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

Will Windows 7 get a new name for its release?

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 in Enterprise Software

Linux ready to replace Windows? Not yet…

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 in Enterprise Software

Slimming down the bloated iTunes installer

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 in Apple

How to set up a new PC in one easy session

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 in Hardware

How long will Microsoft support XP and Vista?

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 in Enterprise Software

TV Pack headaches reveal Microsoft's Media Center dilemma

TV Pack headaches reveal Microsoft's Media Center dilemma

These days, the passionate Media Center community is spending much of its energy complaining, loudly, that Microsoft is ignoring its wishes and moving too slowly with development. Why are Media Center fanatics so worked up over it? And will the controversy over its release blow over?

September 18, 2008 by in Windows

Apple, not Gear, deserves the blame for iTunes crashes

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 in Mobility

Is Microsoft aiming for an early Windows 7 launch?

Is Microsoft aiming for an early Windows 7 launch?

Andy Patrizio at InternetNews.com has raised some eyebrows with his report that an “internal calendar” at Microsoft has June 3, 2009 as the planned release date for Windows 7. Isn’t that an awfully compressed beta cycle? It is indeed, and if the new schedule is accurate it's one more sign that new Windows boss Steven Sinofsky is running things very differently from his predecessor.

September 15, 2008 by in Enterprise Software

Apple rolls back problem driver in new iTunes 8 update

Apple rolls back problem driver in new iTunes 8 update

A few days after users began complaining that iTunes 8 was causing Windows systems to crash, Apple has rolled out a new version of iTunes 8 intended to fix the problem. I've looked at the latest update and discovered that the "new" USB driver included with this release is actually the same as the old driver from iTunes 7.7. Is this a real solution or just a quick fix?

September 11, 2008 by in Enterprise Software

An inside look at Apple's sneaky iTunes 8 upgrade

An inside look at Apple's sneaky iTunes 8 upgrade

I’m reading lots of complaints about the new iTunes 8 update causing horrific problems on Windows machines, including widespread reports of STOP errors, aka the Blue Screen of Death. So how can a supposedly simple software update cause a fatal crash? Maybe because this isn’t a simple software update. Once again, Apple is using its automatic update process to deliver multiple software packages, including a device driver that has a long and checkered history of causing the Blue Screen Of Death to appear. And it’s delivering this massive payload without even a pretense of proper disclosure and without asking consent from its users. I was able to reproduce a crash and put together a gallery that shows the whole sordid process.

September 10, 2008 by in Windows

OEM licensing confusion starts at Microsoft.com

OEM licensing confusion starts at Microsoft.com

Microsoft’s members-only OEM Partner Center contains a perfect example of how much confusion surrounds the subject of Windows licensing. Two pages on this supposedly authoritative information source for OEMs contain answers that are completely contradictory.

September 8, 2008 by in Hardware

Should Microsoft get into the PC hardware business?

Should Microsoft get into the PC hardware business?

In a recent interview, Microsoft Technical Fellow Mark Russinovich noted that there's "a lot of discussion within Microsoft" about whether the company that makes Windows should also make PC hardware. It's a theme that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer touched on as well in a memo that was leaked to the press a few months ago. The big problem with that strategy is that Microsoft doesn't dare upset its business model by competing directly with its hardware partners. But maybe there's a way around that problem.

September 8, 2008 by in Windows

Microsoft finally earns a passing grade (barely) for WGA

Microsoft finally earns a passing grade (barely) for WGA

Microsoft launched its Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) anti-piracy program in early summer 2006. Its first year was, to put it charitably, a disaster. An epic fail. A big fat F on the year’s report card. Things didn't get much better in 2007, either, as a server failure and other outages unfairly labeled thousands of legitimate Windows customers as pirates. In the past year, Microsoft has revamped and re-engineered its WGA and Vista validations systems and processes. What did they do and what does it mean for you? I went back to the same data source I used in 2006 to measure Microsoft's performance and see whether they finally deserve a passing grade.

September 4, 2008 by in Microsoft

An IE8 Beta 2 Q&A

An IE8 Beta 2 Q&A

Yesterday I published my first look at the just-released Beta 2 of Internet Explorer 8. I got some great comments in the Talkback thread and via e-mail and thought it would be worth answering them here. Should you install IE8? Where can you download the correct code for your OS. Are there any special precautions you need to follow before installing the beta? Can it be uninstalled? I've got the answers to these and other questions.

August 28, 2008 by in Windows

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