17 March 2010

Update to hard disk technology could leave XP behind

Since the days of the first IBM PC, hard disks have always split the data that they store in to small chunks of 512 bytes, called a sector. All versions of Windows have been developed to deal with hard disks that use the 512 byte sector, since it was the industry standard. However, many hard disk manufacturers are now switching to disks with 4 kilobyte sectors – eight times the size of the previous sector size, as 4KB sectors allow today’s very large hard disks to be used more efficiently.

Windows 7 and Vista both take this shift in the size of hard disks in to account, and can use 4KB sector disks without any problems. Unfortunately XP was developed before 4KB disk sectors became the norm, and by default is incompatible with such disks. If you’re an XP user and are thinking of upgrading your hard disk, first check that your new disk doesn’t use 4KB sectors. Alternatively, you can choose a Western Digital disk, since they supply a tool to allow you to use 4KB sector disks with XP. You can get the tool here:


Article from Windows Advisor

13 March 2010

09 March 2010

Browsers. You've always had a choice. Now Microsoft has to tell you.

A European Court ruling has required that Microsoft offers people a selection of browsers to choose from of which Internet Explorer will be just one. Starting around now, a Windows update will result in those with Internet Explorer as their default browser being presented with a screen showing what appears to be the five alternatives, in random order. So Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, Opera and Internet Explorer will be offered on a panel with buttons for download.

This is good news and should result in a much more pleasant internet experience for lots of people who have never even thought there might be another way than the familiar blue e symbol and its continuous warnings and annoying pale yellow bars and boxes asking questions that even now I have to think about before clicking Yes or No.

What is particularly interesting, though, is that those five are not the only ones actually being offered. Those five are the applications that are the First Panel contenders. However, look carefully and there is a second panel. Scroll horizontally and you'll see a selection of a further seven that I have to say includes six I had never heard of before!

Goodness only knows what people will make of these! Those behind these currently lesser-known browsers are expecting to see downloads rocket as to date their growth has been 99% through word of mouth and mostly among pretty specific groups of geeky types at that. Maxthon is apparently second to IE in China and even a 1% addition to its current user numbers will double its present share of the browser market! It will be fascinating to see which of these seven do best and how they react to their new-found fame as, courtesy of some suits in Europe, an estimated 100 million Europeans could see their logos on their screens.

I say could see as the Second Panellers are a little miffed that in order to see their wares people have to perform that unnatural business of horizontal scrolling and the bar isn't exactly obvious either.

I guess I'd better download all seven now and review them on the webtools site before the European Commission start knocking on my door.