Ed Bott

Ed Bott is an award-winning technology writer with more than two decades' experience writing for mainstream media outlets and online publications. He has served as editor of the U.S. edition of PC Computing and managing editor of PC World; both publications had monthly paid circulation in excess of 1 million during his tenure. He is the author of more than 25 books on Microsoft Windows and Office, including Windows 7 Inside Out (2009) and Office 2013 Inside Out (2013).

Latest Posts

10 top tweaks for Windows Vista

10 top tweaks for Windows Vista

The best ways to enhance performance and productivity with Windows are usually fairly simple. They don’t require registry edits or custom code; instead, they involve learning how the basic building blocks of Windows work, and then rearranging those components to cut steps out of the tasks you perform most often. Vista changed some of those building blocks, and many people are struggling because they’re trying to use the new tools with the old techniques. In that spirit, I’ve put together this list of my 10 favorite tweaks to Windows Vista. In Part 1 of a two-part series, I explain how to make the list of installed programs easier to work with and how to tweak the taskbar, the Start menu, the Quick Launch toolbar, and Windows Explorer. I also cover the most important time-saving technique for any user of any computer: how to create an easy, automatic backup routine that works.

June 11, 2008 by in Windows

Windows Home Server gets a big bug fix (and much more)

Windows Home Server gets a big bug fix (and much more)

Microsoft today announced that it has released a public beta version of Power Pack 1 for Windows Home Server. It’s more than a service pack, with at least two significant new features and a long list of enhancements. Forget about the new stuff, though. Every Windows Home Server user wants to know: Does this update fix the data corruption bug first uncovered late last year? The short answer is yes. The longer answer is yes, and the delay was worth it. Here's an inside look at what you can expect from Power Pack 1 and how you can get your hands on it.

June 9, 2008 by in Enterprise Software

Fixing Windows Vista, Part 5: Faster, smarter search

Fixing Windows Vista, Part 5: Faster, smarter search

In previous installments of this series, I discussed the virtues of a clean Vista install, some useful User Account Control workarounds, top tools for troubleshooting, and the wisdom of shutting off Windows system services. Today’s fifth and final installment is a little different from its predecessors. It focuses not so much on fixing what might be broken, but rather on taking advantage of a feature in Windows Vista that has the potential to transform the way you work. Through the years, I’ve tried just about every third-party desktop search utility for Windows. But I threw them all away after a few weeks of using Vista’s built-in Windows Search capability. In this post, I’ll explain how Windows Search works, how to monitor the SearchIndexer service to avoid potential performance problems, and how to speed up indexing operations on the fly. I'll also point you to an update that every Windows Vista user should install right now.

June 4, 2008 by in Enterprise Software

Debunking yet another bogus malware study

Debunking yet another bogus malware study

Here we go again, with yet another round of bogus reporting about the extent of malware infections in the United States. A wide range of news agencies are reporting the results of a new report that supposedly reveals that one in four computers in the U.S. are infected with malware. But all it takes is a little digging to discover that this is literally a fourth-hand report of data originally gathered in 2005. The most ironic part? When I tried to view the original report from the Pew Internet project, Google stopped me with a false warning that I was about to visit an unsafe site.

June 2, 2008 by in CXO

Dear Microsoft: Please get UAC right this time

Dear Microsoft: Please get UAC right this time

The trouble with UAC isn't a single request for permission. Instead, what bothers most people is the second UAC prompt, and the third, and the fourth, and so on. was all prepared to lay out my modest proposal for how Microsoft should tweak UAC in Windows 7. And then I said, "Hey, wait a minute! I already did this." My four suggestions for easing the pain of UAC fell on deaf ears when I first published them more than two years ago. Maybe someone in Redmond is more willing to listen today.

May 29, 2008 by in Enterprise Software

Free Sysinternals Windows utilities now available online, 24/7

Free Sysinternals Windows utilities now available online, 24/7

If you troubleshoot Windows PCs for fun or profit, then chances are you've used one or more tools from Sysinternals. Microsoft bought the company and its amazing library of diagnostic and troubleshooting utilities in 2006, and the collection has been continually updated ever since. A few weeks ago, I ran into Sysinternals co-founder Mark Russinovich at a technical conference, where he told me about a new Sysinternals service that was in private beta testing. Today, I'm pleased to break the news that Sysinternals Live is now open to the public.

May 28, 2008 by in CXO

Vista screams past XP in gaming tests!

Vista screams past XP in gaming tests!

Our technical press, like the mainstream media, sometimes has a hard time letting go of an idea it's been pushing. That's true even when new facts show that the old story wasn't, strictly speaking, accurate. Or when facts on the ground have changed and maybe it's time to alert your readers to the new realities. Today's case in point: A magazine devoted to hardcore gamers and tech enthusiasts does a bunch of tests and proves that Windows Vista with SP1 is every bit as fast as XP, on identical hardware. So what do they do with the story? The answer would make my old J-school professors weep.

May 27, 2008 by in Enterprise Software

Why is fear-mongering such a popular security sales tactic?

Why is fear-mongering such a popular security sales tactic?

In one of his best columns ever, Bruce Schneier explains why some computer security companies can't help selling fear. The way we as humans respond to potential threats provides a powerful economic incentive for a security vendor to find something, anything, and then to make some noise about what it found. Not so much that you'll be annoyed, but just enough to let you know they're on the job. So how do you strike the right balance between a healthy understanding of the risks of using the Internet and bug-eyed paranoia? How many layers of security do you need?

May 26, 2008 by in Security

How much do you need to know about Windows 7 today?

How much do you need to know about Windows 7 today?

My colleague Mary Jo Foley and I have our ears to the ground in Redmond, listening for news of Windows 7, and we're hearing ... nothing. If this were like previous Windows development cycles, we would have already been buried in hype and white papers, but new Windows boss Steven Sinofsky has imposed an information lockdown. Is that a bad thing? With Vista, Microsoft overpromised and underdelivered. Will a "talk less, ship more" philosophy produce a better product?

May 22, 2008 by in Windows

Puncturing the myth of the invulnerable OS

Puncturing the myth of the invulnerable OS

An Australian developer of Windows security software is making headlines with research that claims to Windows Vista's is Windows Vista is "still a long way from immunity to online threats." So, what operating system is invulnerable to malware? When did that become the criterion for success in security? The data is sketchy (to say the least) and the underlying argument is flawed. As long as crooks are trying to scam their way onto your PC, humans will occasionally make bad decisions about which software to install. Do you really want an OS that substitutes its judgment for yours and refuses to install a program you want or need?

May 20, 2008 by in Windows

Microsoft releases Virtual PC 2007 SP1

Microsoft releases Virtual PC 2007 SP1

Last week Microsoft released Virtual PC 2007 Service Pack 1, with support for Windows Vista SP1 and Windows XP SP3 as host and guest, and Windows Server 2008 Standard as a guest OS. In the past, I've been underwhelmed with Virtual PC, but this update is surprisingly snappy. If you're thinking about installing Ubuntu 8.04 in a virtual machine, you'll get an error message almost immediately. Conspiracy? Nope. I'll show you where to find the simple, step-by-step workaround to get it running right.

May 19, 2008 by in Microsoft

Fixing Windows Vista, Part 4: Get smart about services

Fixing Windows Vista, Part 4: Get smart about services

In the three previous installments of this series, I discussed ways to improve the performance of Windows Vista by changing some settings (especially those installed by an OEM PC maker). Today's installment is a little different. Mostly, it's about not wasting your time following bad advice. The single most common bogus tip I read at Windows-focused websites is the one that advises Vista users to disable "unnecessary" services. What's an unnecessary service? They can't tell you, so they recommend that you waste yor time with tedious trial-and-error techniques. Bad advice. I'll save you time (and headaches) by identifying four specific circumstances under which you might want to disable services to improve system performance. Read on for the full details.

May 18, 2008 by in Enterprise Software

Windows 7 ship date? The crowd has spoken...

Windows 7 ship date? The crowd has spoken...

Last month, I kicked off the Windows 7 release date prediction pool with my analysis on why I think Windows 7 will be released in time for the holiday buying season in 2009, picking July 29, 2009 as my entry. At the same time, I invited readers to add their guesses in the TalkBack section. This morning, I went back and tallied the vote so far. If you believe in the theory of crowdsourcing, the wisdom of the community should be able to predict this date more accurately than any individual. So, when will Windows 7 ship? The crowd has spoken. And the date is...

May 16, 2008 by in Windows

The key to Windows success? It's all about the drivers

The key to Windows success? It's all about the drivers

The great advantage of the Windows ecosystem is that there are so many choices. That's also its biggest problem, as all those choices offer a correspondingly large chance of encountering problems from the unexpected interaction of parts that weren't designed to be used together. Problems in the Windows ecosystem get magnified during periods of transition. And the way the OEM business model works explains why some customers struggle with outdated drivers and performance problems even when a solution has been available for months.

May 13, 2008 by in Enterprise Software

Why do Macs need so much fixing?

Why do Macs need so much fixing?

One common reaction to my recent Fixing Windows Vista series has been "Why should this thing need so much fixing?" To which I say, give me a freakin' break. My career has been all about helping people make Windows work better, and I have dozens of peers on the Apple side of the universe who do the same. In fact, it took me no time at all to find books, magazine articles, and even a three-part series on how to fix the Mac OS. Why are people so surprised that computer operating systems need fixing occasionally?

May 9, 2008 by in Apple

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