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

Fixing Windows Vista, Part 3: Top Troubleshooting Tools

Fixing Windows Vista, Part 3: Top Troubleshooting Tools

Today's conventional wisdom, based on more than a year's worth of relentless negative publicity, says Vista is hopelessly broken. In fact, my experience says the exact opposite is true. I believe you have every right to expect excellent performance from Windows Vista, and I'm going to back that conclusion in today's post, the latest in my Fixing Vista series, with details on how to use Vista's built-in tools to find and fix the problems that stand between you and an excellent Vista experience. In this post and its accompanying image gallery, I’ll introduce you to four built-in tools you can use to track down and fix performance problems.

May 6, 2008 by in Windows

Fixing Windows Vista, Part 2: Taming UAC

Fixing Windows Vista, Part 2: Taming UAC

The User Account Control feature in Windows Vista has been known to drive normally level-headed people over the edge with frustration. If you find it annoying, you might be tempted to turn it off. According to Microsoft research, somewhere between 12 and 16 percent of all Windows Vista users do exactly that. But before you take such a radical step, it helps to understand what UAC is actually doing on your behalf and how you can tone down its hard edges without sacrificing its protection. The three techniques I outline here (with illustrations in the accompanying screenshot gallery) can help cut the annoyance factor dramatically.

April 29, 2008 by in Enterprise Software

Sorry, conspiracy buffs, there's no Windows "back door"

Sorry, conspiracy buffs, there's no Windows "back door"

The Techmeme echo chamber has decided to whip up a controversy today with a new variation on an old story. The latest claim is that Microsoft has built a secret "back door" into Windows and has been handing over the the keys on a USB flash drive designed exclusively for law enforcement. It takes about five minutes of investigation to uncover the real truth. No, there is no back door. And no, these aren't super-secret hacking tools that give the police an unfair edge. After all, the bad guys developed their own version of these tools years ago. I've for the details in my full report.

April 29, 2008 by in Windows

Good Microsoft, Bad Microsoft

Good Microsoft, Bad Microsoft

On paper and in theory, Microsoft is a single corporation, with something like 80,000 employees worldwide. In the real world, it's actually a collection of dozens, maybe even hundreds, of small companies that appear to act without a lot of central supervision. That is the only possible explanation for how the same company could do something totally amazing (introducing Live Mesh) on the same day as it does something completely boneheaded (pulling the rug out from under its MSN Music customers).

April 23, 2008 by in Windows

Fixing Windows Vista, one machine at a time

Fixing Windows Vista, one machine at a time

At first glance, Jeremy Toeman's Sony Vaio is Exhibit A in the case against Windows Vista. When he bought this gorgeous machine in May 2007, the disappointment started almost immediately: it was slow to start, sluggish when performing everyday tasks, crash-prone, and overloaded with annoying and unwanted software. But is it really a hopeless case, or was this system done in by a sloppy OEM integration? In this post and its accompanying image gallery, I'll give you a close-up look at what I had to do to turn Sony's messy, half-baked Windows installation into one that was worthy of their excellent hardware and that took full advantage of the new features in Vista. And then I'll share some of the lessons I learned about how Sony and its rivals can win their customers back.

April 21, 2008 by in Windows

Is Hyper-V ready for the Windows desktop?

Is Hyper-V ready for the Windows desktop?

My ZDNet colleague Jason Perlow recently suggested that Microsoft should all a personal version of its Hyper-V virtualization software to Windows 7 to solve compatibility problems. That suggestion inspired me to sit down and take a closer look at Microsoft's release candidate of Hyper-V. After only a week, I'm hooked, and I've put together a gallery of screenshots so you can see for yourself. But is Hyper-V ready for the desktop?

April 16, 2008 by in Enterprise Software

Making sense of Windows' irrational pricing and licensing

Making sense of Windows' irrational pricing and licensing

Trying to find the best price for Microsoft software is a frustrating game, with a constantly shifting set of rules that leave most people feeling like losers. Trying to understand whether you're staying within those rules is stressful. I don't know a single person who thinks the retail price of Windows is fair and that the terms of use are understandable. In fact, the entire licensing structure for Windows feels Byzantine and outmoded. It needs an overhaul, and next year's launch of Windows 7 offers a perfect opportunity for Microsoft to give its consumer and small business customers a fresh start. If I were in charge of the retail launch, I'd make five changes.

April 14, 2008 by in Enterprise Software

Cast your vote in the Windows 7 release date prediction pool

Cast your vote in the Windows 7 release date prediction pool

When will Windows 7 be ready for release? The current conventional wisdom says 2010, but I say that’s wrong. In this post, I explain why Microsoft has to release Windows 7 befoire the end of 2009, and why I think they can do it. And just to make things interesting, I’ll kick off the unofficial Windows 7 Release Date Prediction Pool with my prediction. Think you know more than me? Leave your best guess in the Talkback section.

April 9, 2008 by in Windows

Vista SP1 reboot bug fixed

Vista SP1 reboot bug fixed

Remember that issue where trying to install Vista SP1 would result in a hard-to-break reboot cycle? Microsoft says they've identified the problem and created a fix for it. If you've been holding off on SP1 deployment because you feared bumping into this issue, you may now safely resume.

April 7, 2008 by in Enterprise Software

Windows Media Center meets cable TV in HD

Windows Media Center meets cable TV in HD

Six months ago, after years of waiting, I finally had a chance to switch my Media Center setup over to a fully digital, cable-compatible, high-definition configuration. How has it worked out? Let's just say you'd have to pry the Media Center remote from my cold dead fingers. In this post and the acccompanying image gallery, I show you how I assembled this system and how well it's working. I also tackle the question of whether this type of system is right for you.

April 4, 2008 by in Dell

The Vista license "loophole" that isn't

The Vista license "loophole" that isn't

Software licensing is often hard to understand. But that's no excuse for so-called Windows experts to deliberately publish sensational stories that turn the facts upside-down. The editors of one popular Windows newsletter are telling their readers that it's perfectly OK to violate the terms of the Windows license agreement. They're wrong.

April 3, 2008 by in Windows

MaxWin to supersize Windows

MaxWin to supersize Windows

Yesterday, I wrote about Microsoft’s efforts to reduce the size of the Windows kernel as part of its MinWin project. Early today I learned of a top-secret parallel development effort being run by a separate group at Microsoft. The hush-hush project is called MaxWin, and if my sources are correct you’ll see it soon. I've got details on how you get on the beta program, but hurry: the program closes at 11:50PM tonight.

March 31, 2008 by in Enterprise Software

Is MinWin really the new Windows 7 kernel?

Is MinWin really the new Windows 7 kernel?

Many of the articles and blog posts I've read about Windows 7 in recent days mention MinWin, usually following up with the observation that it's the new lean kernel that's going to be at the heart of Windows 7. I think this conclusion is wrong. If you don't believe me, go back and watch the eight-minute video snippet that got this all started last fall. Too busy to spare eight minutes? No problem - I've transcribed the relevant parts here.

March 31, 2008 by in Enterprise Software

What Microsoft can teach Apple about software updates

What Microsoft can teach Apple about software updates

I was stunned and angry when I saw Apple Software Update offering Safari 3.1 for Windows, with the check box obligingly selected and the Install button awaiting a click. Apple's defenders say it's no big deal that an update mechanism intended to deliver security fixes has been co-opted to help Apple with its ongoing hostile takeover of the Windows desktiop. I think Apple is dead wrong in the way it’s gone about using its iPod monopoly to expand its share in another market. Ironically, an excellent model for how its update program should work already exists. It’s called Windows Update, and it embodies all the principles that Apple should follow. See for yourself with this image gallery.

March 24, 2008 by in Microsoft

Sony drops its $49 "no crapware" fee

Sony drops its $49 "no crapware" fee

The blogosphere is buzzing today with contempt for Sony, which just outlined its Fresh Start program and immediately ran into a buzzsaw of criticism for its plan to charge $49 for the privilege of getting a crapware-free PC. Guess what? Hours later, a Sony Senior VP tells me the $49 charge is gone. Over. There will be no extra charge to order a clean PC from Sony. Read on for the full details.

March 21, 2008 by in Hardware

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