Tweaking performance is something that virtually every Windows user is interested in. There are various degrees to which performance tweaks can be applied, starting with simple things such as ensuring that there are not too many programs configured to start when Windows launches, to more advanced options such as tinkering with services and the registry.
Whether you are a newcomers to system tweaking or a more seasoned user, turning to a third party-tool -- rather than doing all of the legwork yourself -- not only helps to save a good deal of time, but also helps to reduce the risk of making mistakes that could have disastrous consequences; edit the registry incorrectly and you could find that you have an unbootable system on your hands.
Microsoft may have changed the name of the interface formerly known as Metro to Modern Interface, but that does little, if anything, to stop consumers and software publisher from continuing to use the original moniker. As such, one of the apps that brings the look of Windows 8 to older versions bears the name WinMetro.
Regardless of the technical appropriateness of the name, WinMetro is a handy utility for anyone impressed with the aesthetics of Windows 8 but who is not looking to make the jump from the current operating system. While the tool is not a replacement for the Start menu in the strictest sense of the word -- it is not possible to remap the Windows key to bring it into view for instance --- the application is a neat overlay that brings you the look and feel of Windows 8 at no cost.
The release of Windows day is mere days away and the release rate for tools geared up for the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system is accelerating. One of the most controversial aspects of Windows 8 is the new Start Screen, and this is a feature that many tweaking tools concentrate on. This is certainly the case with Start Screen Pinner which, as the name suggests, makes it easy to pin almost anything to the Start Screen.
Start Menu tweakers are tools that crop up fairly frequently, and there are plenty of utilities that have been designed to make the Start Screen of Windows 8 easier to use by reinstating the Start button. Start Screen Planner is slightly different in that it provides you with a way of adding new shortcuts to the Start Screen rather than changing the way it work or the way in which you access it.
Android users running Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean can now take advantage of a new standalone version of Google Calendar. The move brings the product/service more in line with Gmail, Google Play and others that have been separate apps for some time now, and the split sees the introduction of some interesting new options that could well be enough to persuade users away from other calendar apps.
The calendar app previously was limited to a number of devices, notably Nexus, but now it is available to anyone running the right version of Google mobile operating system. While the standalone app is nothing groundbreaking, there are a few noteworthy tweaks, starting with the fact that there is now a snooze function for those occasions when you are busy with something else but still want to be reminded of an upcoming appointment.
Looking to tweak Windows? There are plenty of tools to choose form if you don’t fancy the idea of editing the registry, but you have to sort the wheat from the chaff in order to find something half decent. The world of tweaking tools is divided into two camps: utilities that are free and those that are not. Paying for a program is not necessarily an indication of quality, and with PowerSuite Lite 2013 you have the option of sticking with the free version or paying a bit for a range of extra tools.
Whichever route you decide to go down, the latest build 184.108.40.206 introduces two important new enhancements -- a PC startup manager and PC Resource Optimizer. The free, lite version of the program features the PC Resource Optimizer component and, when enabled, this component of the suite aims to improve the performance and responsiveness of your system by balancing processor and disk resources so demand is never too high at any given time.
The prospect of reinstalling Windows is not one that many people relish, particularly if it is something that needs to be done on a regular basis, to numerous machines, or both. Part of the problem is that getting everything set up how you want it to be is that once Windows itself is up and running, there is still a great deal to do in terms of configuring the operating system to your liking as well as installing the applications you need.
Whether you are someone who frequently wipes the hard drive to start afresh, or you are an admin looking after several computers that need to be refreshed from time to time, Windows Post-Install Wizard is a tool that exists to help make your life easier. The seemingly simple task of cleaning up a system by installing the operating system from scratch can very easily turn into a chore that takes up and entire day -- until your create your own custom installation disc that is.
Looking for a way to better manage the contents of your Android phone or tablet? SnapPea is a free tool, currently in beta, that could meet your needs. Regardless of whether your device was provided with its own management software, which is found wanting in the vast majority of cases, you can use the program to connect to your device to perform backups, transfer data and browse through images and other files.
You’ve probably found that keeping on top of your contacts on your phone can be a pain – with SnapPea you can take advantage of your computer’s mouse and keyboard to make changes, additions and backup more quickly and easily than ever before. Similarly, the program can also be used to browse through your text messages in a simple yet sleek interface, but more importantly it gives you the ability to send text messages from within Windows.
September was crazy month for new software. Whether this was the rush to get new products on-sale before the Windows 8 launch or the traditional Q3 pre-Christmas release schedule, or a combination of both, you may have missed one of these important releases.
Creating PDF files used to be an incredibly expensive operation but this is no longer the case. Nitro Pro 8 is an advanced PDF creation and editing tool which is available at a 20-percent discount -- just $95.99. For a limited period of time, you can get the previous Nitro Pro 7 for only $59.99, saving 50 percent from MSRP. There are also multi-user versions of Nitro Pro 8, so you can buy for your business and save further.
Music players are not exactly thin on the ground on the Android platform, and the battleground on which users are gained and lost is the user interface; noozy studio is a music app, which features a somewhat minimalistic look and feel, and bears more than something of a resemblance to Microsoft Zune. The interface is largely text driven, which helps to give the app a clean, modern look.
This is an app that can be used to listen to both locally stored and online content, and enables users to discover new music by browsing through what others have been listening to. Listening to music stored on your Android device is much as you would expect, with album art being displayed at the same time as playback controls. If you’re a music fan, the sound quality of what you listen to is going to be important – there are a number of processor effects included with the app that can be used to improve sound in various ways.
Twitter may be accessible through a website, but many users turn to a dedicated app to keep abreast of what the people they follow have to say and to share their thoughts with followers. One of the most popular Twitter clients, TweetDeck, has received a major upgrade that brings a redesigned interface, choice of new themes and much more.
The most noticeable change in this latest release is the new look, which is more in keeping with the Twitter website and other official Twitter apps. Anyone using the service can enjoy a more uniform experience moving between platforms as things now look much more similar whether the web is used or an app for iOS, Android, Mac or PC. There has been a great focus on usability, and screen elements have been improved o make them easier to read.
If you use, or have ever used, a multi-monitor computer, you’ll know just how useful a setup it can be. Have the extra space afforded you by double the usual number of monitor enables you to see more at once, work more quickly and be more productive -- but it can also be expensive and requires you to have a desk large enough to hold two monitors comfortably. If you have a mobile device, however, you can use iDisplay to gain an extra monitor from your existing hardware.
The name of the software might imply that this is something that will only be of interest to Apple hardware owners, but in fact it can be used in conjunction with an iOS or Android phone or tablet. Your mobile device does no need to be physically connected to your computer -- the desktop version of the client software is available for both Mac and PC -- which opens up new opportunities.
With more and more computer users counting the pennies, the move to lower cost and free software gains momentum. Microsoft Office may still be the world’s most popular office suite, but there is a growing user base that has turned to one of the free alternatives that have been gathering strength in recent years. LibreOffice is one such suite, and the latest version addresses a series of known bugs and helps to improve stability.
Although there are no major new features or options to be found in LibreOffice 3.6.2 – this crown was taken by the 3.6 release -- there have been improvements in a number of areas which increase the overall stability of the program and make it a piece of software that more businesses are likely to look to as a free office suite. 3.6.2 includes bug fixes for both the Windows and OS X versions of the suite.
The desktop client for the ever-popular cloud storage service Dropbox has been updated with a new experimental build. There are a number of new features to explore in this latest release, but the most obvious is the newly redesigned menu. This is a neater affair than in previous versions, providing an overview of the latest activity as well as access to additional options.
These extra features include pausing files transfers, as well as sharing and restoring files. The new menu is only available to OS X and Windows users -- anyone running Linux misses out for the time being -- and Mac users also benefit from new Retina Display support as well as a new batch of great-looking icons.
BullGuard Internet Security 2013, the latest version of its online security suite, is now available. Comprising antivirus, firewall, spam filter, parental controls and more, the suite aims to cover more than most other comparable tools and the latest version features a dramatically redesigned interface which is cleaner and sharper than in previous versions, making it easier focus on the task in hand.
Virus detection rates are improved with the addition of Behavioural Detection, which helps to identify unknown threats by monitoring activity and helps to bolster the regular signature based scanning. Security is further enhanced by the inclusion of a firewall and spam filter, but this is a security suite that bills itself as a tool that not only makes your PC impenetrable, but also provides a number of associated utilities.
The release of a new operating system often means that there is renewed interest in migration and backup tools and this is certainly the case with the imminent release of Windows 8. Hard drive cloning tool HDClone 4.2 Free is the latest app to be updated with support for the latest version of Microsoft’s OS, and there are a number of other improvements that have been made to this utility.
While the free version of the program is more limited than its big brothers -- there are also Basic, Standard, Professional and Enterprise editions available for anyone whose needs are a little more demanding -- there’s still enough here to cater for most people’s requirements.