Research

The World’s Most Popular Freeware – Updated

Welcome to the official second edition of the PC Pitstop Free Software Report. I want to thank everyone for the tons of comments both positive and negative. We are listening. More importantly, many of our readers learned more from the comments than our Top Software List! In fact, I even learned a few things.

Top Free Software

Free Software

Welcome to the Top Free Software Report. There are two problems with free software. First off, there is a lot of free software and it is hard to know what free software is the best. Secondly, because it is free, free software makers can’t spend money on advertising to get the word out on their cool creations. We hope that this new feature in TechTalk will solve both of these problems.

Netbooks – Who’s Using Them?

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Netbooks – those ultra small portable PCs – are they a niche product, a passing fad or an up and coming product just in its infancy? PC Pitstop analyzed the prevalence of netbooks that ran our on-line diagnostic scans during Q4 2008 and Q1 2009. For the purpose of our analysis, we looked at processor descriptions as well as the display size for portables. For the most part, we found that the netbooks usually contained the Intel® Atomâ„¢ processor. We also set a filter for portable display size of less than 11 inches for the purpose of our analysis.

Netbooks: Size Matters

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With sales approaching only 400,000 units in 2007, netbook sales exploded in 2008 reaching 11. 4 million units. Small, light, and super-portable are the catchwords describing a netbook. Definitions vary but the determining factors are price and size. Generally they have a screen size of 10″ or below, a reduced power/performance processor with 1.0 and 1.6 gig. the most popular of sizes. Price is dictating the use of limited amounts of memory but drive size has been creeping up.

Lithium-Ion, It’s light, It’s powerful, It’s….

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…the element of choice.
A recent trip drove home the importance of battery life in laptops. Although my laptop was relatively new at less than a year old, it lasted just under 2 hours on battery power. I had all the energy saving features on and I had dimmed the screen, but it didn’t seem to help much. When I got home I did some checking to see what was coming in the way of battery technology. While I found some information on new technologies, most seemed far from being ready to use. In fact there were only hints that there would be anything new within the next five years.

XP Service Pack 3 – Adoption Rates Could be Worse

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Since its release in early May 2008, there has been plenty of press concerning the issues with Microsoft’s XP Service Pack 3. Common sense would tell us that such negative press would drastically slow the rate that folks would update to the release. PC Pitstop analyzed the percentage of XP users that have updated their systems to SP3 during the first three months since its release and compared them to the adoption rates of SP2 during its roll out.

The PC Pitstop Notebook 500

I am very excited and proud to present a brand new report from PC Pitstop. Given the outrageous traffic on our web site, we are able to see the absolute fastest PC’s in the world, what technologies they use, and why they fall into an elite performance standing. It took a lot of culling of the data, but I am pleased to announced the PC Pitstop Notebook 500. This month we will look at the fastest portables that money can buy. So let’s get to the results.

Average Installed Memory – Vista vs. XP

Vista vs XP: Average Installed RAM

Back in May 2006, when Microsoft announced Vista system memory requirements of 512 MB for “Vista Capable” and 1 GB for “Vista Premium Ready” classifications, the average XP system had 833 MB and 659 MB of installed memory for Desktop and Portable systems respectively. Once Vista was released in early 2007, most users determined that “more memory was better” as the average installed desktop memory rose relatively quickly to over 2 GB on Vista systems. In recent months, it is not uncommon for PC manufacturers to market Vista systems with 3 GB of RAM. The emergence of 64-bit architecture has also likely played a role in the increase of average RAM.

Vista Impact on Video Card Market Share

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It’s no secret that Vista operating system upped the ante for video adapter requirements. PC Pitstop took a look at the PCs running our online tests during the month of February 2008 to find out more about video card prevalence.

PC Pitstop SPAM Survey

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The initial analysis of our March 2008 SPAM Survey results are in. How are other Pitstoppers coping with Spam? Is the amount of Spam increasing? Does Spam use up valuable time? Are critical messages getting lost in Spam filters?

Single and Multi-processors Trends

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Systems with multi-processors, once found only on servers and other extreme high end performance systems, have found there way into the general consumer arena. The percentage of systems running PC Pitstop’s on-line diagnostics and having multiprocessors grew from just over 1% in January 2006 to almost 30% in January 2008. The percentage of portables that have multi-processors has reached almost 40% in January 2008. A comparison of Intel to AMD shows AMD with a slight edge in both desktops and portable platforms as a percentage of their respective number of system with multi-processors.

Dual Core Double Delicious

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Blame it on the chewing gum.

Double the processor cores means twice a fast, right? That’s what a lot of people are mistakenly thinking. In the past three years, starting with the AMD Opteron, both major producers have been serving up dual core processors like they were tater chips. Manufacturers have been incorporating them into their latest and greatest portables and desktop offerings. Intel has confirmed this as a great decision by following suite with their version of Dual and even Quad core processors. The general public is snatching them up like chips for dip.

PC Pitstop Top 25 Spyware and Adware

PC Pitstop has long been a source of information about unwanted software and how it spreads. Now we’re using our test results database to give you weekly updates about which programs are the most prolific. The prevalence numbers indicate the percent of PCs tested at PC Pitstop where we detected that file running. Our detection works by file name, so some products may be listed multiple times if they consist of two or more files. To check for spyware, adware, unneeded programs, and many other common PC problems, try PC Pitstop Exterminate or our full system scan.

New Box Blues

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All Brand New and Ready to Roll

Yep, when I plunk down $500.00 to $1200.00 or more, I’d like to think I’m getting the latest and greatest. We all know electronics become outdated faster than potato salad at a Texas picnic, but I would at least expect to get the darned thing out of the box before having to update it. Our recent comparisons found just the opposite.