Windows 10 Week: Should you upgrade to Windows 10? How Microsoft’s OS could be good for you

Windows 10 Week: Should you upgrade to Windows 10? How Microsoft's OS could be good for you

Introduction

Windows 10

Is Windows 10 for you? Well, there's a better chance that it brings something to your life than not, whether you use a computer for 10 hours or 10 minutes a day.

The thing is, time is running out to upgrade from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10 for free. Specifically, you have until the end of today. It's not a decision that you should simply gloss over, as the current price is around $120 (£100 or AUS$160). That's enough for 10,000 penny sweets, and we're particularly fond of the chewy fried egg ones.

I don't know about you, but when I think about the burning core of my being, it's in terms of being a bunch of easily-categorisable stereotypes. Which is handy, as it means I can make a purchasing decision entirely on the basis of said arbitrary categorisation. Am I a frequent flier, a parent, a gamer, or a paranoid survivalist hermit living in wildest Orkney? There's a reason to own Windows 10 for all of you.

(Well, apart from the hermit, but then I'm frankly amazed he's reading TechRadar rather than a 19th century almanac, or scrawling on his bathroom wall with turnip juice.) To see how Windows 10 will probably fit into your life, click (or tap) on ahead.

This article is part of TechRadar's Windows 10 week. Microsoft's latest operating system turns from a free to a paid upgrade on July 29, and we're looking to answer the question of whether it's good for you.

The gamer

Gamers

Actually, Windows 10 is pretty good for gamers. It's been pretty darn stable since day one, which is unusual for Windows. Microsoft say it's had the fastest ever adoption rate. (Which was only slightly down to the botherware they installed on Windows 7 telling you to upgrade, like someone asking you out on a date four thousand times.) As a gamer, I will aver that it is definitely a better experience than my malware riddled Windows 7 installation.

On top of that Microsoft is committed to gamers, in its own slightly-creepy 'we want to own your world' way. It's made DirectX 12 (the next big graphical back end) Windows 10 only. They've got the Xbox app, which lets you record your gameplay. It's also integrated voice chat with your friends.

Indeed, the company has also Windows 10 integrated the Xbox One so thoroughly that you can crossbuy games and play them on either system at no extra cost, and retaining your saves - or even stream them from one machine to the other. They're really, really desperate to get the Xbox One to be at the Heart of Your Gaming.

Andrew wrote a metric ton more reasons why Windows 10 is good for gamers the other day.

The worker

Workers

Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your backwards compatibility! And if you've got a camera, microphone, and/or touchscreen, Window has better support for all those items. This is a mobile OS, after all.

For microphone owners, Cortana is a voice-controlled AI interface with your computer and the web. For RealSense camera owners, Windows Hello uses facial recognition or other biometrics to log you on securely. And touchscreen users will benefit from Windows Ink's total integration of pen and touch control.

It's also a better running OS than 7. It has better security with malware-killer Windows Defender and phishing filter Smartscreen. It uses memory and disk space more carefully. It has built-in virtual desktops. It supports new hardware - like USB 3.0, solid-state drives and hi-def screens - better. And there's integration with Microsoft's OneDrive cloud service, meaning back-ups are much easier.

The upcoming Windows Anniversary Update is adding a load of productivity-related features, to make Windows. You can read more about those over here.

The security-conscious person

Security

You're not paranoid if everyone's really out to get you, they say, but they would say that. Because they're out to get you. And even if they're not, they are.

Anyway, if you're the sort of person who worries about the Chinese and Russians ignoring all those juicy Pentagon and DARPA targets and hacking into your computer… you're right to. President Putin is after YOUR emails about not knowing how to work the fax machine. (And we're not just talking to you, Hillary.) And Windows 10 has ramped up security specifically for you.

Windows Hello is your first stop. This biometric alternative to passwords can use your fingerprint, facial recognition, iris and other secured biometric devices to log you onto your computer and/or compatible websites.

Next is Windows Edge. I know, Internet Explorer was famously insecure, but Edge is much more secure - using what Microsoft call 'advanced sandboxing technology' to isolate your online experience from your personal data and from Windows.

Next is the double whammy of SmartScreen and Windows Defender. Smartscreen protects Edge from phishing sites attempting to nab your personal data, blocking any problematic or malicious sites, as well as blocking malicious-seeming software. Defender helps if SmartScreen fails. It's an anti-malware package that sits quietly in the taskbar - and is going to be heavily upgraded for the Anniversary update.

People with accessibility requirements

Accessibility

Windows 7 was fine for people with accessibility issues, but it wasn't always easy to access them. So Windows 10 has been designed with accessibility in mind from the ground up - there's even an official accessibility blog covering it.

One big thing worth noting; the free upgrade period for Windows 10 doesn't end for anyone using assistive technologies. This is because some of these pieces of tech aren't yet compatible with Windows 10. There will be a page up from July 29th detailing how to access the free upgrade.

Other than that, Windows 10 offers many techs that help with the disabled. Voice control through Cortana, hands-free security with Windows Hello, multi-language Narrator for the blind, Magnifier for the partially sighted, Scan mode for the physically disabled, and lots of specialised app support. You can read more about what's coming with Windows Anniversary here.

The Microsoft team are also developing superb-sounding tech for the disabled - like their Seeing AI tech, which describes surroundings to disabled people using computer vision, image recognition, natural language processing and machine learning.

The frequent traveller

Travellers

If you're a frequent traveller, then you need a good laptop to keep you grounded from the rich fantasy world you occasionally lapse into when you're stuck in a sad café between countries.

Thankfully, Windows 10's OS is designed to scale nicely to any screen size and be perfectly pleasant on desktops, smaller form factor PCs and right down to mobile phones. Many of the better modern ones come with touchscreens as well, which are perfect for Windows Ink (though I'm not entirely sure what the laptop-touchscreen killer app is…)

If you're looking for a laptop, then you could consider something thin-and-light like the HP Spectre 13, or the LG Gram (in the US).

Good reasons not to install Windows 10

Reasons not to install

Let's face it - Windows 7 is going away. By 2020, Microsoft will have stopped supporting it, so if you want patches and modern drives, you'll want Windows 10. But you might still prefer older OSes for perfectly legitimate reasons.

I mean, you might simply not have the minimum hardware to run Windows 10. It needs 20GB of free hard drive space. It also needs more space for automatically-downloaded updates which are a hassle to turn off.

Or you might have obscure hardware that Windows 10 doesn't have drivers for. This is especially a problem for enterprise-level businesses, who might have bespoke hardware created for particular purposes - for example, I know someone who manages his restaurant's security cameras from a Windows application that was designed for a particular old version of Windows and Windows Phone. There's no way he's upgrading that computer.

You might also have privacy concerns. As we said earlier, Windows 10's built-in security is better than Windows 7's - but then it also gathers more of your personal data and sends feedback to Microsoft.

Or you could be a raggedy hermit, living in a bothy in distant Orkney, and Windows 10 isn't compatible with your MacBook Air. Well, not without exceptionally-boring partition work that will distract you from your important hermitting duties.

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Downloads: The best free PDF editor 2016

Downloads: The best free PDF editor 2016

Free PDF editors

The best PDF editor

Adobe describes PDF as "three letters that changed the world", and it has a point: the Portable Document Format, to give it its Sunday name, was invented by Adobe to make it easy to share electronic documents. It's now an open standard used in everything from publishing to public bodies, and there are stacks of tools to create, edit, annotate and organise PDFs. But which is the best? We've sorted through the options and picked out the very best PDF editor you can download.

If you're a Mac user, don't forget about the Preview app - it's a very useful PDF editor in its own right, although some other programs can do even more.

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Download Foxit Reader free

1. Foxit Reader

Flexible and powerful, Foxit Reader is the best free PDF editor around

Foxit Reader - top downloadOf all the free PDF tools available for Windows, Foxit Reader is our favorite. It looks and feels rather like Microsoft Office so it's instantly familiar, it has a tabbed interface for working on multiple PDFs simultaneously, and it enables you to complete forms and annotate documents. It also includes security tools for protecting your PDFs.

Download Foxit Reader freeIt's expandable via a bunch of add-ons and if you find yourself needing even more power its paid-for sibling, PhantomPDF, has extensive organisation, sharing and document tracking features for a very reasonable US$109 (about £80, AU$140).

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Download Adobe Reader free

2. Adobe Reader

Adobe's cross-platform PDF editor is superb for marking up documents

Yes, Adobe Reader on the desktop has a reputation for being overly complex and overly needy - but the iOS and Android editions haven't inherited its flaws and stand on their own virtual feet as fast, flexible and lightweight PDF editors.

Download Adobe Reader freeSome of the best features require an Acrobat Pro subscription, so for example editing text isn't possible without Pro, but you can sign and fill forms and export Office documents to PDF. There's support for Dropbox too.

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Download PDF24 Converter

3. PDF24 Creator

A printer driver with added editing features for perfect conversions

One of the simplest ways to create PDFs in Windows is to install a PDF printer driver. Windows sees it as a printer driver, but instead of controlling hardware it actually converts documents to PDFs.

Download PDF24 Creator freeThat's what PDF24 Creator offers, but it also adds its own Assistant that can split or merge PDF files, adjust document properties, re-order pages, password protect PDFs and add digital watermarks or signatures. It's hardly the prettiest PDF editor around but it gets on with the job and doesn't require loads of system resources.

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Download Adobe Acrobat DC free

4. Adobe Acrobat DC (trial)

Edit text, replace and tweak images, add signatures and much more besides

The DC stands for Document Cloud, and Adobe Acrobat Reader DC is designed to cover every eventuality - for a price. You can try out the software for free, but the license is an annual subscription that works out at £11.42 (about US$15, AU$20) per month for the Standard editor and £13.33 (about US$18, AU$20) per month for Pro.

Download Adobe Acrobat DC freeThe Standard edition gives you online access via Adobe's Document Cloud, the ability to create PDFs from almost any source, to work on PDFs via the mobile apps and to electronically sign documents. Going Pro adds multimedia support, the ability to edit scanned documents and the option to request electronic signatures.

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Download Nitro PDF Reader free

5. Nitro PDF Reader

Surprisingly powerful, with support for both image and text editing

Download Nitro PDF Reader freeHere's another free PDF editor that looks awfully like Microsoft Office, and once again that's no bad thing. Nitro PDF Reader has a feature set that shames some paid-for apps: despite a price tag of zero it offers document to PDF conversion, annotation and highlighting, image extraction, text editing and e-signatures. It's definitely one to try before you consider paying for a PDF app.

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Download PDF-XChange Editor Free

6. PDF-XChange Editor

A free PDF editor with OCR for converting image-based PDFs

Tracker's PDF-XChange Editor comes in three and a half flavors: a free Lite version for non-commercial use, two paid-for versions at US$43.50 (about £30, AU$60) and US$54.50 (about £40, AU$70) respectively, and stripped-down version of the less expensive premium edition.

Download PDF-XChange Editor freeThe free version is quite limited - it's a print-to-PDF app to create searchable PDFs from pretty much any Windows app - but it also has has OCR scanning, Google Drive and Office 365 support, commenting and annotation, markup and file conversion. Paying for a license adds the ability to create forms, more advanced organizational tools and more extensive editing options.

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Download SlimPDF Reader free

7. SlimPDF Reader

A tiny tool that's lacking features, but won't stress underpowered PCs

The name should set expectations here: SlimPDF Reader promises to be "10% of the size of Adobe Reader but views 100% of PDFs". It's microscopic by app standards - just 1.43MB - and that's largely because it doesn't really do anything other than view PDFs.

Download SlimPDF Reader freeThat's not necessarily a bad thing, though: its tiny footprint means it doesn't drag your system down like more advanced PDF editord often do, and it's ridiculously fast on even the most modest PCs.

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Download Icecream PDF Converter free

8. Icecream PDF Converter

Split hefty documents into manageable sections before conversion

Icecream PDF Converter comes from the same developer as the useful Icecream Ebook Reader (which also doubles as a good-looking PDF viewer). This PDF editor and reader is all about the file formats, though. You can drag and drop PDFs onto the app and convert them to JPG, PNG, BMP, TIFF, GIF, EPS, HTML or WMF format, and you can also convert ebooks and Microsoft Office documents to PDF.

Download Icecream PDF Converter freeIt can also run batch conversions and partial conversions for when you only need a few pages of a huge document. That's the good news. The bad news is that you're limited to 10 page PDFs when you export and five files per conversion to PDF unless you buy the Pro version for £14.95 (about US$20, AU$30).

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Download AbleWord Free

9. AbleWord

Convert documents from text format to PDF, and vice versa

Here's a blast from the past: AbleWord looks very like an old version of Microsoft Word or a recent OpenOffice app. It works like those apps too, but the unique selling point here is that it supports PDF files as well as the usual DOC, DOCX and RTF formats, and that means it's a handy PDF editor for anybody who needs to create documents in PDF format or convert between Word and PDF formats.

Download AbleWord freeOpenOffice can export text documents in PDF format too, but reading them requires installing an extension. AbleWord, by contrast, has PDF import built-in.

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Download PDFsam Basic free

10. PDFsam Basic

A versatile tool for merging and splitting PDFs in multiple configurations

PDFsam is an acronym of PDF Split and Merge, so you can probably guess what it does. Yep, it splits and merges PDFs.

Download PDFsam Basic freeYou can use this free PDF editor to combine multiple documents or break a single document into multiples, you can merge alternate pages - handy if you're trying to turn single-sided scans of double-sided documents into something readable - and you can split by size, which is useful if you're splitting a huge document across USB drives or other small storage options. There's also a handy tool for rotating pages across multiple documents.

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Use a VPN in one country and you could go to jail

Use a VPN in one country and you could go to jail

If you're visiting the United Arab Emirates, you're probably already aware of certain don'ts – like not drinking or being obviously inebriated in public – but now you can add another one to the list: using a VPN.

The president of the country has issued an edict which effectively bans the use of VPN (virtual private network) tools, and those breaking this law could be jailed and slapped with a hefty fine.

The new law states: "Whoever uses a fraudulent computer network protocol address (IP address) by using a false address or a third-party address by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery, shall be punished by temporary imprisonment and a fine of no less than Dhs 500,000 and not exceeding Dhs 2,000,000, or either of these two penalties."

So essentially, this isn't actually a measure against those trying to hide their IP (or indeed watch iPlayer from the UAE) as such, but rather those using a VPN when engaging in a criminal act online.

Proof problems

Although as the Register, which spotted this development, points out, you might well be able to truthfully say that you weren't using a VPN service for anything illegal, but you'll have a hard time proving that given that obviously your traffic will have been encrypted.

It's a very dicey area indeed, basically, and if you're visiting the country in the future, it would seem that using a VPN is a no-no, unless you want to take some big risks in having a brush with the local law.

That maximum fine, by the way – Dhs 2,000,000 – is around £410,000 ($545,000). So the authorities are clearly taking a pretty serious view of violations of this law.

Virtual private network software lets you connect to a third-party VPN server, offering an encrypted connection as mentioned, ensuring the security of your browsing (if you are using a public Wi-Fi hotspot for instance) and letting you get around certain geographical restrictions when it comes to streaming services and the like.

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WikiLeaks’ methods questioned by whistleblower Edward Snowden

Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden, has censured WikiLeaks’ release of information without proper curation.

On Thursday, Snowden, who has embarrassed the U.S. government with revelations of widespread NSA surveillance, said that WikiLeaks was mistaken in not at least modestly curating the information it releases. “Democratizing information has never been more vital, and @Wikileaks has helped. But their hostility to even modest curation is a mistake,” Snowden said in a tweet.

WikiLeaks shot back at Snowden that “opportunism won't earn you a pardon from Clinton & curation is not censorship of ruling party cash flows.”

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

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