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

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 And the way the OEM business model works explains why some customers struggle with outdated drivers and performance problems even when a solution has been available for months.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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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