Major changes were afoot in the technology world in 2012, highlighted by Microsofts introduction of an entirely new operating system. And as you might imagine, Windows 8 claims more than a few spots in our 2012 list of the most-read stories published on PCWorld.

But we dont just limit our list to stories published in the past year. Our list of top 20 stories includes articles published in previous years that continued to draw in readers in 2012. Even with a new operating system from Microsoftand a new look for PCWorld, a number of how-to articles remained relevant throughout the year.

Heres a look back at the most-read stories on PCWorld during the past 12 months.

1. How to download YouTube videos

We posted this how-to on getting your YouTube favorites off the Web and onto your PC in late 2011, but it was in the past year that our readers really looked for ways to give the likes of Keyboard Cat and Gangnam Style a permanent home.

2. Instagram your photos without an iPhone

You dont need one of Apples fancy smartphones to add retro-style filters to your picturesjust some advice from this slideshow.

3. Kindle Fire vs. Nook Tablet: Which should you buy?

The answer at this point? Probably neither, since the tablet market has changed dramatically since this article first appeared at the end of 2011.

4. Windows 8: What you need to know

Microsoft overhauled its operating system in 2012. Naturally, you were just the wee bit curious about that.

5. Windows 8: The official review

Our verdict: Microsofts new operating system isnt for everyone. Does that mean you? Well, thats why theres a review.

6. Apple quietly pulls claims of virus immunity

Apple may have tried to quietly remove messages from its website about how the Mac OS wasnt susceptible to viruses, but judging by how many people read this story, it seems that folks noticed.

7. How to password-protect a folder in Windows 7

Hey, not everybody installed Windows 8. And those still using Windows 7 probably need to password-protect their folders.

8. How to completely erase a hard drive

Its almost two years old, but this video how-to remains a timeless classic, like Avatar but with fewer blue creatures.

9. 10 great ways to get more from your iPad

At the pace Apple is rolling out new iPad models, finding more things to do with your aging tablet is as relevant as ever.

10. Android Flash Player RIP: How to get it now that its gone

Flash for Android may have gone away, but it seems that some of you werent ready to let go.

11. Googles Valentines Day Doodle is all heart and some politics

Its an age-old truism in journalism: Never underestimate the publics hunger for news about Google Doodles.

12. The best Office alternatives for Android tablets

Office 365 figures to change the landscape for mobile productivity, but youre still looking for alternative ways to get things done on your Android devices.

13. Your hotel room can be hacked with a dry erase marker

The lesson is clear: Never, ever travel.

14. Facebook Timeline Privacy Tips: Lock down your profile

Its so unlike Facebook to make privacy protections so opaque that we need to explain them in detail.

15. How to install Windows 7 without the disc

In an age where many PCs ship without installation discs, we showed you how to make your own.

16. New iPad vs. Android Tablets: Is it game over?

Apparently, it was not, since Apple released another bunch of tablets before 2012 was over.

17. HTC One S Review: Ultramodern design, awesome camera

We called this smartphone the best one available from T-Mobile and one of the top Android phones overall for any of the big four carriers.

18. Syncing iCloud with Windows and Outlook

This article first ran in October 2011, but questions about iCloud syncing are timeless.

19. How to run an online background check for free

We walk you through the steps of finding out sensitive information about yourself, and you dont have to spend a dime to do it.

20. 10 Windows 8 apps you should download first

There are a lot of Windows 8 apps out there, but we tried to help you track down the best ones right out of the gate.