Week in Geek: Users can Upgrade Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8 Release Preview for $39.99

Our latest edition of WIG is filled with news link goodness covering topics such as Google has announced another round of product closures, Mozilla will be cutting back on development of Thunderbird, the dark side of QR codes, and more.

Weekly News Links

  • Windows 8 Pro upgrade set for $39.99, Media Center tooUpgrading to the next version of Windows just got cheaper: Microsoft knocked down the upgrade price to $39.99, and throws in Media Center, too.
  • Microsoft confirms Windows 8 testers to get $40 upgrade price, tooThose running Microsoft’s Windows 8 Release Preview also will be permitted to move to Windows 8 Pro when it’s available for the newly announced upgrade price.
  • Windows Explorer to Become File Explorer in Windows 8 RTMMicrosoft is reportedly making some more changes to its Windows 8 platform in preparation for the upcoming RTM and final flavors. One of these will affect the name of one of the most popular tools the platform has at the moment, namely its Windows Explorer.
  • Microsoft to Remove Desktop Gadgets from Windows 8Windows 8, the next-generation operating system from Microsoft, should arrive on shelves without a feature that some users have been accustomed to ever since Windows Vista, namely desktop gadgets.
  • Mozilla’s B2G to be called Firefox OS, will ship in 2013Several new device manufacturers and mobile carriers have lined up to support Mozilla’s mobile operating system. The software platform, which is based on Mozilla’s Boot2Gecko (B2G) project, will be called Firefox OS when it launches on handsets next year.
  • Double security for Flash under LinuxChrome version 20 represents a major step forward for the security of the Google browser, at least for Linux users, for whom this has often been a somewhat neglected area. It introduces a new sandbox concept which precisely regulates and filters the system calls a process is able to make.
  • Thunderbird development to be stalled by MozillaAn email leaked this past Friday forced Mozilla to reveal its decision to reduce resources for the Thunderbird email client ahead of a planned announcement on Monday. The early announcement from Mozilla Foundation chair Mitchell Baker explained that the organisation felt that, as an open source, cross-platform email client, Thunderbird was unlikely to be a “source of innovation” and future leadership.
  • Google Service Drops Support for OperaJust a brief notice for any users of Google services (everyone, in other words), to say that Google has now stopped supporting the Opera browser within the Blogger (.blogspot) admin interface.
  • Spring cleaning in summerThis past week Google announced another round of product closures. You can view the list of products in this blog post from Google.
  • Pruning The Garden: Saying Goodbye to a Few Zoho ServicesZoho has also announced a round of product closures this past week and you can view the list in this blog post from Zoho.
  • Is it time for Microsoft to ‘retire’ its tarnished brands?What do Internet Explorer, Hotmail, and Zune have in common? They’re all intensely disliked by the elite tech press. So maybe they need to just disappear.
  • Why Google and Ubuntu don’t say “Linux”Some people are complaining that neither Google nor Ubuntu refer to their operating systems as Linux, here’s why they don’t use the “L” word.
  • FSF criticizes secure boot, raises concerns about distro implementationsThe Free Software Foundation (FSF) has published a statement outlining the organization’s concerns about secure boot and its potential implications for open source software. The paper also evaluates the solutions that Linux distributors Canonical and Red Hat have adopted to address the issue.
  • The dark side of QR codesQuick response codes are everywhere — magazines, take-out menus, and the sides of bus stops. But this marketing tool could be just the opportunity hackers are looking for.
  • Report: Android malware doubled in just one monthMalware targeting Google’s open source Android mobile operating system continues to rise – according to a new report, hundreds of thousands of devices have already been infected via applications from the official Google Play store.
  • Researchers create “clickjack rootkit” for Android that hijacks appsResearchers at North Carolina State University have demonstrated a prototype rootkit for Google’s Android operating system that can “clickjack” users into launching malicious applications when they think they’re executing legitimate ones. And unlike other rootkits, this one targets Android’s application framework, and not the operating system’s kernel—making it relatively easy to develop.
  • Apple, Google remove Trojan spamming app from storesThe Find and Call app would capture users’ phone book contacts and transmit them to a remote server, security company Kasperky Lab discovered.
  • Web users beware: DNSChanger victims lose Web access July 9On that day, the FBI will be shutting down the temporary DNS servers it used to assist DNSChanger victims.
  • Ransomware threatens to frame user and inform policeAs well as encrypting files on a victim’s computer, a new strain of ransomware discovered by security specialist Sophos threatens to contact the police about certain types of files if the system’s owner doesn’t pay a ransom of €3,000.
  • “Printer Bomb” spread using compromised .htaccess filesCompromised .htaccess files on web servers allowed the “Printer Bomb” trojan to spread, says a Symantec researcher. The “Printer Bomb” trojan, named Trojan.Milicenso by Symantec, was notable for creating massive print jobs full of garbage characters that made printers run out of paper.

Super User Questions

  • How do I determine if an unbootable copy of Windows is a 64-bit or 32-bit installation?
  • How do you customize the icon on a USB stick?
  • How can I create a separate toolbar from the Task Bar?
  • Google Chrome opens a blank page when searching from Chrome Omnibox / address bar
  • Google search results – getting actual links
  • PNG – How to reduce PNG file size for web?
  • Can avi files contain a virus?
  • Suggestions for iGoogle replacement/alternative?
  • 2 identical PCs – can I swap a single hard drive between and expect Windows 7/XP to work?
  • New laptop battery: 80% capacity

How-To Geek Weekly Article Recap

  • The Best Websites for Free Online Courses, Certificates, Degrees, and Educational Resources
  • How to Use an Xbox 360 Controller On Your Windows PC
  • VPN vs. SSH Tunnel: Which Is More Secure?
  • Desktop Fun: Starships Wallpaper Collection Series 2
  • Ask the Readers: What’s Your Favorite Windows Customization Trick?
  • HTG Explains: What “Everything Is a File” Means on Linux
  • The Best How-To Geek Articles for June 2012
  • What You Said: Your Favorite Windows Customization Tricks
  • HTG Explains: How Private Browsing Works and Why It Doesn’t Offer Complete Privacy
  • How to Stream Videos and Music Over the Network Using VLC

Geeky Goodness from the ETC Side

  • The ‘Circular’ Evolution of the Windows Logo
  • 100 Years of Earthquakes [Wallpaper]
  • Paying Customers versus Pirates – How DRM ‘Really’ Works [Humorous Image]
  • How to Turn a Match into a Miniature Rocket [Video]
  • The Red Light Morality Scale: Or, If You’re Glowing Red You’re Probably a Bad Guy
  • A Day at Work in the YouTube Complaints Department [Video]
  • Go Directly to Desktop Mode in Windows 8 on Login (Without Installing Extra Software)
  • Microsoft Discontinuing Windows Home Server
  • Obsolete Computer Parts as Art [DIY]
  • Talk About Cleaning the Crumbs and Cruft Out of the Keyboard! [Humorous Image]

One Year Ago on How-To Geek

  • How To Diagnose and Fix an Overheating Laptop
  • How To Skin Your XBMC for Fame, Glory, and Best Looking Media Browsing Around
  • HTG Explains: What Are the Differences Between Linux Shells?
  • Ask HTG: Vanishing Battery Meters, Repairing VirtualBox, and Spinning Down Hard Drives
  • How To (Un)Lock Your PC By Being Nearby (With a Bluetooth Phone)

How-To Geek Comics Weekly Roundup

  • Working on a Velcro Budget
  • He got a Standing Ovation Because?
  • Good and not so Good Internet Venues
  • Their Emergency Broadcasting System Needs an Update
  • Even Aliens Take Health Insurance into Account
  • Why His Blog is Considered Free Speech
  • Perhaps He Should not Have Mentioned That on Facebook

How-To Geek Weekly Trivia Roundup

  • What Was The Name Of The First Laser Light Show Technology?
  • Advertisers Set Analog Watches To What Time To Attract Customers?
  • Which Letter Does Not Appear On The Periodic Table?
  • Fireworks Originated In Which Country?
  • What Was The First Song Encoded Into MP3 Format?
  • What Common Office Supply Staple Is Capable Of Generating X-Ray Radiation?
  • What Animal Was Used To Make The Sound Of The Star Wars TIE Fighter?

Customize the Send To Menu in Windows 10, 8, 7, or Vista

You’ve seen the SendTo folder in action any time you right-click a file and select the Send To folder from the context menu. What you might be unaware of is that you can customize the items in this menu.
Go ahead, right click a file and choose Send To from the menu. You should see something that looks like this:


Changing the Send To Shortcuts

To get to the SendTo folder, you’ll need to open up an Explorer window, and then paste in the following to the address bar.


This is a special value that actually maps to the real folder, which is found in C:\Users\<yourusername>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo
You should now see a bunch of shortcuts, which you can modify or delete as you see fit. Fax recipient? Really? Sounds like a good one to delete.

Adding Items to the Send To Menu

Let’s say you wanted to add an item to the Send To menu to open files in Notepad. You could just drag a shortcut to Notepad into this folder, or create a new shortcut. Now you can see the new Notepad item in the menu:

This method should work for any application that allows you to open a file by using a command line argument.

Map Any Key to Any Key on Windows 10, 8, 7, or Vista

If you are tired of the way certain keys on your system work, such as the Caps Lock key, you can re-map them to function as a different key by using a registry hack. But there should be an easier way, right?
This is where SharpKeys comes into the picture: It’s a small utility that will let you easily map one key to another key easily, or even turn the key off, without having to enter the registry at all. For instance, I used the key mapping to just turn off my Caps Lock key, since I never use it.
Note that we’ve tested this in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Vista, and it works fine in all of them in our testing.


This is especially useful if you’re running Windows on your Mac via BootCamp and the Opt / Cmd keys don’t translate correctly to the Windows and Alt keys.

You can click the Add button to bring up the Add New Key Mapping dialog, where you can either select the keys to map from the lists, or just click the Type Key button and press the key manually (which I find much more intuitive)

Once you are done, click the Write to Registry button and you’ll be told to log off or reboot for the changes to take effect.

If you want all the technical details on how the registry keys work, you can read about how to map keys using registry hacks.
Download SharpKeys from Codeplex

How to Play PC Games That Require SafeDisc or SecuROM DRM on Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, and Vista

Microsoft made headlines when it stripped support for SafeDisc and SecuROM DRM from Windows 10 Recent security updates to Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 8.1 have also removed support for these DRM schemes from older versions of Windows.
Even avoiding Windows 10 won’t allow you to play these games without any hassle, assuming you keep your Windows installation up-to-date. Here’s why Microsoft decided to break things and how to get those old games working again.


What’s the Problem?

RELATED ARTICLEHow to Make Old Programs Work on Windows 10
You won’t have any troubles with newer games, or these older games if you acquire them via digital downloads. You’ll have problems with many PC games released on physical CDs and DVDs between the years 2003 and 2008. Many of these games include SafeDisc or SecuROM DRM.
All games using SafeDisc DRM and games using some forms of SecuROM DRM just won’t work on modern versions of Windows. This includes every version of Windows 10, and Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 8.1 with update KB3086255, released in September 2015.
Microsoft purposefully broke compatibility with these old DRM, as they explain:

“This DRM stuff is also deeply embedded in your system, and that’s where Windows 10 says “sorry, we cannot allow that, because that would be a possible loophole for computer viruses.” That’s why there are a couple of games from 2003-2008 with Securom, etc. that simply don’t run without a no-CD patch or some such. We can just not support that if it’s a possible danger for our users. There are a couple of patches from developers already, and there is stuff like GOG where you’ll find versions of those games that work.”

Rovi, the creators of SafeDisc, lashed out at Microsoft in response:

“Safedisc DRM hasn’t been supported for a few years now, and the driver has consequently not been updated for some time. Microsoft should have migrated the existing software since Windows 8. We don’t know if that’s still possible with Windows 10 or if they simply didn’t care about it.”

Thanks to Rock Paper Shotgun for translating these statements, which were originally made in German.
Ultimately, these DRM schemes are bad for Windows systems and have been a source of security problems in the past. Microsoft is doing something good by blocking them, although — in an ideal world — Microsoft should have put a stop to these techniques instead of allowing them in the first place.

How to Play SafeDisc and SecuROM Games

That’s cold comfort if you have an old, disc-based game that no longer functions on current versions of Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, or 10. But you can still make that game work. There are quite a few different options you can use:
Re-enable the secdrv service on Windows Vista, 7, 8, or 8.1: If you’re not using Windows 10, Microsoft provides instructions for reenabling the secdrv.sys driver they disabled with the recent security updates. To do this, open a Command Prompt window as Administrator. (Open the Start menu, search for “Command Prompt,” right-click the Command Prompt shortcut, and select Run as Administrator.) Run the “sc start secdrv” command to start the service, and run the “sc stop secdrv” command to stop it afterwards. Microsoft provides instructions for enabling it automatically at boot using both commands and the registry, too.
This will make your Windows PC less secure, and it shouldn’t work on Windows 10, where the driver has been completely removed. If you do do this, you should disable the service when you’re done with the affected game to keep your PC more secure.

Install an update: Some game developers have made patches that remove the DRM available. Check the game’s website and install a recent patch to see if the game functions normally afterwards.
Get a no-CD crack: No-CD cracks are potentially dangerous, as they’re often found on shady websites and used to pirate video games. However, if you did find a no-CD for the game you want to play, it would remove the DRM and you could play the game normally.
You probably shouldn’t do this, either. Unless you really know what you’re doing — and even if you know what you’re doing — searching shady websites and downloading a no CD crack made by piracy groups sounds like a good way to get infected by malware.
Repurchase the game digitally: Repurchasing those old games may not sound like a great idea, but if you purchased the game on a modern platform like GOG.com or Steam, you’d be able to play the digital version of the game normally and not worry about the old disc-based DRM schemes.

You could also uninstall that particular update on older versions of Windows, of course — but there’s no good reason to do that, as you can just re-enable the service. All the patch really seems to do is disable the particular service by default. It isn’t running in the background, ready to be attacked on every Windows PC — now, it’ll only be enabled on systems that actually need it for some reason.
Image Credit: William Hook on Flickr