Stories by Preston Gralla

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.

SnagIt

The world's best screen capture program just got better. SnagIt is out with a new version, 9, and it gives this screen-capture program considerable new tools. Still there are all the basics: It will capture live windows, your entire desktop, portions of your screen, menus, scrolling Web pages, and even short videos. You can also even capture menus only. And it outputs in many different formats, including directly to a printer. Also still there are great tools for enhancing and annotating screen captures, including adding special effects such as sharpening and embossing, and adding borders and watermarks.

First Look: Internet Explorer 8 beta

Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) Beta 1 for developers, released by Microsoft on March 6, offers some fascinating new capabilities. For example, it introduces two new features called Activities and WebSlices that extend the capabilities of the browser by interacting with other Web sites and services.

Hands-on Vista SP1: Better but slower?

The final version of Vista SP1 focuses on under-the-hood improvements to reliability, security and performance, with very few changes made to the interface or Vista's features. Think of it as a giant, glorified set of patches and fixes rather than a clear and visible change to the operating system.

10 great free downloads for your network

Got a small network, home network, medium-size network -- even an enterprise network -- and want to get the most out of it? Then I've got good news for you: 10 free pieces of software that can make your network easier to use, troubleshoot and maintain. These freebies will help everyone from networking pros to networking newbies and everyone in between.

15 must-have Firefox tricks

What good is a browser unless you can tweak it, hack it and bend it to your will? No good at all. The more you can hack it, the better it is.

The tweaker's guide to the Windows Registry

If you plan on tweaking any version of Windows, you're going to have to get friendly with the Windows Registry, a database of information that defines how your PC works, including every part of Windows and its applications and interface. Editing the Registry is often the best way to tweak Windows. In fact, it's the only way to make certain changes.