Shocking news about Microsoft & 2 pieces of advice

By | October 1, 2012
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This issue, how a trustworthy website is used by bad guys in spam emails… but first, some shocking news about Microsoft…

Shock horror – Microsoft DON’T change their minds…
Now call me a cynic, but Microsoft have a bit of a habit of changing their minds.  Windows Vista was going to be called “Longhorn”.  Then it ended up called Vista.  Windows 7 was briefly called Vienna before settling on Windows 7.

But WIndows 8 will be out later this month and it’s been called Windows 8 all the way.  It’s the obvious name, coming as it does after Windows 7 (unless you’re Alastair, who tends to get excited and skip to “Ten, hurray!” well before he gets that far.  Except it’s usually “Tent” not “ten”…).  But just because it’s obvious doesn’t always mean they’ll stick to it.

But Windows 8 it is, and it’s out on the 26th.  From then you can buy a copy to put on your existing PC and you can buy new PCs with it already on.

What does this mean for you?

Well, I’ve already written a bit about what’s different in Windows 8, in previous newsletters.

But I have two big pieces of advice:

Tim’s big piece of advice number one
Don’t feel you need to change your system just because there’s something new out there.  If what you have does what you want, it’s fine.

There’s nothing wrong with using Windows 7.  Or even Vista or XP if they do what you want.  (I’m typing this on a computer running XP).  I wouldn’t use anything older than that (eg Windows 98 or 95) because you can’t get proper security software for them and at some point Windows XP won’t be secure, but it’s a way off yet (and I’ll let you know when that time comes).

Some techies imply you need to have the latest kits – you really don’t unless what you have won’t do what you want.

Tim’s big piece of advice number two
Even if you do want to get the newest version of Windows, wait a month or two.  New versions tend to have bugs in that they haven’t found yet.  If you wait, someone else will struggle with it not doing what it’s supposed to, Microsoft will find out and fix it, then you can get it once these problems are sorted!

Of course, if you did get it now, you’d get an update via the internet once they fixed the bugs but in the meantime you’d have to battle with whatever’s wrong with it.  Which might not be much… but to my mind it’s not worth the risk.

One more piece of advice:
All the fuss about Windows 8 is about how it works the same on a normal PC, a PC with a touchscreen, a laptop, a tablet PC with no keyboard or even a mobile phone.  And no doubt about it, that’s clever.

But with everyone showing how well it works with a screen you touch (like a mobile phone or a tablet) you could be forgiven for thinking you have to use it that way.

It’s not true.  It works fine with a normal PC or a laptop, with a keyboard and mouse.  In fact I’ve got a desktop PC running it at the desk next to me that I’ve been experimenting with and it works absolutely fine.

So although touch screen PCs are likely to become much more common (and easier to use), don’t think you have to use them.  If you’re happy with a “keyboard and mouse” style PC, that’s fine.

It’s just another case of the techies trying to get everyone to switch to the newest thing.

By the way, I’ll be writing more articles about Windows 8 over the coming month for the Inner Circle, so if you’re a member, you’ll get some more info shortly:

  • The facts: What’s new about Windows 8
  • What I like about it – what’s good and bad about Windows 8
  • Windows 8 – the different versions and the different devices & gadgets it runs on

Snopes – a really good website used by bad guys
I’m sure you’ve had spam emails – junk email that you’ve never signed up for and have nothing to do with the people who sent it.  Sometimes it tries to sell you knock off watches or handbags… sometimes things a good deal dodgier.  And sometimes it just tells you things that aren’t true to try to cause you trouble.

Like fake warnings about viruses… or fake advice about useful tricks to do with banks.

Often they’ll say things like “This was announced by CNN” or “Confirmed by Microsoft” – and 9 times out of 10 (or out of tent, ahem…) this is just a lie.

They’ll also sometimes say “Confirmed by Snopes”. is a website that was set up to give the truth behind urban legends.  It’s expanded somewhat and includes details of lots of supposed scams, viruses and so on… and whether they’re real or not.

It’s a really good, trustworthy website.  They check things out carefully, so you can trust what they say.  (They also often have the background about how something ended up being believed even if it’s not true).

But just as with CNN or Microsoft, they can’t control what other people say about them.  So although I’d trust Snopes themselves, I wouldn’t necessarily trust an email that said “This has been checked out by snopes” – chances are it’s a lie.

What you can do, if you like, is go to and search for (for example) hotel door card credit card and see what it says.  It starts by giving an example of the kind of email you might see, claiming hotel door key cards store your credit card info… but then it goes on to give the facts (in this case that it’s based on US police misunderstanding and in fact hotels don’t store this info on there – because it would be of no use to them do so).  (In the UK at least it would also be illegal).

It’s a handy website, but don’t believe something just because someone says it’s been checked out by snopes – go to the website and check what they say for yourself to be sure.

“Help my Taskbar’s Vanished” – nearly out of print…
Over the last few months I’ve been clearing out some space in the warehouse.  I’ve nearly finished but I still have 177 copies of “Help My Taskbar’s Vanished”.  It’s a book of common PC problems and how to fix them – your taskbar vanishing is just one of the many common problems it solves.

It’s one of the most popular books I’ve published but it won’t apply to Windows 8, so I’m not going to be reprinting it once the remaining copies are gone.

So to clear out the last 177 copies, I’m offering them at half price to readers of this newsletter only.  You can read more here:

The idea is you keep the book to hand, then if something on your PC starts playing up, you flip through to the right page, follow the step by step instructions and voila, back to normal.

Based on previous “clearouts”, I’d expect them to be all gone in a few days, so if you’re at all interested, best have a look now.

That’s all for now