Cheap Windows, pirate confessions, slim iTunes: my 2010 top 10

Cheap Windows, pirate confessions, slim iTunes: my 2010 top 10

Summary: With the help of Google Analytics, I went back through all the posts I published here in 2010 to see which ones had the highest readership. It's a fascinating and ultimately useful exercise, one that helps me get a better handle on what you want to read. So what were you reading about in 2010? Here's the top-10 list.

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What did we do before web analytics? I'm not sure, but I know it was a lot harder to write posts like this one back in those dark days.

With the help of Google Analytics, I went back through all the posts I published here in 2010 to see which ones had the highest readership. It's a fascinating and ultimately useful exercise, one that helps me get a better handle on what you care about the most when it comes to Microsoft, Windows, and the PC ecosystem.

And in the spirit of the season, I offer a big thanks to all my readers for your support and your great feedback throughout the year.

#1 (tie): Confessions of a Windows 7 pirate and Seven perfectly legal ways to get Windows 7 cheap (or even free)

It's fitting, I suppose, that these two posts ended up in a tie for most read post of the year. They both cover the same ground: how to get Windows 7 cheap, or even free—with or without the cooperation of Microsoft. It was eye-opening to look at the inner workings of these pirate tools and satisfying to discover some legitimate ways to help you avoid overpaying for an OS upgrade.

#3: Internet Explorer 9 beta review: Microsoft reinvents the browser

I've been using the IE9 beta full time since I wrote this review. I still like it but have a list of issues that need to be fixed in the final release. I'll be taking a very close look at the release candidate when it comes out next month.

#4: The unofficial guide to installing iTunes 10 without bloatware

Everyone hates iTunes. Even people who love Apple hardware throw up their hands in despair when they have to deal with iTunes. This is an update to one of the most popular posts I've ever published.

#5: Windows Activation Technologies: an unauthorized inside look

This was the follow-up piece to the #1-rated piracy post. If you have vague suspicions about Microsoft's activation technology, thiis is a must-read.

#6: The ultimate 'God Mode' list: 39 secret Windows 7 shortcuts

Everyone loves a good undocumented Windows trick. My follow-up post, 94 more secret Windows shortcuts, barely missed a spot of its own in the top 10.

#7: Switching from PC to Mac and back: three lessons learned so far

Surprisingly, Apple fanboys didn't charbroil me for this post. (And yes, I'm still running a Windows PC and a Mac side by side on my desktop. The four-monitor setup never fails to elicit raised eyebrows from visiting geeks.)

#8: What Microsoft won't tell you about Windows 7 licensing

It's bad enough that Microsoft's licensing policies are so byzantine. It's even worse that you practically need a law degree to figure out what you can and can't legally do under the terms of the various Windows 7 licenses.

#9: Microsoft vs. Apple: Who's winning? The numbers don't lie

The rapidly accelerating decline of Windows XP is matched by the eye-catching growth of Apple's iOS.

#10: Office 2010: A deeper dive

"Office 2010 is a surprisingly deep, thoughtfully designed, well-engineered collection of software programs. The more I dig, the more I like the small but useful touches that the Office design team has wrought."

Topics: Apple, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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  • RE: Cheap Windows, pirate confessions, slim iTunes: my 2010 top 10

    Ed, I will honestly say the number of insightful and thought-provoking articles you have published this year has delighted me. Your top 10 were items I read, generally commented on and plundered some useful tidbits from.<br><br>Thx!!!<br><b>On to 2011!!!</b>
    rhonin
    • RE: Cheap Windows, pirate confessions, slim iTunes: my 2010 top 10

      @zenwalker

      Merry Xmas/Happy holidays Ed. Totally agree. You are one of the most informative bloggers on ZDNet and you actually try things out and base your comments on experience, a refreshing change from the speculation and flame bait that characterise a lot of these blogs.

      Keep up the good work.
      tonymcs@...
      • RE: Cheap Windows, pirate confessions, slim iTunes: my 2010 top 10

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      • RE: Cheap Windows, pirate confessions, slim iTunes: my 2010 top 10

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      • RE: Cheap Windows, pirate confessions, slim iTunes: my 2010 top 10

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  • RE: Cheap Windows, pirate confessions, slim iTunes: my 2010 top 10

    iTunes is my software of choice on both Mac and PC. It does what I want it to do in a manner I prefer.
    kitko
    • I agree!

      To say everyone hates it is so obviously false. as so many use it successfully. The author is whining because his Zune and MS's music offering suck.
      @kitko
      GoPower
      • RE: Cheap Windows, pirate confessions, slim iTunes: my 2010 top 10

        @GoPower

        Regardless of your own experience, iTunes is the most reviled software on Windows. And for small businesses, the crapware that Apple floats along with every download is a reason to prohibit Apple apps altogether (not only iTunes, but Quicktime as well). We don't need Apple Software Update, Bonjour, and all that other garbage bogging down our office PCs. If my users need access to Quicktime media, VLC works great.

        I don't think you'll find any Zune owners with negative feelings about Zune, and the Zune software is awesome. I buy all my MP3s from Amazon due to their pricing, which is generally better than Zune and almost always better than iTunes. To say Zune sucks is proof you've never tried one.
        1DaveN
      • You should change the name to NOpower

        as isn't it obvious to you yet that you have No Power to make people believe your not a troll?

        Walking thru the snow
        On a bright and sunny day
        Over trolls like NoPower
        Laughing all the way...

        Merry Christmas!
        John Zern
      • RE: Cheap Windows, pirate confessions, slim iTunes: my 2010 top 10

        @GoPower <br>Primarily Mac user and I don't hate iTunes. I think it works better on OS X than it does on Windows. (QuickTime sure seems to need more security patching for its Windows cousin. Even if that says nothing about its quality, patching sure is a pita for users.)<br><br>Even if it weren't the holidays, and a time of good cheer and charity towards all, I'd say the author was pulling our legs. It is the holidays, so let's lighten up, sit back, and enjoy.
        DannyO_0x98
    • RE: Cheap Windows, pirate confessions, slim iTunes: my 2010 top 10

      @kitko I agree, but I would prefer to have iTunes on my Mac as I was not impressed with the performance of iTunes on my Windows PCs. Still, the software works and works well, just stop thinking of the software as using an application for a PC.
      nucrash
    • RE: Cheap Windows, pirate confessions, slim iTunes: my 2010 top 10

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  • iTunes is horrific junk

    When will Apple discover threading? iTunes is the [b]only[/b] program I run where the UI becomes unresponsive for 30+ seconds while the program is doing anything in the "background". Every other software manufacturer has discovered the ancient art of threading, only Apple has proven to be so utterly incompetent in this area.
    NonZealot
    • RE: Cheap Windows, pirate confessions, slim iTunes: my 2010 top 10

      @NonZealot
      I've had similar behavior with my iTunes as well. Takes a while just for the application to start up, then switching between screens like music to the app store will take a few moments of time. Its not instantaneous, that is for sure.
      Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Cheap Windows, pirate confessions, slim iTunes: my 2010 top 10

      @NonZealot and Loverock
      I'm no expert on Windows internals or iTunes on Windows. I do know that the library is described by a single xml file using Apple's dict-prop-value schema, requiring parsing and, being a single file, may resist dividing into threads. The schema, which is verbose with a capital V, makes the file larger, adding time to the slurping.

      Besides parsing the xml file, there's also a call out to Apple's little cloud to check for iTunes updates or available downloads, though this should be asynchronous. (Loverock's delay in switching from music to the app store is partly attributable to network latency, bandwidth and html/css/javascript loading and parsing.)

      I'm not sure that threading can really help with the i/o from disk. I don't think file reading is really sub-dividable. I know Java, Haskell, Scheme, and Lisp and have looked at C#, C, Python, and Perl. I don't really remember any apis to break up input. I suppose you could do it in assembly, but, isn't disk slurping and memory filling best left to the operating system to handle? Even if you did some file read jiggery-pokery to put i/o into multiple threads, you'd still have to fill memory one bit at a time when the threads come back, and the ones that arrive early have to wait their turn in sequence before off-loading their bits. It takes n units of time to fill n slots in memory.

      I/O is processor and RAM costly and slow.

      (I suspect that the xml schema was chosen for cross-platform advantages. Back in '03, Windows and OS X were opposite-endian, so a universal binary format would have had performance costs as one of the platforms would have to reverse everything. Of course, the processor in the iPod is yet another complexity in terms of binaries. Apple also uses only the one schema for all its plists, trading optimization for standardization. It may be criticized for that. We remember, also, that in 2003 the general purpose computer was single-processor, so your threading of the read was not going to result in any speed-up.) I put the gui lock-up to Windows requiring a lot of its resources for i/o. I get the same frustration starting Outlook or Quickbooks on underpowered XP system, which is also an exercise in file opening, parsing, and listing. (I'm the bookkeeper, the fast computers are for production people.) (While I've used Vista and Windows 7, I haven't used Outlook on them. I've used Quickbooks, and while faster, it is still slow to load a company file and be ready for activity.)

      Looking at the bright side, this isn't a problem, it's an opportunity. If you're right, hire a Windows-thread guru and build the better iTunes library manager. Maybe you can sell it to Windows users. Maybe you can sell it to Apple.
      DannyO_0x98
      • I knew someone would blame Windows

        @DannyO_0x98
        [i]I put the gui lock-up to Windows requiring a lot of its resources for i/o.[/i]

        Odd then that iTunes is the only modern program that freezes the UI when it is busy doing something in the "background". Hey, maybe you should bring this to the attention of the DoJ!!!! I bet you that w1NsUx detects iTunes and makes it run poorly!!!11!11one11!!!

        [i]though this should be asynchronous[/i]

        Ding ding ding ding!!!

        My complaint isn't so much that iTunes is slow. Programs take however long they take to do stuff. Fair enough. What is [b]not[/b] forgivable, and what I was trying to stress in my post was the use of threading to keep the UI responsive while your program is busy doing other stuff in the background (without quotes, I use quotes when I talk about iTunes doing stuff in the "background" because Apple obviously saw fit to do most of this "background" stuff on the UI thread). Where this is the most annoying is while I'm synchronizing my iPhone. The iTunes UI completely locks up for 30+ seconds at various points of the sync. Unresponsive. Click all you want, iTunes doesn't care. My Zune software didn't do that when I was syncing my Zune MP3 player. I've never had Quicken freeze on me while it was updating stock prices. iTunes though? Every time.

        So no, while I knew someone would blame Windows for this, it doesn't happen on [b]any[/b] other Windows program. Only iTunes.

        [i]Maybe you can sell it to Windows users.[/i]

        Bzzt. Apple gets preferential access to secret APIs that no one else can use to synchronize with iDevices. That is how Apple maintains their iTunes monopoly. Come on DoJ and EC, time to mandate that we iDevice owners get to choose our media manager instead of being forced to use iTunes. When I buy an iDevice, I should be offered a choice of 5 media managers from the Apple genius selling me the iDevice.
        NonZealot
    • Clearly, Apple Has No Motivation...

      @NonZealot
      to make iTunes responsive, easy to use or whatever. Apple's entire existance rests on Windows computers having problems.
      In regards to my experience with iTunes, it seems as if apple simply said screw you PC users, this is what you get, and if you aren't happy, we told you so, buy a mac. It's actually surprising that they put that much effort into it, they could have simply not supported PC use, as is the case with many of their products, like the Apple Displays.
      Oh Well, cheers to Ed. When I want to read articles regarding my PC platform, Ed is consistently on top.
      Steve@...
  • RE: Cheap Windows, pirate confessions, slim iTunes: my 2010 top 10

    A fascinating year in tech, with Ed right at the forefront. I remember all of these articles and a few more, which have gotten people I know to pay more attention to this blog for compelling reviews and analyses.
    Royal_Knight
  • Ed Bott: recommended reading here

    The overall quality of Ed's Windows Report is excellent, indeed I haven't found a better when it comes to using a Windows PC, so I'd like to congratulate him for that. His posts are typically well-researched, detailed and useful.

    I have crossed swords with Ed a few times: his posts on pirating Windows would not have passed my editorial control (Yeh, yeh, you want to make sure M$ or a local supplier aren't working a flanker. Pull the other one, it's got XMAS bells on. Also Violet Blue has a post with pictures of breasts in her blog.) and as for M$ 'correcting VAIL' by making it a single-disk product, well I look forward to INTEL returning to uniprocessor CPU's whilst abandoning mutithreading ... and graphics card makers downsizing to one shader. Another plus point is that Ed generally answers topics raised by commentators.

    These few disagreements aside ... Merry XMAS and I look forward to reading more good work in a Happy New 2011.

    HAN(X)D
    jacksonjohn
  • RE: Cheap Windows, pirate confessions, slim iTunes: my 2010 top 10

    Ed:

    I read your posts regularly, and enjoy them even when I disagree. This is my first comment.

    It's refreshing that someone actually resesrches an item/issue before writing an opinion. Hopefylly this will set a new trend.

    Merry Christmas.
    drumsII