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Whether you’re preparing for the holiday season or just looking for an ace birthday gift, if you know that the subject of your attention is a regular Windows user, this might just be the gift list you need to find that ideal present.
If your targeted Windows user has upgraded from Windows 8 to Windows 10, the chances are they found things pretty much self-explanatory and intuitive. But if they made a larger step up, from Vista or 7, for example, some help may be needed.
While we’ve been producing guides of all lengths to help users get their heads around Windows 10 (everything from the Start menu to using the revised Settings screen), you might prefer something you can hold, or read on a Kindle. Windows 10: The Missing Manual is surely that book, available for $23 in paperback and $22 on Kindle, and is an immense 690 pages of Windows 10 flavored help.
Is the subject of your gifting a huge Windows fan? If so, you might consider a different line of gift buying. Rather than spend money on books, software and computers, why not go down the clothing route?
This T-shirt, available on Amazon, is a great example of Windows 10 love, and is currently available from $21 (usual price $49.49) in a variety of colors and sizes. For the more sardonic gift receiver, this amusing “Windows failure” tee might be more appropriate. Many other technology related T-shirts are available to buy, such as tees based on video games.
Windows lovers will be thrilled with Windows Phone, soon to be Windows 10 Mobile, which is set to roll out to a few legacy devices as well as grace new hardware. The successor to Windows Phone 8.1 has a collection of superb features, such as Cortana (which began life as a mobile app), Continuum (enabling the phone to switch to PC mode when a keyboard, mouse and monitor are connected), and meanwhile Microsoft Office mobile will be very similar to the desktop experience.
Windows Phone devices are available in several price points. For a good, reliable device that is upgradeable to Windows 10 Mobile, we suggest the HTC One M8 for Windows.
Computer users need to type. If the object of your gifting is a tablet or desktop computer user, they may well benefit from the Wedge, Microsoft’s distinctive Bluetooth keyboard that comes with a hard cover that doubles as a stand for a tablet PC.
Also compatible with iOS and Android devices, the Wedge is a useful portable keyboard that is comfortable to use, if not hugely ergonomic.
Where a keyboard goes, a mouse must surely follow. The compact Arc Touch Bluetooth mouse is a unique product, and an example of some particularly intelligent design from Microsoft. Often found accompanying Microsoft Surface tablet computers, the mouse can be carried as a slab, and then bent into shape to fit the shape of your hand.
It might not be the most affordable mouse (although it is a mouse usually priced under $50), but this at least makes it an ideal gift, whether for Christmas, birthday, or whatever gift-giving occasion you’re preparing for.
If the Windows user in your life is rocking a notebook or tablet, the chances are they no longer have an optical drive, as these devices don’t usually ship with optical hardware. While several methods exist for playing DVD content without a physical drive (or disc!) it is always useful to have the option.
Fortunately, external Blu-ray drives are an option, and can be connected by USB. Once connected, they then behave like integrated drives, ready to read and write to writable Blu-ray and DVDs.
Meanwhile if an external DVD drive is all that is required, this is also an option, although the price between the two (the LG Blu-ray is currently discounted to $34.95) makes Blu-ray the smarter option. Note that if you have a spare laptop lying around, the internal optical drive from that can be converted into an external drive.
Useful for students, writers, anyone running a home business, involved with community projects, or even for having “just in case”, Microsoft Office is a pretty important suite of software to have installed. Two broad options are available, Office 365 (currently available for $99.99 per year) and Office 2016 Home and Student ($124.99).
As you should see from the pricing, Office 365 is available as a subscription, whereas Office 2016 Home and Student is a single purchase. Both offer the core Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote apps, with additional options available for Office 365 depending on requirements – our guide should help you decide.
Windows users can gain a wealth of knowledge from regular magazine reading, whether from a physical publication or one they read electronically. Among the best magazines for computer users is Computer Active (styled “computeractive”), which features a large slice of Windows content (and a small amount of OS X, where it matters).
Available relatively cheaply from newsstands, you can have it delivered to your door for just $173 annually. For a fortnightly read, that’s not bad at all, and you’ll find a host of tips and advice within.
Low on ideas? Prefer to let your gift target make their own choice? Perhaps you know that they’re a fan of Windows 10 apps and games, so why not splash out on a gift card to help them grab the fun they want from the Windows Store? (Although make sure they know how to avoid fake apps!)
Gift cards are available online in the form of email codes and can also be ordered as physical cards. Prices range from $5 to $100, and these codes and cards can be used anywhere in the world.
Finally, how could any list of ideal gifts for the Windows user be complete without a look at the Surface Pro 4, the latest addition to Microsoft’s line of work-centric tablets? Many issues with earlier models have been ironed out with this fourth release, and with the benefit of the touch-focused Windows 10 bringing an extra dynamism to the platform, this is productivity heaven.
Prices range from $890 for the basic Intel Core M model (with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage) all the way up to $5,700 for the top of the range Intel Core i7 with 16GB RAM and 512GB storage.
For most users, we reckon the $1,210 Intel Core i5 with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage should be sufficient.
Ten Smart Gifts for Windows Users!
We’ve given you ten gift ideas for the Windows user in your life, but what would you choose? Do you have a better idea? Tell us about it in the comments.