Upgrade Windows 7 Starter to something better

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Jinadasa Katulanda has a netbook computer running Windows 7 Starter. He asked about upgrading it to the Home Premium edition.

The Windows 7 Starter edition is the cheapest, least-powerful version of Windows 7. It was never sold retail, and is only available pre-installed on inexpensive, low-power netbooks.

But here’s the funny thing: Starter isn’t significantly faster than other editions of 32-bit Windows 7. They all have the same minimum hardware requirements.

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Save your Word configurations

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Valerie Pike set up Microsoft Word the way she liked it. Then, suddenly, everything went back to the default settings. Can she get her old settings back? Or at least protect them in the future?

Microsoft Word is a wonderfully configurable tool. You can set a default font and give every new document your preferred margins. You can re-arrange the ribbons and Quick Access Toolbar. You can record simple macros and even—if you have the programming skills—write complex ones.

But if you’re not careful, all of your work personalizing Word can disappear in a keystroke. Here’s how to be careful:

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What you need to know about libraries

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Edu Azevedo asked me about Windows 7’s Libraries (they’re also in Windows 8), and why one should store files there.

To the uneducated eye, Windows’ libraries are simply convenient places to store your data files, such as documents, spreadsheets, pictures, music, and videos. And they are convenient. They make it easier to find, organize and back up the most important files on your hard drive.

But they’re not actually places—in the sense that they’re not folders on your hard drive. They’re pointers to other folders, and each library can point to more than one folder. For instance, the Documents library by default points to two different folders: My Documents and Public Documents. (The difference? Other people can more easily access the Public Documents.)

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Upgrade from XP to Windows 7

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Mel Henderson has a PC that’s still running Windows XP. He asked about upgrading to Windows 7.

If you don’t want to turn your PC into a malware magnet, you have to stop using Windows XP. It’s just not safe anymore.

Short of buying a new computer, your only real options are to replace XP with Windows 7, Windows 8, or Linux.

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Get the most from the Windows 8.1 Apps screen

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Tony Brandon stumbled upon a screen in Windows 8.1 that he didn’t know was there, listing all of his programs in alphabetical order. He wanted to know more about it.

You found one of Windows 8’s best-kept secrets--the Apps screen. Here you can find all of your Metro/Modern apps as well as your conventional desktop programs. You don’t have to rearrange them, pin them, or try to remember where you left them.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

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When Tech Support calls you

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Diane Shotbolt received a call from an alleged tech support person who “wanted me to make changes to my computer.” She asked for my advice.

If there are people monitoring your computer, and there probably are, they’re not doing it to provide tech support. In fact, they don’t want you to know that they’re watching you.

Unless they’re returning your call, legitimate tech people don’t call you. Think about the last time you called tech support. You were probably on hold for an uncomfortable amount of time. Do you really think they’re going to call you and offer support you didn't know you needed?

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Why you can trust free software (or at least some of it)

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Jeanne Light wonders whether it’s safe to use free software. “What do [the authors] get out of it?” She feels, understandably, quite skeptical.

It’s good to be skeptical. And careful. Free products often come with strings attached. But if you pay attention and listen for the right recommendations, you can get some excellent software for free—without breaking the law.

There are some perfectly good reasons why an individual programmer, a programming collective, or even a for-profit company will let you use the fruit of their labor without getting paid.

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