Stories by Preston Gralla

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15 free downloads to pep up your old PC

Got an aging Windows laptop or desktop computer, but money's too tight to buy a new one? Fret not. There's plenty of life in your old PC. It may seem sluggish and on the point of expiring, and its hard disk may be nearly full to bursting, but there's plenty you can do to clean it up, speed it up and give it new life.

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Living free with Linux: Round 2

Last month, in "Living free with Linux: 2 weeks without Windows," I wrote about what life was like for a longtime Windows user trying to live with Linux. One of the main drawbacks: The difficulties I encountered when installing or updating software.

5 great Microsoft Web services you probably don't use

Microsoft is so often the behemoth everyone loves to hate that people overlook the stuff it does right. We tried its newer Web services and found five gems.

Internet Explorer 8 RC1: almost ready to roll

The just-released Release Candidate 1 (RC1) of Internet Explorer 8 is a fast, stable browser, tweaked for productivity and security, with few obvious changes over the previous Beta 2 release.

Microsoft layoffs: Netbooks sales are killing us

Overlooked in the Microsoft announcement about its layoffs of 5,000 people over the next 18 months is this startling revelation: The company's revenue decline is due, in large part, to the growth in the sales of netbooks.

Which is best for netbooks: Windows 7 or Linux?

Microsoft is clearly positioning Windows 7 as Linux-killer for netbooks. Can it succeed? I've spent considerable time with both Windows 7 and Linux, and here are my conclusions about which operating system is better for netbooks.

Living free with Linux: 2 weeks without Windows

It's one of those perennial age-old battles that can never be resolved. Coke or Pepsi? Chocolate or vanilla? Linux or Windows?

Hate Microsoft Outlook? How to fix top annoyances

Microsoft Outlook is a nearly ubiquitous presence in PC computing -- and, seemingly, a universally reviled one. Outlook has countless features, ranging from e-mail gathering to calendaring, contact tracking, to-do list creation and more -- yet its tendency toward bloat, sluggishness and unreliability can make it maddening to use.

Windows 7 beta shows off task bar, UI goodies

The just-released Beta 1 version of Windows 7 is a solid, fast-performing, stable operating system that appears to be just about fully baked and ready for prime time. It is much further along than Windows Vista was during its initial beta phase, and it appears to be feature-complete. Based on the stability and speed of this beta, don't be surprised if Microsoft Corp. releases Windows 7 before 2010 rolls around.

Bloggers sneak a peek at Windows 7

The first beta of Microsoft's next OS has been leaked online, and many bloggers already are detailing its new features.

Windows 7: The Linux killer

Microsoft has long been worried about Linux competition in the server market. When it came to ordinary PCs and laptops, however, it knew it had little to fear.

Review: Firefox 3.1 Beta 2 adds speed and privacy

Firefox 3.1 may only be a point release -- from 3.0 to 3.1 -- but its just-released Beta 2 version is a good indication that the final release will be a must-have upgrade for anyone using Firefox.

Vista SP2 beta: Nothing obviously new has been added

If you install the beta of Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2) expecting to see visible changes to your version of Vista, you'll be sorely disappointed. At least in this initial beta, all the changes are under the hood, and even they are far from earth-shaking.

Why Steve Jobs should run General Motors

General Motors is looking for tens of billions of bailout dollars from the US Feds to stave off bankruptcy. Here's a simpler solution: Get Steve Jobs to take over the top slot at GM. So says the New York Times' Thomas Friedman, and despite my dislike of Jobs, I think Friedman is right.

Windows 7: This time Microsoft gets it right

Microsoft may call the newest version of its operating system Windows 7, but you may want to think of it as Windows 6.5. In overall look and feel, it mimics Vista, although there are enough changes to make it far more than just a juiced-up service pack.