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Microsoft Recommended Services Software Windows

Read these articles from Windows Secrets for tips on malware cleaners

ms_antimalware_tools_chart
Picture courtesy of Fred Langa/Windows Secrets

 

Microsoft’s six free desktop security tools

A dozen tools for removing almost any malware

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Recommended Software

Free antivirus AVG and Avast ready for Windows 8

AVG Free was updated for Window 8 already back in September. With the official release and general availability of Windows 8 this week, Avast also updated their free antivirus to support the newest Microsoft operating system. Update: Seems Avast already was ready for Windows 8 when they released version 7 back in February 2012.

avast! 7 is Windows 8 Beta compatible and includes specific features for Windows 8 such as the Early-Load Antimalware Driver (ELAM) against system-level rootkits and bootkits.

Another less known alternative is Panda Cloud Antivirus, which also  supports Windows 8. Version 2.0 was released earlier this year and has done well in tests performed by AV-Comparatives.org. In September 2012 Panda Cloud AV achieved Virus Bulletin VB100 award.

CNET’s Download.com rates AVG as Spectacular, Avast as Outstanding and Panda as Excellent, so you can’t go wrong with one of these.

Windows 8 already includes an anti malware solution called Windows Defender, which is actually just Microsoft Security Essentials re-branded. The Windows Defender name debuted six years ago, then only as an anti spyware product with some additional features.

In previous tests performed by AV-Test.org, Microsoft Security Essentials did poor in the repair test.

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Recommended Software

Security check for fall 2012, which antivirus to buy

Remember: Antivirus is not a replacement for common sence! Be smart when using the Internet. Don’t click on links from unkown (and sometimes even known) sources in e-mails, messengers or on social sites (i.e. Facebook and Twitter). Close popup windows with the red cross at the upper right, as the buttons in the image might install unwanted software without you knowing.

Only have one antivirus installed, or the programs might conflict and slow down your computer. Also keep your operating system and software up-to-date.

Once or twice a year I do a little research to find out which antivirus gives best protection for my money. By examining the results from test labs like AV-Test.org and AV-Comparatives.org and reviews from renowned sites like PCMag.com, I come to a conclusion. Last year I recommended BitDefender, but this year they’re surpassed by Kaspersky. Kaspersky Internet Security 2013 got a full score with 6 out of 6 in both protection and repair from AV-Test (August 2012).

 

BitDefender Internet Security 2012 came in second place with 5.5/6 in protection and 6/6 in repair, so it’s still a valid recommendation.

Actually they both won each category for 2011.

In AV-Comparatives.org Real-World Protection Test they also did well, getting an Advanced+ for July 2012.

And both get an excellent editor’s rating from PCMag.com. BitDefender Antivirus Plus 2013 gets the even more popular Editor’s Choice.

 

Free alternatives

The most popular free antiviruses has been the triple A gang the last years. Avast, AVG and Avira are frequently recommended as free alternatives. They only offer basic protection from malware, but that’s still better than nothing. I’ve used and recommended Microsoft Security Essentials since it came out, but the latest version doesn’t do well in the protection test over at AV-Test.org. It actually comes last with the score 2/6.

So I have to recommend AVG Free or Avast Free (Avira Free not tested by AV-Test.org).

AVG Free 2013 gets the Editor’s Choice from PCMag.com.

 

Both AVG Free and Avast Free get good ratings from CNET’s Download.com.

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Microsoft Noteworthy Office Recommended Software

Office 2013 Public Preview – download now!

In July 2012 Microsoft made a public preview of Office 2013 available for download.

If you go to http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/en and sign up for the new Office 365 Home Premium subscription (free during this preview), you’ll be able to install Office 2013 Public Preview on up to five computers (devices). Microsoft uses Click-2-Run technology to install Office 2013 onto your computer, which means you can start using Word in two minutes. Setup finishes in the background. Read more about all the great features in Office 2013 at the “Office Next” blog. Se my screenshots below from the “streamed setup experience”. The Office Web Apps will also be updated and you can already use them in their preview form. Office 2013 only works on Windows 7 and 8.

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Microsoft Recommended Services Services

Hotmail.com to become Outlook.com – switch now!

I’ll just say it: I love the new design for Microsoft’s online email service! It’s clean, simple and effective.

Outlook.com is the successor to Hotmail.com which it eventually will replace. Summer 2012 Microsoft made Outlook.com available as a preview.

If you go to outlook.com and log in with your @hotmail.com, @live.com, msn@com (and so on), you automatically get the new design (you can switch back to Hotmail if you so choose).

You can also rename your account (move it over) to @outlook.com or make an alias.

Warning: Renaming can cause problems with other Microsoft products and services. Especially if you use Windows Phone: You’ll have to do a factory reset, causing you to loose all your data.

Resembling the well known Outlook client (part of Microsoft Office for years), you get your inbox and other folders to he left, your message list in the middle and the contents itself to the right. The so called message preview can  be placed at the bottom or turned off completely.

Drag and drop is supported, so you can easily add attachments when you compose a new mail or drag emails to folders. Right-click a folder or message for more options and even use keyboard shortcuts (i.e. Control + Enter to send). You can connect to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, which will show info from these networks for your contacts also on these networks. You can also connect to other online email services like Gmail and Yahoo and either import your contacts and messages or simply make Outlook.com your universal inbox for all these services.

Most of these features were also present in Hotmail.com, but are more prominent in Outlook.com and thus easier to find or figure out.

Read more at the official Outlook Preview site, which also include a video.

Also be sure to follow the Outlook Blog for updates.

Microsoft’s other services will also be updated with this new look. Actually, SkyDrive already has (together with the Office Web Apps).

All in all I highly recommend you do the switch today if you use Hotmail already.