Feb 25, 2013 / 5:00 am
This week: Firefox gets better, Outlook.com gets out of beta, and I get my Google back.
Firefox update adds features, improves performance
Long-time readers will know I have been a Firefox Evangelist for years. I started using this alternative to Internet Explorer way back in version 1.3. Last week, Firefox released version 19. Yes. Version 19.
While I have always found Firefox to be safer and often to be faster than Internet Explorer, I always also wished for improvements. This release --- Finally! At last! --- opens PDF files on the web right in the browser, without having to use Adobe Reader or any other plugins. Just click on a PDF link and the document opens in a new tab.
You can do a lot with the tabs in Firefox, including pinning frequent sites so they are always available, and grouping tabs. A short tour of Firefox, including an informative video is available on the Mozilla site, here: http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/central/. If you’d like to give Firefox a try, head on over to the download area, here: http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/.
Outlook.com will replace Hotmail
Last summer Microsoft launched a “preview” of their new web-based email called Outlook.com. I wrote about it last August: http://rlis.com/columns/column367.htm. Last week Microsoft announced that the preview has been an enormous success, and that they will begin phasing out Hotmail pretty much right now. Everyone with a Hotmail address will wake up one day and find an email from Microsoft notifying them of the change. Another day soon thereafter everyone will wake up to the new look and feel of their email, and an outlook.com address. Boom.
I confess that I have never liked Hotmail. When I’ve needed a web-based email address, I’ve used Gmail, so that’s what I’m used to. But I tried Outlook.com and I like the clutter-free interface a lot better than Hotmail and even Gmail.
Like everything Microsoft, Outlook.com is meant to integrate into the modern Windows 8 environment. It takes some getting used to, but it works well, and your Hotmail is going to look like this whether or not you have Windows 8. Here’s a link to a 1 minute promo: http://youtu.be/uDI6Itn7soQ. You’ll notice that it’s very easy to incorporate all your Messenger, Skype, Facebook, and Hotmail contacts into Outlook.com. That is really good news if you want to do that. If you want to keep all those separate, it takes a little work. Pay attention when you set up your new Outlook.com account and don’t just keep clicking on OK, OK, OK.
If you have Hotmail now, you can wait for Microsoft to roll your account over to Outlook.com, or you can get a jump on it and do the conversion yourself by pointing your browser to http://outlook.com and following the instructions there. Follow them carefully. You can keep your Hotmail address (at least for now) and your Calendar and Contacts will transfer over to the new Outlook.com as well.
Get your Google Search in Internet Explorer
There’s no love lost between Microsoft and Google. I was setting up a new Windows 7 computer last week and wanted to change the default search engine in Internet Explorer from Microsoft’s Bing to Google. Before you can set Google as the default, you have to add it. I made a screen cast some time ago showing how to do that: http://youtu.be/V9zzkMLI2Q8 so I know it’s possible. But the other night I just could not see Google search as a choice in the Gallery.
That’s when I learned something interesting. When the location in the upper right hand corner of the Gallery page was set to Canada-English, no choice for Google was offered. When I changed that to United States-English, Google and a big whack of other search engines were available. So if you’re looking for Google Search in Canada in Windows 7, pretend you’re in the USA, get your Google back, and then switch back to Canada if you want to. If you’re using Windows 8, it’s a little easier to do. See the instructions in this recent column: http://rlis.com/columns/column387.htm.
Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!
Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna (http://computercarekelowna.com/) a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to email@example.com.
You can read previous columns here: http://rlis.com/column.htm . If you'd like to subscribe to this column by email, please visit this link: http://www.feedblitz.com/f/f.fbz?Sub=20618 . It's easy, and free. If you'd prefer the RSS Feed, click here: http://rlis.com/rlis.xml.
Read more Computers articles
- Picture this Apr 22
- How did that get in there? Apr 15
- Getting help Apr 8
- Great stuff! Apr 1
- Things should be simple Mar 25
- Windows Live Messenger shutting down Mar 18
- Update Avast & tweak Firefox Mar 11
- One size does not fit all Mar 4
- What's new Feb 25
- Make your life a little easier Feb 18
- Just for fun Feb 11
- Back up your files! Feb 4
(Click for RSS instructions.)