Wayne Williams

Best iOS apps this week

Heroes of warcraft

Fifteenth in a series. Featured apps this week include the latest installment in the excellent post-apocalyptic fitness app Zombies, Run!, a Heroes of Warcraft card game, a full iPhone video editor from Pinnacle, a piano tutor, a new MediaFire app for iPad, and a DJ mixing tool for iTunes and Spotify.

As always, if I miss an app that you think should definitely have been included, let me know in the comments below, or drop me an email.

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How to slipstream Windows 8.1 Update into a custom installation ISO

Windows 8.1 Update

Microsoft’s tiled operating system is best viewed as a work in progress. The tech giant made major changes from Windows 8 to 8.1, and has just released the mandatory Update, which adds tweaks and new features aimed primarily at keyboard and mouse users.

The downside of these changes is that if you ever have to reinstall Windows you’ll need to update your computer with the Update and other security patches and so on afterwards. Fortunately, you can create a new, more up to date installer by slipstreaming (integrating) the Update with the original disc files.

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How to download and install the Windows 8.1 ISO -- using a Windows 8 or 8.1 key

iso

I’ve been asked by a couple of people in the past week how to download the Windows 8.1 ISO file from Microsoft. Downloading the ISO file necessary to install the OS at a later date, or on another system, is very straightforward, although it’s far from obvious. I covered this six months ago, but things have changed and less trickery is involved now.

At the moment the provided ISO file doesn’t contain the recently released Update, so you’ll need to update Windows straight after installation has finished to guarantee you have the latest version.

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Best iOS apps this week

Rollercoaster

Fourteenth in a series. While catastrophic bug Heartbleed can potentially affect some versions of Android, iPhone users are safe. Apple has confirmed that "iOS and OS X never incorporated the vulnerable OpenSSL software and key web-based services were not affected". So that's some good news.

Featured apps this week include Adobe Lightroom for iPad, RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile, Carousel (a photo and video sharing app from Dropbox), Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff, Drync for iPad (a wine cataloguing and ordering app) and Warhammer Quest (a hack 'n' slash RPG).

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Windows XP upgrades give global PC shipments a (small) boost

relieved

IDC and Gartner have released their worldwide PC shipment estimates for the first quarter of 2014 (1Q14), and as expected they once again show a year on year decline, but the severity of the drop has eased compared with the past seven quarters -- thanks, in part, to XP users upgrading their aging systems.

"The end of XP support by Microsoft on April 8 has played a role in the easing decline of PC shipments," says Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "All regions indicated a positive effect since the end of XP support stimulated the PC refresh of XP systems. Professional desktops, in particular, showed strength in the quarter. Among key countries, Japan was greatly affected by the end of XP support, registering a 35 percent year-over-year increase in PC shipments. The growth was also boosted by sales tax change. We expect the impact of XP migration worldwide to continue throughout 2014".

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How to check if your Android phone is vulnerable to Heartbleed

Heartbleed logo

Heartbleed is a critical bug in OpenSSL that allows for the stealing of information that would normally be protected by SSL/TLS encryption. Essentially anyone on the internet can read the memory of systems protected by vulnerable versions of the popular cryptographic software library. The bug affects two-thirds of the Internet and while Google has patched its services, Android remains affected.

If you have an Android phone you can quickly check to see what version of OpenSSL it’s running, and whether the vulnerable feature, called Heartbeats, is enabled.

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Automate login and bypass the lock screen in Windows 8.1

user accounts

I hate waiting for my computer to boot up. My impatience stems from when I owned an XP system that took upwards of five minutes to get to a usable state no matter what I did to try and speed things along. Scarred by that experience I used to leave my system on permanently (just flipping the monitors off when I stepped away), but obviously that wastes electricity. Switching to an SSD, and configuring Windows to boot as quickly as possible, offered a decent solution.

The problem is Windows 8.1 seems to be designed to slow you down. Once your computer has booted up there is a lock screen to clear, then you have to enter your password and log to in your Microsoft account. Obviously Microsoft has done this for security purposes, and that's great. But if you don't share your computer with other people, and are confident no one will have access to your PC, you can configure the OS to bypass both delaying stages and boot straight in.

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Windows 8.1 Update: Microsoft invites you to meet the new Windows

windows new

Windows 8.1 Update is out today, as if you didn’t know, and is a mandatory update for all users of the latest iteration of the tiled OS.

We’ve covered it in depth here, and Microsoft released a power guide for it yesterday, but if you still want to know more about what’s new, and why you might want to consider upgrading to "New Windows" Microsoft has rolled out a selection of introductory videos.

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XP was the Windows 8 of its day -- but things turned out all right in the end

Windows XP

Although millions of people will continue to use Windows XP after today, the 'end of life' milestone is still hugely significant. It’s the official end of a very long era for XP.

I remember the operating system’s launch clearly. It took place on Thursday, 25 October, 2001, with events coordinated globally across 63 cities. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates hosted the New York launch, while CEO Steve Ballmer presided over the London event. I attended the latter which was held at the Royal Festival Hall on London's South Bank. Security was very tight -- attendees were searched going in, and our bags were X-rayed -- this was a high profile event, and with the horrors of 9/11 still very raw in everyone’s minds, the organizers were taking no chances.

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Add the new PC Settings tile to the Windows 8.1 Update Start screen

settings tile

One of the (many) new features that the Windows 8.1 Update -- out today -- adds to the OS is a PC Settings tile.

This tile opens the PC Settings screen, saving you having to go through the Charms, and provides access to settings for PC and Devices, Accounts, OneDrive, Search and Apps, Privacy, Network, Time and Language, Ease of Access, Update and Recovery and, most importantly, Control Panel. It also lets you personalize the Lock screen, your account picture, access the Picture Password and view recently used settings. The tile is available in the Apps screen, but isn’t displayed on the Start screen by default.

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Microsoft releases a new power user guide for Windows 8.1 Update

power guide featured

Windows 8.1 Update goes officially live tomorrow, and will be pushed out to all Windows 8.1 users via Windows Update. I think it’s an improvement, although it is the third big set of changes for users to master since the OS was first released not quite 18 months ago.

To help potentially confused users discover what’s new, and how to get more from the OS, Microsoft has rolled out an updated Advanced Power User Guide filled with tips and tricks.

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What are XP users planning to do as 'end of life' looms?

Windows XP

With XP’s end of life imminent, you’d imagine users of the 13 year old OS would be scrambling to upgrade, but as NetMarketShare’s latest statistics show, that’s not the case at all. There have been a lot of XP-related surveys produced lately, and the results make for interesting reading.

IObit surveyed 5,000 XP users and found that 61 percent of them were keen to stay with the OS. The company, which has just released PCtransfer to make the transition from one PC or OS to another a little bit easier, also found that 57 percent of users were put off by upgrading because of the fear of losing important data. 38 percent of those surveyed cited the time it would take to make the switch as the main reason for avoiding the task.

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Best iOS apps this week

Monument Valley

Thirteenth in a series. Apple has confirmed that its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), will be kicking off on Monday June 2, at San Francisco’s Moscone West. The five day event will give developers (and the press of course) the chance to "learn about the future of iOS and OS X". At last year’s conference Apple unveiled iOS 7, Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks, a new MacBook Air lineup, iTunes Radio, iCloud Keychain, and much more.

In other news, Microsoft says its newly released Office apps have been downloaded 12 million times since launch.

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Windows 8.1 Update -- Microsoft finally gets it right

thumbs up

In an effort to make its tiled OS more popular, Microsoft has been forced to make a series of compromises. People haven’t been rushing out to buy touch screen computers, and Windows tablets lag a long way behind Android and iOS devices, so with the Windows 8.1 Update Microsoft has made changes designed to appeal to keyboard and mouse users and further bridge the gap between the desktop and the Modern UI.

Sure, the result is a Frankenstein product, and the compromises made along the way are obvious and awkward, but you know what? Windows 8.1 with Update installed, is actually a damn fine OS. If this was the product that Microsoft had rolled out as a successor to Windows 7, I suspect it would have been a lot more popular and received a lot more praise.

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Windows 8.1 Update will be available on April 8 -- here’s what’s new

Windows 8.1 update

Microsoft has just unveiled the Windows 8.1 Update at Build, and it will be rolling it out to users of the tiled operating system on April 8. MSDN subscribers can download it today.

Thanks to leaks, we already knew a lot about it, and even posted our thoughts here previously on BetaNews. I called it a Frankenstein product stitched together with compromises, which it undoubtedly is. My colleague Mark Wilson calls it the final nail in Windows 8.1’s coffin, but Brian Fagioli thinks it’s great. You’ll soon be able to try it out for yourself, but in the meantime here’s what it offers.

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