Stories by Preston Gralla

Would two Microsofts be better than one?

Nearly 10 years ago, on April 3, 2000, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ordered that Microsoft be broken up into two companies -- one to develop and sell operating systems, and the other to develop and sell other types of software. The order came as a result of a federal antitrust suit against the company and a finding of fact that said Microsoft had abused its monopoly power.

Windows Access Panel

<a href="http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/file/fid,81837-order,3/description.html">Windows Access Panel</a> is a free, moderately useful program that can make it easier for you to change Windows settings that you otherwise wouldn't know how to alter. It doesn't actually give you any tools or access to settings that aren't otherwise available in Windows. Rather, it gives you one-click access to settings that normally require several clicks to reach. Instead of having to navigate your way through the Control Panel, or dig deep into menus, you can quickly get right to the setting you want.

Google's Chrome OS is a work in progress

Google released its Chrome operating system last week to a great deal of hoopla and debate — depending on your point of view, it was either the Next Big Thing or Much Ado About Nothing.

Office 2010 beta debuts major features

The just-released Microsoft Office 2010 beta shows Microsoft's vision for integrating Office with the greater Internet. Most notably, it introduces a potentially powerful Outlook feature that can combine your e-mail with social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

Opera 10 Web browser

Opera has always been packed with features, but it has yet to garner the same kind of publicity that Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome enjoy. And that's a shame, because version 10 of the venerable Web browser adds a slew of clever features that anyone who surfs the Web will welcome.

Norton Internet Security 2010 beta

The just-released beta of Symantec's Norton Internet Security 2010 is more notable for what's under the hood than what you actually see. However, if you're planning to try it out, you'd better not do it on your main PC &#8211; this is not only a beta release, but a temporary one as well. Currently, the installed beta says that it is good for only 14 days.

Firefox 3.5 makes browsing faster, easier and more fun

The just-released version 3.5 of Firefox is a winner, offering significantly faster web browsing, better tab handling, a host of interface tweaks. If you already use Firefox you'll want to upgrade right away. If you're not a Firefox user, this version represents a very good opportunity to give the browser a test run.

Hands on: Windows XP Mode works - but is it worth the trouble?

Windows XP Mode, one of the most hyped features of Windows 7, was designed to integrate XP with Windows 7 so that you can run XP applications from directly inside Windows 7. Microsoft has touted the feature for small businesses that need to run XP applications but want to upgrade to Windows 7. Those businesses may indeed want to use it -- but for many consumers, the problems with Windows XP Mode will likely outweigh its benefits.

IE8 is new and improved -- is it back on top?

Internet Explorer 8 has <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/ie8">shipped in its final version</a> and is ready to take on its rivals. This latest version of Microsoft's browser leapfrogs its closest competition, Firefox 3, for basic browsing and productivity features -- it has better tab handling, a niftier search bar, a more useful address bar, and new tools that deliver information directly from other Web pages and services. IE8 has also been tweaked for security and includes a so-called "porn mode," new anti-malware protection, and better ways to protect your privacy.

Windows 7 beta shows off task bar, UI goodies

The just-released Beta 1 version of Windows 7 is a solid, fast-performing, stable operating system that appears to be just about fully baked and ready for prime time. It is much further along than Windows Vista was during its initial beta phase, and it appears to be feature-complete. Based on the stability and speed of this beta, don't be surprised if Microsoft Corp. releases Windows 7 before 2010 rolls around.

Firefox 3.1 Beta 2 adds speed and privacy

Firefox 3.1 may only be a point release -- from 3.0 to 3.1 -- but its just-released Beta 2 version is a good indication that the final release will be a must-have upgrade for anyone using Firefox.

Vista SP2 beta: Nothing obviously new has been added

If you install the beta of Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2) expecting to see visible changes to your version of Vista, you'll be sorely disappointed. At least in this initial beta, all the changes are under the hood, and even they are far from earth-shaking.

Microsoft's secret weapon against Google

With the first public alpha release of Windows 7 due Monday at the Microsoft PDC2008 conference, the outline of the new operating system is taking shape. What you won't see when that alpha comes out is the way that Microsoft will try to use Windows 7 as a Trojan horse in its war against Google.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2009

Fans of all-in-one security suites should take a serious look at the just-released Kaspersky Internet Security 2009, which includes modules for antivirus, antispyware, firewall and more, yet uses little enough system resources and RAM that it won't slow down or clog up your system.