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November 28th, 2016

2016november28_windows_cIn many years, Windows users have been stuck with the same old Paint software, wondering whether improvements would ever be made. The day for change and innovation has finally come, and Microsoft has recently announced a new version called Microsoft Paint 3D. If you regularly rely on Microsoft Paint for basic graphics and image work, learn more about Microsoft Paint 3D and it’s benefits below.

With the new Microsoft Paint 3D, users will have the opportunity to create both 2D and 3D graphics and images. It is just as easy as it always was to use pen and paintbrush features to draw a 2D image, but now these images can be converted into 3D. There is also a stamp feature that allows a user to add stickers to their 2D creations to make them 3D.

Additionally, just like in the world outside of the computer, the 3D objects in Microsoft Paint 3D can be written on with pencils, pens, or paintbrushes, adding 2D imagery to 3D creations. One of the additional benefits of Microsoft Paint 3D is that the creations that users make on the app can easily be shared on social media. This makes it easier than ever before to put Microsoft Paint creations to use.

With Microsoft Paint 3D, users are also able to take images from their smart phone and transform them to 3D images in Microsoft Paint 3D. Even further, if you have a 3D printer, you can actually bring the 3D creations from your app to life.

All these new innovations make Microsoft Paint 3D an exciting development in the Microsoft product offerings. This new version of Microsoft Paint will be made available with the latest updated version of Windows 10 Creator's Studio and should be released early in 2017. If you are ready to get started with this program or want more information about what else the Microsoft Creator’s update has in store for you, contact us as soon as possible.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
November 11th, 2016

2016november11_windows_cOne of the best things about Windows 10 is all the features that came with it originally as well as the new features coming out. But these updates were revealed so subtly and sneakily that few people know of them. Nonetheless, they have many fantastic benefits. Find out more about the new Windows 10 features below.

Groove Music Maker

One of the biggest Windows 10 features that Microsoft sneakily revealed for is a new program known as Groove Music Maker. Presumably designed to compete with Apple's Garageband application, this program allows users to create computer-generated music by using the program’s own digital instruments or by recording their own voice or instrumental work and adding sound effects. Sure, that may not be particularly earth-shattering for most SMBs, but maybe you want to experiment with a new jingle for your local ads?

Windows Store

The Windows Store will also be greatly improved with the ability to make in-app purchases directly from the Windows Store homescreen. This streamlines the experience for users who wish to purchase apps, movies, or music quickly and easily. Make sure that if you have any Windows store apps, they’re optimized for this development.

Microsoft Edge Browser

The Microsoft Edge browser will also have major improvements as well. The tab viewing and browsing process will be made easier by allowing users to set browser tiles aside for later access and use. On top of this feature, Microsoft Edge users will also be able to use scrollable tab previews that let the user get a look at what page is on each tab before they toggle back to that tab. Both these features make the web browsing process easier and help to make Microsoft Edge competitive with the features of other popular web browsers.

Windows Defender

Windows Defender, the built-in security system for Windows 10, will also be improved in these new features and updates. The software will be more user-friendly and include virus protection, firewall, computer performance features, and much more.

Windows 10 Basics

The entire base of the Windows 10 platform will be enhanced as well. Users will be able to pick up where they stopped working from other devices linked to the computer. This streamlines the user experience and can prevent information and data loss. The quick actions menu will also be adjusted so that users can more easily perform necessary actions. The accent color scheme will also be made customizable, and live tiles will be introduced to the Start Menu feature, making it easier to access your latest photos, documents, and recently used apps.

Knowing these are some of the upcoming features that Microsoft plans to add to Windows 10, you can now see how these changes will benefit you and your user experience with Windows 10. For more information about Windows 10 as it is now or will be in the future, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
October 27th, 2016

2016october27_windows_cWindows 10 may be widely regarded as a massive improvement on Windows 8, but Microsoft’s latest operating system has its share of imperfections as well. Fortunately, Microsoft has issued important patches to remedy security vulnerabilities, problems with the Windows store crashing, and a myriad of other issues. Read on for more information about the flaws and how these patches will help solve them.

Internet Explorer

In its Windows 10 announcement, Microsoft clarified that it found four zero-day flaws, which are vulnerabilities that have never been seen before. Of the four, the most concerning is the one that allows cyberattackers to remotely take control of your machine with full administrative rights via Internet Explorer. All that is required to deploy the malware is visiting a website with the corresponding code.

Office

Microsoft Office also has a critical flaw that grants attackers the ability to corrupt memory and abuse privileges inherent to the user who opened the mischievous Office document. By amending how documents are saved and how code within a document is executed, Microsoft believes users will be much safer from email attachment schemes.

Exchange Server

For companies with on-premise servers, Microsoft Exchange Server patches need special attention. Without them, a malicious email could grant cyberattackers the ability to remotely insert and execute commands within the server. Patch MS16-108 provides cumulative updates and changes the way hotfixes and service packs are delivered. Lastly, it tries to ensure Microsoft Exchange Server follows a scheduled delivery model.

Microsoft Graphics

This security update for the Microsoft Graphics component of Windows 10 is considered ‘critical’ because of its presence throughout the entire operating system. Patch MS16-106 removes vulnerabilities in graphics processing protocols that would allow attackers to remotely control and exploit target systems.

If your desktops have not automatically updated themselves, users can trigger a manual update by opening the Settings window, selecting Update & Security, and finally Windows Update. Once there, simply select Check for Updates and follow the prompts to download and install the necessary updates.

Managing one machine is hard enough. If you're struggling to keep an entire office up and running, chances are you feel like you’re treading water in steel-toed boots. For total monitoring and maintenance of all your Windows machines, call us today -- we’ll throw you a lifeline and pull you aboard.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
October 12th, 2016

2016october12_windows_cDespite a varied range of software such as Office 365 and Azure, Windows remains Microsoft’s darling. And although the most recent version has achieved widespread adoption and critical acclaim, its creators are hungry for more installs and more users. The try and lure more users, Microsoft has released a new tool to analyze and report on potential pain points for company-wide migrations to Windows 10. Read on for all the details.

Named the Windows Upgrade Analytics Service (WUAS), Microsoft is gifting administrators and service providers with tools very similar to those it uses to do its own bulk installs. By gathering data on multiple devices, applications, and hardware drivers on a network simultaneously, massive disruptions and troubleshooting events can be avoided entirely.

If any of these variables are customized or outdated, they may not work in a Windows 10, derailing a focused migration workflow. Available right now, this service does more than just inventory your workstations, it also uses the data it has gathered to guide administrators step-by-step through the most efficient order of upgrades possible.

If all your IT components are uniform and compatible with the most recent Windows 10 service pack, it will recommend a straightforward migration. However, if you have pockets of older, or more specialized machines, WUAS may suggest splitting the process up by upgrading those machines first to smooth the process.

Microsoft delivers the features of this service through its cloud-based Operations Management Suite. Make sure it's installed on your machines and add ‘Upgrade Analytics’ from the ‘Solutions Gallery.’ From there, a simple wizard will guide you one item at a time through the four-step process.

Windows gets several updates per year, and it's a waste of company resources for your staff to be stuck waiting for their machines to get back up and running while they update. Why not just outsource the entire process to professionals who will finish the task in a fraction of the time? Our managed services come with a flat fee, regardless of whether you want to upgrade all or just some of your workstations. Don’t believe us? Just call today to find out more!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
September 23rd, 2016

2016september23_microsoftwindowsnewsandtips_cMicrosoft has equipped Windows 10 users with a comprehensive set of tools to get their action center settings under control -- even if most users don’t know it. Unfortunately, most desktops are coming with more software and features that result in more notifications, without ever providing users the opportunity to personalize their desktop and get the stream of information under control. If you’ve reached the point of oversaturation, we’ve got all the information you need to manage your action center right here.

Overarching action center settings

The place to start is customizing system-wide notifications settings. To view these, click on the Cortana icon on your taskbar, type ‘Notifications,’ and click ‘Notifications & actions settings.’ From here you can turn off alerts entirely, adjust those on the lock screen, or customize the alerts for core functions such as alarms and incoming calls.

Settings for individual applications

If you’re interested in taking a far more nuanced approach to your notifications, there are options to create rules on an app-by-app basis. At the bottom of the ‘Notifications & actions settings’ screen is a section titled ‘Get notifications from these senders.’ At first glance it may look as though you can only turn alerts completely off or on for these apps, but that’s not the case.

By clicking on any of the items in this list, you can open a new window full of more graded notifications options. From here, users can specify lock screen, sound, and priority settings for individual software.

Closing the blinds

For users who have no interest whatsoever in the Windows 10 action center, there is a way to banish it entirely. Open Cortana again and search ‘Notification area.’ Halfway down the page, click the menu titled ‘Turn system icons on or off.’ Toggling the Action Center option (third from the bottom) allows you to remove the icon from your taskbar altogether.

While you’re at it, why not take this philosophy one step further? Click the back arrow to return to the ‘Notification area’ window and this time choose ‘Select which icons appear on the taskbar.’ Here you can choose which apps to remove from your taskbar entirely, eliminating any annoying icons that change to alert you of distracting notifications.

Everyone is different. If artists have tools unique to their style, why shouldn’t the tools of your trade be tailored to your preferences? Our paintbrush is technology, and we’d love to show you how we work by helping you achieve new levels of productivity and efficiency on your Windows machine. Get in touch with us today to speak with one of our tech-savvy specialists about your technology goals.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
September 7th, 2016

2016September7_MicrosoftWindowsNewsAndTips_CThe heart of a lady is not easily won; a man can’t rely on his looks or wallet to make a girl fall head over heels. He must charm his way into her heart. Let’s say that a computer user is the woman, and that ransomware, the man, is the dreamboat that has worked his way through all the woman’s defenses. How? He looked the part. This is how ransomware weasels its way into IT -- because it doesn’t seem to pose a threat. Beware of Fantom, the most recently detected ransomware that is a master at deception.

AVG security researcher Jakub Kroustek recently spotted Fantom coded atop an EDA2, a ransomware-building kit that was open-sourced but eventually taken down. EDA2 contained certain flaws that allowed researchers to obtain decryption keys from its C&C server, yet these flaws have since disappeared, indicating that Fantom coders might have found and fixed them before anyone else had a chance to.

Very little is known as to how Fantom is distributed. As for the method of deployment, cybercriminals plant the file onto the target’s computer via spam email or exploit kits. Fantom-infected files are named criticalupdate01.exe; they utilize a “Windows Security Update” to prompt targets into running the file.

After activation, the ransomware starts by locking the user’s screen while displaying fake Windows Update graphics, complete with a fully-functioning percentage-based loading timer that mirrors the original Windows Update screen. However, beneath this pleasant facade, Fantom is encrypting your files right before your eyes. Luckily, the temporary lock screen is removable before it reaches 100% -- simply press CTRL+F4. Unfortunately, the encryption process remains intact.

The MalwareHunterTeam states, “The ransomware uses classic ransomware encryption by locking files using an AES-128 key and then encrypting this key with a dual RSA key, with the private key stored on the crook's server, and a public key left on the user's PC.”

In order to retrieve the private key to unlock your files, you must contact the perpetrators by email. The email address is listed in the ransom note that appears after the process of encryption is complete. Fantom displays ransom notes in the form of HTML and TXT files, while changing the user’s desktop with a custom screenshot that lists the contact details. Lastly, after completing all its operations, Fantom cleans after itself by running two batch scripts wiping all the installation files clean.

Ransomware isn’t new, but the ways that cybercriminals utilize them are. Who would’ve thought that the ever so familiar Windows Update window has fallen prey to malicious intent? Pretend that you’re the Little Red Riding Hood and that the wolf is the ransomware that cybercriminals have disguised as your grandmother. They no longer wait to trap you, instead, they wait for you to walk straight into one instead.

The issue of ransomware is as extensive as it is meticulous. If you have any questions about Fantom or would like to request more information, feel free to get in touch with us! Give us a call or send us an email. Our dedicated staff are more than happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
August 19th, 2016

2016August19__MicrosoftWindowsNewsAndTips_CAs subversive as smartphones may be, we’ll likely never be able to completely get away from desktop computing. And when you’re stuck hammering away on the keyboard, how do you mitigate the stream of texts and notifications coming in on your phone? In a win for PC computing, you can now receive and respond to the majority of your Android notifications from any Windows 10 PC. We’ve explained how this works and how to achieve it in more detail here.

The first thing you need to do is to wirelessly pair your Android phone with your Microsoft desktop. From the Google Play store, download and install the Cortana app and sign into the Microsoft account you use on your computer. Once you’ve signed in, select the Menu button in the upper-left-hand corner and select Settings. After that, select the option for ‘sync notifications’ and toggle which you would like to see on your desktop.

Notifications are broken down into four categories: calls, texts, battery alerts, and third-party apps. Although an option to answer the phone from your computer hasn’t been added yet, you can read and respond to text messages. When deciding on third-party app settings, remember the goal is to manage your interactions, not create more. Make sure to disable any notifications that will create annoying redundancies like doubled-up Facebook alerts between your Android pairing and previously-enabled desktop notifications.

And just like that, you’re all set. As long as you have Cortana enabled on your desktop, all your Android alerts will automatically display in your Windows 10 Action Center. There is no need to interact with the app on your mobile device, and we recommend removing the shortcuts from the clutter of your homescreen. Gone are the days of needlessly checking your phone every time it vibrates, just to find out it’s another telemarketer or unimportant Instagram notification.

As technology reaches the hands of more and more people, and hardware and software options increase exponentially, there are few problems that can’t be fixed with a little ingenuity. Our staff has that ingenuity, and they’re waiting to impart it on you and your business. Call us from your phone or text us from your desktop. Regardless of how you reach us, don’t wait for more problems to sneak up on you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
August 3rd, 2016

2016August3__MicrosoftWindowsNewsAndTips_CThere’s no such thing as perfection. This is especially true for Windows 10. While it’s highly praised for the removal of annoying functions in the previous Windows, still, there are a number of new issues to address: from the Window Updates that don’t function properly to the disappearance of the DVD player app. But read on, we have the solutions to your problems.

1. Decreased storage space

You might not be aware that after the upgrade to Windows 10, the old version of Windows isn’t deleted but is kept in the C:/ drive by the name of windows.old, which eats up a huge chunk of your disk space. Microsoft makes it this way just in case you change your mind and want to go back to your previous version. However, if you’re sure you want to permanently delete it, just follow these steps:

Click the Windows Start button and search for the Disk Cleanup app by typing cleanup. The drive selection box will appear, choose the drive your OS is installed on (the default drive is C:/drive), then wait for Windows to scan your system. Afterward, a box will pop up.

At this point, the system might present you with a list of files to delete, but if that’s not visible, select the Clean up system files option on the bottom left of the window. Windows will then present you with another box with the option to delete Previous Windows Installation(s). Tick the option and click OK, then click Delete Files to confirm your decision.

2. Updates that don’t work

First off, check if you’ve upgraded to the Windows 10 Fall update. If the problems still occur, download and run the Windows Update Troubleshooter, then restart the system and try to update again.

If that still doesn’t work, check that System Restore is configured (see number 3 below) and create a restore point. Type Window+X and select Command Prompt (Admin), type net stop wuauserv and hit Enter, then type net stop bits and Enter. Then open Explorer, go to C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution and delete its contents including any sub-folders. Restart your PC, open Windows Update and click Check for updates.

3. System Restore isn’t enabled

In Windows 10, the System Restore isn't enabled by default. To turn it on, go to the Start Menu and search for Create a restore point. The System Properties box will appear. From there, choose the system drive and click the Configure button, then select Turn on system protection. Use the slider to set an appropriate amount of maximum disk space (about 5GB should be enough). Note that the update to Windows 10 version 10586 turns this off again so make sure to turn it back on after you update.

4. Privacy violations

Windows 10 faces a lot of criticism over its data-sharing defaults. We recommend you review them from time to time. To change the privacy settings, go to the Start Menu and go to Settings, open the app and select Privacy. At this point, you’ll see on the left-hand side a list of data such as your computer's camera, microphone, account information and so on. Turn off the ones that you don’t want Windows to have access to.

If you use Windows Defender, click the back arrow, select Update & Security, then select Windows Defender, see if you’re ok with the default setting that enables Cloud-based detection and Automatic sample submission.

Another privacy issue is Window Wi-Fi Sense, which is initially designed to get you connected to wireless networks more quickly. But if you’re not comfortable with the idea of sharing your network's wireless credentials among devices you can’t control, you can go to Start > Settings > Network & Internet, then click Manage Wi-Fi settings in the right of the window, tick all of the boxes under For networks I select, share them with my to disable Wi-Fi sense.

5. Windows 10 uses up all the 4G data

Windows 10 uses your internet bandwidth in the background. Follow these steps to stop it from consuming all your cellular data without you knowing: go to Settings and then Network & Internet, select Wi-Fi and then Advanced Options, turn on Set as metered connection. Note that this tip won’t work if your PC connects to the internet via Ethernet.

6. There’s no DVD player app

Strangely, Windows 10 was launched without a DVD player app, which means you can’t watch films on your PC. However, if you upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8 with Windows Media Center or Windows 8.1 with Windows Media Center, you’ll find a late released DVD app from Microsoft in Window Store for free download. But if you’re not one of the lucky users mentioned above, we recommend you to download VLC Media Player instead. It’s free!

We hope these 6 fixes will help smoothen your experience with Windows 10. But while there are some issues you can cover by yourself, others are more complicated and would better be handled by IT experts. Why not call us today? Our staff is here to eliminate your Windows 10 headaches.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
July 18th, 2016

2016July18_MicrosoftWindowsNewsAndTips_CThe difference between regular users and power users is their proficiency in navigating the OS and utilizing its tips and tricks for an efficient computing experience. It may take anywhere from a few sessions to a few months to really get into the swing of it. Achieve power user status in a jiffy with the help of these seven tips:

Master virtual desktops

Virtual desktops allow for better utilization of screen space. You can span your applications and windows across multiple “virtual” desktops. Create one by clicking on the “Task View” icon (located at the right of the Cortana bar) on the taskbar, then click “+ New Desktop” in the lower right corner and add as many desktops as you wish. To move an application to a new desktop, merely drag it into the virtual desktop on the bottom.

Next-level screenshotting

The original screenshotting methods on Windows include Windows + Prt Scn, which captures the screen and saves it into the Screenshots folder; and Alt + Prt Scn, which captures the screen and copies it to your clipboard.

Introducing the new built-in Snipping Tool. On top of capturing a full screen screenshot, other capturing options range from a free-form rectangle to a specific aspect ratio or even an entire window as well. You can also set the capture to delay a screenshot by a set interval -- this comes in handy when you want to screenshot a YouTube video minus the playback controls.

Shake and minimize

For users who aren’t aware of this trick, you can grab a window by its bar and literally shake your mouse. This causes all the other windows to automatically minimize.

Professional Windows snapping

Snapping windows to certain parts of the screen is ideal for multitasking. You can now organize and monitor different applications more seamlessly. Make the most of your screen space with the following tips:

Drag a window to the right or left to split it in half. Drag a window to a corner to reduce it to a fourth of its size. Drag a window to the top to maximize its size.

Record your screen with the Xbox app

After launching the Xbox app, go to the app you wish to record and press Windows + G. You’ll be prompted with a window that asks: “Do you want to open the Game bar?” Click on the “Yes, this is a game” box and let the recording begin!

Talk to Cortana like a person

Aside from typing your requests, you can also use natural language to ask Cortana to locate your vacation photos, or provide directions to your friend’s house. No date needed, just specific words and she’s all set. Cortana is also synced with your calendar, so if you’re ever unsure when your meetings are, Cortana will gladly double-check.

Automatic Battery Saver mode

When activating battery saver in Windows 10, you can limit your portable devices’ background activity and push notifications to prolong battery life. Battery saver also kicks in automatically once your battery life is lower than 20%. To customize your own power threshold as well as which applications you allow to run in the background, go to Settings > System > Battery saver -- voilà!

Make the most of Windows 10 with these tips and upgrade your user status from regular to power. Regardless of what you're using it for -- arranging your meetings or planning your vacation -- make each computing experience a memorable one. Want to hear more of the latest Windows 10 news and updates? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
July 1st, 2016

2016July1_Windows_CIt started out being called ‘bloatware’ but as consumer’s patience wore thin it was eventually replaced with the title ‘crapware’. In short, it’s the software that manufacturers load onto new hardware before purchases in an attempt to drive customers to new products. And in most cases it’s totally superfluous and burdensome to your system. Since Microsoft is releasing a useful tool for gutting all of these annoying apps in one fell swoop, it’s time to take a closer look at just how it achieves that.

If this software isn’t trying to drive you back to the manufacturer's sales stream, it’s paid a hefty chunk of change to be included on off-the-shelf hardware. Regardless of which it is, it’s not there to help you -- it’s there solely to increase the manufacturer’s bottom line. So if you think bloatware just isn’t enough of a concern to waste time refreshing your Windows install, consider that PCs without it start up 104% faster, shutdown 35% faster and have approximately 30 more minutes of battery life.

Because this isn’t a new problem, we’ve seen similar removal tools in the past, but they didn’t offer the same level of usability. When using Windows 8’s ‘Refresh and Rest’ the bloatware either wasn’t removed, or if it was, Windows required the reentry of a license key and a lengthy install completely from scratch. ‘Refresh’ Windows swiftly replaces everything on your hard drive with a fresh version of the OS as if it came straight from Microsoft.

Although this tool is best suited for clearing unwanted programs off of your machine right after you’ve purchased it, there’s no reason that you can’t use it further down the road. You might be thinking, “No way, I’ve got way too much important information to sacrifice it all just for a clean install.” Well depending on the extent of your data, that isn’t a problem.

When you open the ‘Refresh Windows’ client there’s only one option you need to select before moving forward, ‘Keep personal files only’ or ‘(Keep) Nothing’. Selecting the former will keep everything stored in your ‘Music’, ‘Pictures’, ‘Videos’ and ‘Documents’ folders. Remember that documents (in these folders) created or edited using Microsoft Office will be kept but the Office suite itself will be removed. Make sure you still have the licenses and installation disks for every piece of software you plan to use after the refresh.

This new feature will accompany next month’s Windows update, but users who just can’t wait to squash annoying ‘crapware’ can find the tool here. Simply download, open, and choose if you want to keep any personal files -- one, two, done.

You may be able to adequately navigate your way around a Windows machine, but there are often shortcuts that insiders use to speed up otherwise mundane management tasks. For any Windows projects or problems you have, drop us a line, we’ll have them fixed faster than you can uninstall that CD-burner utility that you never asked for.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows