Category: Free

Windows 11 Is Coming

Microsoft is starting to talk about their next version of Windows, and we may see it released in late 2021 or early 2022. Windows 11 will be a free upgrade for any computer running a legitimate copy of Windows 10.

But not all computers will be able to handle Windows 11. If you care to check your computer’s compatibility, Microsoft made this quick software tool for all to use. Download, run and open that program, and then click the big blue Check Now button.

If your computer is found to be Not Compatible with the upcoming Windows, no need to worry. Windows 10 will be supported through October 2025. And you’ll be welcome to use Windows 10 past that time, just as there are still some folks using Windows 7 in 2021.

For more general info on Windows 11, check out the intro page over at

Paywalls & Private Browsing

Last month, I posted the basics about Private Browsing, but I skipped mentioning one of its important uses: Bypassing paywalls. When a website insists that you pay for access, Private Browsing can sometimes get you in without payment or logging in.

This most commonly works for news websites and other pages that offer you “5 free articles this month” before requiring you to sign up and buy a subscription. If you really need to read an article behind a paywall, you can try to right-click the link to the article and open the link in a Private Browsing/Incognito window. Or, you can copy the URL to the article, open a separate Private Browsing window, and paste it onto the address bar.

This works based on the cookies and other temp files placed on your computer by the website in question. When you switch over to a Private browsing window, the website cannot detect or place cookies on your computer. Having no cookie access, the website cannot know if you’ve viewed 1 or 5 or any number of its articles. So it may treat you as a new visitor & just let you in.

I have hesitated to broadcast this, as I don’t want to encourage Not Paying For Journalism. Many news media companies are suffering financially, and I don’t want to add to their financial woes. So I would like to ask that you consider using this tip as comparable to taking a free sample at Costco. If you find yourself returning again and again, for many free samples, please consider paying for what you are viewing. That company you are taking from needs your support!

Microsoft Office: Buy, Rent or Pass

When it comes to office software, most people think of Microsoft Office, which includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint. But Microsoft gives you a lot to think about before you spend money on their Office suite, so here’s some details that may help you understand what you’re getting into.

This site breaks out your basic options for buying or renting MS Office.

Buy: Microsoft Office

When you want to pay a one-time fee and “own” your Office programs, focus on Office 2019. Note that Office 2019 Home & Student version only contains Word, Excel and PowerPoint. For those needing Outlook, look at Office 2019 Home & Business. And if you must have Publisher or Access, you’ll have to shell out even more money to buy for Office 2019 Professional.

Rent: Microsoft 365

If you’re open to paying a recurring fee to use Office software, then Microsoft 365 is what to consider. When you agree to an annual fee for Microsoft 365, you get access to all Microsoft Office apps, plus you get 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage. And you can install your software on up to 6 devices. Microsoft 365 Personal is intended for one person to use on all his/her devices, whereas Microsoft 365 Family is used when you want to “send” an Office license to other people (family or friends).

A further benefit to Microsoft 365 is that it automatically upgrades to the new version of Office as it comes available. Later this year, for example, Office 2021 will be released. Microsoft 365 users will wake up one morning to see this magically appear on their systems. But those who bought Office 2019… will see no change. That’s not a big deal, because Office 2019 will be usable for many more years. But no one can see the future of this software, so it is hard to tell: Will Office 2019 users ever be pushed to upgrade (repurchase) their software? Will it happen in 2025? 2030?

Pass: LibreOffice/OpenOffice

For many of you, though, this is all moot. Because for us frugal types, there is still LibreOffice and OpenOffice. Instead of shelling out $150 or $70/yr., these open source programs are available for $0. So if you want to take a pass on paying Microsoft, give LibreOffice a try!

Your Local Gift Economy

Freecycle was started some 18 years ago as a way of networking, in order to give things away. No sales or deals permitted, this was a tool for people to give things away with no fees or strings attached. And Freecycle is still around today, with groups spread all over for people to find & use.

But your local gift economy has changed and matured over the years, and there are other ways now to give things away! If the Craigslist-like format of Freecycle doesn’t suit you, check out the Buy Nothing Project.

Buy Nothing is similar to Freecycle, in that you can give away any items or service you want, as long as it is 100% free. You may also post requests for something you want to find, for free. But instead of mailing lists & messageboards, Buy Nothing runs on Facebook. All you have to do is find your region’s Buy Nothing Facebook Group and Join it.

You can go about that two different ways: 1) Go to the Buy Nothing page and look through the lists for what’s closest to you, or 2) go to Facebook and use the search field to hunt for “Buy Nothing”. Once you’ve joined your local BN Group, you’ll be able to see and make posts in your area’s Buy Nothing community.

Check out the Buy Nothing FAQ for lots more details!

Freebies at Epic Games

Epic Games has given away free games for quite some time now, announcing a new freebie every week. The games vary in quality — some are niche, others are amazing, but they are all truly free. You just have to visit the site, make an account, and click the Claim button on any free game you want. No fees, no catches!

But for the 2020 Holiday season, Epic is going all out! They are giving away a different game each day, until 2021. Each game is only available for 24 hours, but if you claim it, you get to keep it and play it forever, for free. So gamers, everywhere: Check the Epic Games site each day for the rest of the year!

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Dolly Parton has contributed to many charitable causes in her lifetime, but she may be the most proudest of her Imagination Library. She started this program to get books to children for free. It started in Tennessee but is now available in many parts of the USA and other countries.

If you can sign up for this program, your child will receive a book, absolutely free, through the mail each month. You can start as soon as your child is born, and the books will continue to arrive until they are of school age. You just have to check the availability, based on your address, at their site.

If the IL Program is not available where you live, think outside the box. Can you sign your child up for free books, using a grandparents’ address? Availability is based on the zip code and county, and you can check as many addresses as you want. Also, if you want info on how to bring this program to your region, check out the bottom of their USA page for the 3 Steps to make it happen.

Bringing Back the Games from Windows 7

When people move from Windows 7 to Windows 10, a common question is Where did my games go? The Solitaire and other games included with Windows 7 are absent when you boot up your Windows 10 PC for the first time. And that’s a big disappointment for most.

Microsoft would rather you go into the Microsoft Store and download the Microsoft Solitaire Collection. It’s free for everyone, but it’s just not the same as the old-school games. If you want the Windows 7 Games, check out this page:

Alternate link here or here.

Scroll down to Step 1 and you’ll find a download link for the games, just as they were on your Windows 7 PC.

If you use this, make sure to save the link or downloaded file for future use. After major updates to Windows 10, many users report that these games have gone missing. Apparently, Microsoft really doesn’t want you using them anymore, and they will remove them for you. But you are free to use the link or downloaded file anytime you want to reinstall them.

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