Chris Hoffman

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

If you’re a Linux user, there’s a good chance you’ve installed Linux alongside an existing Windows 7 or 8.1 system in a dual-boot configuration. You can get the free Windows 10 upgrade without damaging your existing Linux system.

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Modern mobile operating systems — Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, and Microsoft’s Windows 10 — all provide a unique advertising identifier to apps you use. Apps use this identifier to track your interests and provide personalized ads.

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Windows 10 (and 8) include a new virtual memory file named swapfile.sys. It’s stored in your system drive, along with the pagefile.sys and hiberfil.sys. But why does Windows need both a swap file and a page file?

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What’s that song playing right now? At one point, your best bet was to hope your friend knew — or try to listen to the lyrics and search for them. Now, you can just have your phone, tablet, or PC listen to it. This is all built into modern operating systems.

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Few people noticed at the time, but Microsoft added a new feature to Windows 8 that allows manufacturers to infect the UEFI firmware with crapware. Windows will continue installing and resurrecting this junk software even after you perform a clean-install.

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Windows 10 uses the new Photos app as your default image viewer, but many people still prefer the old Windows Photo Viewer. You can get Photo Viewer back in Windows 10, though. It’s just hidden.

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Windows 10’s All Apps list functions a bit differently than the All Programs list in Windows 7. You can’t just drag-and-drop shortcuts or right-click All Programs and select Explore anymore.

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Cortana is one of Windows 10’s most visible new features. Microsoft’s virtual assistant makes the leap from Windows Phone to the desktop, and there’s a lot you can do with it. It isn’t just a voice assistant either — you can also type commands and questions

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Windows 10 includes a variety of universal apps, and there’s no easy way to hide them from the “All Apps” view in the new Start menu. You can uninstall them, but Microsoft doesn’t allow you to easily uninstall them in the usual way.

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Windows 10 comes with the Microsoft Solitaire Collection, a solitaire game that requires you to watch 30-second-long full-screen video advertisements to keep playing. Ad-free solitaire costs $1.49 per month or $9.99 per year. That’s $20 per year if you want both ad-free solitaire and ad-free minesweeper. But there’s a better way.

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Android has a massive security bug in a component known as “Stagefright.” Just receiving a malicious MMS message could result in your phone being compromised. It’s surprising we haven’t seen a worm spreading from phone to phone like worms did in the early Windows XP days — all the ingredients are here.

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Windows 10 includes a new peer-to-peer download feature for updates and Windows Store apps. By default, Windows will automatically use your PC’s Internet connection to upload updates, hiding the option to disable this five clicks deep in the operating system.

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Windows 10 has been released to the wider world, but the “Windows Insider” program is continuing. Testers will get access to new Windows features before everyone else, just as Windows Insiders could use Windows 10 for months before the rest of the world got it.

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Windows 10 isn’t just an improved desktop environment. It includes many “universal apps,” which often replace existing desktop apps. Unlike on Windows 8, these apps can run in windows on the desktop so you may actually want to use them.

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Windows 10 PCs automatically check for updates and install any updates they find. You can take some control over this and have Windows 10 install updates on your schedule, but these options are hidden. Windows Update really wants to automatically update on Windows 10.

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Apple’s Mac OS X and iOS send your Spotlight searches over the Internet to Apple. You then see results from Bing and suggested websites, locations, and media content. You can disable this and keep your searches entirely local, whether you’re using Spotlight on a Mac or iOS device.

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Windows 10 phones home more than any other version of Windows before it. Along with Windows 10, Microsoft released a new privacy policy and services agreement containing 45 pages of legalese. If Google wrote these, Microsoft might say you were being “Scroogled.”

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Here’s a dirty secret: Most Android devices never receive security updates. Ninety-five percent of Android devices can now be compromised via an MMS message, and that’s just the most high-profile bug. Google has no way to apply security patches to these devices, and manufacturers and carriers just don’t care.

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Windows 10 includes a package management tool built into PowerShell. In the final version, it’s named “PackageManagement”, but it’s still based on an open-source project named OneGet.

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Windows 10 includes some flashy new features like Task View virtual desktops, Cortana, the Edge browser, a Start menu, and apps that run in windows. Here are some of the other, more overlooked improvements.

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Windows 10 automatically downloads and installs all updates. This includes security updates, feature updates, and driver updates provided through Windows Update. If a driver or update causes problems, you can uninstall it and block Windows from downloading it again.

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Upgraded from an old version of Windows? You have a Windows.old folder on your computer, and it’s using up a huge amount of space. You can delete it, but it’s different from deleting a normal folder.

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Windows 10 is finally out — kind of. Microsoft initially promised that everyone could take advantage of the free upgrade offer on July 29, but you may have to wait a while before Microsoft offers the upgrade to your PC.

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Creating installation media for your operating system of choice used to be simple. Just download an ISO and burn it to CD or DVD. Now we’re using USB drives, and the process is a little different for each operating system.

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You probably shouldn’t install Windows 10 on your primary PC. But, if you are going to, you should at least install it in a dual-boot configuration. You can then reboot to switch between your installed versions of Windows.

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