature, Windows 8-style apps hovering on the Desktop, and the rumored <a href="" target="_blank">notifications center</a>.</p> <p>Image Credits: <em></em></p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> operating system OS screenshots Software threshold windows 9 News Thu, 11 Sep 2014 18:54:15 +0000 Paul Lilly 28523 at Google Extends Buyer Remorse Refund Window for Android Apps to 2 Hours <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/google_play_0.jpg" alt="Google Play" title="Google Play" width="228" height="228" style="float: right;" />Take your time deciding if you like an Android app or not</h3> <p>You may have noticed that Google's been a bit more lenient with its refund window for Android apps. Unlike Ron Burgundy who was able to immediately regret his decision to jump into the bear exhibit, some of us take a bit longer to evaluate the situation. Officially, Google was giving users 15 minutes to uninstall a purchased app for a refund, though unofficially, it's been a bit longer for at least a month. Now <strong>Google has gone and updated its support page to make its two-hour refund window an official policy</strong>.</p> <p>To get a refund for an app you don't like, open the Google Play Store app on your mobile device, touch the Play Store icon and select My Apps, then select the app or game you want to return and look for the Refund option.</p> <p>"If the two-hour refund window has not yet passed, Open and Refund buttons will be displayed. If a Refund button is not displayed, your purchase is not eligible for a return," <a href="" target="_blank">Google states</a> on its Return Paid Apps &amp; Games page.</p> <p>If you're on a PC, you can return an app by visiting Google Play in your web browser. Once there, click the Gear icon, select My Orders, point to the app you want to return and click the Menu icon that appears, select Report a problem, and then use the Refund option.</p> <p>This only works once per app. So, if you previously downloaded an app you didn't like and already received a refund, if you re-download it at a later date, you won't be able to return it.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> android apps Google mobile Software News Thu, 11 Sep 2014 18:19:51 +0000 Paul Lilly 28522 at KitKat Now Powers a Quarter of Android Devices <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/kitkat.jpg" alt="Android KitKat" title="Android KitKat" width="228" height="197" style="float: right;" />Jelly Bean still dominates, but KitKat is on the rise</h3> <p><strong>Android 4.4.x KitKat is now baked into about a quarter of all Android devices</strong> nearly a year after it was first released -- KitKat debuted on Google's Nexus 5 handset on October 31, 2013. With 24.5 percent of all Android gadgets running KitKt, the latest release is second only to Jelly Bean and enjoys a larger market share than all previous versions combined (Ice Cream Sandwich, Gingerbread, Froyo, Donut, and Cupcake).</p> <p>That's according to the <a href="" target="_blank">Android Developers Dashboard</a> portal. The data contained on the site reflects devices running the latest Google Play Store app and is snapshot of all the devices the visited the store within the past 7 days. In other words, it's not a wholly accurate representation of the landscape, but it is the closest estimate available and is probably not far off when consider that the majority of Android device owners don't root their phones or tablets.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">According to <em>CNET</em></a>, KitKat's share of the Android market sat at 20.9 percent just a month ago, 17.9 percent in July, and 13 percent in June. That means it's been a good summer for KitKat.</p> <p>However, JellyBean still tops the chart with a dominating 53.8 percent share of the Android market, down just a blip from 54.2 percent in August. It's also worth mentioning that Android L (believed to be Lemon Meringue Pie) is not too far off in the distance.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> android KitKat mobile operating system OS Software News Thu, 11 Sep 2014 15:40:55 +0000 Paul Lilly 28519 at NPD Group Survey Finds Half of PC Gamers Only Buys Games on Sale <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/sale.jpg" alt="Sale" title="Sale" width="228" height="152" style="float: right;" />Survey says half of all PC gamers wait for sales</h3> <p>If you're a PC gamer, there's a good chance your Steam library is filled with titles that you purchased at a discount but have yet to play. It's hard to pass up those sale prices, especially when they come so frequently, but are we hurting the industry by turning our collective noses up at titles when they're full price? <strong>According to NPD Group, half all PC gamers wait for a sale before picking up a game</strong>.</p> <p>NPD Group puts the onus on retailers and publishers to manage the expectations of a growing number of PC gamers who are simply unwilling to pay full price.</p> <p>"Consumers' expectations may be the greatest barrier to maximizing spending in the PC gaming space," <a href="" target="_blank">said Liam Callahan</a>, industry analyst, The NPD Group. "Since half of PC gamers who play digital and/or physical games on the computer are expecting there to always be a sale right around the corner, publishers and retailers alike need to better manage these expectations."</p> <p>The above finding came about from a report title "Understanding PC Gaming 2014," which is based on a June survey of 6,225 people in the U.S. age 9 and older. It was found that 46 percent of PC gamers bought a digital title within the last year, and of those who download games, they're "far less likely" to pull price than the ones who buy physical copies.</p> <p>One thing not mentioned, however, is how many additional dollars are spent as a direct result of these sales. Getting back to the Steam library filled with unplayed games, such a thing would suggest that gamers are buying titles faster than they have time to pay them, and that's not something most people are likely to do when a title is full price.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> games NPD Group Software News Wed, 10 Sep 2014 19:41:52 +0000 Paul Lilly 28513 at GOG Turns 6 Years Old, Celebrates with Deeply Discounted Games <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/gog_sale.jpg" alt=" Sale" title=" Sale" width="228" height="166" style="float: right;" />They grow up so fast, don't they?</h3> <p>Six years is a damn good run in technology, so it's no small feat that <strong><em></em> is celebrating its 6th birthday</strong>. The site formerly known as Good Old Games is not only notable for its six-year run, but also for proving during that time there can be a successful business model based on selling digital content free of Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions. That wasn't such a popular notion in 2008.</p> <p>"It was 2008 when we've launched our service to the public, offering a modest collection of golden classics that every PC gamer would instantly recognize, in other words: the Interplay catalog. During the first year in business (September 2008 - September 2009) we've released a nice number of exciting titles and you've reacted to them accordingly," <em></em> stated in a <a href="" target="_blank">blog post</a>.</p> <p>To celebrate the occasion, each day <em></em> will be discounting some of the games it released in any given year of its existence by up to 80 percent. <a href="" target="_blank">Today's list</a> contains two dozen titles, some of which include Far Cry ($2.99), Postal 2 ($1.99), Unreal Gold ($2.49), Unreal Tournament 2004 ECE ($2.49), and Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition ($1.99), to name just a sampling.</p> <p>The deals included in today's batch will be available until September 9 at 9:59AM GMT (2:59AM PDT).</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> games sale Software News Mon, 08 Sep 2014 19:23:41 +0000 Paul Lilly 28496 at Electronic Arts Chief Talks Being Voted Worst Company in U.S., Game Delays, and Other Topics <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/ea_sign.jpg" alt="EA Sign" title="EA Sign" width="228" height="163" style="float: right;" />EA chief doesn't envision a third Worst Company in U.S. designation</h3> <p>There would be something terribly wrong with <strong>Electronics Arts' Chief Executive Officer Andrew Wilson</strong> if he wanted his company to be voted the worst company in America for a third time by readers of the Consumerist blog. Being voted as such twice in the last three years -- in 2012 and 2013 -- is enough, though we're willing to excuse Wilson for stating the obvious, because that's not the point.</p> <p>Having replaced John Riccitiello as CEO of EA a year ago this month, Wilson inherited a company that had seen six consecutive years of declining revenue as it spent big money acquiring entities in its pursuit of being a major player in the casual gaming space. EA's reputation was arguably at an all-time low among gamers, and it appeared that EA might 'win' the anti-award of worst company several more times if something didn't change.</p> <p>Wilson had a vision for the company, but he stumbled out of the gate with a botch Battlefield 4 launch plagued by server issues. It also served as a learning point -- these days, Wilson isn't afraid to delay a launch when necessary. Gamers hate delays, but they arguably hate buggy software even more.</p> <p>"We decided that we couldn’t get an innovative Need For Speed title out this year so for the first time in 17 years we’re not launching one, we’re giving the team extra time," <a href="" target="_blank">Wilson told <em>The Guardian</em></a>. "We moved Titanfall on Xbox One out of our fiscal year; we moved Dragon Age, we moved Hardline. These were difficult decisions. The business of what we do, as measured by the stock price and fiscal returns, has grown - to me that’s reassurance that we’re doing the right thing."</p> <p>Even with lessons learned, it's not always smooth sailing these days. There's also the lingering perception of EA as a company that buys and kills off good franchises, as well as releases buggy games while cashing in on DLC. Wilson's strategy is to deliver "amazing games" and "commit to engaging with gamers" when they think they've been wronged.</p> <p>As for being voted worst company again, Wilson's wish is simple: "I hope we never appear on that list again, I truly do. But I expect that, as we push the boundaries of entertainment, we will get feedback from time to time that people want us to do different things. That’s okay. That’s the cool thing about our industry."</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> andrew wilson EA Electronic Arts games Software News Mon, 08 Sep 2014 18:44:12 +0000 Paul Lilly 28495 at Windows 9 Will Reportedly Have a Notification Center <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="" alt="Windows 9" title="Windows 9" width="228" height="173" style="float: right;" /></h3> <h3>A basic version said to be already present in early builds</h3> <p>As September 30th, the day Microsoft is widely rumored to release a “technical preview” of the next version of Windows — codenamed "Threshold” and commonly referred to as Windows 9 — draws near, you can expect to see a surge in Windows 9-related reports. According to one such report, <strong>Windows Threshold is going to feature a notification center à la the Windows Phone Action Center.</strong></p> <p>A notification center is said to be already present in some builds of Windows 9, if the folks over at <a href="" target="_blank">Neowin</a> are to be believed. Said to be accessible from the system tray, this notification center is reportedly quite basic in its current avatar, only possessing such simple features as the ability to sort notifications by app and a button to clear them all at once. </p> <p>However, you can expect the addition of some advanced features further along in the development process, when Microsoft starts receiving some valuable feedback from users. And talking of feedback, <a href="" target="_blank">recent reports</a> suggest that feedback received during the preview stage is set to play a more important role than ever before in determining what the final product will look like.</p> <p>Follow Pulkit on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a></p> feedback microsoft notification center operating system OS report rumor Software technical preview windows 9 windows phone action center windows threshold News Mon, 08 Sep 2014 02:42:51 +0000 Pulkit Chandna 28489 at Intel Releases 'Major' Graphics Driver Update for Haswell Processors <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="" alt="Intel " title="Intel" width="228" height="155" style="float: right;" /></h3> <h3>New graphics driver also supports the new Intel Core M chip with Intel HD 5300 graphics</h3> <p>In a week that saw a whirlwind of product announcements, including the arrival of the first processors based on the chipmaker’s Broadwell architecture, Intel released a major graphics driver update for 4th generation Intel Core processors. The new driver, the release of which went almost unnoticed, is significant not only because of the <strong>up to 30 percent improvement in performance that it is supposed to deliver to those rocking Haswell chips</strong>, but also because it is also the first to support the new Intel Core M processor with Intel HD graphics 5300.</p> <p>Those of you with a 4th generation Intel Core chip with integrated Intel HD, Iris, or Iris Pro graphics can look forward to experiencing up to 30 percent improvement in some OpenCL apps and up to 10 percent improvement in gaming performance with these drivers. Another thing you can look forward to, should you proceed to download this new driver, is improved battery life “through newer power conservation techniques such as CMAA (Conservative Morphological Anti-Aliasing) and Adaptive Rendering Control.”</p> <p>You can read the full release notes <a href="" target="_blank">here (PDF)</a>, and download the 32-bit version of the driver <a href=";DwnldID=24246" target="_blank">here</a> and the 64-bit version <a href=";lang=eng" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> <p>Follow Pulkit on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a></p> broadwell cmaa core m graphics driver haswell integrated graphics intel Intel HD graphics 5300 iris iris pro Software News Sun, 07 Sep 2014 23:55:58 +0000 Pulkit Chandna 28488 at Grand Theft Auto V is (Probably) Still Headed to PC <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/gtav_3.jpg" alt="GTA V" title="GTA V" width="228" height="128" style="float: right;" />Rumors of GTA V's cancellation on PC have been greatly exaggerated (or so we hope)</h3> <p>Given how long Rockstar Games has been dragging its feet in porting Grand Theft Auto V over to PC, it would have been easy to believe the rumor that it's been cancelled, shelved, axed, dismissed with prejudice, etc. However, don't you believe it. Not only was the rumor a bit dubious to begin with, but <strong>Rockstar put most doubt to rest by reiterating that it still plans to bring GTA V to PC</strong>.</p> <p>Let's backtrack a second. As our sister site <a href="" target="_blank"><em>PCGamer</em> explains it</a>, the rumor originated from <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Fox Weekly</em></a>, which brought attention to the fact that the chairman of marketing firm Rantic was concerned about GTA V's release to PC because it's supposedly something Rockstar never wanted to do, but felt "forced" due to public demand. It's worth mentioning that Rantic was founded by one of the marketing directors for Rockstar North, hence why some people viewed the information as credible.</p> <p>Going straight to the source, a user posted a question on Rockstar's support forum asking if the rumors pointing to a "delay" are true.</p> <p>"I'm also looking forward to the PC release, however this release date has not changed," a support rep answered. "Please see our support article, 'Grand Theft Auto V Release Date on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC' for the most recent information on this topic."</p> <p>Here's the thing -- support reps aren't always privy to decisions made by upper management, so the safest bet in these situations is to toe the company line with a canned response. That's what the user got, along with a <a href="" target="_blank">dated link</a> (June) that indicates a Fall release to PC (as well as PS4 and Xbox One).</p> <p>That said, the original rumor wasn't all that strong to begin with, so we're mostly comfortable in viewing this as confirmation that Rockstar's plans haven't changed. Summer just ended, after all, so there's plenty of time to make good on that promise.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> games Grand Theft Auto V gtav pc rockstar games Software News Tue, 02 Sep 2014 14:40:31 +0000 Paul Lilly 28461 at China to Microsoft: You Have 20 Days to Explain Compatibility Problems <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/microsoft_sign_5.jpg" alt="Microsoft Sign" title="Microsoft Sign" width="228" height="133" style="float: right;" />Microsoft must issue a written statement to China within 20 days</h3> <p>Around the same time China banned Windows 8 from government use over concerns that there could be built-in spying mechanisms, authorities also began investigating Microsoft for antitrust violations. The latest in China's antitrust probe over Microsoft's business practices has the <strong>State Administration for Industry and Commerce giving the Redmond outfit 20 days to issue a written explanation</strong>. What for, you ask?</p> <p>The agency wants Microsoft to explain "problems like incompatibility and other issues caused by a lack of released information about its Windows and Office software," according to <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Wall Street Journal's</em></a> translation of the SAIC's <a href="" target="_blank">online notice</a>. That's an incredibly vague task, though the agency issued the 20-day deadline during a meeting with Microsoft, in which further details were likely given.</p> <p>Citing state media reports, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Reuters</em> says</a> Microsoft's use of verification codes led to complaints by Chinese companies. Interestingly, verification codes could be one of the ways Microsoft supposedly violated China's anti-monopoly law, though if that's the case, it puts Microsoft in a tough spot. Software piracy in China is a big problem for Microsoft, and it's difficult to see how verification codes could run afoul of antitrust laws.</p> <p>Microsoft isn't China's only foreign target when it comes to anti-monopoly concerns. There are dozens of other companies being investigated, including Qualcomm, which China accuses of overcharging customers for its patents.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> antitrust china microsoft office Software Windows News Mon, 01 Sep 2014 16:01:22 +0000 Paul Lilly 28458 at Mozilla Experiments with Ads in Firefox Nightly Build <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/firefox_nightly_logo.jpg" alt="Firefox Nightly Logo" title="Firefox Nightly Logo" width="228" height="168" style="float: right;" />Advertisers can buy sponsored tiles in Firefox's new tab page</h3> <p>Mozilla is in search of a new revenue stream for its Firefox browser, and one proposed solution is to sell sponsored tiles that would appear on a new tab page. More than just a concept at this point, <strong>Mozilla is actively experimenting with sponsored tiles, which now appear in the newest Firefox Nightly build</strong>. These are test builds of the popular browser that contain new features and enhancements that may or may not advance into later builds, including a stable release.</p> <p>This isn't the first we've heard of this. Mozilla mentioned the possibility of ads back in February 2014 to a mostly unreceptive Internet audience. Though the idea of ads isn't a popular one among users, Mozilla promised that they wouldn't have any tracking features, and would be clearly labeled as ads.</p> <p>Fast forward to today and the time for experimentation is upon us. The folks over at <em>The Next Web</em> gave Firefox Nightly a test run and noted that when you first launch the browser, there's a message on the new tab page explaining what the tiles are, a link to a support page telling how sponsored tiles work, a promise that it adheres to Mozilla's privacy policies, and a reminder that you can turn tiles off or opt for a blank new tab page.</p> <p>"It's quite a lot to take in all at once," <em>The Next Web</em> <a href="" target="_blank">writes</a>.</p> <p>According to Firefox Product Manager Bryan Clark, some sites will show up in tiles even when there's no sponsorship deal in place. For example, popular sites like Amazon and Facebook might appear even though they didn't pay for the spot.</p> <p>It's easy to see why Mozilla would consider this approach. The majority of the company's revenue comes from search deals with Google, in which the search giant pays a premium -- hundreds of millions of dollars -- to have its search engine the default option in Firefox. While this relationship has worked up to this point, it's hard to fault Mozilla for not wanting to be beholden to a single entity.</p> <p>As to the ads, it's not a foregone conclusion that they'll stick. If they do, the earliest you'd see them in a stable build would be three months from now, which is when the latest version of Firefox Nightly is scheduled to hit the stable channel. However, Mozilla's been slow playing this, so it's probably more likely that we'd see ads in a stable release sometime next year, if that's the direction Mozilla goes.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> ads browser firefox Mozilla Software sponsored tiles News Fri, 29 Aug 2014 16:13:15 +0000 Paul Lilly 28448 at