January 17, 2017

Windows 10 vs Windows 8.1 vs Windows 7 - Microsoft OS head-to-head

Vs,17 Aug, 2016

Redmond operating system smack-down

Windows 10 has been out for over a year and has just recently seen the Anniversary Update land on users' desktops. The free upgrade offer has all but finished (there are still some ways to get it free if you have accessibility issues). Windows 10 is great, especially when compared to its two immediate predecessors, Windows 8.1 and 7, as our blow-by-blow head-to-head comparison shows.

Support cut-off date

Every operating system has its life cycle and will one day be cut off from updates entirely, left abandoned and open to security vulnerabilities that won't be fixed unless you're on a bespoke support contract. As we saw with Windows XP last year, the support deadline comes up quickly and it's important to have your affairs in order and a plan to switch ready to go. Luckily for all three of our operating systems here, you have several years before you'll even need to think about switching away from them. The extended support cut-off dates for Windows are as follows:
Windows 7 Service Pack 1: January 14th, 2020
Windows 8.1: January 10th, 2023
Windows 10: October 14th, 2025

Winner: Windows 10

This comes as no surprise - Windows 10 makes the most sense if you want the most cost-effective way of receiving free updates for the next decade.

User interface for desktops and laptops

Windows 7 certainly set the benchmark for a relatively consistent and understandable user interface, although its key strength now is its familiarity. You know where to find things, you know what sort of results you're going to get from the Start Menu search bar and you understand the oddities of Windows Explorer, Task Manager and Control Panel.
This familiarity is an asset compared to Windows 8.1. Microsoft's huge push for touchscreen devices and tablets left desktop users feeling not only abandoned, but hugely confused. Hitting the Start button to search for an app or file left you with a massive full-screen Start screen that made little sense when it was first introduced in Windows 8 in 2012 and it still feels jarring today.
Windows 10 strikes a better balance here, with its Continuum mode neatly morphing the compact Start menu into a bigger, touch-friendly Start screen as needed. The Start menu’s links to the newly tweaked File Explorer as well as lists of recently used apps and your pinned folders are all huge plus points.
The Start menu in Windows 10 has undergone a few changes since its own release. With the advent of the Anniversary update, it has three columns in the Start Menu with All Apps always visible.
Windows 10 holds a small advantage up to this point, then, and that's before you even consider the hugely improved window management system. If you're someone who likes to multitask, Windows 10 has you covered.
Windows 8.1 has better multi-monitor support than Windows 7. Unlike 7, 8.1 has a taskbar on each screen showing only those  apps  running on that screen. Plus each monitor can have its own distinct wallpaper. and each screen given its own customisable wallpaper.
Windows 10 builds on this foundation, adding an improved version of Windows Snap so you can easily organise your windows in just a couple of clicks. Answering the prayers of those of us with multiple monitors running at different resolutions, there are now settings for scaling text and the UI on a per-monitor basis.
Even if you only have one display, such as when you're using a laptop on the move, Windows 10 now has built-in multiple desktops (like Ubuntu and Mac OS X), so juggling lots of windows and tasks is still easier than ever.

Winner: Windows 10

There's no question Windows 10 needed to make some serious improvements for desktop and laptop users, and Microsoft has delivered. Multitasking has never been easier, meaning it's by far the best choice.

User interface for tablets

Windows 7 only has the most basic interface elements and optimisations for touchscreens, which allowed the iPad and iOS to dominate the market for tablets. This led to the radically improved touchscreen interface in Windows 8, but it alienated a lot of people as it had so few accommodations for keyboard and mouse users.
Windows 8.1 added a few tweaks, nips and tucks, such as the ability to run Modern UI apps in a resizable window, but its display scaling problems made usable high-resolution Windows 8.1 tablets a near impossibility.
Windows 10, while not perfect, is a big improvement. An improved touchscreen gesture allows you to flick between applications quickly and easily than before. If you have a hybrid device and dock it to a keyboard, Windows 10 should recognise this change of state and switch back to its touchpad-friendly desktop mode thanks to Continuum mode, although whether this will work on your device will depend on whether its manufacturers has released drivers that support this.
Windows 10 Anniversary Update features a new Ink Workspace that puts pen-based apps in their own panel at the bottom-right corner. The new apps boast Screen Sketch, Sketchpad and Sticky Notes. The latter integrating with its cloud services. Pen devices should work well with Windows 10 with great Ink support.

Winner: Windows 10

If you have a tablet or a tablet/laptop hybrid, Windows 10 is your best bet. With features catering well for both, you'll work more efficiently that you could on Windows 8.1 or Windows 7.

Security

Windows 7 and 8.1 are by no means insecure operating systems; but Windows 10 has moved both home and enterprise security along significantly, both in terms of local device security and the security of your online services, too.
First of all, there's Windows Hello, which lets you log-in using a fingerprint, face or iris scan instead of a password. While computers with the necessary biometric scanning hardware built-in are currently uncommon, we’re helpful that more will become available quickly given that Hello is built into Windows 10 from the very start.
There's also Passport, a single sign-in service for consumers that allows Windows to authenticate with websites on your behalf without you having to type in a password. This service hooks into Windows Hello, using your biometric scan or a PIN code to verify that you are the person you claim to be. This means you'll use your password less, meaning it'll become much more difficult for hackers to compromise online accounts with stolen passwords. It's not currently supported that widely, but if it takes off, Passport could massively boost security on your online services. As yet, though, Passport and Hello are unproven and very much fledgling technologies.
IT managers will appreciate the ability to organise Enterprise-licenced PCs into circles and choose when updates are applied - great for making sure you don't disrupt your users' work. This also means that Microsoft's new strategy of releasing frequent, individual updates instead of bundling them into Patch Tuesdays or Service Packs won't have a big impact on your office's productivity, as you can delay non-critical updates for up to 90 days if you're on Microsoft's Current Business Branch of support.
You also get Enterprise Data Protection, the ability to sign in with an Azure ID and the ability to set up a company-wide app store.

Winner: Windows 10

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft's latest operating system has the most advanced security features of the operating systems here. It’s good for both consumers and IT managers.

Performance

While anecdotally we have heard of PCs running a lot quicker having been upgraded from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, actual performance benchmarks on our test PC with 8GB of memory and an Intel Core i5 4690K processor show no difference.
More important is the addition of DirectX 12 support, a low-level graphics API designed to increase 3D graphics performance with lower overheads while giving developers more control over how hardware is used. This is most important for gamers though as most professional 3D graphics software relies on the competing OpenGL API instead. Although it’s still very early days for DirectX 12 with few titles currently taking advantage of it, if you're looking for the best 3D gaming performance available the Windows 10 is likely your best bet as DirectX 12 won’t be available for Windows 8.1 or 7.

Winner: Windows 10

Again, no surprises here; with no penalty in performance and DirectX 12, Windows 10 is an easy choice

Search

Search has become ever more important in operating systems, as file and folder hierarchies have become less important and searching for a specific filename has become a popular way of finding important files – especially amidst messy desktops and haphazardly organised Documents folders.
Windows 7 had a terrific search function built in the Start Menu, finding files and folders on network shares as well as those stored locally. It wasn’t perfect, especially if you needed to refine your search results, but it was useful enough that we were surprised that Windows 8 abandoned this simultaneous search ability. It also adopted a more fiddly Start screen-based search interface and integrated web search results from Bing and app store suggestions. These superfluous additions were far of an annoyance than a convenience.
Windows 10 searches still hook into the Bing search engine and also look for apps in the Windows Store. Even more annoyingly these results are placed ahead of search results for installed apps, files and folders with no option to change this order. Amazingly, the ability to search your computer and network shares simultaneously is still missing.
However, you can at least easily perform more advanced searches from the Start Menu by clicking on the My Stuff button. This lets you filter by relevance or date, and can also narrow down your search to specific file types including documents, photos, music and settings.
Windows 10 also includes Cortana, the personal assistant feature from Windows Phone. This has become a major part of Windows 10 doing double duty as a web search and a Start Menu/Windows search. Plus the ability to search by voice is both impressive in its accurate transcription and in its usefulness for the differently abled.

Winner: Tie

The improved advanced search features in Windows 10 are very welcome, but its insistence on prioritising web search and app store results isn’t. Windows 7 still holds a place in our hearts for its quick, simple search results and network integration.

Verdict - which version of Windows is right for you?

Windows 8 had the unintended side effect of making people significantly more attached to Windows 7 than ever before. It was a happy medium sitting between the Vista mess and the Windows 8 Start screen nightmare.
However, the time is right to move on. If you're still on Windows 7, you can safely upgrade without fear of losing the things you loved most about that OS and Windows 10 is certainly an improvement over Windows 8.1.

Source: http://www.itpro.co.uk/operating-systems/25101/windows-10-vs-windows-81-vs-windows-7-microsoft-os-head-to-head-1

Footnote: Drivers
One area not mentioned is the number of drivers Windows 10 offers. From my experience, Windows 10 has better and a more comprehensive library of drivers than either Win7 or Win8.1. In prior windows versions I had to search for motherboard discs to find the correct video, sound, and networking drivers. Installing Windows 10, I did not have these issues.


January 1, 2017

22 Free Product Key Finder Programs

A List of the Best Free Product Key Finder Software Programs
by Tim Fisher, Updated December 02, 2016

If you're preparing to reinstall a program or an operating system (like a clean install of Windows), you'll need to find your unique product key (CD key) or serial number before continuing.

Normally this product key is located with the original install disc, or maybe in your order confirmation email. If you've lost your product key you can often find it in the Windows Registry but this can be difficult, or sometimes even impossible, to do. Luckily, there are many free key finder programs available to help.

Important: Please read my Key Finder Programs FAQ for lots of helpful information. This isn't an easy topic, especially if you're new to it.

Below are the top 22 free key finder programs. I also keep a list of commercial key finder programs but I highly recommend that you exhaust the options below before paying for one.
1
Belarc Advisor
Screenshot of Belarc Advisor 8.5c in Windows 10
Belarc Advisor 8.5c.

Belarc Advisor is the standard when it comes to system information software. I've been using this program for many, many years. One small aspect of Belarc Advisor is its ability to extract product keys for many software programs, including the one for Windows.

Advantages include display of information in your browser window, no adware/toolbars to worry about, and an extensive list of other important computer data.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 8 & 8.1, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2012/2008/2003, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows ME, Windows 98, and Windows 95.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2013, 2010, (plus all previous versions), Microsoft enterprise products, most programs from Adobe, Nero, Corel, and more, as well as keys for popular video games.

Belarc Advisor v8.5c Review and Free Download

Please try Belarc Advisor for your software and Windows key finding needs before any other program. It's likely to provide you with the best results.
2
Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder
Screenshot of Magic Jelly Bean Keyfinder v2.0.10.11 in Windows 8
Magic Jelly Bean Keyfinder v2.0.10.11.

The Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder program is a free utility that retrieves product keys from the registry. It also has the ability to find product keys for Microsoft Office programs, along with product keys from many other non-Microsoft programs.

Advantages include very small size, ease of use, instant display of product keys and multiple product key saving options.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows 98, and Windows 95.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2007, Office 2003, Office XP, and several non-Microsoft programs.

Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder v2.0.10.11 Review and Free Download

The Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder website says that this free key finder will find your Office 2010 product key but in fact it does not, at least as of v2.0.10.11.
3
Winkeyfinder
Screenshot of Winkeyfinder v1.75 in Windows 7
Winkeyfinder v1.75.

The Winkeyfinder program is another free utility that retrieves product keys from the Windows registry.

Advantages include small program size, no installation required, and additional features such as the ability to change registered user information.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows ME, and Windows 98.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2010, 2007, 2003, XP, 2000 SP2, and 97.

Winkeyfinder v1.75 Review and Free Download

Though it will display a product key for Windows 10, Winkeyfinder doesn't support that version of Windows, so the key it shows is not correct.
4
LicenseCrawler
Screenshot of LicenseCrawler v1.52 in Windows 8
LicenseCrawler v1.52.

LicenseCrawler is another well put together free key finder tool.

LicenseCrawler differs from other key finder programs in its almost full-text interface, which I like. I found LicenseCrawler to be very effective at finding serial numbers for the many programs on my PC.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and Windows 2000.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2013, Office 2010, Office 2007, Office 2003, most Adobe products, and many more.

LicenseCrawler v1.82 Review and Free Download

I was able to test LicenceCrawler in Windows 10 and Windows 8 without finding any problems.
5
Keyfinder Thing
Screenshot of Keyfinder Thing
Keyfinder Thing v3.1.6. © Matt Chugg

Keyfinder Thing is another free, easy to use utility that finds product keys and serial numbers hidden in the Windows registry.

Advantages include small program size, nothing to run, and support for a large list of non-Microsoft programs.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows 2003 Server, Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows ME.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2007, Office 2003, Office XP, Microsoft Money, Nero, Corel Suite, The Sims, and many more programs.

Keyfinder Thing v3.1.6 Review and Free Download

Keyfinder Thing does not find the right product keys for Windows 10, Windows 8, or Windows NT, even though one may show up in the results. I tested it in Windows XP and didn't find issues.
6
Product Key Finder
Product Key Finder v2.0.9

The not-so-originally-named Product Key Finder tool is actually a pretty good key finder program.

After executing Product Key Finder, a simple window opens displaying your Windows product key along with other product keys and serial numbers that Product Key Finder can locate.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 & 2003, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows 98, and Windows NT.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Most Microsoft and Adobe applications, more than 200 in all according to the Product Key Finder website.

Product Key Finder v2.2.4 Review and Free Download

Unfortunately, Product Key Finder doesn't find keys in Windows 8 or Windows 10.
7
ProduKey
Screenshot of ProduKey v1.83 in Windows 8
ProduKey v1.83.

ProduKey is another completely free and easy to use key finder tool.

The thing I liked best about ProduKey is how easy it is to do advanced key finder tasks like loading product keys from remote registries.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and Windows 2000.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2013, Office 2010, Office 2007, Office 2003, Exchange Server, and SQL Server.

ProduKey v1.87 Review and Free Download

Everything worked fine for me with ProduKey when I used it in Windows 10 and Windows 8.
8
Windows Product Key Finder Pro
Screenshot of Windows Product Key Finder Pro v2.3 in Windows 7
Windows Product Key Finder Pro v2.3. © Gear Box Computers

Gear Box's Windows Product Key Finder Pro is another fantastic utility that can find your Windows product keys. It can also find product keys for several Microsoft Office programs.

Advantages include a very small download size, the ability to run it from a flash drive or other portable device, no compressed files to extract, and nothing to run to display the keys. Windows Product Key Finder Pro instantly displays product keys and allows you to save or print them for safe keeping.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, and Windows 2000.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2013, Office 2010, Office 2007, Office 2003, and Office XP.

Windows Product Key Finder Pro v2.3 Review and Free Download

Note: Don't let the name fool you. The "Pro" in Windows Product Key Finder Pro doesn't mean it costs - it's actually absolutely free to use.

It's said that Windows 8 is supported, but I was unable to find the product key when I tested v2.3. Windows Product Key Finder Pro is not compatible with Windows 10.
9
WinGuggle
Screenshot of WinGuggle v2.5 in Windows 8
WinGuggle v2.5.

WinGuggle is a very simple key finder program. WinGuggle easily finds product keys for popular Microsoft Windows operating systems and several Microsoft Office programs.

Major advantages include a quick download size, no installation required, access to a few advanced tools, and a very simple interface. WinGuggle instantly displays your Windows and Office product keys.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2010, Office 2007, Office 2003, and Office XP.

WinGuggle v2.5 Review and Free Download

Though WinGuggle supports Windows 8, Windows 10, and MS Office 2013, it unfortunately did not find the correct keys when I tried it.
10
SIW
Screenshot of SIW in Windows
SIW v2011.10.29. © Gabriel Topala

SIW (System Information for Windows) is a portable program that displays tons of detailed information on your Windows installation and hardware devices.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000, and Windows NT.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2010, Office 2007, Office 2003, Office XP and other Microsoft products as well as non-Microsoft applications like Adobe products, Norton, Nero, AutoCAD, and 150+ others

SIW v2011.10.29 Review and Free Download

Note: SIW doesn't look to still be in development, but even though no new updates have been released in a long while, it's still a great program.

SIW doesn't run in Windows 10 or Windows 8.
11
RockXP
RockXP v4.0

RockXP is another free program that retrieves lost product keys from the registry.

Advantages include small program size, no installation required, and additional features such as a password generator and password retriever.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows XP (officially) and also Windows Vista, Server 2003, 2000, ME, and 98.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2007 and Office 2003.

RockXP v4.0 Review and Free Download

I tried running RockXP in Windows 10 and Windows 7 but none of the menus seemed to work, rendering the program useless, which means it probably works in Windows XP only.
12
SterJo Key Finder
Screenshot of SterJo Key Finder in Windows 8
SterJo Key Finder v1.7. © SterJo Software

SterJo Key Finder is another key finder that finds product keys for over 500 games and software on either the local Windows install (your computer) or a remote one.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Server 2003.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2013, Office 2010, Office 2007, Office 2003, Office XP, Microsoft Money, Microsoft Works, and lots of other Microsoft and non-Microsoft programs like Adobe, Autodesk, Cyberlink, and others.

SterJo Key Finder is a great way to find product keys because the program is easy to read, you can search through the results, and it supports a huge number of products.

SterJo Key Finder v1.8 Review & Free Download

Unfortunately, SterJo Key Finder found two different product keys for one of the programs on my computer, which makes it hard to recommend above some of the other programs in my list.
13
Product Key Finder (OTT Solutions)
Product Key Finder 1.0

Product Key Finder won't win any creative name contests but that's not important - it's a very good key finder program.

I like Product Key Finder because it's designed very well, instantly finds product keys, allows an easy XML or CSV backup of keys found, and also lets you change your Windows registration or product key right from the tool.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 & 2003, Windows XP, and Windows 2000.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Most Microsoft Office and other Microsoft programs, and many non-Microsoft applications.

Product Key Finder v1.0 Review and Free Download

I tested Product Key Finder in Windows 8 and Windows 10 but, unfortunately, the product key it showed was incorrect.
14
MSKeyViewer Plus
Screenshot of MSKeyViewer Plus v2.5.0 in Windows 7
MSKeyViewer Plus v2.5.0.

MSKeyViewer Plus is another good product key finder program.

Major advantages include a really small size, no install needed, and super easy interface. MSKeyViewer Plus instantly displays product keys - no scanning of your registry required.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows 95/98, and Windows Server 2008 & 2003. 64-bit versions are also supported.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2013, Office 2010, Office 2007, Office 2003, Office XP, Office 2000, Windows Server 2012 & 2008, plus a long list of other Microsoft and non-Microsoft programs.

Though the other Windows 8 compatible programs from this list were able to find the product key for my installation, MSKeyViewer Plus wasn't able to do so.

MSKeyViewer Plus v2.5.0 Review and Free Download

I'd probably pick several other key finders before MSKeyViewer Plus, but if you're having trouble finding a specific key, give MSKeyViewer a try.

MSKeyViewer Plus may find a key for your Windows 10 installation, but it's probably going to be incorrect just like mine was.
15
Free PC Audit
Screenshot of Free PC Audit in Windows 8
Free PC Audit. © MIS Utilities

Free PC Audit is a system information tool that shows not only hardware information but also product keys for several Windows and Microsoft Office installs.

It's very small, completely portable, scans automatically, and lets you easily copy out product keys.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and probably older versions as well.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2013, Office 2010, 2007, Office 2003, and likely some older versions, as well as some Adobe and Corel software.

Free PC Audit v3.3 Review and Free Download

Because there is so much other information shown in Free PC Audit, it can seem very cluttered if you're using it just for finding product keys.
16
Windows Product Key Viewer
Screenshot of Windows Product Key Viewer in Windows 8
Windows Product Key Viewer. © RJL Software, Inc.

Windows Product Key Viewer is another key finder program that shows the product key for several versions of Windows.

You can easily copy the product key out of the program, print the keys, or save them to a file. Additional details are shown as well, such as the product ID, install date, and build number.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows 98, Windows 95, and Windows Server 2008/2003

Windows Product Key Viewer v1.07 Review & Free Download

Due to Windows Product Key Viewer's small size and portability, it's a great product key finder to store on a flash drive.
17
Lazesoft Windows Key Finder
Screenshot of Lazesoft Windows Key Finder
Lazesoft Windows Key Finder. © Lazesoft

Lazesoft Windows Key Finder is another free program that can find the product key for many Windows installs and Microsoft Office versions.

The program is small, completely portable, and simple to read. You can print or save the product keys to a file.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows Server 2012/2008/2003.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2013, Office 2010, Office 2007, Office 2003, and Office 2000.

Lazesoft Windows Key Finder v1.6 Review and Free Download

Though Microsoft Office 2013 is supported, I was unable to use Lazesoft Windows Key Finder to locate it in Windows 10, Windows 8, or Windows 7.
18
geProductKeys Finder
geProductKeys Finder

geProductKeys Finder might be the most simple key finder program I've ever seen. If all you're after is a quick product key display in Windows XP, geProductKeys does the job.

Advantages include a super small download, no installation needed, and as I mentioned above, a very simple interface.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows XP (officially) and possibly some older ones. geProductKeys does not work with Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, or Windows Vista.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Some Microsoft Office programs and a few third party programs as well.

geProductKeys Finder v1.0 Review & Free Download

Note: You may have to disable Data Execution Prevention to use this program in Windows XP SP2 and later.
19
Product Key Informer
Product Key Informer 1.0.0

Product Key Informer is another free product key finder program but it finds product keys for only a few Microsoft programs other than the operating system.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows ME, and Windows 98.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2007, Office 2003, and Office XP.

Product Key Informer v1.0.0.190 Review & Free Download

Honestly, I didn't care much for Product Key Informer. I think it was the baked-in fields for specific product keys that bothered me. It's a waste of screen real estate and confirms that the program's product key finding abilities are very limited.

Windows 10 and Windows 8 are not supported.
20
Windows Product Key Finder
Screenshot of Windows Product Key Finder in Windows 7
Windows Product Key Finder.

Windows Product Key Finder is only 80 KB in size, is completely portable, and quickly shows the product key.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

Windows Product Key Finder v1.0 Review & Free Download

When compared to other key finder programs from this list, Windows Product Key Finder is extremely basic and void of support for anything but the Windows OS. Also, while it is able to open in Windows 8 and 10, the product key it finds is inaccurate.
21
Game Key Revealer
Screenshot of Game Key Revealer
Game Key Revealer. © Mustafa Buğra AKTAŞ

Game Key Revealer shows the product keys of over 2000 games.

It's completely portable, takes up very little space, and can export keys to a text file or print them off.

Finds Keys for Games: Half-Life, Battlefield 2, Counter-Strike, Mirror's Edge, Halo, Need for Speed, Dead Space, Crysis, Harry Potter, and many more.

Game Key Revealer v1.6.32 Review & Free Download

In addition to showing the product keys for a few thousand games, keys for nearly two dozen can actually be changed with Game Key Revealer, which could come in handy.
22
Abelssoft's MyKeyFinder
Screenshot of MyKeyFinder in Windows 7
MyKeyFinder. © Abelssoft

MyKeyFinder lets you save product keys to a PDF file or to the clipboard. You can also send one or more keys to a printer.

You can search through the list of install keys it finds and even blacklist registry keys to avoid finding serials in those locations.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

Finds Keys for Other Software: VMware, some Microsoft Office products, and others.

MyKeyFinder v2016 Review & Free Download

While testing MyKeyFinder, I found that a scan takes much longer to complete than any of the other programs from this list. Also, it found keys for programs that don't actually use serials, as well a key for Microsoft Office 2013 that wasn't correct.

Source: https://www.lifewire.com/free-product-key-finder-programs-2625119

   

December 9, 2016

A Free Microsoft Office: Is Office Online Worth Using?

Microsoft’s Office Online is a completely free, web-based version of Microsoft Office. This online office suite is clearly competing with Google Docs, but it’s also a potential replacement for the desktop version of Office.
We’ll compare Office Online to both the desktop version of Microsoft Office and Google Docs to see where it fits. Should you use Office Online instead of Office 2013 or Google Docs?

Office Online vs. Desktop Office

Unlike all of Microsoft’s other Office products, Office Online at office.com is completely free. This is Office Online’s biggest advantage over desktop versions of Microsoft Office. You can use it on all the PCs you want without paying for additional boxed copies or subscribing to Office 365, Microsoft’s subscription service for Office.
Becausee it’s a web application that runs in your browser, Office Online will run on everything, from Linux PCs and Chromebooks to iPads and Android tablets. It doesn’t require any special plug-in and works in any popular browser, including Firefox, Chrome, and Safari — not just Internet Explorer.
word-online
Office Online saves your documents to your Microsoft OneDrive (formerly known as SkyDrive) storage online. You can use the OneDrive integration in Windows 8.1 or the OneDrive desktop application on previous versions of Windows to sync the documents you create to your computer, getting local copies in Microsoft Office format. Office 2013 saves your documents to OneDrive by default, so Office Online works well as a companion web application. Your documents may already be available in OneDrive.
The web-based version of Office also offers better collaboration features than the desktop-based version of Office does. For example, when you collaborate with other people in the desktop version of Word 2013, only one person can edit the same paragraph at a time. Word Online offers real-time editing that allows multiple people to edit the same paragraph at a time.
excel-online
Office Online is more limited than Microsoft Office. Microsoft provides Word Online, Excel Online, PowerPoint Online, and OneNote Online. If you depend on other applications, like Microsoft Access, you’re out of luck.
These online applications are also simplified and stripped down. While they offer a similar interface to the desktop version of Office, complete with a ribbon, they have fewer features built in. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as most people don’t use all of the features available in the desktop Office apps. Want to do a mail merge or run macros? You can’t do that in Office Online, but you probably don’t need those features anyway.
Office Online also won’t work when you don’t have an Internet connection. If you want to edit documents offline, you’ll need the desktop version of Office.
powerpoint-online
Pros: Office Online is completely free, can easily be accessed from any device, and is better for real-time collaboration.
Cons: Office Online only provides a few popular Office applications, doesn’t have many of the more advanced features, and only works when you have an Internet connection.

Office Online vs. Google Docs

Google Docs is Google’s free, web-based office suite. Office Online is Microsoft’s response to the rise of Google Docs.
Office Online and Google Docs are fairly similar at this point. Both are free, web-based applications you run in your browser. Both are simplified, stripped-down experiences that save your files to an online storage service — Microsoft OneDrive or Google Drive. Both have built-in real-time collaboration features. Both offer applications for creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Google Docs also offers applications for creating forms and drawings, but Office Online offers a full-featured note-taking app in OneNote. Each has a few different features the other doesn’t have, but they’re very similar for average users.
google-docs-edit-document
Love it or hate it, Microsoft Office is still basically the standard when it comes to office suites. Office Online feels much more like Microsoft Office than Google Docs does — right down to the ribbon. More importantly, Office Online saves your documents in Microsoft Office file formats like .docx, .xlsx, and .pptx. Office Online should have better compatibility with Microsoft Office files. When you create a file in Office Online, it should look the same in the desktop version of Microsoft Office. Microsoft knows their own file formats, while Google Docs isn’t perfect at dealing with them.
google-docs-create-spreadsheet[4]
Google Docs works offline, but Office Online always requires an Internet connection. Despite Microsoft’s Scroogled advertisements, Google Docs has offline support while Office Online doesn’t. Google Docs is compelling if you want to use a free office suite offline as well as online — Microsoft would like you to pay for the desktop version if you’d like to occasionally use it offline.
google-docs-create-presentation
Pros: Office Online offers native compatibility with Office document formats. It also has a more familiar interface if you’re used to modern, ribbonized versions of Office.
Cons: You can’t edit documents offline with Office Online.

So, should you use Office Online? Well, that’s up to you. If you’d like a completely free version of Office so you don’t have to pay Microsoft $9.99 a month, it’s a compelling option. On the other hand, you may need the more advanced features in the desktop version of Office. If you’re already using Google Docs, you may want to switch for the better office document compatibility — or you may want to start with Google Docs for the offline support. It’s up to you.
You should give the different applications here a spin and see which one is best for you. Some people need many of the advanced features in Office, while some people just need the basics.

Source: http://www.howtogeek.com/183299/a-free-microsoft-office-is-office-online-worth-using/

December 5, 2016

How to block the Windows 10 upgrade



Maury was one of several readers who complained about the Windows 10 upgrade starting without user permission.

I have been hearing a lot about this recently. Another reader got to the point where he was scared to boot, assuming that the installation would happen right away.


Even I was a victim. Windows told me I needed to shut down the PC for an update. When I shut down and rebooted, no update happened, but Windows continued to tell me that I needed to shut down. Some detective work clued me in that the Windows 10 upgrade had failed. I had never given permission for the upgrade on this particular computer.



If the Get Windows 10 icon has become either an annoyance or a serious problem, you can easily remove it with Ultimate Outsider’s free and portable GWX Control Panel. You download this program as a single EXE file.

Once it’s up, you might want to look at some of the information on the top part of the program. For instance, I discovered that I had apparently “enabled” both the Get Windows 10 app and the upgrades. I had not.
Click two of the buttons near the bottom, Disable ‘Get Windows 10’ App (permanently remove icon) and Disable Operating System Upgrades in Windows Update.




That’s it—unless the upgrade has already started and you’re stuck with the problem I had. If Windows Update is trying and failing to install Windows 10, run Microsoft’s Windows Update Troubleshooter after you haverun GWX.


Launch and run the wizard. The choices are pretty obvious. In my case, I got a disheartening error that one update problem could not be fixed.





But, when I next booted, the update Shut Down button was no longer there. Since then, Windows 7 updates have happened as they should.

Source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2998967/windows/how-to-block-the-windows-10-upgrade.html

October 20, 2016

Send Faxes From the Web: Three Services Tested


Though you might be tempted to ditch your office fax machine, you probably have to send out at least a few faxes every year. Windows lets you fax from the OS itself; but it requires you to use a landline that your small business may not want tied up, and it lacks security and mobile features that your business may need.
Luckily, a number of services can keep you covered even if you don't have a fax machine connected to an old telephone line. I took three Web fax services for a quick test drive. Here's how they fared.

FaxZero
FaxZero

FaxZero is a bare-bones fax service, with no options for receiving faxes or for faxing from your mobile devices. Nevertheless, as long as your fax is less than three pages long and you don't need to send more than five faxes a day, FaxZero is free and doesn't require any type of sign-up process. Just enter your contact information and the fax number you want to send to, and then upload the document you want to send. FaxZero should send your fax in a matter of minutes. When I tested the service with a two-page document, I received a confirmation e-mail about 3 minutes after I pressed Send that my fax was on its way. The fax arrived at its destination moments later.
If you plan to fax a lot of documents, however, FaxZero isn't your best option. It charges $2 for each fax that exceeds three pages in length and for each one beyond the company's limit of five free faxes per day. That isn't much of a burden if only a fax or two each week aren't free, but if you plan to use the service as a replacement to a regularly used fax machine, the overage fees can add up quickly.

MyFax


MyFax
MyFax is a feature-rich fax option that's great for users who need more than an occasional fax machine replacement. The company makes sending even international faxes by email easy; all you have to do is address your fax to @MyFax.com. When you sign up with MyFax you automatically get a fax number in your local area code for receiving incoming faxes. The service automatically converts faxes into PDF files and stores them on MyFaxCentral, the company's easy-to-navigate Web dashboard. When I sent my two-page test document from MyFaxCentral to myself, I received the fax along with a confirmation email message almost immediately after pressing Send. If you don't want to use MyFax's site for some reason, you can arrange for all incoming faxes to go to your email address as well as to five other email addresses you choose. MyFax even has mobile apps available that let you send and receive faxes on the go via your Android or iOS smartphone.
MyFax's base plan, which costs $10 per month, lets you send 100 faxes a month and receive another 200 faxes. If you exceed those limits, the company charges 10 cents per page for the surplus faxes--but it also offers $20-per-month and $40-per-month plans that establish higher send and receive ceilings.

eFax


eFax
eFax offers many of the same features as MyFax. The two companies have almost identical sign-up procedures that involve first picking your free incoming fax number, then tying your account to an email address, and finally providing billing information. eFax's methodology for faxing by email is nearly identical to MyFax's. too. Both companies have Web-based dashboards that support faxing even to international numbers, and both offer Android and iOS mobile apps. My test fax with eFax yielded a nearly instantaneous transmission plus an email message confirming that my fax had been sent.
Despite the similarities, eFax has some powerful features that MyFax doesn't. One is that eFax supports digital signatures, which can save you time and trouble if you often have to sign forms and return them via fax. The company also lets you digitally encrypt your faxes for an extra layer of SSL/PGP security over traditional faxing. That feature is particularly important if you work with sensitive information and must comply with regulations such as HIPAA, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. eFax permanently archives all of your sent and received email messages, too (MyFax deletes older faxes after one month), and it offers storage for files as large as 1GB.
[Related: "Digital Signatures Let You Ditch That Old Fax Machine"]
On the other hand, to use advanced features such as digital signatures, you must download eFax's eFax Messaging Software (Windows or Mac version). The application is fairly easy to work with, but having to open it is a minor hassle. eFax is also significantly more expensive than MyFax: The lowest-level eFax Plus account costs $17 per month for 150 incoming and 150 outgoing faxes a month. The higher-volume rate is $20 per month for 200 incoming and 200 outgoing faxes, for $19.95 per month. A 10-cents-per-page overage fee kicks in if you exceed the limit on either plan.

The Verdict


Web faxing services
If you're in a hurry and just want to send occasional short faxes, FaxZero is your best option among these three. It's easy to use, it sends faxes quickly, and it's free. If you need to send longer faxes regularly, however, MyFax probably delivers the best bang for your buck. MyFax's $10-per-month price is significantly lower than eFax's for many of the same features. But if your business requires secure transmissions, eFax may be the way to go, since it allows encrypted faxing. (And as a bonus, it lets you store larger files.)

Source:  http://www.pcworld.com/article/249237/send_faxes_from_the_web_three_services_tested.html

September 30, 2016

The best desktop office suite, LibreOffice, gets better

The new LibreOffice release has improved its looks and added even more interoperable features.

OK, so maybe Microsoft's Office 2016 for Windows is perfect for Windows 10 users, but for the rest of us, LibreOffice 5.1, the full-featured, open-source office suite, is a better choice.
libreoffice-5-1.png
LibreOffice 5.1 is better than ever.
sjvn
I make my living from writing and poring over data in spreadsheets. For me, LibreOffice has long proven to be the best desktop office suite choice.
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This new version offers a reorganized user interface. Unlike Microsoft Office, which long ago embraced the annoying ribbon interface, LibreOffice has stayed with the tried and true menu-based interface that any Microsoft Office 2003 user will recognize at a glance.
What The Document Foundation, LibreOffice's parent organization, has done is reorganize the menus for Writer, Calc, and Impress -- LibreOffice's word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation program. They're designed to provide faster access to the most-used features.
Guess what? It works. I found all three programs to work faster after only a day or two of getting used to the new menus. The trio also got new top-level menu selections -- Writer "Styles;" Calc "Sheet;" and Impress "Slide." These make all three core applications easier to use.
LibreOffice 5.1 has also added integration with remote servers. The supported servers include Alfresco, FTP servers, Google Drive, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft OneDrive, and WebDAV. This means you can create, edit, and save files to these cloud and Internet services just as easily as if they were on your PC hard drive or local area network. LibreOffice should work with services that supports the open Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) protocol.
First you'll need to set up a remote service. Once that's done, you can easily access your remote files with the File Menu's "Open a Remote File" and "Save to Remote Server" choices. If you're like me, and you keep a lot of work papers on cloud services, this makes LibreOffice more useful than ever.
The new LibreOffice also comes with improved document format support. Besides its support for Open Document Format (ODF) 1.2, LibreOffice 5.1 also boasts improved compatibility with Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) format, Microsoft Office's default file format. Technically, Microsoft's OOXML format is an ISO standard. Technically.
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In practice, no version of Microsoft Office, including Office 2016 has ever used the "strict" version of the standard. Instead, Office saves documents using a "transitional" version of OOXML by default. As the Document Foundation's Italo Vignoli points out, this is a transition that's been going on nine years. The Document Foundation says this standard tends to change with each new release of Microsoft Office, often in big ways, making it a challenge for LibreOffice to keep up.
For that matter it makes using the same document difficult between Office versions. So, if you think only Microsoft Office can fully support Microsoft Office document formats, think again.
LibreOffice also boasts improvements for importing old Microsoft Office documents in binary formats: DOC, XLS, and PPT files. It also does a better job of importing RTF files and Microsoft Visio projects. The program also now supports importing Microsoft Write (.wri) documents and Apple Keynote 6 (.key) presentations, and Gnumeric spreadsheet files.
LibreOffice 5.1 has also been improved "under the hood," thanks to the work of hundreds of volunteer developers. Besides better file and cloud support, the change you're most likely to notice is that LibreOffice is far faster than before.
Want to see for yourself? LibreOffice 5.1 is totally free, runs on Linux, Mac OS, and Windows and can be downloaded today.

Source: http://www.zdnet.com/article/the-best-desktop-office-suite-libreoffice-gets-better/
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August 26, 2016

8 Surprising Windows Notepad Tricks You Must Know

We can all agree that the Windows Notepad is basic and usually gets shunted out in favor of feature-filled alternatives. But Notepad is more powerful than it looks and we’ll introduce you to some of its hidden tricks. Soon, you’ll want to keep this ancient Windows program handy at all times by turning Notepad into a sticky note.
Note: These tricks have been around from the time of Windows 7. I have tested all of them on Windows 10 as well. They still work!

 

1. Use Notepad as a Journal

Did you know that you can program Notepad to add a timestamp? This makes it perfect for adding journal entries when you have a few minutes to spare during the day.
To get an automatic timestamp, create a new text document, type in .LOG, and save the file. The next time you open the file, you should see the current date and time appear within it. Hit Enter, start recording your thoughts, and save them. As expected, every time you open the file, a fresh timestamp appears.



notepad-journal

If you want to add a quick timestamp on the fly, you could take a shortcut and hit F5 instead. This corresponds to the Time/Date item hidden in the Edit menu.

 

2. Get Line Count

You’d like to view the number of lines in a Notepad document and you know that you’ll have to display the status bar for that. But a quick peek at the View menu shows you that the Status Bar option is grayed out, if you’re not on Windows 10 that is. What do you do now? It’s simple — head to the Format menu and turn off Word Wrap. Now you should be able to display the status bar from the View menu, and once you do, you can see the line count as well.
To jump to a specific line, hit CTRL + G to bring up the Go To Line dialog, type in the line number you’d like to jump to, and hit Enter. This works even if you haven’t displayed the line count, because Notepad’s numbering system is active at all times.

notepad-line-count

If you’d like to keep the status bar active all the time, i.e. with or without the Word Wrap option disabled, you’ll need to delve into the Windows registry and edit a specific key value. At this point we should warn you that if you tweak the wrong registry setting, it could mess up your Windows installation. To know what you’re getting into, read our guide on how to use the Windows registry and how not to accidentally mess up the registry.
Ready to proceed? Great! Enter regedit into Windows search and hit Enter to open the Registry Editor. Next, look for the following key using the sidebar navigation: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Notepad. Once you have it selected in the sidebar, double-click on StatusBar in the right-side panel. Done? Now in the dialog box that has popped up, change the DWORD value from 0 to 1.

persistent-status-bar

 

3. Add a Header and a Footer

If you want to insert a header and/or a footer into a Notepad document, go to File > Page Setup…. In the dialog box that opens up, look for the Header: and Footer: fields and type in the content that you want to display in the header and footer.

notepad-header-footer

Can’t see the header and footer in the document itself? Don’t worry — that’s how it’s meant to be. Those elements will show up when you print the file.
Since there’s no way to save the header/footer content from the Page Setup dialog, you’ll have to add it manually every time you print the file. Also, you can’t set up different headers and footers in Notepad like you can in Microsoft Word and other word processors.
What’s cool about this Notepad feature is that using a few special commands, you can insert the filename, a timestamp, and page numbers in the header/footer and even align its contents left, right, or center. Here’s a snapshot of the commands you get to use:
header-footer-commands
For example, if you want to display the current date (&d) and time (&t) on the left (&l) and the file name (&f) on the right (&r) in the header, this is the text that you’ll need to paste into the Header: field: &l&d&t&r&f

 

4. Find the Windows Product Key

The easiest way to retrieve your Windows product key is by looking it up on the printed sticker that you’ll find on some part of your laptop or desktop, usually on the base or at the back. If that sticker is worn out or inaccessible, that’s not a problem. You can still retrieve the key from the Windows registry, as long as you haven’t formatted the hard drive, of course.
To view the product key on your computer screen, you can use a third-party program like Belarc Advisor or even a Visual Basic (VB) script that retrieves the key from the registry. We’ll show you how to create such a script. First, open up a fresh Notepad document and paste in the following bit of code:



Set WshShell = CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
MsgBox ConvertToKey(WshShell.RegRead("HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\DigitalProductId"))

Function ConvertToKey(Key)
Const KeyOffset = 52
i = 28
Chars = "BCDFGHJKMPQRTVWXY2346789"
Do
Cur = 0
x = 14
Do
Cur = Cur * 256
Cur = Key(x + KeyOffset) + Cur
Key(x + KeyOffset) = (Cur \ 24) And 255
Cur = Cur Mod 24
x = x -1
Loop While x >= 0
i = i -1
KeyOutput = Mid(Chars, Cur + 1, 1) & KeyOutput
If (((29 - i) Mod 6) = 0) And (i <> -1) Then
i = i -1
KeyOutput = "-" & KeyOutput
End If
Loop While i >= 0
ConvertToKey = KeyOutput
End Function



Now save the file using the extension .vbs (instead of .txt). And that’s the VB script that will give you the product key when you run it! To run the script, double-click on the .vbs file that you just created and saved. You’ll then see a popup window with your product key. Hit CTRL + C if you’d like to copy the key.


windows-product-key

 

5. Test Your Antivirus Software

Want to find out if your computer’s antivirus program is working okay? You can use what is known as the EICAR test file to do the checking for you. Don’t worry, that’s not a virus-laden file we’re unleashing on your computer. It’s a simple text file that you’ll be creating in Notepad, with the following piece of harmless code saved to it:
X5O!P%@AP[4\PZX54(P^)7CC)7}$EICAR-STANDARD-ANTIVIRUS-TEST-FILE!$H+H*
Your virus scanner should pick this file up as a virus and deal with it accordingly. If it does, it’s a sign that the antivirus program is working as expected. Of course, this does not guarantee that you’re protected from all viruses.


eicar-test

 

6. Create a Password-protected Folder

With this trick, the idea is to create a deceptive file that you can use to unlock and reveal a secret folder as and when you need it.
To begin with, create a new Notepad document and paste this code into it:


cls
@ECHO OFF
title Folder Private
if EXIST "Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D}" goto UNLOCK
if NOT EXIST Private goto MDLOCKER
:CONFIRM
echo Are you sure you want to lock the folder(Y/N)
set/p "cho=>"
if %cho%==Y goto LOCK
if %cho%==y goto LOCK
if %cho%==n goto END
if %cho%==N goto END
echo Invalid choice.
goto CONFIRM
:LOCK
ren Private "Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D}"
attrib +h +s "Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D}"
echo Folder locked
goto End
:UNLOCK
echo Enter password to unlock folder
set/p "pass=>"
if NOT %pass%== your_password goto FAIL
attrib -h -s "Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D}"
ren "Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D}" Private
echo Folder Unlocked successfully
goto End
:FAIL
echo Invalid password
goto end
:MDLOCKER
md Private
echo Private created successfully
goto End
:End



Replace your_password in the code above with a password of your choice and save the file as a Batch file named locker.bat. I’ll digress a bit here to point out that you can automate various repetitive tasks with Batch files.
When you run the locker.bat file (by double-clicking on it) for the first time, it creates a folder named Private in the same location as the .bat file. This folder is where you can stash away any files and folders that you’d like to keep to yourself.
Now run the locker.bat file again. This asks you whether you want to lock the file. Hit Y, followed by Enter to confirm. You’ll see that the Private folder is no longer visible.


folder-locker


To access the folder again, run locker.bat and when prompted, enter your password (the one you added to the code while saving the .bat file). If you have forgotten the password, drag and drop the locker.bat file into Notepad to view the password.
This trick is fun, but it’s not foolproof — anyone who knows where to look and what to tweak can find the secret folder with ease. To display the secret folder yourself without running locker.bat, go to Folder Options > View and…
  • …uncheck the box next to Hide protected operating system files,
  • check the radio button for Show hidden files, folders, and drives.
The folder might show up with the name Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D} instead of Private.

 

7. Remove Formatting from Text Snippets

Copy-pasting text snippets from one app to another comes with the problem of messed-up formatting. It’s better to paste in unformatted text and then format it using styles from the app that you’re pasting into.
To do so, you’ll first need to strip the formatting from the copied text. The quickest way to do that? Use CTRL + SHIFT + V to paste unformatted text directly or, you could first paste the text into Notepad, which supports only plain text, and copy-paste it from there.
Of course, that’s just one way to strip formatting when you copy-paste text.


8. Make Your Computer Speak

You can get your computer to read a piece of text to you with a simple VB script that we’ll create using Notepad. Begin with a new document and paste in the code given below:
Dim message, sapi
message=InputBox("Repeat after me")
Set sapi=CreateObject("sapi.spvoice")
sapi.Speak message



Use the File > Save As command to save the file with the extension .vbs. Now when you open the saved file, you’ll get a dialog box with a blank text field. Type in something for your computer to read aloud and hit OK. You’ll also want to take a look at these five other ways to get your Windows computer to read to you.
In the code above, you can replace the text Repeat after me with a message of your choice and that is what you’ll see as a prompt in the dialog box when you run the script.


text-to-speech

Notepad Magic

Who knew Notepad was capable of all these tricks? It has stayed more or less the same over the years, but it has turned out to be cooler than we thought.
Do you have a Notepad trick or two up your sleeve? Share it with us!Source: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/8-surprising-windows-notepad-tricks-must-know/