Ed Bott

Ed Bott is an award-winning technology writer with more than two decades' experience writing for mainstream media outlets and online publications.

Latest Posts

Six money-saving secrets to help stretch your tech budget

The recent collapse of worldwide financial markets has everyone on edge. If you’re like most people, tough times have you looking around at ways to cut back on spending. You might be tempted to impose a freeze on all new purchases of hardware and software, but that draconian strategy only works for so long. Sooner or later, you need to refresh old technology, either because it’s stopped working or is so slow that it’s cramping your productivity. A better strategy, in my experience, is learning to shop smarter. In today’s post, I share some of the secrets I’ve learned about how to get great PC hardware and software without breaking the bank.

October 12, 2008 by

43 Comments

Are there really too many Windows editions?

Ask any Windows pundit about all the different versions of Windows Vista that Microsoft offers and you’ll invariably get the same response. There are too many! Consumers are confused! It all needs to be simplified! To which I say: Be careful what you wish for. The case for reducing the number of Windows versions to one or two sounds convincing in the abstract, but the argument breaks down quickly once you start to examine the details and consider how such a change would affect the way you and I buy Windows on consumer and business PCs. For starters, would you be willing to pay 17.5% more for an entry-level PC? That's just one of the problems with this idea.

October 10, 2008 by

160 Comments

Look who’s buying Vista Home Basic (hint: it’s not home users)

Who’s buying new PCs with Windows Vista Home Basic? Judging by the name, you’d assume those OS editions would be loaded on underpowered machines for starving students and penny-pinching families. But you’d be wrong. Based on my observations of the PC market over the past year or two, I think consumers have rejected Home Basic in favor of Home Premium. But small, budget-conscious businesses have embraced the low-end OS. In one large sample I looked at, nearly three out of every five machines destined for small business included Windows Vista Home Basic. Small-business buyers are apparently able to look past that name, and PC makers are happy to accommodate them. I've got the details on this apparent trend.

October 9, 2008 by

143 Comments

Will Windows 7 get a new name for its release?

I’m reading more and more about Windows 7 lately as PDC approaches and Microsoft begins revealing more snippets of information about its most secretive product ever. In most of that coverage, I've noticed an assumption that Windows 7 is going to be the final name of the product. I’ve been guilty of leaping to that conclusion myself. But a reader asked the other day why Microsoft is calling it Windows 7, and as I worked on my response to that question, it struck me that it’s entirely possible, even likely, that the next release of Windows will get a new name before it hits the streets. Keep reading, and I’ll give you a chance to compare your prediction with mine.

October 7, 2008 by

110 Comments

Linux ready to replace Windows? Not yet…

Is Linux ready to replace Windows on the desktop? Linux advocates think that light, cheap netbooks show off the advantages of an open-source OS over Windows. Out in the real world, though, the market is arguing to the contrary. The director of sales for one especially hot-selling netbook says its Linux-based machines are being returned at four times the rate of the Windows version. Research shows that after playing around with Linux, people "don't want to spend the time to learn it, so they bring it back to the store."

October 6, 2008 by

370 Comments

Slimming down the bloated iTunes installer

How do you supersize a simple music manager? Ask Apple. The Windows version of iTunes 8 takes up nearly 200MB of space on a Windows PC, including kernel-mode drivers, multiple system services, and at least one add-in. It takes a supersize helping of chutzpah to create an ad that criticizes Windows for its “bloat” and then deliver an upgrade with as much unnecessary junk as this one. If you’re like most people, you don’t need any of that additional junk. In this post, I’ll explain how you can figure out which parts of the package you need, and then show you how to wrestle control of iTunes back.

October 2, 2008 by

90 Comments

How to set up a new PC in one easy session

Fellow ZDNet blogger Jason Perlow recently wrote about his long weekend setting up a new PC for a friend, Over the years, I’ve done this process dozens of times for business clients, family members, friends, and neighbors. I’ve got the process down to a series of checklists, all built around some core principles. In this post, I explain how I use this opportunity to get rid of clutter, get a fresh start, and involve the PC owner in the process so they learn some valuable skills along the way. Here's a step-by-step account of how I set up a new PC.

September 22, 2008 by

107 Comments 1 Vote

How long will Microsoft support XP and Vista?

In the comments to an earlier post, a reader wonders out loud whether Microsoft plans to dump its Vista users when Windows 7 comes out. Fortunately, the support lifecycle for all Microsoft products is well documented. In this post, I show you where to look up the details and explain why XP and Vista users will still have access to critical support resources even after Windows 8 is released.

September 21, 2008 by

63 Comments 1 Vote

Apple, not Gear, deserves the blame for iTunes crashes

It’s now been a week since Apple’s botched release of iTunes 8, which caused a tidal wave of Vista crashes before it was hastily rolled back. Judging from traffic on Apple’s support forum, pulling the new Apple USB driver and replacing it with the file from iTunes 7.7 succeeded in quieting most of the complaints from most Windows users, although a handful of customers report that they’re still having problems. After looking more closely at the other driver, from Gear Software, I've concluded that it was unrelated to these crashes and might even be an innocent bystander in another iTunes support headache involving missing CD and DVD drive letters.

September 17, 2008 by

44 Comments