Microsoft Fix it got a boost this week with the introduction of an update designed to make it easier for users to find fixes to their issues with Microsoft software.

Fix it is the Redmond company’s online hub offering a comprehensive collection of automated solutions for problems impacting products such as Windows, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, Xbox and Zune, Office, Windows Server etc.

Microsoft Fix it has been steadily growing both in terms of usage (the fixes were used an impressive over 156 million times) and as far as the number of fixes is concerned (in excess of 500), an aspect indicative of the initiative’s success.

The software giant has also put in effort to tailor the Fix it Solution Center to users in no less than 35 countries worldwide, providing help in their native language. More »

Five months after the introduction of Games for Windows LIVE Setup 3.2, Microsoft is offering customers an update, kicking the version of the client up a notch. In this regard, gamers that have been leveraging Games for Windows – LIVE are now able to download and install a new release of the app. According to the Redmond company, “Games for Windows – LIVE Setup 3.3 upgrades users to the newest version: 03.03.0024.00.” However, Microsoft has been extremely shy when it comes down to sharing details about the release.

As it was the case with the previous Build of the Games for Windows LIVE Setup, version 3.3 is designed to play nice with PCs running Windows 7; Windows Vista; Windows XP SP2 or SP3. Existing users of Games for Windows – LIVE will notice that the update is being automatically delivered to them. If they haven’t installed the upgrade already, it will be offered to them next time they run Games for Windows LIVE. More »

The latest routers, security suites, and software patches can help protect your PC against today’s ever-more-sophisticated Internet attacks.

These security tools are easy to install, easy to maintain, and provide the average PC user with basic protection against viruses, botnets, Trojans, rootkits, and other types of malware.

Keeping your PC secure goes far beyond convenience it can protect you against significant financial loss. That’s not hyperbole: according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center’s 2009 annual report (available from the IC3 site), Internet crime losses more than doubled through 2009 to more than U.S. $559 million!

But it’s not hard to provide a reasonable level of basic security for any PC. For average PC users, the basic rule for keeping PCs secure has not changed  keep it simple, keep it up-to-date.

The WS Security Baseline summarizes the latest reviews from trusted computer test labs. The current status of these reviews will be periodically updated on the Security Baseline page at Pctipsbox.com. More »

Microsoft’s latest operating system was built with the PC gamer in mind.

Every copy of Windows Vista includes DirectX 10, a set of software instructions that make photorealistic visuals run incredibly smoothly. And for the first time, PC gamers can engage in online matches against Xbox 360 players.

– Sign up for a Games for Windows Live Gold account and create a Live ID for playing online. (If you already have an Xbox Live Gold account and Gamertag, then skip this step. You can use the same account on your PC.)

– Start your Live-enabled game.

– Sign in using your Live ID when prompted.

– Access the game’s multiplayer mode to find a match to join or invite friends to play.

You can also find and launch your games more easily with the Games Explorer, which is accessible from the Start menu. Games Explorer lets you organize your collection, view box cover art and check your system’s technical specifications to ensure it can handle new games. Click Start > All Programs > Games > Games Explorer. More »

The pain…

If you’ve invested your hard earned cash on a Creative X-FI sound card and a copy of Vista, you may be feeling a bit underwhelmed right now. Some of your games may be sounding a bit flat and lifeless and you’ll have no doubt felt that sinking feeling when you edit the sound settings in your new game only to find that you can’t enable some of the fancy options. There is a good reason for this and you probably will have been told at great length about it by one of the many passengers on the anti-Microsoft bandwagon.

The Science…

If you’re an experienced PC gamer you’ll no doubt be aware of DirectX and the various functions that make up the DirectX standard, such as DirectDraw, Direct3d and DirectSound and DirectSound3D. You will probably be aware of the hype surrounding Direct3d already, given that it has now reached version 10, but that’s a story for another day. DirectSound is what we are interested in here and it is sadly missing in Vista. XP and DirectX9 featured a “Hardware Abstraction Layer” which was a piece of software that allowed Windows to talk directly to a soundcard such as the X-FI to provide hardware mixing and 3d effects for your games. Without this layer any sound you hear will be mixed using software, rendering much of your shiny new soundcard useless. More »