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

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

44 Comments

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

74 Comments

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

233 Comments

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

13 Comments

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

152 Comments

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

21 Comments

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

274 Comments

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

224 Comments

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

281 Comments

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

213 Comments