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Jun 2015

Don't Cross The Streams!!

Music streaming is a fantastic alternative to music download services. You can access millions of songs from your PC, mobile device or home audio system without the need for spending hours downloading tracks. This means you don’t need to carry your music collection with you and you won’t use up valuable hard drive space.

But with dozens of music streaming services out there, which one do you choose? Here’s our pick.

APPLE MUSIC launches on 30th June. It will be an app combining a song and music video library and a 24 hour live internet radio station called Beats 1. It draws from two sources - your iTunes library of downloads and ripped CDs and also from the 30 million plus songs available from the iTunes Store. Siri has also been programmed to work with Apple Music.
Approx. £9.99/month (to be confirmed).
Available on: PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV, Android phones.

SPOTIFY has 30 million tracks in the library. You'll find many major artists as well as plenty of smaller bands. You can create your own playlists as well as export and share playlists with your friends. It recently rolled out podcasts, videos, news and activity-based playlists. Spotify Running matches music to your running tempo to keep you motivated during your run.
FREE ad-supported service (audio adverts interspersed between songs).
£10/month for Premium service (no ads).
Available on: PC, Mac, Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Samsung SmartTV.

DEEZER offers 35 million tracks, Facebook integration, recommendations based on listening habits. A laptop is the best way to use Deezer, although the mobile apps are easy to navigate once you know the layout.
FREE ad-funded service.
£9.99/month (no ads).
£14.99/month for the Elite service.
Available on: PC, Mac, Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, BlackBerry.

TIDAL offers 25 million tracks, sharing of music as well as offline listening. It’s ideal for anyone who misses CDs and the quality they used to bring. You’ll need a decent set of headphones or expensive audio equipment to make the most of the high-fidelity sound quality.
£9.99/month for Tidal Premium.
£19.99/month for Tidal Hi-Fi (take out the free trial to decide if it’s worth paying for). Available on: PC, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android.

Also worth considering are Google Play All Access and RDIO, both of which give access to over 30 million songs at a reasonable monthly cost.

As all of these services offer free trials, why not sign up for each one consecutively? It'll give you several months of free music, by the end of which you'll know which one is right for you. DO REMEMBER to cancel at the end of each free trial to avoid paying for the next month’s subscription.

Windows 10 is coming soon

It’s finally official! Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 10 will launch on 29th July. It is the full version of Windows and will be a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users, an offer which will be available for one year from the time it is launched.
If you are a Windows 7 or 8.1 user, you should by now have seen a notification pop up in the lower-right corner of your screen informing you that Windows 10 is coming. If you click on the pop-up, you will see a presentation explaining the benefits of Windows 10, after which you will be able to enter your email address to pre-order your copy. (Some users have commented that the unexpected appearance of this pop-up led them to believe they'd been infected with malware. So, if you feel unsure, or if the notification doesn’t pop up, go to the Control Panel and click on the Windows Update menu).
Once reserved, the files you need for the upgrade will be downloaded to your PC – this will make sure that the final installation runs more quickly. Then, after 29th July, you’ll receive a notification which will allow you to start your upgrade. (NB: it will be possible to download and install your free copy of Windows 10 without pre-ordering, however it won’t have been pre-downloaded in the background).
According to Microsoft, the Windows 10 download will be approximately 3Gb in size and will take about 20 minutes to install for higher spec PCs and possibly one hour plus for older ones.
A word of advice - do back up your important files before starting the upgrade process. By default, your files will remain on the hard drive. Microsoft has confusingly stated that “Applications, files and settings will migrate as part of the upgrade, however some applications or settings may not migrate”.
So, what are the best features of Windows 10?
START MENU: The beloved Start Menu will return! It has updated graphics and can optionally go full-screen. Half of the menu looks like it did in Windows 7 but with the addition of Live Tiles from Windows 8. It has powerful search capabilities which can trawl through your entire PC as well as through web results.
CORTANA: The digital assistant, where you speak a command or question and it searches the Internet for your requested information, has been available on Windows Phones for a while and will now be available on PCs and tablets.
To sum up, and it’s hard to explain in just a few words, I think that Windows 10 just works. It’s intuitive and comfortable to use but if you need to see it “in action”, pop into the shop and have a look at our demo PC.