Author Archives: Matt Fitzgerald

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Common Windows Shortcuts

Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

When I observe most colleagues and friends working on their PC’s they mostly use the mouse as they are unaware of the powerful Windows keyboard shortcuts that will make their lives so much easier. Some people might be aware of the keyboard shortcuts, but they are used to be working mostly with the mouse and old habits are hard to let go.

In this article I will take things step by step so you can learn the keyboard shortcuts that are required to navigate your way around the Windows operating system.

Lets assume your machine is starting up and due to a faulty mouse or some other related problem your system cannot be accessed with the mouse. A user that is not using keyboard shortcuts on a regular basis will be completely lost. Ok its relatively cheap to replace the mouse, but what if you had to quickly perform a task that cannot wait until a new mouse is acquired or the problem is fixed?

Navigating the Start Menu

I will firstly explain how to launch an application without the use of the mouse and instead use keyboard shortcuts. Immediately after system startup if you are required to log in, type out your password and press the Enter key. Once the system have fully initialized you will be presented with the Windows Desktop. As an example we will launch Notepad. Follow the steps exactly as explained below:

Press Ctrl and Esc to show the Start menu or press the Windows Logo key. Now press the Up Arrow until you can see the selection rectangle moving upwards in the Start menu. Once the selection rectangle enters the Start menu press the Left Arrow to move to the left section of the Start menu. Then press the Down Arrow until “All Programs” is selected. Press the Right Arrow to expand the “All Programs” menu. Press the Down Arrow until “Accessories” is selected. Press the Right Arrow to expand the accessories menu. Now press the Down Arrow until the Notepad menu item is selected and the press Enter. This will cause the Notepad application to launch.

Armed with this basic keyboard shortcut knowledge you will be able to launch any application without the use of the mouse.

Moving Around the Desktop

Frequently users place icons on the desktop to quickly access some application, files or folders they regularly use. What now if the mouse packs up and you have to get to that file? Here is how to make use of the Windows keyboard shortcuts to get that done:
Depending on the current situation different steps might be required so keep in mind that you do not have to do all the steps.

Press the Windows Logo key and M simultaneously to minimize all Windows. Press Ctrl and Esc simultaneously and then press Esc again. (Only required under certain conditions so you might only need to perform this step if you do not get the desired results from the step below). Press the Tab key and release it. Keep on pressing and releasing it until you see a “focus rectangle” surrounding one of the icons on the desktop. If there are a lot of icons on the desktop you might need to look carefully if any receives the focus indicated by the focus rectangle. Also occasionally use the arrow keys to see if you can move between different icons if it is difficult to notice the icon with the focus rectangle. Normally the focus will move between the Windows Taskbar and the last icon that had the focus (being selected) on the desktop when the Tab key is pressed. Once you got the “focus rectangle” on any icon on the desktop it is just a matter of moving to the icon of your choice using the arrow keys. When the required icon got the focus or is selected press the Enter key to open the file, folder or launch a program.

Working with Windows

Our next step in this Windows keyboard shortcuts article is to manipulate windows in the context of minimizing, maximizing, moving and closing them. To minimize the currently active window press Alt and Spacebar. The Control Menu for the window will appear. Now press N to minimize the window.

To maximize or get a window to its restored state when it is minimized to the Windows Taskbar hold down Alt and then press and release the Tab key until the desired window is selected. When the window of choice is selected also release the Alt key which will ensure that the window will either be maximized or restored depending on its previous state.

If you want to maximize a window from its restored state press Alt and Spacebar. After the Control Menu appears press X to maximize the window. To restore an maximized window press Alt and Spacebar. When the Control Menu appear press R to get the window from its maximized to restored state.

To move a window press Alt and Spacebar. When the Control Menu appear press M. Now use the arrow keys to move the window to the desired location and press the Enter key to round of this operation.

When you want to re-size a window press Alt and Spacebar. When the Control Menu appear press S. Now press the arrow keys depending on which side you want to size the window from. Right will take you to the right edge of the window for sizing and the Down arrow will take you to the bottom right corner for sizing purposes. When pressing the left key first you will be taking to the window left border to carry out sizing from that side. Once you have selected your sizing location by pressing the left or right arrows and up or down arrows do the sizing by using any of the arrow keys. When finished press Enter to complete this operation. Pressing the Esc key will leave the original size of the window intact.

To close the currently active window press Alt and F4 or press Alt and Spacebar, then press C.

General Use Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

Take note that the WINDOWS key is the Windows Logo key on the keyboard.

ALT+TAB
Display list of open programs and switch to next program.
(Press TAB again to advance to the following program).

ALT+SHIFT+TAB
Display list of open programs and switch to previous program.
(Press TAB again to select the pervious program).

WINDOWS or CTRL+ESC
Displays the Windows Start Menu.

WINDOWS+E
Open My Computer.

WINDOWS+D
Toggle between Show Desktop and Show Open Windows.

WINDOWS+M
Minimize All Windows.

F2
Rename selected folder, file or shortcut.

CTRL+N
Create a New document for the active application.

CTRL+O
Display the Open dialog box of the active application.

CTRL+S
Save the current document of the active application.

CTRL+P
Print the current document of the active application.

CTRL+A
Select All content of the current document.

CTRL+X
Cut the selected text or object.

CTRL+C
Copy the selected text or object.

CTRL+V
Paste contents of clipboard into active document.

CTRL+Z
Undo the last operation.

CTRL+Y
Redo the last Undo operation.

CTRL+B
Make selected text bold or remove bold formatting.

CTRL+U
Underline the selected text or remove underline.

CTRL+I
Make selected text italic or remove italic formatting.

CTRL+F
Displays the Find dialog box.

CTRL+H
Displays the Replace dialog box.


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The Three Types of Video Streaming

If you’ve visited websites with video streaming, you will notice that your video loads. You do not know; however, that there are three methods that the website could use to get the video to you. These three methods rely on separate technologies to accomplish a similar goal, but each method has a slightly different effect on your prospect.

1) Progressive Download

In a progressively downloaded video, the website downloads the video file, but can begin to play the video before it is fully downloaded. This method cannot be considered a true stream, because a true stream does not require a download to your hard drive. With this method, end user is generally satisfied with the viewing speed.

2) Media File Download

This method is the least expensive method, but requires the end user to completely download a video file to their hard drive. Once the media file is downloaded, they can view it and may have less difficulty in viewing the material repeatedly. However, many consumers lack the patience needed to wait for a download, especially if the video presentation is lengthy. Also, internet speeds has a major affect on this method of streaming media. A user may have to wait hours before a media file could be accessed. With the other two types of streaming, the wait is minimal before you are able to access your media.

3) Full Streaming

In this scenario, the end user may be able to watch your video almost as soon as they navigate to a web page. Depending on the speed of the computer in use, the consumer may see very few interruptions in presentation. This is the most expensive form of video streaming simply because there is ‘no waiting’. Consumers are generally most satisfied with this option. This is the main option used today with many streaming services such as YouTube. With the way video files are optimized for online viewing these days, this turns into an easier option when it comes to bandwidth usage and viewing experience.

As consumers become pulled in numerous directions simply because of the hectic pace of life, the thought of having to wait for a download may move them away from watching a video – no matter how good the end result might be.

Many “netrepreneurs,” or entrepreneurs of the internet, may gravitate towards providing a Progressive Download because the cost is reduced while the viewing speed is enhanced.

There are sites where you can upload a video and it’s  downloadable to visitors. There are often provisions that likely include directing your visitor off-site, placing ads on the site page where the video download can be viewed, and last but not least a provision to have the video removed if there is no activity within a certain number of days. In all, there are multiple types of streaming that can work well in different cases.


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Tech Talk: Your Questions Answered

Category : The Arts , Writing

For my last and final Tech Talk at Saint Viator, I am pleased to be answering the questions that viewers of this article posed in the last survey given by the Viator Voice. Here, I will try to answer some of the questions that you have in the simplest way possible, trying to refrain from all techy jargon and anything else the common man or woman might not understand.

If we have iPads, why do we still use loose paper?

A:iPads are great and all, but there is nothing like actually doing your math homework on what it is meant to be done on– loose leaf. Writing skills and using a pen are still something that you will need to learn in the business world. Even though you can type 300 words a minute, there is still a need for normal handwriting.

Can technology pose health problems?

A: Short answer: if used excessively, yes. Long answer: Every device that we use give off very very small amounts of radiation. This radiation is something the world likes to call a wifi signal or cellular communication. This magnetic radiation is what allows us to access the internet without having to drag around a cord with us everywhere we go. It has been scientifically proven both ways that health problems come along with using technology, but in the research I have done, using wifi on an iPad, unless it is taped to your head and streaming high definition video for a very long time will not affect your health. Some people also complain about eye or thumb problems while using technology. These health risks are founded, and I have personally experienced eye strain after a long day of coding away. Through the research I have done, I found out that the blue light is what prevents sleeping and damages your eyes, because your mind thinks that you are looking at the sky.

Can Viator see what we do on our iPad?

A: To a degree, the Saint Viator wifi system is setup to monitor the use of the internet to prevent the user from accessing malicious websites and potentially harming their own device, themselves, or other devices at Saint Viator.

Why does my wifi have terrible connection at certain times everyday?

A: The internet has times where it is used the most every day. Those times are from about 7-8 am and 7-12 pm. At this time the internet is somewhat bottlenecked. Think of the internet as a water pipe. Only a certain amount of water can flow through the pipe at a time, and that is what the internet is similar to.

When will my Saint Viator email expire?

A: According to Ms Peggy Gosch, Director of Information Technology at Saint Viator, your email will be deleted around October of the year you graduate. This means that you will have to take a backup of your entire google drive, emails, and contact book.

Will the the computers rise against humanity?

A: Not in the foreseeable future, but as technology progresses and we make advances in Artificial Intelligence, anything can happen!

It has been a joy to write in the Viator Voice these past four years, and I always look forward to seeing my stories! I hope you enjoyed one of the longest tech talks I have ever written! Thank you for reading this and for making these past four years fun!


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Tech Talk: Survey Results

Category : The Arts , Writing

Welcome to Tech Talk!

Recently, we took a technology survey at Saint Viator, and here are some of the results we gleaned from the data.

Screen-Shot-2016-02-15-at-5.00.25-PM-475x209 Screen-Shot-2016-02-15-at-5.00.11-PM-475x360-2 Screen-Shot-2016-02-15-at-5.00.11-PM-475x360 Screen-Shot-2016-02-15-at-4.59.59-PM-475x151 Screen-Shot-2016-02-15-at-4.59.41-PM-475x198

 

As you can see, many people use their devices frequently, and at some point they are bound to have problems. It surprised me that there were so many people who used a Mac over a PC at home. I will be writing more Mac tutorials in future articles. I thought that it was interesting to learn that most people have problems with Internet and Wi-Fi issues. In future articles, I will be writing a major how-to tutorial on how to make your Wi-Fi connection rock solid! Some overarching ideas that people were concerned about were privacy and security, as well as keeping their iPad up to tip-top speed.

 

Some tips I have to keep your iPad fast are as follows:

  • Press the power button as if you were going to power off your iPad. When the ‘slide to power off’ bar comes up, hold the home button down for 5 seconds and click the cancel button. This should make your iPad faster.
  • Download a system monitor app like SysInfo to determine exactly how your iPad may be acting.
  • This may be a little drastic, but an iPad restore never does bad. Sometimes it may be good to just start all over with your iPad reset at factory conditions. Then you can restore it from an iCloud backup to restore your apps.
  • Also, delete apps that you do not use. Some apps have what are called daemons, which means that there is a process that runs in the background of your iPad. A whole bunch of these processes can make an iPad run slower because no memory or processing power would be left for the iPad to do what you want it to.

 

Some tips I have about keeping safe on your iPad:

  • If it looks shady, don’t download it!
  • If you get an odd-looking email, delete it as soon as possible! If you open it, it may install malware on your iPad or computer. When in doubt, delete it!
  • Don’t trust ads that look like iOS system notifications like an incoming call or such. These ads are fraudulent and lead you to websites infected with malware.

Stay tuned to the Viator Voice in future issues when we will dive right into your questions that you may have posed during the survey. If you want your own tech question answered, feel free to reply to this article.


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Tech Talk December 2015

Category : The Arts , Writing

iPad Tips

  1. You can install alternate keyboards for your iPad that have some cool features like swipe type! Search the App Store for ‘keyboards’ and find one that you like!
  2. iCloud can let you sync your photos between iOS devices! Go into Settings > iCloud > and turn Photo Stream on!
  3. You can save websites to your home screen by tapping the button with a box with an arrow sticking out of it and selecting “save to homescreen.”
  4. You can get notifications when someone shares something with you on Google Drive! Go into the drive all, click the three lines in the corner, and then tap notifications.
  5. You can add new filters to your email accounts to just show emails from today, messages you were CC’d on and messages with attachments. Just click the edit button on the account menu in the mail app to add these filters.

App Reviews

Speed test – free
Take a look into how fast your wifi really is by using this free app to analyze the network latency and upload and download speeds. I would rate this app a 5 of 5 because of the beautiful user interface and interesting application.
Watson Trend – free
In this app, you channel the Watson supercomputer, the computer that infamously won jeopardy back in 2014 and look at trending products and topics. Watson stand trillions of posts, blogs, and articles to determine what products are hot and a good deal. I would rate this app a 2 of 5, because it is an interesting concept but is very bland and rough.

PDF Expert
In this app, similar to Notability, you are able to annotate PDFs and draw all over them. This app is very powerful and interesting to play with. I would rate this app a 4.5 of 5 because it is easy to use in its editor mode, but can be hard to navigate the menus.
Micro Battles
In this multiplayer app, you get assigned a daily mini game- it can be anything from a pixelated soccer game to a sky-high dogfight. This app is simplistic in both its control and pixelated style, and I would rate it a 4 of 5 because you can not choose to play a different mini game per day without buying the premium version.

 


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Tech Talk November 2015

Welcome to Tech Talk! This is the articles I Posted in my school newspaper over the past school year. This is a series where I explain little known tips and tricks for iPads and rate some of the top apps on the App Store.

 

iPad Tips and Tricks

1. You can click the “Back To” button where the iPad logo is when the iPad switches apps to return to the one you were previously were on.
2. You can add widgets to the Notification Center by dragging down from the top, scrolling all the way down and clicking “edit.”
3. When you have an app open on another Apple device, you can “hand off” the app by clicking the bar below the apps at the app switcher.
4. You can now search the settings. Drag down to reach the search bar.
5. You can add website icons to your home screen by clicking the box with an arrow in Safari then the option “Add to Home Screen.”

App Reviews

Smashy Road – Free
In this fun and interesting app, you are a fugitive running from the cops. This app is basically a dumbed-down version of Grand Theft Auto and is a very interesting and good take on the game empire. And the best part is it’s free. This app deserves its 5 of 5 star rating because of the interesting and creative map to play on and the story development as you run away from the police.

Shooty Skies – Free
In this time-killing app, you are a cat in a plane shooting away at an expanse of enemies ranging from space-invader-like enemies to a floating boom box. This app is yet another block-like game and deserves its 5 of 5 star rating.

Musi – Free
In this app, you can create YouTube playlists in a way similar to that of apps like Spotify. This is a great app, but is distracting from the true purpose of the app by a newsfeed of popular videos. I would rate this app a 4 of 5 because it is a great concept.

FXGuru – Free
In this app, you can create motion-tracking special effects in any video. It is a great app, but I would rate it a 3 of 5 because of the excessive in app purchases needed to get the coolest effects.


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Cleaning your Windows Registry: A Simple Task with Big Benefits

Category : Software , Tech Tips

The Windows registry is a hidden database in your computer that tells programs information on user saved preferences. It also gives them information on how to run the program. When you install a program, the program creates registry values during the installation in order for the program to work properly.

Over 92% of computers have some form of Adware and spyware. Such software is rarely accompanied by an uninstall utility, and even when it is, it almost always leaves broken Windows Registry keys behind it. Even if you have an anti-spyware tool your Windows Registry might be broken – developers of those tools focus on removing Adware and spyware functionality, not every trace of software itself.

Another group of software that is known to leave bits and pieces behind on uninstallation is games. There are a lot of special installation systems that create strange files, unique entries in your registry file,as well as changes system dll’s, or system drivers, to other versions. Once you uninstall the game a lot of the special installation changes it made will be left, causing you problems.

You should run an advanced registry cleaner for Windows that allows you to safely scan, clean, and repair registry problems with a few simple mouse clicks on a regular basis.

Problems with the Windows Registry are a common cause of Windows crashes (blue screens) and error messages (memory as well as disk errors). By using a PC tune-up utility, your system will be more stable, your software will run quicker, and your operating system will boot faster.

Registry problems can occur for many reasons, including references left after uninstallation; incorrect removal of software; missing or corrupt hardware drivers; or orphaned start-up programs. With a few easy steps, a good registry cleaner will scan your entire registry for any invalid entries and offer a list of the errors found.

You then can choose to clean each item or automatically repair them all after making a backup without the need for a registry editor such as Regedit.

To help people choose a product have we created this short checklist.

A good windows registry clean and repair product should have the following options.

Automatic Scan

This is the hands-off approach for your windows registry scan. This is the simplest way to clean up the registry. Automatic Scan is recommended for ‘non-technical’ users.

Custom Scans

You customize your search and scan Windows registry for particular types of errors. (shared DLLs, missing fonts, invalid start-up entries, etc.).

Manual Cleanup

After the scan is complete, the program should show you a full list of errors with details, broken down by types. Then the program should let you fix individual invalid entries or all invalid entries of a certain type.

Backup and Undo

Before removing an entry from your registry, should an automatic creation of a backup file be done, that can be used to undo the changes. This to avoid changes without backup.

Scheduler

To schedule the program to scan the registry whenever you start your computer.

Using software like this is not a one time fix. You must run it on a regular basis to keep your registry clean and without errors. This will help the stability and speed of windows.

So when you want to clean your registry, you can easily click a mouse a couple of times and fix some possible crash-causing problems on your computer in a few minutes.


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What is HDMI?

HDMI, or high definition multimedia interface, is a type of audio and video interface that is used for the transmission of uncompressed digital streams. Essentially, HDMI can be considered an alternative method to transmitting data streams, rather than making use of conventional methods such as coaxial cabling, VGA, or component video equipment.

What Type of Sources May Be Employed Using HDMI?

Quite a number of devices and sources on the market today will work with the use of HDMI. The Blu-Ray disc player, a relatively new innovation, was created with the use of HDMI specifically in mind. Most personal computers that are sold today are ready for use with HDMI, as are the majority of video game consoles in the stores currently. A set-top box also is usually compatible with HDMI, as are such entertainment options as digital television. Essentially, any type of computer interface today will function with the use of HDMI.

How Does HDMI Work?

HDMI will work with a single cable connection to such devices as televisions or personal computers. In general, HDMI will function fine with any television or PC that is standard, enhanced, or high definition in the video component. However, it is important to note that HDMI does work independently of many of the DTV standards, although use of HDMI will not impact the quality of the digital transmission. Generally, these standards apply to some configurations of MPEG movie clips and files. Since these are compressed, HDMI will simply decompress the data and make it possible to view the clip.

Are All HDMI Versions The Same For All Devices?

No. There is a range of specifications that are employed by HDMI, and a given device will be manufactured to comply with one of those specifications. The most simplistic specification is identified as 1.0. With each succeeding version, the capabilities of the previous version remain intact, but are joined by other capabilities that will allow the version to function with a given device. Because technology is always advancing, HDMI continues to advance as well. However, older versions remain active, as they are often used with devices that require less functionality, and they also continue to be helpful in situations where older systems are still running and are in operation.

Where Did HDMI Come From?

HDMI was created and has been enhanced by the efforts of several prominent names in the computer and electronics industry. Consumers will recognize the names of Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Silicon Image as just part of the roster of corporations involved in the ongoing enhancement of HDMI.


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What is a Multilayer PCB?

Circuit boards make up every electronic on the market. Inside of every electronic is something called a Printed Circuit Board or PCB.

A PCB is basically a piece of copper covered fiberglass that is submerged in acid until a pattern is etched out that connects multiple electronic components.

A Multilayer PCB consists of multiple layers of electronic components placed over each other.

Through-hole construction was the technology that was used to deal with planting the electrical components through the holes on the Printed Board Curcuit and then soldering them together. When this technology was found wanting in complex cases, Point-to-Point construction technology evolved. This proved to be better than its predecessor, but in no way is it comparable to a multilayer PCB. The development of multilayer PCB has allowed electronic companies to drastically cut down on the cost and size of their products.

The functionality of a multilayer Printed Board Circuit depends on the internal connections between the various components that make up the entire device. Until and unless these components work in tandem, the device is non-functional. In the case of most technology, the urge to improve product performance makes the products bulky, whereas the flexible design of the multilayer PCBs has entirely replaced the rigid single-layered PCB design. The high-class wiring and the flexible parts have improved the performance of many products, especially automated and complex devices such as computers and cellular phones. Technology today has come a long way, culminating in the manufacture of multilayer PCBs that can contain as many as twenty-four layers, depending on usage and the complexity of the product itself. Multilayered PCBs have also facilitated the ease of manufacturing, since most of them are pre-mounted and prefabricated. Although manufacturing these prefabricated multilayered PCBs is a complex process, the final stage has now become a matter of assembly rather than manufacturing.

Any discussion of this technology would be incomplete without mentioning the tools and materials that are required for using a multilayer PCB. These are:

*Powerful drill

*Copper etcher

*Laminating press

*Copper plating cell

*And most importantly – a well-ventilated area

The reasons behind the development of the multilayer PCB are numerous, although some may think the technology was unnecessary while standard PCBs were doing fine. As discussed earlier, a multilayer PCB has a more flexible structure and can considerably reduce the size of the device. This is not the only reason. The cost of production using conventional PCBs was very high and costs only increased with new developments. By contrast, a multilayer PCB, in addition to providing revolutionary on-board components, more often than not needs only reprogramming. Moreover, mass production has become easier due to prefabricated multilayered PCBs. Instant installation or assembly of multilayer PCBs means electronic companies have definitely experienced a rise in their production rates.

In case you are wondering about the longevity or quality of these circuit boards, they are very well packaged and can be left as they are for future use. Once each board is completed, it is thoroughly tested to make sure that it functions properly. In cases of failure, the repair process is easy and can be achieved by replacing the board itself instead of resorting to component-level troubleshooting.


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Windows or Linux?

Category : Software , Tech Tips

Computer users and programmers have become so accustomed to using Windows, even for the changing capabilities and the appearances of the graphical interface of the versions, therefore it has remained Microsoft’s product. Although, Lycoris, Red Hat, Mandrake, Suse, Knoppix, Slackware and Lindows make up some of the different versions of LINUX. These companies release their own versions of the operating systems with minor changes, and yet always with the same bottom line. The simple fact that not one of these companies are close to competing with Windows, for the most part causes the difference in market share.

It sometimes seems everyone on the planet is using Windows. Many say Windows is way better than LINUX because of the simple handling of the software or hardware. There are huge differences between the number of users of LINUX and Windows. Many say LINUX is far better because it started as an Open Source software and thus is more flexible than Windows. Then what accounts for the enormous difference in market share between these two operating systems?

Windows and Linux are different in many ways.

1. Windows GUI is an integral component of the OS; speed, efficiency and reliability, while the Linux GUI is optional, is increased by running a server instance of Linux without a GUI, something that server versions of Windows simply can’t do. The nature of the Linux GUI makes remote administration of a Linux computer easier with a more natural feel than Windows computers.

2. The command prompts of the operating systems are very different. The command interpreters in the Windows 9x series are very similar to each other and the NT class versions of Windows also have similar command interpreters. There are, however differences between a Windows 9x command interpreter and one in an NT class flavor of Windows. Linux, like UNIX, also supports multiple command interpreters, but it usually uses BASH or “Bourne Again Shell”.

3. While you have to pay hundred’s of dollars for a new Windows version, you can just go download Linux. There’s no manuals or simple installers for the free version. Although there is quite a learning curve when utilizing the free package. There are some easy automated packages of Linux for low prices.

Microsoft’s “big con” is the supposed security issues with windows. Most spyware, adware and malicious files programs work with Windows just fine. In general you do not deal with these kinds of circumstances unless you are working with Windows. whereas Linux offers a strong protection, password protection for Windows can be bypassed with ease.

The software availability is the key to why Windows wins over Linux in this competition. Most software releases are already configured for Windows. If you chose to use Linux you must copy Windows with special software in order to use your windows based programs. You could always install Windows as a subsystem to Linux, this would take the administrative capabilities of Windows and allow them to function on Linux.

If Linux is ever to compete with Windows, it must become more user friendly and provide serious technical support.