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Do I need the new £40 version of Office 2007?

Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007 retails at £600. It’s now available, for students, at £40, or £12 for a year1. As of Wednesday, I’ll be an official student. I’m trying to decide whether I need it. I’m mainly after Word and Excel – the other programs look interesting, but I don’t see any need for them. Right now, Google Apps handles most of my document/spreadsheet needs, and anything more complex is farmed out to OpenOffice. I really like GA’s online model, so I’d be using Word/Excel for anything difficult or where WYSIWYG is important. This is actually quite rare, but I ... Read More »

Microsoft announce ad-supported version of Works

Microsoft makes most of its money from Windows and Office, and are under increasing pressure from competitors. Not for the OS: Linux is nowhere close to prime-time1, but there are plenty of Office competitors out there. Offline there’s OpenOffice.org, which emulates many of Word and Excel’s major features, while online are the simpler but incredibly easy-to-use Google Docs / Zoho, which are far superior to their offline counterparts when it comes to sharing, portability and backup. So, Microsoft today announced its move: a free, ad-supported version of Microsoft Works. By the end of the year. Works. You remember. The crappy ... Read More »

New Microsoft adverts

Has anybody seen the new Microsoft adverts? Do you think they hired IBM’s ad agency? They might as well swap logos. Read More »

Microsoft Update and svchost 100% cpu usage

Quick version: If you’re having problems with ‘svchost.exe’ stalling your computer at Windows startup, it’s possible it can fixed by disabling Microsoft Update, at least until a fix is released. This can be done by going to the Windows Update link in Internet Explorer, selecting ‘Change settings’ on the left, then running the the uninstall option at the bottom. This still allows automatic downloading of standard core Windows updates, but not for Office. This is not the same as disabling all Windows updates in the control panel, which is a bad idea. I’ve used this fix on three computers in ... Read More »

IE7 install problem

The first time IE7 launches it loads a setup page, which reappears each time if not completed. Unfortunately the traffic seems to have knocked out the MS servers, so the page is responding extremely slowly. Also, IE freezes with 100% cpu usage if the page only partially loads (making a *great* first impression), probably because of the unique way that the page interfaces with IE’s settings. So it might be worth waiting until the US is asleep before installing, or at least giving it a few hours. Anybody with the problem can try accessing the setup page directly, instead of ... Read More »

Internet Explorer 7

After five years of version six, IE7 was released today. Notable new features: Tabbed browsing Built-in RSS reader(!) Proper printing (more of a bug-fix than a feature, if you ask me) Improved interface Built-in search box (that can use google!) Settings protection, which should help prevent spyware drilling itself into the browsing experience and for us geeks: Extensions a la Firefox. They’re not so user-friendly, but nevertheless it’s a great addition imho Major CSS improvements – hooray! Alpha channel PNGs – transparency without the 256 colour limits of .gifs Faster AJAX – great for all the web 2.0 sites Plus ... Read More »

Switching to Firefox

Microsoft has recently been forced to update Internet Explorer, to the detriment of its users. A patent ruling has resulted in users having to click a button before any ‘plug-in’ content can be loaded on a website. This is annoying as hell. Visit onegoodmove in an up-to-date IE6 and you’ll see what I mean. It’s the first time I can see a reason for average users to switch to Firefox1. By ‘average user’, I mean somebody with little knowledge of software or hardware. They want to use the internet just like they want to use Word or Excel – they ... Read More »

Why aren’t random photo screensavers very random?

Windows has a built in screensaver that purports to show random photos from the My Pictures folder, and the Google Pack contains something similar. Neither seem to work very well, though. Google’s in particular seems to iterate through folders in a regular order, and despite having 10,000 photos I see the same shots on a regular basis – there are whole directories that are never touched. According to my parents the Microsoft version is the same. I know that true random numbers aren’t really do-able by microprocessors. But there must be at least a faux system that’s appropriate in this ... Read More »

IE7 Beta Two, and running it side-by-side with IE6

The recently-released beta of IE7 is apparently ‘layout complete’, which means websites should render as they will in the final release (barring any major bugs, presumably). wongaBlog looks fine, and the text-just-not-appearing-sometimes IE6 bug is fixed – woohoo! Fun new features include (full list here): Tabbed browsing – I’ve found it’s impossible to explain this to people without it sounding like, well, Windows. They just have to try it to see the advantages 🙂 Alpha-channel PNGs (a type of image that allows transparency at full colour depths – try this page in IE6 and Opera/Firefox/IE7 to see what I mean) ... Read More »

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